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

    A Little Dinner Party with Strangers

    A Plan Was Concocted I am a member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Ft. Graham Chapter.  I am a proud member, not because I’m proud to have the membership, but because is a lovely way to honor the countless people who came before us.  If you are interested in membership, please contact me and I will help you in any way that I can.  It is a sweet group of ladies who log in community service hours, fund scholarships for local students, and generally try to keep history alive.  Yesterday was our Christmas Tea and we had a guest speaker, Denise Bennett.  Denise assumes the identity…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Bigger is Better, Right?

    All About Scale Long before we took on this house renovation/building project, Jerry and I looked at spaces and discussed what we loved and didn’t love about them.  Consistently, scale was something that always made an impression on us.  This could be due to the years we spent in tiny military housing or perhaps it stemmed from visits to castles and cathedrals in Europe.  We were drawn to the open spaces, soaring ceilings, the grandness of what happens when something is, well…grand.  Jerry and I aren’t grand people as anyone who knows us will confirm.  We don’t live in a cathedral or castle, but we do live in Texas and…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Wallpaper Nails: Remove Them or Paint Over Them? A Disagreement Was Brewing…

      Jerry and I had to make a lot of decisions before (and especially during) the renovation process.  There were a lot of compromises.  There were some fits.  Proudly, I can say there were no tears…at least no tears of frustration.  Believe it or not, it was the removal of the wallpaper tacks that had Jerry and I in disagreement for the first time in this project and that was AFTER we had to learn how to level the house with hydraulic jacks! Mr. Burch, Tear Down That Wall (Paper)! Of course, the sheet rock came down first and then the layers of wallpaper.  Both were easy enough to remove…

  • 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…

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    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…