The Studio


The studio at Sassafras Farm is built over the old cellar. The cellar was built into a hill behind the house, and the studio was, of course, a later addition. It backs to the house and faces out to the upper pastures.

It’s accessed by the steps to the deck from the driveway.

Or by a stone path that leads around the other side to the back porch of the house.

The space is amazing in its bones. In the details, it’s a total gut job. (Note that the studio is currently a major landing area for unpacked boxes as well as furniture that doesn’t fit anywhere else.)

As it currently exists, there is a small but complete kitchen in the rear. It has a gas stove, small fridge, dishwasher, etc, and they even left a microwave.

There is a large closet taking up quite a bit of space to the right side of the kitchen area.

Oddly, when I first saw the studio, there was a bed in the kitchen. Right next to the kitchen sink/cabinets, etc. It really was just about the only place to put a bed, I suppose. This studio is really not big enough for a kitchen, bed, and sitting area. The only bed that would fit in here would be a Murphy-style bed or a sleeper sofa. As I mentioned before there were two men living in the house at the time I first saw it, and the sister of one of the men lived in the studio.

There is also a full bathroom in the studio with a shower.

In order to create a health department-approved commercial kitchen for classes and anything else I may want to do with it in the future, numerous changes will have to be made–which is why I say this is a total gut job. Aside from my “wants” there are also specific codes that must be followed. The flooring is unacceptable as is. (Carpet is a no-no for commercial approval.) I’m not sure about the walls, but they are most likely unacceptable and will need sealed in some way at the least, if not drywalled. I appreciate wood, but the studio walls and ceiling make the space very dark–in spite of the walls of glass doors. I like light and bright and airy. And of course, the kitchen setup as it stands is also unacceptable for commercial purposes.

However! What fun! I get to reimagine it and recreate it. The space itself is perfect. Here is what I see.

Closet–ripped out. It’s taking up space in my kitchen. The kitchen should wrap around all three rear walls, big commercial sink and so on. Huge island in the center of the kitchen space for demonstrations and classes, surrounded by bar stools for students. The walls and ceilings redone to make the space light and bright and airy, just how I love it.

In the outer sitting area, there is room for a large dining table for entertaining and other gatherings.

The views are awesome from the walls of glass doors.

There is a great multi-level deck leading off the studio going out to the upper pasture or down to the goat yard and barn area.

The possibilities this space offers are HUGE. And while I was much closer to achieving my dream of a commercial kitchen for classes and more with the work I’d done at Stringtown Rising, this space is SO MUCH BETTER. (And I don’t regret the work I did on my downstairs project at the other farm. That space is now a “sellable” space whereas before I did the work on it in the past year, it looked like a disaster. Now that the house is on the market, I’m glad to have the space in a marketable condition that adds value to the property. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at the time, but sometimes life works that way.) It will take me longer to achieve my dream here, but my dream here is so much bigger because the space offers so much more potential.

The studio doesn’t offer any space for accommodations, of course–and neither does the house, since it’s quite small. BUT! Here is the direction I’m headed now: I want to build cabins–and there are many sites on this farm that are suited to this idea. (Not in the house area–along some of the nature trails at the base of the hillsides.) I’m thinking about cabins such as these–with the studio as the gathering/dining/teaching space.

So, as you can see now, this is a goal I’ll have to accomplish in stages, but I’m very excited about the potential here. Watch me make this amazing space happen!

I shall start with unpacking….


  1. JOJO says:

    WOW! You do have your work cut out for you, this sounds like a big renovation, and very costly.

  2. nessastorm says:

    not only do i love your ideas.. I love those cabins you are looking at. I have personally been in them since we have a cabin north of Mio our selves. I am completely in love with the wholesomeness of the area and town. Good choice

  3. thistlewoodmanor says:

    I love how you are remaking and redefining your life and goals. Are you familiar with the book “Radical Homemakers”? ( I think you’d find it very appealing and interesting. You also remind me of Mary Jane of Mary Jane’s farm, you would enjoy her magazine if you aren’t familiar with it already. She was a huge inspiration for me when I was a single parent living alone on the farm. I love the idea of little cabins, they look so cozy!

  4. steakandeggs says:

    Sound to me you have found what makes you happy. Your writing show how much you love what you are doing.
    It may be a lot of hard work, but one thing you will never be bored.
    Every day I look forward to read your blog. So much stuff going on.
    Love the cabins.

  5. STracer says:

    You are right, the potential is huge! Your guests may not have anywhere to sleep at the moment, but at least they can drive up to the house without worrying about the road.
    The cabin idea is great too. Are there other things in the area that might draw people in? In our area we have Pipestem and Bluestone State Parks which include golfing, a lake, and all sorts of outdoor activities. We also have ski slopes at Winter Place! Okay sorry, I went into marketing mode. What I was trying to say is some locals are setting up trailer campgrounds, building cabins like you showed, and trying to provide options for extended stays to get more tourists to visit.

  6. joykenn says:

    I love the look of the cabins you linked to. Reasonably priced and goes up in a couple of days without heavy equipment. Looks like something “the boys” can assemble for you EXCEPT bathrooms.

    If I were adding cabins I put two together side by side and form a U with the bathrooms between them. Connect the two with two bathrooms side by side to form the bottom of the U & to minimize the costs of installing plumbing. Installing drains & running water to the cabins would be the most expensive part of it so doing it only once for two cabins makes sense. A very large shared hot water tank could serve both. Then if you have a family group they could rent both and be side by side. A small sink, mini-fridge and microwave for each completes the kitchette. The studio could be common space and breakfast room. A fully functional bed and breakfast or farm stay business!

  7. holstein woman says:

    What a nice place for your classes, etc. I have seen some of these cabins in Alaska, they are very sturdy and withstand bears. I don’t probably think you have to worry about bears in WV though. I can see all kinds of possibilities in the studio. :snoopy:

  8. shirley T says:

    I do love the studio. What a great view. Thanks for showing it to us. Hope your dreams come true. I’m sure they will, after all, you are the “Git-er-Done Gal.

  9. kdubbs says:

    Awesome! I love the cabins!

  10. hollygee says:

    If you don’t keep and paint the beadboard ceiling, save it. It will come in handy someplace. I love the look of beadboard. It’s a beautiful space, Suzanne.

  11. Jane L says:

    If anyone can do it, you can! I think it sounds like it would be a very viable proposition and a great way to make the farm pay for itself. Better to have everyone go there than to Camp Sheppard. I don’t think you need luck – you have determination enough to create your own – but best wishes anyway!

  12. Flowerpower says:

    That is a party place waiting to happen. I never have understood when people put dark wood on a ceiling? Good in theory but it makes everything dark. This is a perfect place for whatever you want to do with it. Deck would be great for family cookouts. WE know now what you will be doing in your “spare” time! :happyflower:

  13. amateisgal says:

    What an awesome idea to put cabins in, Suzanne! And I love that studio space. Just perfect!

  14. Donna says:

    Nice space, Suzanne! Cabins are a great idea, and from the photos you’ve posted, it looks like you have a real nice lay of the land to scatter them along a hillside. Take a look, too, at for cabin ideas – they have a “Trail Cabin” as well that’s all pre-assembled and brought in on a truck and placed on your foundation. Nice thing is, the company’s just over in Ripley. They’ve got one of the Trail Cabins on display. Just let them know Donna Duprey sent you and they’re treat you right. We just finished building one of their log homes and love it.

  15. whaledancer says:

    It’s easy to tell that Sassyfras Farm has got your creative juices flowing.

    That room will make a beautiful dining room! And if you have a dining room there for celebrations, then when you renovate the kitchen in the house you could include an eat-in space for everyday (like an old-fashioned farmhouse kitchen), and reclaim the dining room area for other uses. When you’re ready to redo the farmhouse kitchen, maybe you should contact This Old House. Who knows? It might be just the project they’re looking for.

    I’m wondering about how big a project it would be to get electricity, water, and septic to the building site for the cabins? I’ve noticed that most people’s desire for a rustic getaway doesn’t extend to keroscene lamps and privies. 🙂 Well, you’ve got plenty of time to explore the nuts-and-bolts; right now you’re still in the concept and possibilities stage, right?

    Between running the farm, writing, and executing all your plans, you certainly have enough to keep you busy for a while.

  16. Angela P says:

    The more I see of your new place, the more and more Im in love with it too! There could not have been a more perfect place for you Suzanne, than this gem! Congratulations! Its beautiful!

  17. Dottie says:

    WOW,all this is going to keep me entertained
    for the rest of my life !!!

    Love the studio and the cabin idea is GREAT!

    I want to make a reservation to come and stay
    for a week, maybe a month, maybe I could just
    stay forever.

    Just wondering Suzanne – do you maybe have a dozen
    clones of yourself secretly hidden away somewhere on
    your farm? Or, do you have a magic formula that gives
    you 48 hours in a day.

    Just wondering how you DO ALL THIS !!!

  18. JeannieB says:

    Love the studio, and the cabins are a great idea, please put my name on the first one. Another idea, RV area, with water and electric hookups, may be cheaper than a cabin.

  19. aprilsinohio says:

    I love your ideas and new space! We just moved to my new hubbys family farm in Ohio and although we both grew up on farms, we’ve been suburb people over thirty years. The family has been deciding what kind of farm we will run and with your site I’m sure we’ll come up with some great ideas. I’m already in love with the simplicity and wide open spaces here and all the possibilities! You are an inspiration. I’ve always done crafts and we both love to cooking and gardening. We love reading your site for ideas. I’m sure we will need advice on animals in the future. Besides our 2 cats and new crazy puppy we don’t have any as yet and are trying to decide what we want to do. I love your idea of the studio and cabins. The studio seems perfect for classes. The RV and campsite idea a reader gave is good, but don’t forget a few cabins for us without campers. I’m just a state over and plan on coming for a class when your up and running! We visited West Virginia last month and loved it! Good luck with all your dreams!

  20. marymac says:

    Love your studio and love your ideas!!!!

  21. alba says:

    I love EVERYTHING about the new farm so much to do I may need to come and help… The cabins remind me of the cabins from Dirty dancing. OMG Patrick I adored him in every thing he did.

  22. yvonnem says:

    I’m still trying to find the dishwasher you mentioned, I don’t see it????

  23. marrypoppinz says:

    Love the house….but HOW ARE BEULAH PETUNIA AND GLORY BEE????

  24. Estella says:

    If anyone can do it, you can!

  25. Vicki in So. CA says:

    You’re right. The studio has GREAT potential. And putting in cabins… well, that’s just a stroke of genius. The ones you’ve linked to certainly look reasonably priced and relatively easy to install. One step at a time and before you know it you’ll be hosting work-on-the-farm stays, retreats, classes, parties, and who knows what else. You’re turning your dreams into reality. I am SO happy for you! 😀

  26. stacylee says:

    I love it! I want to come and visit…I have cookies.

  27. farmershae says:

    omg, OMG, OhMyGosh! I was just going to say, “Suzanne, you should get some cabins,” when you said, “I want to build cabins.” Ack! I am so excited for you!! (You are living my dream, just about 10 years ahead of me… I can’t wait to see what I do next, lol) Here are a couple of links for inspiration. This guy has gotten quite a bit of bit of publicity lately – he builds tiny homes for ‘fulltime’ living, but has some really neat ideas: And this site has plans and some really neat info & stories in the gallery:

    Also, keep in mind that you can use a lot of recycled materials to keep your costs down. I know you are all over that already, but there is a lot that I never would have thought of – my husband salvaged an old job shack (one of those little mobile units from construction sites) that had been grown into a field – and we used 2×4’s (even the short ones can be used as headers or cripples), insulation, and the metal siding as roofing (for a rabbit hutch).

    And I love the studio. What an awesome space! I can’t wait to see all the changes, including unpacking!!

  28. SusanSink says:

    That will be a wonderful commercial space. The cabins are serious! Your place might be a good candidate for yurts. I’ve stayed in three, one in the north woods of Minnesota, one on a farm in Western MN, and the third near Santa Barbara, California for a yoga retreat (ok, that was the nicest…) and they were comfortable, cozy, more spacious than they appeared and inexpensive housing for those running the place. None had bathrooms, however– but they were close enough to the main meeting space for it not to be a problem…

  29. Runningtrails says:

    Wow! I would absolutely LOVE to live there and rent a cabin on a permanent basis!

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