Under Development: a new kitchen for the old farmhouse

You will recall from my last post, that we discovered dank and damp wall coverings in the kitchen.  What we had presumed would be a fix and refurbishing job was suddenly turned into a gutting of the entire kitchen.

Which, by the way, I feel bad about.  I suppose I don’t expect anyone to understand this, but when we first toured the Mountain Farmlet and met the Octogenarian, we had promised her we wouldn’t remodel.

That snippet of the conversation went something like this:

Octogenarian,  “… and when you remodel you can…”

At which point we both cut her off and said, “NO, we like it as it is.”

You should have seen her smile.

It was, and still is our ethic that if you buy an old home, then you should like it for what it is.  Don’t go in with the thought that you are going to tear down walls, put in modern decor, or pretentious contraptions you really don’t need in a house that is almost one hundred years old on one end and two hundred years old on the other.

And yet, if it is broken or unhealthy we understand that you must fix it.  And so it is we find ourselves faced with an unforeseen and expensive job on our hands.  Oh, by the way, the old place needs a new roof too, but we guessed this much before we bought it.  Let me explain.

Did you know that if you fix the foundation under your home that the movement in leveling it will travel up the walls and right into the rafters?  Think of it like this:

Stand with one foot on a stair or curb and try not to let your knee bend.  What just happened?  If you don’t let the knee bend, then your back wants to bend to keep you upright.  Now think about that roof.  The sides of the structure are not going to bend like your back did, so all of that new stress follows up the supports of the structure, and ends in the rafters and braces.  Hence, leaks are going to happen.

And they have, as we knew they would, but we went ahead with the work, because it simply had to be done.  However, what we didn’t expect while all this was going on was to have one of the wettest summers in the history of  N. Alabama.

And,  friends, we have leaks

We are meeting with the roofer to sign on the dotted line on Sunday afternoon.   Nice roofer!  He knows we’re only there on Sundays and that it is a two hundred mile round trip for us.   This flexibility will allow Bob to be a part in the picking out of tin roof color and signing on the contract too.  😉

Now, tomorrow we will finish gutting that kitchen and the little keeping room.   We were told by the foundation man, that the little passage wall between them is non load bearing and so our plan is to remove it.  This will give us a nice Galley kitchen.

I had wanted to do this with the wood battens:


I can think of no feasible way to seal them from the outside elements.   As well, the location of our new home will absolutely not let us.  Located in the country, and on a farm, we are surrounded by rodents.   There are also brown recluse spiders, *mud dauber wasps, and snakes.  So unless we completely seal the walls on the inside, then it’s a fact of life that these creatures are going to find their way in.

No thanks!

And this brings me to the planning stage of the new kitchen that I want to look very much like this:

Looks like our layout!I found this on the “This Old House” [TOH] website and you can view the complete article by clicking on the photograph.

Now of course there are concessions to be made, and bargains to be struck, such as, Bob wants a dishwasher, and I want more cupboard space.  😉  And their will be tweaks to this layout, such as, we will have to add that window over the sink, and I want the stove over by the sink line up on the left side of the room.  Also, I will not be getting that lovely apron sink, or the new vertical wood planking on the walls, or the stone counter tops, or even those lovely custom-made cabinets!

My version will be:  A stainless one bowl, drop in sink; Formica counters, and the cabinets will be our version of functional storage purchased and retrofitted from the Habitat Restore.  Oh yes, and the walls will be wallboard , thanks to Bob Villa’s handy tips for installing it with a sealed backing on those outside walls.

I am toying with the idea of a pass through opening on the wall to the dinning room.  The dining room is a bit dark on this side, and there is no useable space for a new window in there.  It is my feeling that some of the light from the kitchen windows will pass through and light up the dining area nicely!  Indirect light is better by far than no natural light in a dark corner of a room.  Agreed?

Playing around with my ideas, which are based on that lovely TOH plan has brought me to a very rough rendering of our future kitchen:

Future-Kitchen-Plans  I am no draftsman, and please note that four blocks = 1 sq. ft.

We have a very tiny kitchen!

With no further bumps along the way, putting  a monkey wrench into the works (yeah right) then this is to be my general layout. 

However, we shall see how it all plays out.   🙂



That outside door in the keeping room is definitely slated for an upgrade and may require the services of a professional.  It is original to the structure, but it has to go!  (Due to its vintage status it will be saved and repurposed.)


I am getting tired of hearing grown men groaning and swearing when entering and exiting a 5  foot 6 inch door!!!  🙂


*Mud Daubers:   It will take some time… but those mud daubers are going to find it increasingly difficult to gain entry into the walls from the outside.  I have never seen so many of them in one place, and their stings are bad!   It took three weeks for the lump on my upper arm to go away.  😯

49 thoughts on “Under Development: a new kitchen for the old farmhouse

  1. Littlesundog says:

    I get tickled reading updates to the Mountain Farmlet. Your writing explodes with excitement and constant thought. Your plans are evolving nicely, despite a few “monkey wrenches” that surface from time to time.

    We have all of the varmints here that you talk about. You certainly do not want them IN your home! I find that once the outdoors is groomed (cutting some grasses and not having a lot of thick vegetation around the house) there is less attraction for spiders and snakes. Mud daubers are a constant battle. I’m all the time, knocking down their muddy constructions. If they aren’t trying to find ways into the walls of the house, they’re building all around the exterior of the house!

    How’s Bob holding up through all of this? LOL

    • Lynda says:

      Yes, Lori, there certainly are plenty of monkey wrenches in my tool box! We are planning on moving the foundation plantings further out into the perimeter. I don’t want to 86 everything because there are some real treasures planted there by the Octogenarian. But fall is coming and they will get dug up and moved then.

      Bob is holding up amazingly well. OK, except for that 5′ 6″ door!

  2. shoreacres says:

    Two words made me especially happy: “tin roof”. There’s nothing better.
    I agree about the pass-through, too. I’m a great fan of light, as much as possible. Build it in and you always can shade it. Leave it out, and it’s light bulbs for you!

    I have mud daubers, too. They’re determined and enthusiastic. I got a high-pressure nozzle for my hose and have been able to keep them under control with that – provided I keep an eye on them. Once those nests really harden, they can be like concrete, as you know.

    Oh, and speaking of small kitchens… My first kitchen in Houston was a galley-like thing, too, except it was the width of two floor tiles, and perhaps six tiles in length. There was a folding door you could pull closed to hide it. That’s all right – as a consolation prize, the living room slit-that-was-supposed-to-be-a-window looked right down into Dr. Michael DeBakey’s scrub room. That was pretty fun.

    • Lynda says:

      In the 70s, when I was stationed in Pensacola, FL, I used to visit on long weekends with my friend Jennifer Fontinot. Her family lived in Louisiana and their lovely little home had a tin roof. I LOVED it when it rained! I have dreamed of living in a house with a tin roof ever since.

      Scrub room? As in getting ready for surgery? 😯

    • Lynda says:

      Lillian, I think that when we have company over for dinner it will make visiting more fun, and serving/clean up less congested. Don’t you agree?

  3. nauticalmountaindesigns says:

    It may be a small kitchen, but the layout looks solid, and that’s the most important thing! You may want to consider switching the dishwasher to the right side of the sink, but it just depends on storage placement for you.
    P.S. Thanks for the pingback!

  4. George Weaver says:

    Definitely, the door has to go. My son-in-law, who is 6′ 5″, would have to crawl in to visit, I think! I like your plan for the renovation. Especially, I like the idea of opening up the wall to the dining area! 🙂 Renovation is fun. My pesticide guy told me that dirt daubers flocked to my garage because everybody else in the neighborhood destroyed their nests! They are opportunistic inhabitants! 🙂

    • Lynda says:

      George, many of the fellas that have been working on this place are quite tall. I think I will paint the top of the opening yellow with black striping, since it is all going to get changed/painted anyway. So why not? 😉 They certainly are opportunists, and they have lots of opportunity with all that wood siding! If we are capable of pulling it off ourselves, then I am really looking forward to that extra light!

  5. cecilia says:

    I LOVE the drawing stage. So many dreams are given full rein before being reined in.. wonderful. Now, where does your light come from, this is my first question when designing a space, where is my light! Love it. You are going to have such fun! c

    • Lynda says:

      Celi, you are correct about that being reined in part! We are on a very tight budget because we didn’t realize how much work was involved. (Age of home = lots of hidden work… should’a seen that one coming?) 😉 However, as you said, we will love it when it is done, and all this work is a labor of love.

    • Lynda says:

      Nancy, at this end of the adventure I am just a teensy overwhelmed, and wishing we were done already! LOL! But you are correct, we will love it when it is done. 😀

  6. pattisj says:

    I like your new kitchen plans. Yes, you definitely want to keep the wildlife outside! The kitchen/dining room pass-thru sounds like a good idea, too. 5’6″ doors?! That would be a little hard for most people to get through.

    • Lynda says:

      Annie, I have a plan, but there is much repair to do before I can act on that plan… It is a good thing that we wanted to remove those stub walls. There is a joist and a floor suspension beam that need replacing. Damn termites! It is old damage, but it needs addressing. And yes, keeping the critters out is a big priority! 😯

  7. chatou11 says:

    Well Lynda you are a pretty good architect! and do you know what, I was happy to read that you want a formica counter.. I use to like that very much.
    A lot to do but finally I am sure you will have the prettiest farm and the octogenarian will be happy.
    We also have mud dauber here but not that much.
    I’m followihg the farm”s adventures with enthusiasm!

    • Lynda says:

      Chantal, thank you for your compliment! I am getting a crash course in all the tricks for renovation and drafting it all out. I don’t know if this makes sense, but the drafting of the kitchen isn’t too much different than the drafting of a quilt block. I think the mud dauber’s will decline in numbers when they don’t have so many entry points into the house. It will take awhile, but I will eventually block them out. LOL! I am glad you are enjoying our adventure. 🙂

      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        D’you happen to recall that conversation we had a while back about Mosquitos, bird populations, and so on? Well, I’ve got another question for y’all… What do Mud Dauber Wasps feed on? For there to be so many, there must be a load of food for them, mustn’t there?? Just a thought; )

          • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

            Okay, back to that supply and demand thing…
            Which do you prefer: having wasps to eat the spiders (Brown Recluse, I believe you said? Don’t think they’re up here, but they sound pretty nasty): OR less wasps and more spiders? I know which way I’d go – but I HATE walking into spiders’ webs – and (once you’re finished disturbing their nests, that is) wasps (here at least) are pretty much live and let live creatures…
            We have a fairly new arrival here that’s about 2″ long, with a fairly chunky build; all iridescent black; that’s building nests under the interlocking bricks. I saw one carry a full-grown BIG grasshopper into its burrow the other day. There’s another wasp here that likes to nest inside the clothesline “elevator” tube. She also preys upon grasshoppers, but small, delicate green ones, which are also the same size as she is. Now I’m guessing, by the size of their egg tubes, that Organ Pipes are a good size as well? Does this mean that Your Recluse is also a large spider (with an equally nasty bite?):

          • Lynda says:

            a) wasps
            b) spiders
            C) NEITHER! 😉 (brown recluse that is)

            It is not my preference to invite the Terminex man onto the premises, but it is abundantly obvious that the Mud Daubers are not doing their job. Not entirely. We have several sticky traps set out in known entry points around the inside of the house and they get full of Brown Recluse (BR) FAST.

            Now BR will eventually back off on their own when the premises is occupied and properly sealed off inside, but I am seriously afraid of the BR after listening to a grown man bawling when his infected bite was being cleaned out in the ER one afternoon.

            Proviso: The Terminex man mans the termite stations and is only allowed to treat the outside of the structure. No spraying or powders inside and no sprinkling of granules outside! I don’t want to poison the world, or myself, I just want the bugs (spiders and wood roaches) to stay out of my house. Period.

          • Lynda says:

            I read that too, Deb. I think its quite enterprising, but couldn’t they build those nests out in the woods on a tree or a rock or something? What did they build on before there were houses? LOL!

          • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

            I must admit that sometimes it IS difficult for all of us to coexist but, according to what I’ve seen here at home and read (so many articles this morning that I’ve lost track of which one it was – but pretty sure it was the one from Iowa State U) that mention how rare it is for solitary wasps to sting. Is it possible, if you can remember now, that you may have leaned against it accidentally or pinched it when it was trapped it in your clothing? I know that, more often than not, this is what causes me to get stung out in the bee yard.

          • Lynda says:

            I was out front of the house and sweeping the walkway wearing a tank top. After howling a bit, I returned to finish sweeping and she kept dive-bombing me! I never did get that walk finished that day. I wish I had a video camera, because you just wouldn’t believe how many there are. I keep bees and don’t see that many of them coming and going in front of their hives. There are a lot of these wasps here, and I presume it is because all of the structures are made of wood.

            You know I try hard to keep things green, but at this point it is them or me! 😐

          • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

            Sorry, that was not the link I meant. This one has a list of herbs that’re all used (at the very least) as an insect repellant. She speaks often of using essential oils, but traditionally these herbs were also grown around the home AND used for “strewing” on the floor or in bedding as a physical barrier to annoying insects like fleas, bedbugs and ticks.
            About those Jewelweed seeds? I do know of a place where there’s SCADS of it and it should be throwing seed now. I’ll see what I can do, but you know, by the sounds of it, you should be able to find it locally. Oh and there are two kinds this one with orange, spotted flowers (Impatiens capensis) and a lemon yellow with no spots (Impatiens pallida)
            Found TONS of links when I googled “Jewelweed/range”

          • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

            I just saw my first Organ Pipe nest(s) ever, just a few weeks ago. They were ‘way up in the rafters of a barn – along with loads of Barn Swallows (nests and families: ) Hopefully they’ll find other “out of the way” places to build once you’ve blocked access (and keep working on that spider population from the outside; ) I know you have a green outlook and understand stinging insects better than most.
            Meanwhile, my Gramma always said, “For every ill (problem) known to man, The good Lord put a cure (an answer) on this earth”… The bracketed parts are mine, but the thought is the same. Here’s a link with some possible “grow your own” solutions to help prevent insect troubles inside: http://www.thisplace.com.au/eco/insectherb.htm
            P.S. There’s also mention of Jewelweed for insect stings here (+…)

          • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

            Just me, playing the “what if?” game again…
            Your galley layout appears to be roughly 13′ x 7′, and you’ve said the “pass through” wall is non load-bearing, so what if you united the dining room/kitchen to become a larger, one room “farm-style”, eat-in kitchen? Just move your countertop over to become a (cabinets on all/both sides) work island between the two spaces. Then you’d definitely get the light from that new window into the other side AND be able to access the dining side from either end of the kitchen side… (If I get too annoying, you’d let me know, right?; )

          • Lynda says:

            NO… the pass through wall IS load bearing. 😯
            It is the little stub walls between the original kitchen and the keeping/breakfast room which are not load bearing. Romove the pass-through wall? Don’t even want to think about all the reinforcing, and contracting expense, that project would entail… Though it would sure be NICE! 🙂

    • Lynda says:

      Hm, that is very tempting, Julie!

      I would need two things to be able to do this:
      1) A round trip plane ticket to Australia, and
      2) Your and Ming’s assistance.

  8. LB says:

    Now see? as a 5ft tall woman, I am confused as to why the height of the door is a problem (ha!). Can you tell me how long it had been since the Octegenarian had lived in the home? I ask because I wonder if she knew about the mold, the mud daubers, the leaks …

    • Lynda says:

      LB, the Octogenarian had been living there with her husband for about 20 years. There weren’t any leaks until we had the foundation worked on to replace the logs, tree stumps and boulders that were holding it all up! With the exception of the newest bedroom add on. We knew it had a leak because the inspector showed it to us… there were stepping stones up there to hold the tin down! So we knew that one was coming and hence the new roof was needed.

      As for the mold, well I can’t say. When she was living there we never noticed the musty odor. Now that the house has been sitting empty for some time, well we notice it. Mud daubers? HA! You can’t miss those, because there are so many! The siding of the house is board and batten. The planking has quite a few knot holes and they get in through those. I have a plan for covering them, but that plan will be revealed when we get to that repair.

      About that door. It is a mystery. I am 5′ 5″ and have no problem what-so-ever! 😉

  9. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Wish I’d read this post when you first put it out; ’cause you’ve probably already had your meeting with the roofer; however, after I did some digging this morning, I found some great articles for your particular stage of reconstruction. (Plus there’s no such thing as too much knowledge. “Forewarned is forearmed” right?; )
    For your consideration, the Cole’s Notes version: http://www.westform.com/care.php?s1=considerations and this massively comprehensive guide on EVERYTHING about metal rooves and roofing, from The Metal Cladding & Roofing Manufacturers Ass’n Ltd in Britain:

    Click to access mcrma_t06.pdf

    From what I’ve seen, there are two kinds of trades people – the ones who simply do as they’re asked by the client (get in and get out, cheque in hand) and those who truly care about their work, take the time to explain different solutions to suit each situation and give an honest quote. As this journey continues, may you always find who you need: )

  10. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    LOL, could not figure out your scale at first! (Don’t forget, I usually read the blog on my phone screen; ) But then I remembered that you’d said it was like laying out quilt blocks: ) and it made sense for me to think that each (1/4″) square of graph paper = 6 inches of reality…

  11. Playamart - Zeebra Designs says:

    i’m so sorry that i missed this but glad that i’m here now! i arrived in Costa Rica late monday night and will be here working – tearing down an old structure that the muni says has to go or be bulldozed down!!!!

    i too will be busy, but haven’t mentioned it to many. most ‘freak out’ or get indignant, but for me it’s evolution and moving forward!

    will be online briefly each day – hit and miss.

    i loved studying the floor plan and am visualizing it in my mind!


    • Lynda says:

      Lisa, we do what we must, and share when we can. 😉 And HELLO! Let’s hear it for moving forward!

      LOL, Visualizing… That is all I am doing at the moment. It seems like it is taking so long! And yet, the foundation is done, the plumbing work begins Tuesday next week, and the roof materials are ordered and construction on that tin roof begins once it STOPS RAINING. 😐 It isn’t raining now, but it is supposed to start up again. And then, after we get done with all the wall peeling, we will be inviting the electrician out for a bit of re-routing and to add some more outlets. It never stops it seems, and yet I know that eventually it will. Or else we will run out of money and it will really come to an end! I may have to start renting out the cabin for holidays and weekends in order to pay for all this work.

      View cabin HERE

      Anybody for a primitive cabin adventure?

      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        You’re being facetious, I know, but I’d truly LOVE to come and “rough it” in the cabin! It’d be worth it just to see all of the Mountain Farmlet’s hidden treasures in the foundation plantings alone, never mind not having to “visualise” all of these details any more… (If you think you’ve got it bad, you should try it from our side – never having seen it at all; )

So how about that? Go on; say something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s