The Downstairs Project


Let me show you my mess.

You know where most of that stuff needs to go? A thrift store. Or the trash.

This is my much-maligned downstairs. (Mostly maligned by me. Well, and the children. They malign it frequently.)

This area was originally intended to be a basement, and it’s constructed as if it were a basement, with cement floors and mostly cinderblock walls. When construction started, the builder told us that he had found too much rock. Digging down the basement would be very expensive. He suggested building up–making the basement the ground floor and putting the main floor of the house on the second floor. The nice side effect of this decision was that we have a great view from the main floor. And seriously, can you imagine if this had not happened this way? If the main floor of the house was at ground level, we’d have all the chickens roosting on the porch instead of just a few, and Clover would be sitting in a rocking chair drinking iced tea from a Mason jar and ordering cookies.

Anyway! So, we have a basement that is not a basement. This often creates confusion for people. Sometimes people think our house is huge. If the basement were below grade as it was intended, the actual main house would look a lot smaller. The house isn’t actually that big, which is why we decided to go with a basement to begin with. There wasn’t enough space in the house for bedrooms for three teenagers. Morgan has a small loft bedroom upstairs, on a third floor that is just her bedroom and a small bathroom. The only other room where I could put the boys was the bedroom at the back of the house that we use now to keep the wood stove and for some office space. (I work at home.) Couldn’t really see cramming two teenage boys in there. So, we built the basement that is not a basement. It’s the same dimensions, of course, as the main floor of the house. (About 1100 square feet.) We sat down with the builder and devised an outline for the floor space, creating two bedrooms at either end on the back side. Between the bedrooms, we made a large utility space with a big wash tub for dogs and vegetables (hmmm…… that doesn’t sound too good, does it?) and a bathroom for the boys. Since there was plenty of space and we had a free extra washer and dryer, we had the builder put washer/dryer hookups in there and it has been fabulous for the boys to have their own laundry. If you have teenage boys, you know what I mean.

The remaining space is divided by a staircase to go upstairs. One side is a “den” for the teenagers. An old couch is in there, a weight bench set they had, a rough desk for their computer, and a TV.

The other side was intended to be storage space, but it’s so disorganized and junked up, it’s useless. I also keep a few freezers there.

The entire space is brutally spartan. Cement floors. Cinderblock walls on all walls but the walls for the bedrooms and bathroom. Floor joists for ceilings.

Time has a way of passing, and with it, children grow. And LEAVE YOU. Ross is in the Navy. Weston is headed for college soon. (How? Why? Can’t we start over with kindergarten???) To make myself feel better over this abandonment by my offspring, and because I like to utilize space, I have begun to dream a little dream down there.

No, not a dream. A plan!

I’m going to start by getting rid of all that junk. I’m going to get rid of the weight bench, too. Ross told me he isn’t going to want to ever take it, and Weston never uses it. (Note Weston’s jacket hanging on it in the photo above.) I’m going to strip the space down–and transform it. This year, for the first time, I can afford to use my tax refund for something other than keeping myself out of jail. I’m just kidding. About the jail. I’ve never been to jail. I swear! Anyway, I’m going to invest my tax refund in the house. Make this space lighter, airier, and more comfortable. I see classroom/workshop space. Shelves, a few worktables. LOTS OF LIGHTING. I think paint for the block walls to brighten them up. Maybe some wall hangings–old quilts. The bedrooms are already sheetrocked. I see two bedrooms that with elbow grease, paint, trim, throw rugs, ceiling tiles, careful selections from antique stores and auctions, and assorted other accoutrements can be turned into old-fashioned, cute “farmhouse” style bedrooms. The theme will be simple, quaint, vintage.

Ross’s room, already partly cleaned out. The only thing that will stay is the bed. (It’s an antique spindle bed that was mine as a child.)

I see a Weekend Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast with Cheesemaking Classes. Or a Weekend Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast with Soapmaking Classes. Heck, if you just want a Weekend Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast with Feeding Clover Cookies, you can have that, too.

I see a tax refund that I can invest into something that will change my life, offer me some added security, and give me another way to bring in income and support the farm. And Clover’s cookies. And a barn.

And so, before I start this project, I’m giving you the “before” pictures. I’ll be posting as I take it step by step, cleaning it out, stripping it down, and building it back up and decorating it–on a very frugal budget. I’ll need your ideas! Wanna come along?


  1. mayr post says:

    This is such a great idea, if I did not live so far away, I would love to help!!!
    Can’t wait to see the after pictures :shimmy:

  2. Darlene in North Ga says:

    Go for it! It sounds like a good idea to me.

  3. Rose H says:

    What a great space and such a wonderful way to utillize it :yes:
    Wishing you much fun in attaining ‘the dream’, looking forward to seeing the on-going project 🙂

  4. Lindsay says:

    I love those ideas! I know it will turn out beautifully :sun:

  5. CindyP says:

    Sounds like a GREAT plan! It’s on your blog, you HAVE to do it now 😉

  6. sonia says:

    Oh Yeah! I am ready for the fun to begin!

  7. Diane says:

    Go for it!!! My suggestion is paint and lots of paint. Paint is cheep. Also as you know put the word out for things you are looking for. Like rugs, desks, tables, sheet board ect..

    You have two old freazers paint those too. Make everything bright down there also. 🙂

    Most of all have fun with it.

  8. northcountrygirl says:

    Our basement is partially above ground. Several years ago hubby bought a skidload of ceramic tile and had the basement floors completely tiled. We insulated the walls and put drywall throughout. We installed baseboard heating units and finished the ceiling and installed florescent lighting. Now, we have a totally liveable and usable downstairs. My sewing room in located here as well as the TV room. The basement is partioned in the middle and my office is located on the other side of the basement. We live downstairs as much as upstairs on the main floor. Love it!!!

  9. ellen mcbryde says:

    I am excited to follow along and see your progress..perhaps I’ll get some ideas from you about how to make my own space more liveable!

  10. Jane says:

    Great idea – you go-getter you! I’ll be following closely as I love this sort of thing, but I have little to no decorating skills :no: If I see something though, I’ll link to it! Have fun :happyflower:

  11. SandyCWV says:

    FYI – paint some dry lock on those walls, put up insulation and dry wall over the blocks. You will not believe the temperature difference in the house! Our house is the same type of layout and we did that last winter. We heat with a wood stove in the basement and rarely does the 55/65 degree furnace kick on.
    Project process depends on if your basement walls get damp. We used the green dry wall over polystyrene just in case of moisture.
    My lurker status is fading this week.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Sandy, it’s definitely cold down there in the winter, but because of our road conditions, I would only open between April and October anyway, so I probably won’t spend the money on insulation as I won’t have guests in the winter. Of course, the bedrooms are already insulated as they were sheetrocked and insulated at the time the house was built.

  12. Carol Langille says:

    I’d like to make a reservation for two, please….maybe in October of 2011? Could we arrange to have a cat or two to share the bed with and maybe Poky to pet?
    Fabulous idea, Suzanne, seriously! I have friends in Missouri who have Bed and Breakfast places and it’s an interesting venture. And the ‘farmhouse’ style is a refreshing break for the stuffy, too-girlie Victorian style that a lot of B & B’s go with.

  13. Yankee Gal says:

    Clever woman! Great ideas – go for it!

  14. Jen in VA says:

    Best of luck in this new adventure! Sounds like a great idea. i can’t wait to see how it progresses. We are cheering you on!

  15. CATRAY44 says:

    How about people come for work weekends? Work for weekend room and board, if they have usable skills? Just a thought… Any retired builders, construction workers on the list?

  16. Marge says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing this project’s progress, Suzanne! I’ve always wished I had a basement but never have. I love your blog!

  17. brookdale says:

    Good luck and have fun! You are an inspiration to us all.

  18. CATRAY44 says:

    Man, if I my kids were all on their own, I would SO come and paint!!!

    Cathy would paint for cheese, lol!

  19. BuckeyeGirl says:

    Insulate anyway, even if it’s those sheets of Styrofoam with some sort of panels over top for now. Having that done makes the upstairs easier to heat, your upstairs floors more comfortable and life better, even if you don’t actually heat it much in the winter. We have a walk out basement too, and insulation does matter!

    Put a long counter along a wall, lots of extra storage! Also, a good sink, one of those with a really deep side and a shallow side, and a gas stove that’s easy to use during power outages or for summer canning, and one refrigerator, but leave room for a second one too!

    Guests can have a coffee maker there, some juice or whatever one of the fridges and a little table since not everyone enjoys being sociable very first thing in the AM, this gives them a chance to have a cuppa before they come up for real brekkies.

    Some of this is because we had a downstairs summer-kitchen growing up, and some because I had good friends who had a B&B downstairs like you’re talking about. All they had was a tiny kitchenette, but canning, cheesemaking, extra cooking room for you will be invaluable I promise!

  20. lilac wolf says:

    Wish I had the least bit of talent in that, but I’m so in to come out there for a weekend with the boys. 🙂 I mean my boys, not your boys…that would be weird. lol

  21. texwisgirl says:

    Sounds like a great plan! Where will the boys sleep when they come home on weekends/leave if you have guests? I guess out in the goat house… 🙂

  22. jane says:

    cleaning out junk is always good and using the space wisely for where you are today is good but to build proper housing, barn and such for your animals so they are warm and dry always should be a priority!!

  23. CATRAY44 says:

    Please tell me we are not going to start that up again, Jane.

  24. Gem says:

    Suzanne, you are HYSTERICAL and INSPIRATIONAL – What a COMBO!

  25. Dianna says:

    How exciting! I’m sure it will be wonderful, and look forward to your posts as the work commences.


  26. holstein woman says:

    Jane, in order to have money for the projects, she has to earn money. I think she is right to do it this way. Also, Please leave space for more jars Suzanne, I found a 1858 for you. I wish I could come for a month or two we would make that place into what you want, I have the skills and equipment. But, I have a working (me) farm also.

  27. holstein woman says:

    I wrote that wrong, I think she had the right idea. Also, what happened to the BARN FUND someone brought up a couple of months ago and we were all supposedly going to send her $5.00 each to build one for her? Where is your money everyone???????

  28. bonita says:

    My basement is one of those 1/2 above ground dealies. Don’t need lights during the day…But a couple of years ago, it looked a yours. Lot’s o’ junk. Lots. 15 years of Junk everywhere except on the washer and dryer and the bird room. (A living room-sized space at the sunny front of the building once home to 100+ lovebirds, parrolettes and other exotics kept in large walk-in flight cages.) Anyway, I was lucky to find a good friend who was a true neat and clean freak. He helped get all the junk out, bagged the garbage, and hauled away the goodwill stuff. Find yourself one of these type of people. Otherwise, it’s sooo easy to get bogged down in the clean out, the unfun part of the project. And good luck, it sounds like a FABULOUS IDEA. A great and useful way to supplement an income. There might even be interest in families bringing their youngsters for an overnight look at a REAL farm! We have lots of houses up hear with ‘summer kitchens’ in the basement for canning and whatever.

  29. CATRAY44 says:

    I think we need a Paypal barn fund button, for those who want to help with a barn raising.

  30. bonita says:

    —you’ll love it (dog interruption)

  31. Backwoodsdreaming says:

    What a great idea! I’m with holstein woman- your tax return isn’t going to go far for your barn account on it’s own, but can be multiplied if invested into a B&B wisely! You’ll have that barn built in no time if you can generate income/profit 🙂

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Backwoodsdreaming, that’s my theory. My tax refund isn’t enough to build a barn. But I can invest it in a way that will turn it into income that =will= eventually build a barn! I do have some smaller projects for this year for the animals, too, such as the duck and buck yard, but a barn is out of reach for me right now.

  32. Linda Goble says:

    That sounds like a great idea. Wish I was closer too I would love to help. That is such a splendid idea for extra income. People can stay and milk B.P an make cheese from it. I want to come. :snoopy:

  33. mamawolf says:

    Your plan sounds wonderful. After all your hard work and doing without a lot of things (such as living in the old farmhouse) you deserve to create the dream of your choice, have a B&B, or whatever else you want to do with your hard earned $$$. Go for it girl, I will be with you in spirit.

    Euni :fairy:

  34. Brenda says:

    WOW!!! I love it- go, go, go! Looking forward to seeing how this project grows. And you are inspiring me- it is time to get on fire with some projects here too.

  35. prayingpup says:

    What a great adventure! I love your space and can imagine all kinds of “summer kitchen” areas. The B&B idea is superb and now there are “working” vacations – on ranches and such. . . why not a working vacation on a farm? Milking through cheese making, etc.
    We live in an old farmhouse, but, fortunately, we have a full basement. It is an underground one and is very dark. We’re hoping for more light and some paint this year, anyway. We have a tornado shelter built into the basement that is lined with shelves and jars (doesn’t make much sense to have exploding glass in the tornado shelter, does it?) . . .
    So, we are really looking forward to watching your progress – what an undertaking!

  36. joycee says:

    We had the same kind of building site so ended up with 3 levels. It looks big but it’s not. Since we are close to retirement, lots of relatives thought we were crazy but I love where we live and the exercise just may keep us from getting old quicker! I think that’s a great idea, a B&B would be a big hit with soap making or cheese making seminars tossed in. Lots of us come here for our “farm fix” EVERY.SINGLE.DAY!

  37. gail says:

    A wonderful plan good luck :snoopy:

  38. annabel52 says:

    Sounds like a wonderful idea. A PLAN!!! Love all of your ideas and can’t wait to see them come to life. Is there any other way to do things other than frugally? If you grew up on a farm (like me) frugal is the only way.
    If you take all of your “junk” to the thrift store it will give you good karma and you will get what you need in return, maybe not all at once, but eventually.
    Go for it :yes:

  39. Abiga/Karen says:

    Have fun with your newest dream! Blessings.

  40. Joy (from Illinois) says:

    Really great idea, Suzanne! Investing in your future AND making better use of unused space. I second the investment in insulation. It will keep the area dryer and less dank for very little money.

    You might also consider creating a rag rug for the floor by the beds. You can braid it or crochet it or hook it or however you like and wind up with something pretty and useful. Ever tried one? It can make a sealed and painted concrete floor more comfortable on your feet with almost no investment of money.

    I’d plan on taking the unused space and sketching out on paper what you’d need for craft classes–obviously sink, counter to work on, small two burners or small stove for canning and heating, shelves for storing pots, jars, supplies. Can you create a space for about 6-8 chairs so you could demo for a small class? If so, consider suspending a tilted mirror over the table so people could look down into your pots. (They added this to the meeting room in my library so they could do all kinds of craft demos which are enormously popular.) If you only had two bedrooms to rent out, you could now and then have small craft classes. For example, in the fall offer a 4 hour class with lunch on making Christmas ornaments, homemade presents, and gift baskets of goodies. You could do that! Lunch could be grandmother’s bread, homemade cheese, homecanned vegetable salad and pickles with samples of what you’re including in the gift basket. If I lived within a hundred miles I’d take that class!

  41. Jersey Lady says:

    We do not have a basement or attic in our old farmhouse so we built a heated room in our MortonBuilding to act as a sort of combo attic-cellar. It sure could use dejunking too. Out of sight,out of mind. So easy to put off.
    Regarding the basement fixing-up: Do look into Bed & Breakfast regulations for WV before you start building, if you haven’t already. A license is required and to get one, there are code items that must be met. The state says it wants to encourage small business owners but also wants to ensure guest safety.

  42. B. Ruth says:

    I don’t envy you painting those cinderblock walls…Been there done that! For now til more funds available…Get the biggest fluffiest roller you can find that will hold lots of paint.. First coat: Put on the cheapest yard sale paint you can find and the lightest color, the gallons don’t even have to match!…”cause those blocks will suck up paint in the little holes like a sponge!…Second coat: Buy the paint color of your dreams…It won’t take as much paint of your expensive store boughten paint!..
    When you can buy the insulation and sheetrock it would be a wise investment, I think!
    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

  43. Darlene says:

    Jane, PLEASE go talk to the pioneer woman. I cringe when I see their cows, calves and horses with absolutely no barn(s) for them. The cows birth in the pastures, no barn whatsoever! The harse Oklahoma winters, snow, ice, sleet, below zero temperatures, and no barn(s) for their cows, calves and horses. They need you desperatley Jane!!

  44. Cousin Sheryl says:

    Don’t forget….I still have that table I am giving you. I also have a couple of wreaths that I will give you for decorations (if you like).

    I had a friend who (very carefully) applied contact paper to an old refrigerator and it looked GREAT (just an idea)!

    You will have to let Mark know what kind of furniture you need and he can start “trolling” his sources. Two days ago, he helped a friend clean out an office – you can ask him if that person is willing to give away/sell some items. Also, we need to go to a couple of auctions this summer! Girls Day Out!


  45. Madeline says:

    Suzanne! Your ideas are awesome!

    Yes, it’s hard when the kids leave home.. are we ever “ready?” I wasn’t. But ya know, when you do a great job as a parent (as you obviously have..) those kids go out into the world and make great lives for themselves.. LEAVING US WITH BEDROOMS AND BASEMENTS AVAILABLE TO REMODEL!!!! LOL.

    I LOVE the FARMHOUSE B and B idea.

    Your adventures will never be over, because YOU are a go getter, a dreamer, a DO-er and have the Spirit it takes to make lemonade out of lemons. (And bedrooms out of basements..)

    YOU GO GIRL! I’ll be tuning in!

  46. B. Ruth says:

    You have the perfect place for a small extra kitchen for canning, cheese making, etc. Also to store crocks and jars, canners, juicers, as well as the products of your labor, etc. A good old second hand stove, fridge and sink, etc..and you are good to go…
    This would take the heat and mess out of your (company) kitchen, and also it would be a cooler work area in the basement…
    I would love to have a canning room…Lucky You!

  47. Deb says:

    Great idea! I’m slowly working on fixing up my 108 year old house as the kids leave home. But, as I look at the bedrooms of your boys and those of my children I feel a little sad that I couldn’t afford to fix them up and make them nicer while they were still home. Do you feel that way too? I wish I could have given them carpets instead of rugs on splintered wood floors, and new furniture instead of a hodge podge of garage sale finds, a bathtub without rust stains and walls that weren’t cracked plaster. I did the best I could with what I had and I know they felt loved when they came home to fresh cookies from the oven and slept under a quilt I made from old clothes. But still, I wish I could have given them more. I’m so glad you’ve been able to give them a new house, even if the rooms weren’t totally finished. And I’d say your animals look pretty well cared for too.

  48. Nic, SD says:

    Awesome, awesome, awesome!!!

  49. Jennifer Robin says:

    Must be something in the air, because I just started blogging about renovating a space for myself! I can’t wait to see what you do with yours. Mine is an old green shack, one of our decrepit old outbuildings, not nearly as big as what you have to work with, but just as fun!

  50. Melissa Marsh says:

    Oooh! So excited for this project, Suzanne! I love seeing how people transform their spaces. I think a B&B idea is an awesome one!

  51. Miss Becky says:

    I love before and after projects and I look forward to seeing your progress here Suzanne. I love how you’re always planning and dreaming and working for the next phase. :yes:

  52. Jersey Lady says:

    I called one of my high school friends that I had not talked to for a while.There was a tear in her voice. I asked what was wrong. She said she was cleaning her daughter’s room since she was away at college. She said she always had wanted to get a little bedside table for her but never did, and now she was gone and it was too late. Here was a loving mom who gave her daughter loving care and upbringing-the things that really count.We get hung up on little things that might be nice but in the end, don’t really count for much.
    Do the best you know how and are able; and don’t beat your self up over the “if onlys”.

  53. Katie says:

    What a good idea! Sign me up when it’s done… can I stay a whole week and get a soap-making class and a cheese making class at the same time???!!! This is so exciting… call it a college field trip. 🙂 Summer would be great I will have a break from school!

  54. iowacowgirl says:

    Great plan, Suzanne. (that rhymed!)

    If you have time, check out my website. We did pretty much what you are planning, except we moved down the road 1/2 mile. The really great part is that you already have bathroom and laundry facilities, just need some kind of kitchen or efficiency area.

    When we checked into zoning, we couldn’t be an official B&B unless we lived in the same residence, so you shouldn’t have much problem there…(ours became a “rental retreat”, which was wonderful since no zoning or conditional use permits were necessary).

    I filled my retreat with Goodwill treasures, attic treasures, and auction finds, just as I’m sure you will. People love my place and I know they will love yours, especially when connected to a class or workshop.

    It sounds so FUN too!!

  55. LisaAJB says:

    I am all for a weekend bed and breakfast with feeding goats treats classes!! Sign me up!

  56. farmershae says:

    I ADORE this plan. It seems that these “farm stay” places tend to make some decent money, so hopefully yours will make the barn dream come true. (one that I’m thinking of is )

    I think the rooms should look just like the bedroom you showed us at Mammy Jane’s. (LOL) And I love the idea of painting the floors – you can tape it off and make a quilt pattern on the floor in paint!!! I am so excited for you!

  57. Chris B says:

    Susanne, I think this is a marvelous idea. I can see it as clearly as you can. I will look forward to the progress photos. Go for it!!

  58. Carrie Johnston says:

    You get that done, and I swear to you, me and my husband will come out for a Weekend Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast and feeding Clover cookies!! Or maybe cheesemaking..I want to try hard cheese someday. I have the mozerella down.

  59. Betsy says:

    Great idea, and I look forward to following along as you complete each part of the project! You’ve also inspired me to get some home projects of my own started. 🙂

  60. Su says:

    I’d come to a feeding Clover & milking weekend, for sure!! :cowsleep:

  61. MzE says:

    I really like your idea! Please be sure you’ve checked into the lodging rules/regs for B&B’s in WV.

  62. Sue says:

    Suzanne, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to my family; I wish I could just go & stay at this farm & see all of the animals & what it is REALLY like on a farm (not how I imagine it to be). Just to watch (or even better; help) for a weekend (or a couple of days during the week). I am very excited to watch this plan unfold. I LOVE all things frugal. Can’t wait!! Good luck!! Enjoy the journey.
    Sue M.

  63. Lori Skoog says:

    I want to come along! A great idea and good use of space…I can see people lined up for workshops now.

  64. Sheila says:

    That actually sounds like a wonderful idea , a farmhouse B&B with soap or cheesemaking workshops sounds great , I’d come and help if we still lived in va , but alas all I can do is send my thoughts and wish you the best of luck in your endevor (sp?) :).

  65. pinocrest says:

    Sign me up for the Weekend Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast with Feeding Clover Cookies!

  66. wkf says:

    @Darlene- YOU MADE ME SPIT MY DRINK!!!!!! You left off the part where they send to to slaughter to be EATEN! :shocked:

  67. Backwoodsdreaming says:

    Here’s a frugal tip re: old freezers & fridges. You can get cans of appliance spray paint. We inherited a wonderful bottom freezer fridge that worked great when we bought the house. Only problem? It was fugly olive green! Yuck! Two cans of white paint later (tape off and/or remove hardware) and we had a sparkling white fridge that matched the stove. Never had a problem with chipping, either. In fact- it worked so well I actually forgot we had painted it until we replaced it ten years later and I saw the ugly olive back!

  68. Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher says:

    I love your dream, and the fact that it is attainable! Good for you!

    I dream of building a small cottage in our lower lot for a B&B/Guesthouse and for us to live in when we are too old to climb the stairs in our house. We would live in the cottage (perhaps with a caregiver) and rent the main house. A dream, but one that I hope comes true someday.

    I would love to visit your Chickens in the Road B&B someday! Keep us posted!

  69. CATRAY44 says:

    Me too, WKF and Darlene! :moo: I want to see someone go stop a rancher in Montana or Wyoming and tell them his cows are outside and spread out all over the place, unsheltered!

  70. Betsy says:

    Just so you know – As I would pay to buy a good book, I would gladly donate my $5 to help with your project and read about it along the way!

  71. Mary Hall says:

    All I’m going to say is I need a vacation Suzanne and please let me know when you’re done LOL
    Mary :shocked:

  72. Billie says:

    Heck yes, Suzanne. Go for it, I will be booking myself a cheesemaking weekend for my 2012 birthday.

  73. PJS48 says:

    There are so many good ideas here. I have a basement with block walls and mostly above ground with big windows. One side is finished with carpet and we put beadboard on the walls. It really is durable and looks so old-fashioned. I think if you could just look into it, you’d find that it’s not terribly expensive or time consuming to put up some sort of wall covering. The other side of the basement is for storage, washer-dryer, furnace and food storage shelves. I’m going to paint those walls but really hate to do that because it is so labor intensive (I’m a veteran of doing that)–I know you’re thinking the beadboard had to be labor intensive, but painting block walls is a pain and it sucks up paint like a sponge. Just a thought. I know there are lots of ways to tackle the job and I’m sure you’ll work to get the best result for you. I’m looking forward to all the ideas you and others come up with. This is exciting and interesting.

  74. Linda Gottuso says:

    Love the idea of a bed and breakfast. I’ll help and then be your first guest!!!

  75. Tonya says:

    Sounds like an awesome idea to me! I’d come for a cheesemaking retreat 😀

  76. Louise says:

    Sounds wonderful. I would love to visit and make soap and/or cheese. If we all lived closer we could have a paint weekend to get things going.

  77. GrammieEarth says:

    I wish I was closer…I’d love to come for a working weekend to help with your plan! I’m sure I would be bouyed by your busy-ness that I would be a serious (but) GOOD tired by Sunday night (maybe early Monday if you made your pepperoni rolls for SUnday supper)!!!!
    I love your vision. :fairy: Looking forward to your updates!!
    BTW How are your afghans coming along?

  78. Robin says:

    aaahhh!! that’s me yelling because I am in the middle of a project so very similar to that (except the bed and breakfast part) and I FORGOT to take before photos!
    We have a basement that is 3/4 finished, with a family room, 2 bedrooms, laundry room, bath, and combo craft-homeschooling room. The two children who occupied those rooms are gone and the family room hasn’t been redone for over 10 years. I tore out a wall and enlarged the craft area, and we are in the process putting ceramic tile throughout.. ourselves, any one got any knee pads? lol

    Oh and on the barn thing.. we have 150 beef cows, and they started calving this week in sw mo. We have NO barn!!! not for the cows anyway. We are in the same boat as the pioneer woman.. except for the rich thing ha. I know a LOT of other people with similar cattle operations, that have NO barns.
    I have to imagine all the people complaining that you should set up your barn before your home, live in a city.

  79. Bev says:

    Suzanne, if you can afford it, definitely sheetrock the whole raised basement. also either carpeted or Pergo flooring… Old braided rugs, and quilts like you suggested. In your area, you can probably find some great items at the tag sales, or farm sales or whatever they are called. Clean and cozy would be the key words with the rooms. Cement block walls even covered with paint are just not cool in a b and b!
    I love the idea of the cheese and soap making classes. Great thinking! See, we women are super!!!!

  80. Bev says:

    We raised 5000 head of beef cattle out on the prairies of central Montana with NO barn. Just the spoiled animals used the barn. The others toughed it out in the 25 to 35 below zero winters. (also 2500 head of sheep and 500 registered quarter horses. No barns for them!
    Basically we kept the saddles and riding equipment in the barn, and it was only used for milking and for a couple of orphaned calves who used the milk cows!

  81. Ross says:

    What a wonderful blank slate. Use the best you can afford. Avoid doing in a hurry and realizing down the road that you wish you had given it more thought. When you cover the walls consider the need for electrical service. Don’t skimp on lights and use several circuits so that you can turn on only waht you want or need. Plenty of outlets are such a convenience. Have a wonderful time. I like to make a sequence plan so that I don’t get ahead of myself on a project like this. Somethings must come first and some careful planning will make it plain.

  82. Cathy J. catray44 says:

    Amen to that, Bev and Robin!

  83. Paul says:

    Suzanne, My wife and I live here in Roane County, and a couple of years ago we built a hay barn for around 400 dollars, we ended up building the barn out of rough cut oak that we got from Roane Hardwards. The barn is only 16’x10′ but is large enough to hold about 70 square bales of hay, and the food we need for our goats, pigs and chickens. If you plan on using rough cut oak you might want to think about buying the wood soon because Roane Hardwoods is going out of business, and right now there rough cut oak is only $0.33 a board foot which is pretty cheap.

  84. Blyss says:

    Suzanne, this is a great idea, and I am sure it will work out wonderfully.
    I am currently planning on redoing my kitchen with my tax refund, and spend countless hours on these “decorating on a dime” blogs. There are some amazing ideas out there… with an imagination on some people that astounds me. Kind of like our own CindyP! She took what I saw as a old tool box and made it into a spice cupboard… or her dresser turned kitchen island. Cindy is the Queen of Repurposing!
    Beadboard seems to be the most popular wall covering right now, and I understand it isn’t hard to work with.
    We got a great deal on wood laminate flooring for less than $1 a square foot and installed that in out living room. It came out beautiful, has a 30 year warranty, and was not nearly as hard as we thought it would be to install.
    So, there are LOTS of options out there… and I am sure it will be a great adventure living your dreams.

  85. rileysmom says:

    Bev is right! Barns aren’t for cattle out here! Some of our rancher friends have early calves coming and tonight is predicted to be 17 below! There are many who make rounds every few hours, day AND night! You can’t let ears and tails freeze.

  86. BuckeyeGirl says:

    Or, you could whitewash some barn siding and put it up board and batten style at least on one wall. That’s easy to take back down in the future to replace with wallboard or whatever at a later date. Not with real whitewash of course, but with paint so it gives that effect. Do you have a small sawmill nearby where you can get some rough sawn boards pretty cheap? You can paint them outside before putting them up, then it’s less work that way, fast and simple.

  87. mmhoney says:

    Forget about painting The best spent money will be a vapor barrier of plastic or foil. Check your building supplier Place furring strips and mail sheetrock or finished plywood this will create an air space. You won’t believe the difference this will make.The best spent money in the long run. It is only a matter of time there will be mold and mildew on block walls that are underground. It will also help in the heating. That is my two cents worth….mmhoney

  88. billie says:

    Uh, Suzanne, I really won’t be waiting until my 2012th birthday, # 58 will do nicely. Also wanted to tell you –when you are making the trek/trip to Charleston, go by the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I found fantastic, new white (primed and painted) beadboard paneling for $3 bucks a sheet. If you know where Green’s Feed and Seed is located, then ReStore is just across the street, kinda katty cornerered. They also have a newsletter, but the best stuff is always found on a drop by kinda trip. And if you need help locating all the thrift stores in the area, I’ll tell ya if you’ll tell them I miss them since my move to Flat Top.

  89. Tx Aggiemom says:

    :fairy: I would fly over there and help you if I could. I am so excited to hear about the B&B. I want to come see that Bad Baby (Glory Be)and see if she is as beautiful as her picture. I want to watch goat babies and Mommies. I want to have a little slice of the farm life, too. Mostly, I’d like to sit on your porch and chat with you. I feel like you are a friend already.
    Go to it girl, you’ve already got bookings, just waiting to know when we can come. :happyflower:

  90. holstein woman says:

    OK ,Suzanne, I will lay off about the barn. I understand about goals and wanting to do it yourself. I will be praying you get it done your way and His time. :shimmy:

  91. Julia says:

    Sounds like you have a great plan. I look forward to the updates. I am sure it will be beautiful.

  92. Glenda says:

    Suzanne, I got excited for you just reading about your dream!

    I think it is very doable. I actually think you have the right idea about keeping it very simple and frugal. Paint the walls (insulation does sound good in the long run), paint the floor. Use old country decor. Give the people what they want…..the animals, the crafts and the simple life!

    Later, when the money is there, do the rustic wood floors, a different wall finish, etc. Get some feedback from your guests.

    You are headed in the right direction and I wish you great success.

  93. CATRAY44 says:

    I hope you get your tax return quickly! I agree with Gloria- people will just be happy to be there. It will attract like minded people who are seeking the same thing you are, and who want to learn from you, and share what they know. Looking forward to the pictures and stories to come! Like many others here, your farm is my inspiration. Your animals are blessed, hardy and happy. More importantly, your family is, too.

  94. CATRAY44 says:

    Whoops, I meant Glenda! Jeesh- putting on my glasses now!

  95. Julie says:

    Oooooh looks like a great undertaking! I love your spindle bed – what a treasure! I am sure you will have the situation well in hand in no time, and I would definately want to come to your B&B and take classes! :happyfeet:

  96. Joell says:

    Suzanne, what a wonderful plan. Dreams do come true, but a good plan is essential as you well know, they take a lot of hard work and I am sure you will be sucessful. I dont think there will be a lack of guests wanting to book a stay at your B&B I certainly wish you the best of luck and am anxious to watch the transformation.

  97. Runningtrails says:

    I think the B&B idea is wonderful! You won’t have any trouble booking it all year long.

    We were at the kids leaving spot about 5 years ago too. WE found ourselves with three bedrooms, a full basement and a full garage ( and I mean FULL of stuff!). We unloaded just about eveything we owned in about a year’s time. It took that long. We had lots of yard sales, sold stuff in the “buy and sell” rag and gave things away to anyone who wanted them. A lot went to the dump too!

    It takes time to let go of some things, emotionally, and to realize that you really don’t need that. You don’t need three heavay duty winter farm coats, for instance. One is really enough with another stored away for back up. Those unfinished projects and raw material for possible future projects went too, most of them, anyway. I took a serious look at what I was actually going to get done and what I was not really going to do.

    A lot of stuff with sentimental and no practical value went too. Those are the hardest to let go of but if your kids don’t want them and you are not ever going to use them, what good are they? I gave a lot to other family members who wanted them.

    Unloading all your material possessions and their hold on you is so liberating!! I have to be careful now not to collect a lot of stuff again.

  98. Ereline says:

    I love this idea! This is exactly the kind of project I love to “dig” into! I did the same thing with my basement a few years ago. Once I got it all cleaned up and perfect for my use, my son and his friends moved in and made it their new office space. Oh well, he’ll have his own place soon and then I’ll make it my own (again).

    I love your blog! I have shared your link with my readers. I think they will enjoy it too!


  99. SuzieQ says:

    Gonna start saving my money so I can make a reservation. I want to come and eat cheese and love on all the animals! AND just enjoy your company. :woof: :heart:

  100. patrice says:

    I can’t wait to see the after pictures!

  101. Gayle says:

    I have only one thing to say:

    You will feel so much better when all that STUFF is gone from your home and your life. It will free up a logjam in your mental energy levels!

  102. Darlene in North Ga says:

    A note about painting cement floors. I lived with painted cement floors for years and they are a PAIN in the tookas. The paint gets on the bottom of your feet and gets in the bed, in the bath, EVERYWHERE! There is a temperature inversion between the cool floors and your warm feet that seems to cause the paint to peel. Now it may be that the manager uses the wrong kind of paint – I believe they used deck paint and then I know they used some that was supposed to be for painting cement floors. None of it stuck. It all peeled up, leaving scabby areas on the floor and paint chips everywhere. And they were hard to was too. Again, the paint peeled up.
    Perhaps someone else that lives in an area where the climate changes a lot has had a better experience with painting cement floors and can tell you what they used that worked long-term – several years vs a few months. Otherwise, I’d recommend not using the paint on them.

  103. sandy says:

    Sounds like the logical thing to do with your space. Just whatever you do, try to go for pot lights and halogens but NO florescent lights. That lighting kills any warmth.
    One of the comments above mentioned beadboard. Fabulous idea, as long as you insulate all the walls and sheet rock above the beadboard.If you paint those blocks, it’s always going to look like a bunker basement…not the ambiance I think you’re going for. Good’s a great idea. Just don’t cut corners and have to go back and wish you hadn’t.

  104. coffeefrappe says:

    Oh how neat. I would love to come w/ my family and stay for a long weekend w/ the farm animals. I have loved watching all your changes from even before moving out of the freezing farmhouse to getting Clover, Honey and Nutmeg, to the boxes of chicks in your office (even when they got too hot), to the lamb who thought she was a dog (has annabelle fully figured out she is a sheep yet?) all the way up to your new project in the basement.

    You are an inspiration and a wonderful source of vicarious farm living for me, so it would be a blast to have a long talk on the porch w/someone who has been a good friend (at least in my head, lol!) for a long time. Best of luck on your new endeavour.

  105. Audrey says:

    You are a girl after my own heart….. I adore your “downstairs”.
    I knew I wasn’t alone !!!!! Only problem is I don’t have a downstairs basement…. I use one of our big unused bathrooms.
    FIlled the tub and shower, now I am working on the surrounding area.. Feels so good to know I have my STUFF when I need or want it.. I do wish I too had a third freezer.. Love your nutcake recipes.. You should see what I do to a fruitcake !!!!.

  106. Monica says:

    I want to come feed Clover cookies!!! :woof:

  107. Judy says:

    I’d like to come and learn to make cheese and I love animals (esp. sheep) so I would bring lots and lots of cookies!!!

  108. Sue Nugent says:

    :snuggle: You have plenty of ideas on your own, but Brendie, of Bregle Estate, has a great idea. HelpX is where folks come for a visit and help while they are there in exchange for their meals and a room on your farm. Sounds like a great idea to me, and it would help you out,too.If you haven’t checked it out, please,do so. It sounds like it would be”right down your alley.”

  109. Squeegees Mom says:

    A braided rag rug or two would look very authentic in these areas, and are cheap if you have access to rags or cloth scraps. Make a big round one for the den area, and strategically placed smaller ones. They will warm up the floor and if they get dirty, just take them outside and spray them with a garden hose.

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