Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Making do

Living in an unfinished house with a multitude of things that need to be done a.s.a.p. on a limited budget has a way of helping your priorities stay in order.  When your showering and you feel a breeze so you look up and at the ceiling, spying between the rafters and the insulation and spot daylight, it's hard to justify buying a new rug whose main purpose is to just sit there and look pretty.  Or how can you justify buying $60 worth of paint just to paint the subfloor which will be covered someday when after storms you have to add a few more staples to your two year old house wrap, hoping it will hold up just a little bit longer?  And when you see that it's time to roll on a new layer of contact paper that serves as your counter top because you've got a few to many knife holes and pasta sauce stains on the current layer, it is again hard to justify buying new living room chairs.  Especially when your old, oversized, ugly brown chair is still holding up just fine...but I did it anyway.  I caved.

I'm chuckling to myself as I type about the breezes, house wrap and contact paper.  While true, I happen to find it humorous.  My kids are going to enjoy telling their own children stories of their "impoverished hardships" growing up and laugh to themselves as the little ones gasp in disbelief.  Heh, heh.  It also helps me keep things in perspective by remembering that we chose to live this way.  I know there are far too many people in the world who are truly impoverished and suffering while I am truly blessed beyond measure.

I didn't buy a lot of new stuff or anything terribly fancy but it was just enough to perk the place up a little for me.  And like I always have to preface...it's still unfinished, as if you couldn't tell.

Let's start with a before picture, because if you've ever caught the tail end of a before and after program on HGTV and have been disappointed with the after and thought to yourself, what's so great about that?  And then you think, maybe this is a flash back to the before shot, until you see the homeowners come into the room and start crying and/or laughing and you realize it is, in fact, the after and then you think to yourself, I would be crying and/or laughing too if that was my house.  Yes?  You know what I'm talking about?  Okay, then you know why it's necessary for me to show you this terrible, awful picture. 

Brace yourselves for sheer horror because here comes the before (which is actually from shortly after we moved in because it was the ONLY picture out of literally thousands of pictures that I have of what it all once looked like.) 

Yes, I'm stalling.

Sorry you noticed. 

Okay, here we go.  Just take a quick peek then turn away, mkay?


Welp, that was traumatizing.   


As you can see, all of our living, dining and kitchen space is in one room that's 20' x 22'.  Just a mere 440 square feet.  That's about the size of a lot of peoples living room alone. 

Part of the problem for me (besides all the obvious stuff you can see in the picture) was actually the openness of the living room furniture.  The living area is about 14' x 20' which isn't too terribly small.  In fact, it was too big, too spread out and not well defined.  Because of the open rafters in the ceiling sound doesn't travel very well which makes it hard to have a conversation with someone across the room without yelling, and if we have company and there are multiple conversations going on at once, it turns into a yelling match.  On the plus side, it is very quiet in here most of the time which is essential to my staying alive.  I must have quiet and lots of it or my brain and nerves absolutely start to fry.

Moving on.  Let's start with the kitchen and what it looks like right now.  I just can't bring myself to say after because I haven't really done much in there and it's by no means finished and after sounds like it's done, final, finished, but it's not.  Sorry.  I'm stalling again.  I'll try to stop that from happening in the future. 

So here's the kitchen currently,

Eventually I'll have real cabinets and counters and a real floor and maybe even matching appliances but this is what I have for now and I'm content...for now.  I suppose if it never progressed any farther it wouldn't be the end of the world but I hope that doesn't happen.  (The blue between the rafters is foam insulation which will be covered in wood someday.)

My appliances are a hodgepodge of finishes.  Black, white, stainless and turquoise, so to bring them together at least a little bit, I bought matching vinyl stickers off etsy for my fridge and dishwasher.

They're a little on the frilly side which I'm not super crazy about, but it does kind of help bring the kitchen together a little bit.

I still have my turquoise blue stove which goes well with the styrofoam insulation.  (The small cat-like creature is my little Chili-choo-choo chihuahua, dining at his favorite fast food joint.)

In the dining portion of the room, Jeff added another window not too long ago to give us a little view of the back woods.  (Don't look at my highwaters!  I'll extend those or replace them someday!)

The table is a little 3' x 5' table that everybody and his brother had fifteen years ago.  It seats all seven of us just fine for now, but as the kids get bigger it might become too cozy.  Then, of coarse, I'll just have my personal man servant build me a newer, nicer, bigger table.  (I love you so much, Shnookums pooh bear!)

And last, but not least, the living room.

I arranged all the furniture on one side of the room for a cozier layout and we can actually have real live conversations with eachother now.  It's nice that way.  On the far right is our current computer cabinet in the hole where the fireplace was.  Jeff and I pulled it out and plan to build in a computer cabinet/entertainment center instead.  I've decided I'd rather have the fireplace outside on the back deck.

After I painted the subfloor (which I love better than the unpainted subfloor but hate how it now shows dirt like crazy, by the way) I bought an 8' x 10' jute rug off Amazon for a mere $1,444.00 including $1,200.00 in fraudulent credit card charges.  (I should have used paypal, but at least it's been resolved.)  I love the rug.  It's already been through a violent hazing when all of the kids had a nasty stomach bug a couple of weeks ago.  It cleans up nicely.  You've gotta be tough to survive around here.

I also bought a couple of matching chairs which the children are forbidden to even look at let alone touch.  (I'm so mean.)  They came with lumbar pillows that match the green fabric, but I made these blue and white ones for them instead.  I can't have things matching too much.  That wouldn't go with my home's chaotic theme.

Behind the green chair I have some fancy, shmancy wainscoting made up of a couple of old doors laying on their sides.  Nice, huh?  I'm still working out in my head what kind of a wall I want separating the kitchen from the living room.  I'm currently thinking a half wall behind the stove across to the far right counter that meets a full length wall right next to that counter for a little extra visual separation.  That's where the dirty dishes get stacked and I wouldn't mind if I didn't have to see them every waking moment. 

I think that about wraps it up for now.  If you made to the end of this post, I thank you...and I'm sorry you had to see all that.  I'm glad I got this out in the open though, so now maybe I can start lookin' you people in the eye! ☺


  1. I think your place is as cute as can be. We all need to be frivolous once in a while so don't feel at all guilty about your purchases. I still love your stove. It's the stove of my dreams!

  2. I love the open shelves in the kitchen. We're also in the middle of a building project and I'm wanting to use shelves instead of wall cabinets to help cut back on cost. Has that worked out well for you?

    1. Thank you, Jenny! It has worked out so well that I plan to leave most of the uppers as open shelves. I do want to add a couple of small upper cabinets with doors eventually for unsightly things like vitamin bottles and a few dishes I don't use very often because they get pretty dusty between uses.

  3. Thank you for sharing your awesome space! Our main floor is 444 including the kitchen, living and a 1/2 bathroom. And yes, it is about the size of many people's living room.
    I like the idea of a partial wall behind your stove. We considered dividing our rectangle space that way, but ended up going with an L shaped kitchen with an Ikea Island. (Our space is narrower and long.) I do face the challenge of trying to keep stacked dirty dishes washed and out of sight.
    I like your open shelves also. :o)
    Your experience with Amazon is chilling. I have used them for years. I guess Paypal will be my new friend. I have an IKEA sisla rug in my living room that requires periodic rolling and to fix the rolled edges that flip up and attempt to kill you.
    I along with everyone else have the same table. But, I recently gave it a make over. I like your pew. What a great bench.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Celeste,
    We all tend to feel frustrated with our homes until an outsider sees it and gushes about the open shelves, the rafters, the farmhouse sink, the vintage turquoise stove, the huge window in your eating area and you suddenly remember all the 'imperfections' are charming and we fall in love with our homes all over again. I remember when your home was only a dream. Look how far you have come! {And believe me, I can relate. We have so much structural restoration to do. I have an on-going love-hate relationship with our historic home. We start one project and it turns into a dirty dozen.} Your chairs are beautiful! I love your sense of humor and home.
    Your Friend,

    1. Thank you, Deborah. Your kind words help keep things in perspective too!

  5. I love your home, your gorgeous new chairs and the funny way you write. I'm always smiling when I read your posts! It's obvious you are such a happy family. Oh, scary about Amazon. My debit card was just hacked recently. Someone tried to spend $420 in Chicago (I live in Minneapolis), so the card was automatically blocked.

    Enjoy your lovely, cozy home!

  6. We are about to embark on a similar adventure with our four kids. Moving tomorrow and so excited. Thank you for sharing your story. It makes what we are doing seem less different and reminds me of why we started our project to begin with. BTW - your house is adorable. I am impressed with how fantastic it looks!

  7. I sure wish I could get my unfinished house to look as nice as yours. We started with grand designs to be "green;" passive solar, thermal mass (translated: lots and lots of concrete), solar hot water, rainwater collection, basement (which in this part of the country takes special drainage). We got all of those things. What we didn't get, due to my husband's employer folding, was the second half of the house plus finishing on the first half. OSB is UGLY. I've tacked sheets over it. Concrete floors and ceilings are also ugly and unpaintable. Open rafters can be pretty...unless they're filled with lumber and backed by that ugly OSB again. I can't afford enough rugs to fill this huge space, so I have a hodgepodge of them, and the workshop is one-half of the living room. We have one bedroom: my huge master bedroom, which houses my 3 teenagers (with shelving dividing it in half); we sleep in my huge walk-in closet (which is very cramped with a queen-sized bed under the landing). Rainwater system needs more tanks before we can afford to use showers; we do have tubs, thank heaven. Two bathrooms were a priority. There is a crater next to my house where the other half is supposed to be; one of my 3 teens is about to leave home, and I'm afraid they'll all be gone before we get anything done out there. Ideas to make it more acceptable would be great. It's not pretty. I hate having people over because of that (and I LOVE PEOPLE).

  8. Hi Terrie. I feel the heaviness of your housing issues in your comment, I get pretty discouraged at times myself. Your home sounds very similar to the home of a dear friend of mine. Actually, it will be their barn someday when they've finished building their own "green" house they started a couple of years ago and it will be a while still before the house is livable since they're also paying for it out of pocket as they go. So until then, their barn is their home with its' concrete floors, open rafters, its' uninsulated walls and wide open space. She's also one of the people I have learned the most from in the area of hospitality. Even though their indoor pluming comes via a garden hose hooked up to a portable sink and their beds are set up right next to the dining table (they have 5 children, three of which are teenagers too) they still have people over all the time and give zero excuses for their home. I had only met them a few times before they had our family over for dinner and when we were with them, we didn't really notice their unusual living conditions because they're such warm people to be around. I'm not sure how they managed to fully put their inhibitions behind them and invite people into their home but I'm inspired by it and trying to do the same, but it's still hard every single time. There are so many people I'd love to have over but my insecurities in my little, unfinished house sometimes wins out, especially if the people I want to invite over live in a "normal" house or have more than three people in their family. ;) It's getting easier, but I still have that heckler living in my head always trying to hold me back. Several people have told me they could never live like I do, in a house so incomplete, then they come over and let me "wine and dine" them and by the time they are getting ready to leave they tell me they really like my house and what we're trying to do and one of my nay sayers in now looking into buying land to do something similar even though they own a nice, finished house. Life's funny in that we always seem to want what we don't have, no matter which side of the fence we're on.

    One tip that I do have for people like you and me is to make the dining or seating area as nice and comfortable as you can without unnecessarily breaking the bank if you have to use any money at all and focus on entertaining in that one area. If you're engaging your company with good conversation and maybe some good food they'll quickly be blind to all the things we see as ugly about our homes and really enjoy themselves. Plus, everyone who comes to my house can see, without me even trying to explain, that my house is a work in progress so excuses aren't even necessary. And don't forget that having the patients and avoiding excess debt just to get your house done sooner is very admirable!

    P.S. My pictures look better than the real thing 99% of the time and my painted OSB floors are peeling terribly under the dining chairs and even though my open rafters and OSB ceiling are painted, the paint there is thin enough that I can read everything the manufacturer printed on them and can see house wrap and fuzzy insulation around every window and I have unfinished walls and walls still to build and still only one bathroom etc, etc, etc! This process is SO slow, but I have to keep reminding myself it's SO worth it and not everybody gets it, but that's okay.

  9. I love your house. It seems to be such a cozy place to live. Thanks for stopping by my blog.