The Homestead House Remodel: Part 1
Updated: Apr 23, 2021
Casey and I feel very fortunate we were offered the opportunity to purchase the property next to us. The pastured four-acre parcel has a handful of tall Ponderosa Pines, a house with detached garage, several outbuildings, and is adjacent to a protected waterfowl area - Michels Slough. We love the song birds and wildlife that frequent the area as well as the open views of this special place. We really didn't want someone to buy the lot and divide it up into smaller pieces or build a shop to practice their drums or something... basically, we are control freaks who hate change. So, we jumped at the chance to buy it and figured we would slap some fresh paint on it and rent it out (we really think it would be an excellent in-law house for when Casey's folks, Grandpie and Grannie Frannie, decide they want to move closer to us...).
But there were a few issues...
You know how it goes: we needed to replace windows in the bedrooms to make them egress and safe for renters. And then, we knew the electrical needed a little work. Until we started digging into it and soon realized we had to rewire the whole house. Casey's dad - grampie- is a retired electrician so he saved our bacon on this one because the whole house was on 2 circuits, had experienced an undetected fire, and would have been a star on one of those hidden horror #DIY shows. I mean look at how the kitchen lights and fan were wired in the back of a cabinet! Yikes!
So, in the end, we gutted half the house. We knew that one of the rooms was the original log homestead #cabin for the Eckelberry Homestead. We live on Eckelberry Drive. My grandpa bought the section where our farmhouse and the Red Barn is located from old man Eckelberry back in the late 1950's. The house has been in their family since the 1800's . It seems fitting to reconnect it to our piece of the farm. What can I say, I'm sentimental like that. I think it was meant to be. Plus, we had some time on our hands...
Can I just say, that during COVID lockdown a #demoday project like this one is cathartic. But then you have to decide where to stop! We stopped when we hit asbestos, lead paint, and hantavirus. This summer I managed to social distance out on our farm with ease. I hardly needed a mask to protect myself or others from the spread of the novel coronavirus, but that didn't mean I wasn't sporting a one daily! Ok, truthfully, we were really careful and I tested the paint - no lead. The mice; that's another story.
We peeled back layers of updates and decades of wall coverings - from wood paneling, to wallboard and wall paper. And sure enough - we found a square hand-hewn log cabin in the center of that house. No wonder there wasn't any wiring in the walls! Underneath - the foundation still looked good - rocks holding up a timbers. Hidden under six layers of design decisions and updates, those logs were beautiful. I was so excited to expose a whole wall of them, but then to my utter disgust - a huge window was cut into one wall -and the mice had filled it in. On the other wall, two doors were cut out. Not one wall was complete, but I did manage to salvage a small section to restore and expose.
After a lot of cleaning. And then more cleaning. We worked to sure-up the logs with some bracing. We also had to run wiring in this room as there was no light switch by the door or outlets in the walls (thanks Grampie!)
Then we planned out a large closet to come right to the edge of the exposed logs. I also spent a lot of time cleaning those old cabin floors!
Next we used the space in the logs to run new wiring to the kitchen. Once the logs were clean, I applied a low-sheen poly so they would be easy to keep clean. Do you even know how many hours I spent scrubbing those logs!!! Because some of the floor was painted, I elected to paint all of the cabin floor rather than trying to sand it down. I used a porch and floor paint for this.
Next, I contacted a local tradesman to come chink the logs. He stuck foam in the cracks and then used a grout to fill over the cracks. In the end, it turned out SO good! Plus, I love how the poly really brought out the ax marks on the logs. It is amazing how much skill it must have taken to cut those logs into square stackable pieces like that.
Fun fact: While running wires under the cabin floor, we discovered the footings are huge rocks and the floor joists sit on a huge pine log; its bark is still intact! Casey had a lot of fun with the over-sized door jam too. The door frame is stuffed with old denim and pantyhose to help insulate. We also kept the flattened coffee tin patches on the floor for character.
I wish there had been more salvageable log in this room as it really turned out to be my favorite part of the project.
The rest of the room turned out really great as well though. We found layers of shiplap, so we added a wall of Cottonwood shiplap. There was also bead board on the ceiling. We put up fresh bead board because of damage from old chimneys which made salvaging the old ceiling impossible. Now the space is fresh and clean and full of history and charm.
I scored this wonderful iron bed from Facebook Marketplace for a steal. A Pendleton blanket is always a good choice for a cottage cabin.
One of my concerns in this room originally was the lack of light. Now it is is bright and full of character. Look at the picture of the dark space before. It only had a single light in the whole room.
We replaced the windows with larger, safer windows and even without the lights on, it is so airy and bright. The walls are painted Sherwin Williams Pearly White. The floor is Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray.
If you want to see more pictures of the finished project, head over to my vacation rental listing on VRBO. The Homestead House is now available to book for the summer.
The kitchen really requires and entire post for itself so stay tuned for that before and after...