The Farm Life | Our First House + DIY Renovations

December 20, 2019
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Well, friends. We are FINALLY *done. I put an asterisk beside that because being a homeowner you are never done. Careless a farm owner. But, for the most part, our major projects are finished.

Let’s take it back to January of LAST year. Yes, 2019. That is when we started looking for our first house. To be honest, we put it off for a while because I kind of knew what I wanted really wasn’t a reality in our budget….but those who know me know once I get something in my head, it has to happen. I grew up riding horses and loving working on a farm, so that has been my dream ever since I was a little girl. I am well aware of the cost of owning a horse, especially boarding one at a stable or equestrian center, so I told myself I would never buy my own until I had my own property. So we begin…

To put it into perspective without getting into too many details–here is our list of requirements/wants:

  1. Within an hour of my work and Dylan’s. Mind you, we both work in opposite directions…Richmond and Chester
  2.  Has to have high speed internet. This was not a want but a need, for my business and for my full time job. This part was borderline impossible for us to find. Rural communities really lack a solid internet connection. Shame on you commercial internet vendors. Everyone should have Google.
  3. A farm! Yes, minimum 5 acres. 5 acres is pretty small, but as you go up in land, you double the price of real estate. I figured we wouldn’t get to 10+ acres with a liveable house in any area close enough to commute. A1 zoned of course.
  4. A horse barn, minimum 2 stalls
  5. House has to be in decent condition, IE, no abandoned farmhouses or houses needing a complete renovation
  6. Budget: Under 300k

I bet your laughing by now, especially if you are familiar with horse properties. Does this even exist? I was told HELL NO by multiple people. But I had been eyeing the market for a while, and if we found the perfect combo of “needing some work, but its doable” we could get there. It was just a matter of judging how much we could do on our own, vs our budget, vs not spending all our savings on the house because the goal was to get horses which also, is $$.

The housing market is a cruel beast. Everyone makes it seem like the process in buying your first home is fun and exciting. Maybe it is for some? For us, it was literally mental abuse. We endured it for almost a year. Close to 10 months of searching, looking, coming close, offering, getting rejected, giving up, starting over.

Finally, one day…I HAD given up. I said, F**ck having a barn. I obviously can’t afford it, and I don’t want to settle on a dump for a house just to have it. I will work hard to save up and build my own, however long it takes. So with my head down and moral crushed, I started looking for just houses with cleared acreage. On my search on Zillow, a farmette popped up in Henrico county—with a 2 stall horse barn, fully fenced pasture, 5 acres, and within 30 minutes to Richmond AND Chester with a cute brick house and in budget. Mind you, I wanted to call this real estate agent who listed this property and say ARE YOU DUMB? They didn’t check any of Zillow’s boxes for “horse barn” or “farm”, which would have brought this house up in everyone’s search results who were actually looking for a horse property. So no one was finding this expect for people who just wanted land and not a horse property. HAHA! Then, there was me. Crapping my pants, calling my realtor like the world was on fire saying WE HAVE TO GET IN FIRST. It had only been listed for a day. The first thing she said was, “How did you even find this?”

To be honest, I was so discouraged at this point that as we were driving to go look at it I was like, there is no way this is real. Something has got to be really wrong with this place for it to be priced the way it is. Granted, it is not a huge property. But the barn was virtually brand new, and it was perfect for a 2 horse setup.

August 12, 2019. There she blows!

Looking back, I wish I had taken pictures of the inside of this house on the first time we saw it. But I am also glad I didn’t because its in the past now. Its gone. *shutters*. Yes, nothing is ever as good as it seems.

I am a SUPER clean person. I hate clutter, I am OCD about things being out of place, and above all I am a clean freak. I will put it in nice terms and say, the inside of this house was disgusting. It borderline looked like a hoarder house that had not been properly cleaned since 1950, about when it was re-built. But thanks to the encouragement of my realtor and Dylan, I tried to look past that and see the “Bones” of the house and the overall structure. To that regard, it was in ok shape. It was mainly cosmetic items that we needed to do, and of course, clean it 500 times to peel back the layers of dirt. ANYWAY

This was the best part:

Our offer was accepted sometime in late August. After some crappy events with appraisal, we finally had a closing date of early September.

Jingle jangle we got our keys!

Alright…so the reno list:

-Entire house needed paint. Everything wall was beige, pale green, or pale blue

-Floors were in horrid condition, torn to shreds from dogs and I didn’t like the orange/yellow color

-Guest bath was so nasty, I refused to walk in it without shoes. And that is after I had a professional come clean. The tile was original to the house, so that explains that.

-Radiator heat—not a good reselling point, and its nasty. Black soot was all over the walls around it. Plus, this house is only 1500 square feet. We didn’t have room for radiators, to be honest! Central heat install. We already had central AC, so the baseline was there.

-Kitchen was ok, just very outdated

-All light fixtures and fans were extremely old/not working

-All power outlets were the old 2 prong style, not updated

-The main bathroom has ugly as sin tile in the shower, but we agreed to leave that for now and tackle that later on down the road. A shower curtain hides it fine 🙂

We were on a very tight budget, as most first time homeowners are….so we opted to do everything ourselves aside from the guest bathroom and removing radiator heat piping. Ain’t nobody got time for that. God bless our contractor. Turns out that bathroom was built over what used to be a porch…..(??)

Floors before–

Here we go, sanding


Radiator piping out

Radiators and bathroom demo day

Aedan really sick of going to Lowes

Original sign for the house we brought in to restore

Look, a clean barn!!

Guest bathroom demo. There was floor to ceiling cement tile…..everywhere…

Me taking a moment for my mental sanity during renovations. It’s now October…we decided not to move until the bathroom and floors were done

Floors are stained in the house now, and vinyl installed in the guest bath (along with new…everything)

Ok people, its moving day! A week before Halloween

Oh yeah, we bought a farm truck because after 10 trips to Lowes we realized having a standard car isn’t going to cut it for much longer


Let’s start with the worst: Guest Bath

Our Room

Living Room


I always get people asking– I sanded these myself, used paint stripper, sanded again, and stained with General Finishes Java Gel Stain. I love that stuff.

Dining Room

Guest Bedroom

And that’s a wrap folks. I still can’t really believe what it used to look like. We spent less than $6000 TOTAL on this entire reno, including paying a contractor to do the bathroom which was most of it. It just takes time…sweat…and lots of support from people who know what they are doing. Shoutout to my Dad, and my uncle Ronnie. You the real MVPs.

Welcome to the Tiny Farm, re-est 2019

And on to the next project! I never sleep.

Week 1 in our new house I was not wasting any time. Sorry Dylan. Welcome our new family…

Wanda + Wallace, glorified Kune Kunes

Misc chickens— Rosie, Rockett, Rango, Marg, Waffles


Sneaking one last in here….once it started to get cold the floors were straight up FREEZING. Turns out the crawl space insulation was probably half as old as the house. Here we went….

After recovering, which I don’t think we actually ever did, we decided to have some people over

In the end, we kept some of the historical charm of the house like the original doors, knobs, and trim

And to all a good night!

Merry Christmas friends. We will be at home, sleeping….





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