Here’s How To BEAT The Homeowner’s Emotional Reno Rollercoaster
Emily and Brian made it to Portland. I am so happy. It is going to be great having them nearby. Emily’s exuberance and passion for every little treasure and Brian’s kind and funny observations are such a joy to be around. Of course, they probably are not all that enthused at this point. Their lives are in boxes, in mud, dusty and dirty while making sure their kids feel somewhat stable and sheltered. What a challenge they have taken on!
WHAT THE ACTUAL HECK IS HAPPENING AT THE FARM??
My thoughts exactly. It’s the storm before the calm. The house version of Benjamin Button and it’s going to take a while for this old house to age backward and look like beautiful baby Brad Pitt, except stopping at the “Legends from the Fall/Farm” era, for obvious reasons. Let’s back up. For the last month, the farm has been in the back of my mind – I canceled every design meeting/post and prioritized getting our family settled into our new life. It’s shocking how overwhelming life can feel when you don’t feel tethered to or settled in your home – such limited brain space, and unhealthy coping habits (thus the fact that I’m souping again). The first time we went to the farm after we landed in Portland, two weeks ago, our “forever” home had gone from the sweet “before” of a year ago to practically post-apocalyptic and almost unrecognizable. It’s all stuff we knew would happen and had seen photo updates, but we still weren’t prepared for how it looked in person. It’s all going as planned (ish), ARCIFORM is doing a great job, our emotions are in line with where they should be at this point, but for all of you, restoring or renovating an older home we are in the “should we have just torn it down and started over?” phase (answer: NO). So here’s where we are at and how despite the terrifying visual, there has been exciting progress, and obviously some setbacks.
Old-World And Unexpected Kitchen Cabinet “Trends” That We Are Loving And Leaning Into – Ways to Make A “New” Kitchen More Charming
Trying to make this basically-brand-new farm kitchen look “original” is not our goal. Even with a time machine, the “original” kitchen from 1910 wouldn’t exactly work for our modern needs. But you can add soul through vintage and salvaged pieces and by leaning into unexpected old-world details that make it feel appropriately charming. Today we are doing just that. I’m exploring how we are designing our simple shaker cabinetry to reflect some old-farm charm. We still don’t know if we are painting or staining wood, but we DID pull the trigger on this piece as the island which we are PSYCHED about (read a whole post about it here).
July 19, 2021
FARM UPDATE: Against Popular Vote We Bought A Vintage Piece Of Furniture For Our Kitchen Island (Also Let’s Talk The Need For The “Prep Sink”)
I’m caught in a three-way love affair with “all things vintage” and “all things practical”. “Form” beat “function” for years pre-children, but these days (and especially since I’ve become a massive homebody) the competition is more like an all-day track meet – lots of races and decisions all day long, yielding different winners per event. Generally speaking, “high-quality old things” just don’t work as well as “high-quality new things” (obviously there are exceptions) not because of their age and craftsmanship (opposite) but because of their often modern lack of conveniences. I write this as I sit on my favorite chairs ever (vintage Cherner) that squeak and creak endlessly (we’ve had them “fixed” and this is the best they can do). It’s all good, but it drives Brian nuts and I try to pretend I don’t notice, but I 100% do.
July 07, 2021
How To Design Your Cabinetry To Work Best For Your Family – Inside Our Farmhouse Kitchen And Mudroom Cabinetry
For the kitchen and mudroom at the farmhouse, we are designing the cabinetry with utility and function first, then we’ll make it actually look good. Anne (ARCIFORM) and I have the exact same perspective that we can design anything to look good with the right finishes, materials, and styling – but it needs to first function right for your needs. It does NOT need to be 100% practical but you don’t want to get done with your cabinetry and realize you have nowhere to put your stockpot (the horror). So we spent a few hours going drawer by drawer and cabinet by cabinet placing everything we own – down to the tupperware.
June 23, 2021
What Is Renovating Historic Homes Like And What To Splurge On Via ARCIFORM’s, Anne De Wolf (Plus The Reno Formula She ALWAYS Uses)
Emily’s team, Jess and Mallory, suggested I write about my experience as a renovator. We typically use the word “remodeler” but I like renovator too. However now I think of myself as an appliance, like a refrigerator or generator. Hmmmm.
June 11, 2021
Frequently Asked Life Questions That I Figured It Was Time To Share
We are making a massive life change this summer by moving to Oregon and the closer we get to it the harder it is. We’ve talked about moving to Portland for 12 years and we found what we hope is the great property in the great location to raise our kids, grow our family, and groom our fantasy alpacas. But there is still a “are we doing the right thing feeling”, frequently and honestly I don’t think it’s going to go away for a while. And I think that’s ok. Maybe this isn’t the right move, and if so we’ll cross that rainy bridge when we get to it. Every time we go up to visit we feel like it’s the solid RIGHT decision and we are SO excited.
June 10, 2021
The Fully Designed Mudroom That Will Never Be – Kinda, And How We Got Our Mudroom Back!
A few months ago I got rather trigger happy with doing the fun stuff of a renovation design. We didn’t even have the layout locked down and I was asking ARCIFORM (Anne and Stephyn) to plug in tile colors, lighting fixtures, and even laundry baskets (???). Then once the floorplan changed, whole rooms got scrapped. SCRAPPED! I would say all that time was for nothing, but it’s not because it’s part of the creative process and besides I can use it for blog posts like this. So today you’ll see the very first room that we actually finished designing, that will never exist.
June 4, 2021
Farmhouse Update: How to Design A kitchen With a Load Bearing Post And Beam In The Middle + 4 Unique Options
Here’s a challenge that came up again that I feel is worth discussing. How do you design with a random load-bearing post in the middle of a room, specifically the kitchen? It is HARD. One of the reasons we didn’t originally put the kitchen in the corners was because of the load-bearing post, and so ARCIFORM integrated it into this walk-through cabinet pantry, thus hiding it. Great. Done.
May 26, 2021
The Farmhouse Living Room Layout Challenge – Playing With Real Furniture In A Demo-d Space Because The Creative Process Can Be Weird
I’ve never actually placed furniture in a floorplan in the renovation stage before. Usually, it’s either pretty intuitive where things would go, there is a lot of flexibility, or there weren’t really a million options. But this time, with walls moving and a lot of square footage to play with I wanted to make sure that we used every inch of this house with the least amount of compromises possible, later. The living room was the biggest question mark as it is large, faces west (or will), is a pass-through space with a ton of traffic from the entrance, up the stairs, into the sunroom, out to the backyard, into the family room and open to the kitchen. It has multiple focal points – a big fireplace as well as the soon-to-be new scenic doors. So in order to really feel like we were making the best decisions we had to be in the space to feel it, and then even that wasn’t good enough…
May 19, 2021
Ideas I Want To Steal (But Won’t) From Another TRUE MODERN Farmhouse
I’m deep in the farmhouse design phase – you know where you whiplash around with every new idea and what started out to be so “simple” is now me just quietly chanting “too many ways to skin a cat” over and over. But I keep leaning back into what I really want – quiet + high quality, simple + special, with the foundation of it being shaker and not too much fuss. But it is SO easy to make that boring and too safe and even easier to copy deVOL or Plain English, which are INCREDIBLE but definitely too of the moment. How to be unique and yet universal/timeless?
April 30, 2021
The Farmhouse Full Property Tour – See What We Are Working With (It’s Pretty Exciting)
There she is. Right now, post-demo, the farm resembles a set built specifically for the new “Saw-meets-Blair-Witch” mashup horror film. The production designer really nailed this one. It’s rather shocking that we ever did or will call this our dream house, but despite its current condition it was still exactly where I wanted to be a couple weeks ago when we visited. THANK GOODNESS, because turns out you can’t return a house (not that we would want to OBVIOUSLY… Ha Ha… ha:)). Sure, when we were there it was 75 and sunny (rare for April in Oregon) but there is something about that plot of land that makes me overlook what “condition” it’s in and just want to live there, with the kids running around getting lost amongst the blackberry bushes and future chickens. It’s magical.
April 27, 2021
The 3 Lessons Our Design/Build Team Has Learned Working With Me (A Fun, Fast, And Yet Often Indecisive Social Media Design Blogger)
It’s not often that I get to work with another designer on her future home, so I’ve embraced this experience with Emily to the fullest. Here are three things I’ve learned so far about designing for an influencer and fellow designer.
April 23, 2021
Farmhouse Design Process – Can A Kitchen Have Too Much Wood? A Deep Exploration Into The Pros Of Wood Cabinetry…
The Henderson’s love of natural wood comes only second to our love of natural light. In fact, it’s my personal thesis that you NEED a lot of wood in conjunction with natural light in order to still feel cozy. But can you have too much wood? Specifically in a kitchen? I think the old me would have said “Yes” because I love mixing things up and I love color. But I look at our kitchen here and so many others online and I think – I actually don’t think you can have too much wood – when done right. Wood is classic and timeless, warm and organic, not to mention (and why I’m here today) so much less maintenance.
April 19, 2021
The 8 Decisions We Are Now RETHINKING After Spending A Day In The Farmhouse
I knew this would happen. It’s one of the first pieces of advice I give in my next book – IF YOU CAN, PLEASE LIVE IN A HOUSE BEFORE YOU RENOVATE. You need to experience it, have a few months of “day in a life” so you aren’t trying to guess your future behaviors. But we wanted to stay in this fully done mountain house while we renovate and since school was kinda “out” this year anyway it felt like the best thing to do for our family (and admittedly it’s way more fun living here in the mountains during a pandemic than a city where everything is shut – no real regrets here and certainly not complaining). But, now that it’s demo’d, no one will be living here for months.
April 13, 2021
The Case Of The Kitchen Island – Can We Use A Salvaged Piece Without Regret?
It’s my current and firm belief that the kitchen island is the most popular place to hang in the home – both as a parent and as a guest (at least in ours). And if you use the “popularity = importance” teenage formula, that means that it might be the most important design and functional decision you are going to make. And after two months of debate, we are in a total island conundrum and feel stumped, lost, and dare I say stranded.
March 30, 2021
You Guys Hated 5 Things About The Farmhouse First Floor Floor Plan – We Changed Some Of Them
No one likes being told they’re wrong. Especially in a public forum.
I was in a creative writing class at U of O when I really learned that lesson. It was a small group, maybe twelve of us, all of us trying to prove how well-read and literary we were while critiquing each other’s work around a large wooden table. The first couple of weeks had gone better than expected. I had made some well-received comments, and my pages were getting good marks, so I was really feeling myself during that third week.
March 25, 2021
The Farmhouse Second Floor Plan (It’s So Much Easier Than The 1st…Hopefully).
The first floor floorplan was a DOOZY, for us and for you. Thanks to a lot of your input Arciform, Brian and I have actually done some pretty substantial changes that Brian will be writing about (we agreed with many but not all of the ideas). But for now, the much easier floor is todays subject – the original bedroom floor and where we are hoping to just work with the original layout, while making a few substantial lifestyle improvements in the storage and laundry departments.
March 18, 2021
IT’S FINALLY HERE – The Farmhouse Floor Plan Post (Big and GOOD Changes)
Things are really trucking along up in Portland and there is nothing like speeding along a freeway with equal doses of fantasy and denial. We are in the middle of the “fun” phase which is more about fantasizing our dream home and less about knowing how much it might actually cost. We knew what we were getting ourselves into buying this property. But “knowing” and KNOWING are two different things. But first things first – the floor plan, the layout of the house that will affect how we live all day every day.
February 22, 2021
The First Layer Of Our Farmhouse Style – A Deep Dive Into The Modern Shaker Style To Find Our Design Direction (And Trust Me It’s Not Just Peg Rail)
It might be said that the inspirational design process of this house (and this post) is an emotional convergence of my three biggest interests – history, interior design, and religion. It’s a personal journey that ended in my own Oprah/Tom Cruise/couch jumping ‘Aha moment’ with a few extra excited expletives, and even some tears. I also don’t want anyone to get worried when they see the pics in this post. It’s again a part of the design journey and boy is it interesting!
February 18, 2021
The 4 Reasons Why Our Historical Architect/Build Team Says We Can Let Go Of Our Original Window Frames Despite Public Protest…
I love a good ‘Save the Moulding’ protest and subsequent rowdy debate, despite its seemingly benign subject. Maybe it’s refreshing that after the drama of 2020 this is our collective beef? But like all of life, there aren’t two clear opposing sides here, it’s not that clear-cut. Here’s what I know: Y’all really want me to keep the original window and door casings/trim. I hear you. If only it were that easy.
February 4, 2021
The Quest To Find YOUR Farm-Fresh-Farm Style + What To Ask Yourself Before You Renovate To Get The Best For *YOU* Long-Term
While I hate holding you hostage for real design information, today’s post will be in the form of a long Uber ride where you’ll learn the proverbial life story of the driver (me) and you might be even entertained for a while. But unfortunately for you, you don’t have wifi, I have child locks on and this lady (me) seems eccentric AF and wants to take the long way if you know what I mean. So BUCKLE UP BUTTERCUP.
February 2, 2021
Brian’s 5 NON-NEGOTIABLES For The Farmhouse (And What Made Him FINALLY Love The Design Process)
If you’ve ever read my stuff on this blog, you know I tend to ramble. I’ll usually meander around, like, deep mental-health-type things from a guy’s perspective, and go off on tangents that have nothing to do with the subject at hand before reigning it back in to prove a point. Well, rest easy guys. Today is different. I just wanted to pop in while we’re designing our future farmhouse to write a quick post about how I’m pretty much an expert designer now. Just a brisk little post about five things I’ve contributed to the design plan that Emily didn’t think of. This means I’m kinda better than her at being a design blogger. No meanders, no random tangents, just the facts. Promise.
January 25, 2021
The Farmhouse – The Upstairs Tour + What We are Keeping and Changing
As you saw last week, the first floor needs a lot of reconfiguration which means we have to really invest down there – not only in framing, plumbing, electrical, windows/doors but in all the finishes. So when we looked at our “budget” we said let’s splurge on the downstairs and save on the upstairs. No offense to our children and future guests, but we are absolutely prioritizing our new bedroom suite over their bedrooms 🙂 Listen, they’ll be fine – Brian wants to get alpacas and they’ll have a sports court for goodness sake. So here we go.
January 21, 2021
The Farmhouse – First Floor Tour And Challenges + What Original Elements We Plan On Keeping
I feel like the nervous 16-year-old boy, picking up a girl for a first date, being confronted by her overprotective father in the TV trope we’ve seen a million times. In this scenario, YOU are the protective dad and your daughter is this house. So, ahem, I just want you to know that I have only the best of intentions with your daughter/this house. I know publicly watching someone renovate an over 100-year-old historic home and add some modernity to it might be hard for many purists. I get that. But trust me, I want the same things as you – to respect the original intent of the home and bring it to life for our family to live long term without having to renovate again. Will every decision be what you would do? Nope. And that’s ok because I think you’ll see that by the end this house is going to be STUNNING and I hope we’ll all learn how to embrace original intent while also making it what you want for your own life. In short: If we didn’t want a house with a ton of soul and vintage charm, we simply would have not bought this home.
January 14, 2021
Emily Henderson Bought A (Mini) Farm!!!! Introducing a New/Old Oregon Home
I honestly can’t believe I’m actually writing this post. It’s been a year and a half of trying to buy this home for our family. Here’s how it all went down. Two summers ago (2019) we made the very emotional decision to move back to Oregon, to raise our kids near family and friends. For whatever reason LA has never felt like our forever home so we realized we should just stop putting it off. Why wait to start the next chapter in our life? The older your kids get the harder it is to move (we’ve heard and I moved when I was 16 and can personally attest to it being an absolute nightmare). So we started looking for properties online (well, we had looked for years, actually in both Portland and Bend) and within a few days found an unusual one that checked a lot of boxes.