1846 Homestead Renovation

My husband served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years. We moved around a lot and by the time we celebrated 32 years of marriage, we had lived in 28 houses in two foreign countries and seven states. It was time to talk about a forever house. Call us crazy...everyone else already has, but our 1846 Texas homestead renovation was the route we decided to go in order to create our dream home. When we decided to turn a dilapidated dog-trot home into our dream home, most folks thought we were out of our minds. They were right. It was falling down. The last cousin who lived there was a hoarder and a recluse who hadn't taken care of the house in several decades. Sheetrock was falling from the ceilings and everything that the rats hadn't chewed up was rotten. However, the house was the oldest structure in Hill County, Texas and had been in my family since 1852. It was worth it, we said. We are saving history, we said. And then the rattlesnakes appeared along with the rats. Add in all the rotten wood and countless other issues that come with a 170+ year-old house and you get an idea of what our lives are like. From climbing on the roof to crawling under the house, we have done things we never dreamed we would have to do. Call us crazy...everyone else already has, but our 1846 Texas homestead renovation is a labor of love that is already paying off!

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Starting on the Addition

    Oh! The Planning!!! The addition was an important part of our renovation project.  The Homestead was too small, too old, too precious to us to totally change the layout and make a more functional home out of it.  We wanted to use it gently, but also efficiently.  It seemed un-Scottish (read wasteful) to spend the money for the renovation and not use it at all.  That is also why I wanted it connected to the main house.  If it wasn’t, I was afraid we would turn off the AC/heat and not go in there for months on end. And so when we started planning the addition, we needed to figure…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    A Bathroom for the Barn Addition

    Keep It Old…Make It Old I wanted to make sure that the old house still looked and felt old once the renovations were completed and that is why I doggedly stuck to my mantra of “keep it original”.  It didn’t matter if we had to scoop it up with a spoon and Spackle it into place, if the original could be patched and kept (within reason, of course) that is what we did.  And I think we did a great job.  I have caught some flack from an old house dude who said that all he could see was replacement windows and siding. Well…yeah. The original windows were already gone…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Cleaning Up After a Hoarder: Before and After Photos

    The Magic Blue Dumpster Without a doubt, a big blue dumpster may be the best magic trick ever.  It was delivered in our front yard and we immediately started filling it.  The picture above shows one day’s worth of work.  And then more magic happened.  They took this one away and left yet another empty one that was soon filled to the brim as well.  Please do not think that we went crazy and threw everything away.  We didn’t.  Jerry and I donned respirators and gloves and went through every box, every drawer, every everything before the dumpster was even on the premises.  You can see some of the treasures…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation,  The Art of Beautiful Living

    I Suffer from an Abundance of Opportunity

    I am Blessed I am truly blessed.  This project has been an amazing journey.  I have had so many opportunities to learn new skills and to learn some pretty interesting things about myself as well.  Jerry will tell you that I can generate more ideas that anyone he knows (not always a good thing, in his experience).  My brain just likes to keep working…all the time.  It is great.  I have wonderful conversations with myself.  Sometimes, I will laugh out loud because of something I “thought” and found to be funny. But there is a dark side…I can see the way things could be with such clarity that I often…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Laying the Ground Work for the Addition

    A Solid Foundation Before we got to the point of pouring the slab, we had dirt work done, and were were still wondering if there would be a step up or a step down between the addition and the old house.  We decided on a slab foundation.  It is a “floating” slab, which made no sense to me.  The premise is that 30+ holes would be drilled down to bedrock, rebar inserted and then the holes would be filled with concrete.  On top of all that, the slab would float.  Okay. There was a steady stream of cement trucks arriving on 21 June to deliver the concrete needed for the…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Finishing the New Floors in the Old House

    Background Work The floors in the original house.  I wanted to keep them, but they were damaged.  We knew that wasn’t an option.  The original floors were nothing more than boards nailed to the floor joists.  There were gaps between them so you could see the dirt under the house.  As much as I wanted to restore the house, even I knew that we were going to have to do something different than what there originally. The first flooring job was to work on the structural parts.  We installed plywood under the joists so we could insulate the floors.  We then installed the floor decking material.  That was a lot…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation,  Wood

    Treasures from the Wardrobe

    The Treasure Hunt It takes no stretch of the imagination to believe me when I tell you that the house in the photo above was full of nasty trash, furniture, rat droppings and general yuckiness.  How much imagination would it take to believe that we found some really cool stuff as we pawed through every stinking item wearing latex gloves and respirators? Before we threw one thing away, Jerry and I went through every box, drawer, and closet in the house item by item.  Some folks had already come and stolen items from the house and went through things.  Jerry and I were the only ones who could have told…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Wedding Bells Ring!

    Not Your Typical Wedding Planning Have you ever heard the joke about going to a fight and a hockey game breaking out?  That is what Jillian and Mike’s wedding reminds me of.  We were in the middle of saving the house and cutting back and burning limbs one minute, and the next, we are planning a wedding. Jillian and Mike came to help us with the house this weekend.  We spent the day using the chainsaws.  And then, Jillian and Mike shocked the socks off of us at dinner.  They announced that they wanted to get married…in two weeks.  And they wanted the wedding near our place.  And they thought…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Reusing the Original Stone in the New Fireplace

    Things I Hate for $1000 If you have read anything on this blog, you can probably guess that my number one most hated thing when we started was having to alter the house.  I wanted to keep it original.  Period.  The first thing we needed to do was shore up the foundation and get the house out of the dirt.  That made sense.  Of course, the first thing we had to do was (insert drum roll here) tear down the beautiful (to me) chimneys.  Dang it. Looking at the photo above, and also now that I am in a more rational state of mind, I can see clearly that the…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    A Colossal Error in Concrete Staining

    We decided that stained concrete was the way we wanted to go with flooring in the new addition.  Stained concrete is inexpensive and it is durable..  Unfortunately, ours has big problems and I am not sure how to fix it. It Started Off So Well… Jerry and I went to Dallas to a concrete staining store.  They had everything we would ever need to be successful.  We looked at all the products, colors, and tools.  We were ready to commit that day to purchasing what we needed.  I had a clear idea of what I wanted the floor to look like.  Neither of us wanted a solid color.  We liked…