Building a She-Barn (a she-shed on steroids)!


, , , , , , , ,

It’s been a year now, living in Big Girl, my 1920s house of (must be love or crazy) restoration… I must admit, time has flown, why couldn’t it of gone this fast during the restoration part! I honestly don’t know where the time goes, really.  Thankfully, I opted for no cable or TV and I don’t miss it, (well ok i sort of miss those great house shows, you know DIY programs, house restoring, barn salvage you name it, if it had anything to do with restoration, salvage or remodeling I watched it). Now I can’t ven imagine where I would have the time to partake in TV.. must be all my projects I have going on..

So what’s a girl to do, after she finishes a 1920s house restoration! Let me tell you, I found other things to add to the property like a “She Barn”, you you know what I mean! The girls “barn”, a girls retreat, a she-cave, the girls domain, a she-shed, call it what you like. In a nutshell it’s  basically a place all dressed up with girly things, shabby chic, antiques, crafting things, a gagillion half finished crafting or antique rehab projects ( ok maybe not that many unfinished projects) and all the fun girl tools you could want in there: sewing machines, glue, glitter, paint, paper etc….and of course a fully stocked wine bar (maybe thats why my projects are half done)!!  This is where all my girlfriends can come over and gather to be like a “Junk Gypsy” and laugh, chat and finish the day with glue under our nails, glitter in our hair and spray paint on our clothes (and red wine stained teeth)!

The big dilemma for me when I came up with this idea was how to make the She-barn (she-shed)  look like the age of the house?  How do I make the barn structure look like it belongs on the property with Big Girl. I found my answer when I started to google architectural renderings of all the old barns.  I quickly found out that I was drawn to the designs of candlewood barns.  I got rather lucky when I found  A gentleman out of upstate New York who had architectural drawings and plans for sale of candlewood barns. And me being an avid online shopper  ( I found him on Amazon of all places!) quickly hit purchase, and within two days I had my three sets of architectural prints delivered and off we go! Of course like-with all my projects ( and my cooking recipes for that matter) I love to change things up, add to the recipe or the design, make it my own! This project has been no different

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I won’t bore you with all the details of the myriad delays including weather;  finding the right person to do the concrete (because I opted to put the barn on a concrete slab instead of pier and beam); my favorite carpenter hurting his back; finding a new frame crew. Well darn I just bored you with all the details. So there were some definite alterations to the existing plans that I had to make for my property. But there is no doubt the design itself is perfect for my ideal She-Barn, to me when its done this will be my ultimate she-shed on steroids, my home away from home ( less than 100 ft from the main house that is!), my ultimate crafting oasis, girl shed, sister retreat, girlfriend gathering  barn house!

Can’t  wait to finish the outside and share with you the finished result then it’s off to the inside which we have already started! I’m ecstatic and I think Big Girl (the house) is happy to with her new little sister “Little Girl”.. I know I am !

Before & After Photos of my 1920’s …


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pre note: I actually started writing this post 3.5 months ago, it has taken me that long to sit down long enough to finish it! Of course it is because there is so much to do in a small town, really!

Let me start by saying that, I want to call it a restoration, but technicaly,  I can’t lay claim to doing a full historically accurate restoration on Big Girl. Big Girl, yes ( I named the house) , you will see here in a minute why I called her Big Girl! I can however call it a restoration from a remodel standpoint.

Remodel being where one , remodels, upgrades, makes things better, or newer and even transforms a space.  To me a restoration is more about really taking things down to the stud, which is what I did here, and building it back out again.

But even more important and exciting on this house is the fact that I had to move this house.  Not only move it, but cut it in half, take over 80% of the roof off… And have it taken down the road!, I know what ur thinking… (And yes I’m a little crazy to some, but I just like to reckon it to ” always thinking BIG picture).  But there is also a big dose of “passion, perseverance and determination” and I’m oozing with faith and prayer!  So one does not take on a project like this without lots of faith & prayer. (I’m just saying).

That said, I’ll just let these pictures show you the transformation, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did in the moment, and I still pinch myself (at least once a week), not believing that one, I’m actually living in it now, two that I’m so grateful God let me find this house to save and restore and three, that He gave me the resolve and faith to “just go for it”.  This pics are in somewhat of an order, including what the house looked like when I “won” it in a bid, the house had to be moved for expansion of a local church… If not purchased, would be demolished is my guess, as the church had to expand,and this cute house had to go. So yes, as I stated I found it on Craigslist, listed as, “house to be moved” taking bids. Bids due the next day at 2pm by the way….


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After the move, lots of drywall cracked and fell off, the move was a bit rough, the lot we placed her on was down sloped, and just the fact she as cut in half and 80% of the roof removed was trying on the house, but she held strong, she as and is amazingly well built, with some of the best lumber milled in the area.

But it already meant new wiring, electrical and replumb ing, so at this point you make a decision to gut all the drywall, check all your studs and repair damage (termite damage and water damage) in this case, so drywall comes off and the house gets retired. Now it’s time to change just a few walls, and when I realized how much space the attic had?? Why not add a room, a bathroom and a dormer up there??

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now the drywall goes in:

Then paint, details, fixtures, and finally refinishing the floors, which ended up needing to be replaced in one room, tile in the bathrooms and vintage reclaimed wood flooring, aka bubblegum floor in the master, you’ll see why when you see the colors.

And the final before and afters, (ohh there was lots in between) but the fun part is seeing the PRE and the POST:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And a few more of the final product, although it will never be completed, and I’ll always be doing something, I’m blessed and happy with how she turned out:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

IT’s not the  end, not now anyway, now I’m working on the landscape and exterior, for another post and another time, Belle in Training and Big Girl, signing off.

Now off to one of my favorite spots, the porch:





The shortest post, Big Girls Garden

This will be my shortest post, so I know it will be your favorite!

Blog posts are supposed to be short anyway, I need to work on that as well as my grammar, my syntax, my spell check (FYI: autocorrect does not work).  so maybe this will be a good start.. Just keep in mind, I’m in construction, I’m not an English Teacher…

I came home today to a wonderful surprise. Several elements of my outdoor 1 acre living space are taking shape!!  Namely, a garden, as well as the outdoor fairy garden (complete w 2 entry doors (yes and it’s outside)) and my farm museum.


The most exciting one is that, Big girl now has a garden, well sort of.  As with my normal design ideas it started out as a hodgepodge of pictures put together in a collage taking little elements from different pictures I found to fordge my design. Like I usually do I handed it off to the “supertalented, read between the lines, can build  just about anything, artistic, can create it with his eyes closed” carpenter extraordinaire. Or as he is affectionately known as the “king of construction” aka real name: Jason.

So from scribbling pictures taped to a piece of paper, he has started working on my design for the garden, now of course, were a little too late for spring planting. However,  as I watch the weeds that are growing inside the perimeter, I’m envisioning what a garden will eventually look like for either a fall planting or next season (Sanz the weeds I hope!).

Of course I also have to give credit to those before me as well, because I also came home today to find my rusted farm equipment up on their pediments (i.e., rock formations).  The ones who created these marvelous inventions of the machine that were either pulled by a horse a donkey or an ox and one that even maybe looks like it has a gas tank.  The very early inventions of farming,  my rusted old architectural farming pieces, as I call them, pay homage to a time not so long ago when poeple would of farmed the land with this machinery and lived in a house like Big Girl. OK OK I might be stretching it a bit but my style is a little bit of an eclectic everything old everything salvaged everything restored or repurposed can come together in a design.


I love this old farm equipment I picked up, thanks to my friend agenda who told me about it, it ads a great element and nostagia. My farm museum outside!

The Garden is growing! Big Girl is very excited…and so is her owner!

P.S. And I just love how the fairy garden is coming along aka, the outside living room for frogs, snails and we’ll all those God creatures that need a door, because us humans encroach on their territory, I’ll be sure to knock before I enter:

Till next time, maybe in the garden!

The Evolution of a Staircase circa new (old)


, , , , , , , , ,


So, there was not much explanation needed here.  My need was for a staircase, one appropriate for my future Rhett Butler, where he could be waiting patiently at the bottom rung for my decent…

“frankly my dear, I only want to add a staircase” is basically what I told the carpenters.  This of course, after we got all the interior ceiling drywall down and you could see just how much room there was in the attic I was amazed. At first glance it was hard to imagine… But once I climbed a ladder up to the top and realized you could stand up in more than half the attic.  Well then I knew, a staircase it is!

For inspiration I drew upon the grand staircase found in the antebellum theme in Gone With a the Wind, yes, yes I know it is my all time favorite movie, but you must also admit, the staircase in the movie is one of the all time best grand staircases?


Of of course you must first see the before, to understand from my viewpoint below, this is what I saw when I looked up, I’m still not quite sure how I imagined a master bedroom suite up there, but I did:

To understand the house layout, it is rather easy to ssee, it was a one story home ( that simple). Once we got permitting  done, which is very easy and city officials accommodating in a small town like  SMithville, Texas  ( the fantastic town as seen on the DayTripper). Once we started there was no going back.  So forget your budget now, you just went over with a big change order, whew, thankfully I’m the contractor too, no need to bill myself!

The process of adding a staircase requires: good carpenters plain and simple, and a little inspiration for a design.. But beyond that I had to come up with a design and how was I going to have the guys build me a staircase that eventually would look as though it was always in this 1920s home… Hummm

Luckily, it doesn’t take much to get the design juices flowing, especially when I have great sensory overload going into great places like My secret golden egg, At Pure Savage Living.  Meaning this place is pure heaven on earth for those of us who love salvage materials, architectural repurposing and ornate antique design elements. They are all found here and who can resist a personal walk thru, explanation and the pure experience of having your very own personal shopper in Darby, you just have to go to see for yourself..and meet Darby.

So, I didn’t buy my staircase from Darby, but I would, if I do this again ( restore another “antique house” that is),  because he had full staircases in tact, meaning all pieces, late 1800s and early 1900s staircases, pediments, landings, you name it. Perfect for someone who wants to buy the staircase and then design around it! But it was here I started thinking of what I envisioned.  Then came along O.C and his wife Linda, antiques wholesaler’s (whom have since become dear friends), that I met in Canton at First Monday and as I explained my vision to him he said,” I think I might just have some pieces buried in the back of one of my storage facilities”.. And then we started the texting back and forth. Yes he had the bannister, in tact, and some architectural molded panels, and a round newel post which is exactly what I wanted.

And so so the build begins:


And the hard work of these guys paid off, because I feel it matches the house and its owner perfectly, flaws and all, haha.

And the grand results, looks like this:  before, a single story home, after “a two story new “old” masterpiece in my book!



I even think the dust shown in the pic above (construction dust), even makes it feel more like we stepped back into the 1920s with this house.

Never thought I’d be so excited and proud to have to keep clean all this wood and detail 😬(These fine wood details & moldings are true dust collectors, beware!). But I am very pleased  I am very happy with the results (dust bunnies and all)… “Rhett, Rhett dear, where are you, I  coming down now, meet me at the stair landing…”

The end!



Is wallpaper coming back in style?

While  some of you will answer this one quickly with an emphatical, No. I for one do have visions of Victorian wall paper dancing in my head.

Of course I think this comes from my love of all things vintage and antique, especially Victorian and 1890s-1910.  But when it came to wallpaper, I soon found that this amazing fade of a by gone time, is quickly coming back in style for many.  There are some amazing colors, textures and designs, including: matte, frosted, metallic, glossy, Dimentional and natural fiber as well.

All this to say that some of you might have nightmarish flashbacks of your grandmothers 1960s mod wallpaper, you know the avacado color paper that covered every square inch of space, you felt like your breathing it in, like this pic:

Wallpaper and super shag carpet, with colors that overwhelm, perfect for the period, late 60s and early 70s

Wallpaper and super shag carpet, with colors that overwhelm, perfect for the period, late 60s and early 70s

Now lets take a peak at my version of “papering your palace”.  As I near the end of my arduous road of remodeling “big girl”, I find this to be those moments I enjoy most, because I really see the details of my design ideas taking shape.

I knew I wanted wallpaper, I love the detail and romance in some of the toile designs of wallpaper.  So here are the wallpaper features that I decided to use.  And yes, that is wallpaper on the ceiling, to engage the eye as if it were ceiling tin, once painted in high gloss, it will have the effect of old style ceiling tin tiles.

image Before the wallpaper and ceiling medallion are up.image After

image image image The library will now be the “war room”, and has a beautiful metallic cherub print design.

For me and “big girl” wallpaper is definitely back “in” and I’m glad.

SMITHVILLE Texas will rise from the ashes of Hiddenpines Fire

So my little community called the town where Hope fLoats,  SMITHVILLE Texas history here is already home to me.  Although I don’t live here permanently (yet) I will soon call my permanent place of residence SMITHVILLE.  But my secret fairy tale, is no longer my little secret, although not my ideal way for SMITHVILLE to get exposure.  The town has been on the news due to the massive wildfire, known as the Hidden Pines Wildfire of 2015, which as of this morning is still burning .

What makes this particularly devasting, which anytime you have a loss of land and homes (50+ homes at this point) the fact that this isn’t the first time…. The surreal and undeniable somberness is because this area, Batrop county just experienced a massive fire in 2011 that destroyed, we’ll let me let you read this from Wikipedia of the official account of the “most destructive wildfire in Texas history”. And we Texans know we have LOTS of history: 

The Bastrop County Complex fire was the most destructive wildfire in Texas history, striking areas of Bastrop County in September and October 2011.[8][9][10] Three separate fires started on September 4, 2011, as a result of strong winds caused by nearby Tropical Storm Lee, and merged into one large blaze that burned east of the city of Bastrop.[11] Two people were killed by the fire, which destroyed 1,673 homes and inflicted an estimated $325 million of insured property damage.[4][12][13][14] The fire furthermore caused severe damage to Bastrop State Park and the ancient Lost Pines Forest.[15] After being largely contained in late September, the fire was declared controlled on October 10. The fire moved underground later in October and was finally extinguished on October 29.[1][12][16]

In 2011, living in austin we felt we needed to help our neighbors, so I did, volunteering with ADRN and Austin stone church, I volunteered to adopt a family affected. I got, for anonymity purposes, I will call her “Jana”‘ you do what you can for someone who has lost everything, clothes, furniture, photos.. A life gone(as you knew it). We got clothes, food, gift cards, stays at hotel, until FEMA kicked in for her…. Most important to offer friendship, to listen to talk, to be a shoulder if needed. “Jana” was strong, resilient, and survived, with the help of many volunteers, churches, support groups and people like YOU, who stepped in to help her rebuild a life and a home!

But now it feels so much more personal, because I’m connected to SMITHVILLE now, so the Hidden Pines fire of 2015 is hitting home (relatively speaking).

So how is it that this wonderful county of Bastrop and this time in particular the city of SMITHVILLE Texas, happen to be in the center of another major wildfire? I can’t answer this, but I know this community has a powerful faith filled, inspired and strong connection with each other, so I have no doubt, God has protected this community ( from this being much much worse) and it will prevail with this community!

Personally I have to rely on my faith (easy for me, as I have lost nothing and “Big Girl” the house I’m remodeling to live in is still standing), unlike the other 50 families whose houses were destroyed and  in ashes, along with their land.  I do believe God will not allow us to face what we cannot handle, and I take some comfort in praying over my fellow Smithvillions in knowing that this town has great heritage, history and a backbone made of steel (railroad steel to be exact). So this town will not only thrive it will survive and come out better than before, there is no doubt, after all: this is the “town of Hope Floats” and I know that community, friendships and faith and HOPE will prevail.   Because in Smithville Texas, hope not only resonates, you feel it and it “floats”in the air out here (even thru the current smoke), HOPE IS REAL HERE! 

driving towards smithville , your heart starts pounding

my house in on this side away from fires, unlike my fellow neighbors in its soon to be destructive path




by friday by drive out there was smoke filled, lots of smoke and the smell of burning, that is still with me today




the smoke on friday oct 16, 2015 has settled around Big Girl. and the twin oaks

  I take comfort in this picture as to me it’s as if Gods saying, “let their be light” always!  His light shines in and the light will always prevail over the darkness.  I pray for my neighbors, those affected directly by the fire, we stand with you, we pray over you and we are here for you, with love , faith and HOPE!

Sidebar:  instead of posting pics of my remodel, which is what this blog is about, I’m posting pics of images I would take daily when I would drive out there starting on Wednesday.  Although, I have been excitedly awaiting the time when I would be able to say, I’m finished with my house remodel and will call “Big Girl” ( the house name for those who don’t know) home. I can tell you that even though I’m not living in her yet, the spirit of this town is in me, and I’m eager to start helping my neighbors rebuild and inspire them thru Hope, faith and love.

Some of the most awe inspiring photos can be found here, how do you say thank you to all the firefighters, volunteers and men and women on the ground fighting this blaze in order to keep it contained.Hidden pines fire of 2015 pictures


Let there be LIGHT….



They say absence makes the heart grow fonder..

I know it has been a while ( well over 6 weeks) since my last update on Big Girl and her progress.

However, in my absentisim there has been at least one.. well two, great progressions in the transformation of Big Girl:

Big Girl when she was cut in half and making her move !

Big Girl when she was cut in half and making her move !

Antique lighting is the perfect accessory to complete your old house restoration

Antique lighting is the perfect accessory to complete your old house restoration

image image image

Rehabbing old houses

ship lap: Gorgeous wood wall tongue and groove found behind layers of drywall

The first exciting update is that Im well on my way to picking out fixtures & trim, othewise known as accessories!  Yes yes, I know it might look like I still have a long way to go, but really it will start to go fast now that the rewiring is almost done!  Yes, the rewiring  ( whole house electrical upgrade) is almost complete. It is a bit of a challenge ( not for me – but for my electrician) considering your dealing with a house that has 100 year old, very sturdy, really hard, dense wood ( and lots of it). This house like many old houses have what some refer to as ‘ship lap”. It looks like the picture above. It is called this because it was how ships were built for their strength and stbaility.  This tuype of wood framing also gives your home an amazing ‘bone structure’, there is a lot of extra reinforcement to the bones of these old beauties.

The wiring is almost comlete and soon we shall SEE LIGHT. Speaking of which my small collection of Antique treasures at local thrift stores and garage sales is adding up, as you can see from the quick photos from above.

Thankfully, I do have a great resource for my restoration lights, you see most if not all these lamps needed checking out, new cords or whole new re-wires. Maybe its  a missing finial or light socket.  So find a great local lighting repair shop, like this one in Austin Texas, D & W Lighting – ANtique lighting source ( repair, restore, huge selection). Although they are in Austin Texas, they ship all over the globe, they also do custom work as well. Their selection is huge, the store is packed and the staff is very knowledgably!  Trust me when I say their gallery pictures on line do not do them justice. The selection is amazing.

So heres to almost having light, and all that comes with that electricity.. like cool air conditioning in the hot Texas weather!

Ohh and the 2nd amazing thing this week: I still have not gone crazy with this remodel or given up.. actually I get more excited and determined with every challenge.

TOP 5:  Why every Southern Belle needs a southern porch 

Good ol sayings from the south, straight from the porch


#5    At least if the remodel isn’t finished, I can  bring my rockers (and my slider) and sit on the porch in the evenings and on weekends. Because a southern belle whose always busy, needs a place to sit and relax.

While most people would leave the outside remodeling  items till the end, I wanted very much to have the porches completed during the first phase.  Thus allowing me the ability to come out here and enjoy the Texas scenery with my (kicked up a notch) sweet tea.

What a good southern porch can be:  (some design ideas below)

down south, our idea of a day bed, is on a covered porch and swings

What a southern porch can be

NOW THIS IS BIG GIRLS PORCH (BELOW), UNFINISHED: (it’s a work in progress guys).  We are still waiting on the custom ordered porch posts to be ready, they should be in April 17th.  Then we can add the spindles and stair hand rails. I can see that porch swing already.   ( some of you will notice we moved that old front door, and inserted an old window there instead)

We simply moved that old front door to this side of the house, thus allows you to gain access to the porch and the outside from the living room, it also gives you more of a view down onto the property from the living room ( where as the old front door location faced the street and the neighboors. Remember the newer front door is on the other side of the house now)

Particularly because this lot and the height of the house off the ground, allow for the most wonderful breeze imaginable, yes even in the heat of the Texas day.  I really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to have a  finished   porch area, where I and my (brave) friends who travel with me all the way out here ( 45 minutes from Austin Texas), can actually sit and partake in the grand view.

#4     A place to bring your friends – even if the house is not livable YET.  Because we are always entertaining !

The neighbors are pretty calm and quiet, just bring them a carrot or an apple !  Makes for a tranquil view.

#3     You always need several porches.. in case you have visitors at different times, one must always be able to have friends over & entertain discreetly ! (ha-ha).

  • The  front porch above is when you want your neighbors  “to see”
  • the back porch below are for when “you dont”

THE BACK DOOR PORCH — Great for morning coffee:

The leaded glass door give it that victorian elegance

THE NEW FRONT ENTRY: (the larger size door, with sidelights and the winterlake antiqued glass are perfect.  The additionial cut out will be a fixed pane of glass, that I will then hang a stained glass  from the inside.  Thus showcasing a stained glass at the entryway, while also creating a more weatherized effect. A great alternative than if you try to use stained glass as a stand alone window like they used to do):

#2     Every grand southern home need a grand entry and a grand reception porch, where you great all of your visitors.

and finally the #1 reason a Southern Belle needs a southern porch:

#1     reason:  a southern porch is needed so you can make a “southern porch swing” cocktail: (recipe below)

see recipe porch swing cocktail recipe here.  These are my top 5 reasons a southern belle needs a great southern style porch.  From my porch to yours!

Antiques Week in Texas… the spring show had lots to see & buy


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For those of us die hard junk’o’rama, salvage, restoration, estate sale vixens, antique store scrounging, pinterest posting, houzz searching, dumpster diving, milk painting, tarnish polishing, southern belles (quick breath).. who love finding what others might call “clutter”….

Slight traffic jamb as we all try to get to #antiquesweek in #warrenton and #roundtop Texas

 In Texas, we dont call it clutter, we call it GOLD.  Im talking about all things old, antiqued, salvaged, restored, or restorable.   Those of us who have that bug, that virus, that love, that passion, that infection called: “antique freak”, we know Antiques Week in Texas is where to be.  We all faithfully watch our yearly calendar for the twice a year: Warrenton – Round Top Antiques Week.  Why even the most famous shabby chic, TV host and designer Rachel Ashwell and her  fans follow and attend this event  

Yours truly and my faithful friends pictured below, also partake with the masses of sundress, boot wearing, junk gypsies who travel the miles to this little slice of heaven.. why even the real  Junk Gypsies from the ever popular TV show  on HGTV, Junk Gypsies have a store here  (where else do you think they got started ???  Why from years of attending and buying at #antiques week of course!)

Antiques Week Women

Wonder why you havent heard of it yet, well it (used to be) a little known Texas secret, although not surpirsing I think one certain famous Shabby Chic lady, Ms. Rachel Ashwell actually brought lots of National attention to the famous Antiques week.  Especially after she decided to start calling  Round Top Texas her home away from home and opend up a raelly amazing B&B here, called  The Prairie By Rachel Ashwell, which you can tour with this quick link.  Even more inspiring is her own story of how when she thought she had found Texas, in 2010 texas really “found” her, by way of Round Top Texas adn the opening of her life long dream, her passion, her heart and her romance at The Prairie, Rachel’s story of her romance with Texas (click her to read about it)

So what did I buy for BIG GIRL (my 1920’s restoration project that you can read about here on this blog about Big Girl- 1920 house restoration )

It might be more about what I didnt buy.. well Im a bit behind on the remodel of Big Girl, so storage is an issue. I made sure to take notes of my favorite things, snapping pics of ideas and items Ill be sure to look for at the Fall Antiques Week show, in September 2015.  But for now my big purchase is this antique prayer bench out of a church.  We just couldn’t help ourselves, we were drawn to the prayer bench and quickly knelt to confess our sin:  our love of Antiques Week  !  I cant wait to have this bench on the (soon to be) screened in porch.

Thats me devilishly looking over to make sure we werent being struck by lighting yet!

And  here are a few things that I  bought, the rest will be a secret till I finish the  remodel of Big Girl and I make her BIG reveal here :

Cant wait to get the drywall done on Big Girl, so I can decide where to insert this antique repro of Vanilla Extract mercantile cabinet. Love the victorian marble top, and those ceiling medallions will be great on the ceiling with an antique chandelier under them

Great signs that will add character

The General Store sign will look great above the pantry door ( which will be a great old white antique screen door I bought, but didn’t take a picture of (sorry).

I”d say  Antiques Week was a success !  We can ddrink to that !