Meanwhile, Downstairs


Remember the downstairs project? I’m working on it! I moved on from the idea of a bed and breakfast. Farm stays! I want to have farm stays. So much better than a B&B for several reasons. (Difference in regulatory requirements being one of them.) I don’t actually want to provide accommodations on a regular basis, like a B&B. Farm stays are more periodic, seasonal, and limited in number. That’s perfect. I have a page set up here, though it will be a while before I’m ready to start. The bedrooms will be renovated last, so that will come at the end of what is a long-term project downstairs.

In the meantime, I’m moving forward on preparing the workshop and demonstration area so that I can provide day workshops. The day workshops are still a way out, too, as it will be some time before I have a sufficiently equipped kitchen set up downstairs for cheesemaking, canning, breadbaking, soapmaking, and candlemaking. (Won’t be happening this year.) However, what I can do this year is get the area cleaned out and painted, along with some of the other basic finishing, to make the space useable for demonstrations during this year’s Party on the Farm. This whole project will roll out in phases one at a time as we’re able to get the work done (and we’re doing it all ourselves) and can afford it. (I’m renovating on a frugal budget!)

The initial work in Phase One of this overall project has been the cleaning out and clearing out of a lot of boxes. I gave a lot of stuff away to the local Salvation Army as well as books to the library. I also got rid of the giant weight bench set that was taking up a huge amount of space. (The boys had given me permission to dispose of it now that Ross is in the Navy and Weston is headed for college.)

Weight bench:

No weight bench! (Yay!)

There is a huge open space downstairs, divided in the middle by a staircase. This half of the basement (where the weight bench was) is the “den” of the boy cave that this area has been. There is a desk with a computer and printer, and a couch and TV. I’ll probably keep the desktop computer down here and the desk–they could be useful on occasion during workshops! The couch will eventually be exchanged for other furnishings more in the “vintage farmhouse style” that I’m going for in the space, but furnishings and decor are on the list further down the road.

The other half of the large open space downstairs will be the workshop/demo kitchen area. I’ll need a refrigerator, stove, sink, shelving for equipment and supplies, and a large table/counter for working. I won’t be making any appliance purchases right away, but by Party on the Farm time, I intend to at least have that space cleared out, painted, and a table and portable burners for demonstrations. It’s a start! Currently, the space has been mostly cleared out from the staggering stacks of boxes, leaving a few remaining things that will be moving soon, including some feed storage and some lil brooder chicks.

(There are also two bedrooms downstairs–which will eventually be renovated for the farm stays–and a large bathroom/utility room.)

As I’ve explained before, this is a “basement” that is not a basement. It’s the first floor of the house, entirely aboveground. The only way to actually stand in front of our house is to stand in the goat yard, because the goat yard is our front yard.

Not one inch, on any side, is underground. It was originally intended to be a belowground basement, but there was too much rock, so instead of digging down, it was cheaper to build up. And so we have the unbasement, the non-basement, the basement that is not a basement, which confuses people every time I call it a basement.

I can’t go into the goat yard without Glory Bee hounding my every step.

She’s not after a treat. She’s after having her head scratched and rubbed and petted and patted. I have a giant calf who is addicted to massage.

So, waiting for the brooder chicks to grow up and move out (in about a month), I’m starting with the “den” space. It will remain a sitting room area, with cuter furnishings. A place for people to sit down and relax after a workshop, and a place later for farm stay guests to hang out at the end of their long day mucking out my chicken house and milking my cow. (Nobody is ever going to come, are they?)

The floor downstairs is cement, by the way, and will be staying that way. This is a farm. I want farm stay guests (or workshop guests) to feel comfortable walking in from the mud without worrying about their boots. And workshops will involve things like making soap and candles, canning, etc, and I don’t want to worry about spills. I’ll do some area rugs, particularly in the bedrooms, but it’s just more practical to have an indestructible floor.

Now that I’ve fought my way through the worst of the clearing out and cleaning out, it’s paint job time! Most of the downstairs is covered in drywall and was primed at the time the house was built. This includes all the walls in the bedrooms and the bathroom/utility room, and one of the long walls in the large outer open space. The other long wall and the two shorter side walls are block. As in prison block! (Ugh.) I’m using antique white paint to brighten it up. I’m a big believer in the transforming power of paint.

Where there’s primed drywall, the paint is covering in one coat. It’s taking three coats on the block.

Yes, there are a number of electric and utility lines coming down the wall. It looks a tad industrial. I shall fix that, or at least distract from it, with cute furnishings and decor at a later point. However, in no way, shape, or form, will this ever be some frilly, frou-frou Victorian cottage scene. It can be, however, a vintage-style, practical, fun, and educational farmhouse-y space for farm stays and workshops. And it will be!

Painting block is slow going. And a little frustrating. Luckily, we have pretty “tight” block with small pores, so it’s not as bad as it could be. And what a difference it makes! It will take me several more days to finish the first half of the space.

While I’m waiting for the brooder chicks to grow up and move to the chicken house, I’ll paint the bathroom/utility room then come back to finish that half of the space. Next up, finishing out trim and putting up a ceiling. We’ll see how far I get by Party on the Farm time. I’ll keep you posted! (And if you’re comin’, you can check up on me in person!)

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on June 23, 2011  

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15 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 6-23

    Wonderful plans for the farm stay..basement…and I have a post for you to read @
    the post is about building a farm table with pallet wood…Cheap and Sturdy…would fit right in with the look of the basement and free pallet wood is budget friendly! I would also suggest collecting ( free) vegetable basket/ crates..that can be used to store small objects..the basket could hang from ceiling…that would be cute too!
    My hubby is currently collecting pallet wood ( free with permission from our local farm store) to build me a farm table that I’m going to use as a desk in office..The desk can be made any size!
    Very Exciting!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. 6-23


  3. 6-23

    They have a speial primer for painting cement. It wont take 3 coats to just paint it. Check it out. Will save you time.

  4. 6-23

    :snoopy: OH HOW I LOVE PAINT!! It makes over everything …fresh and new.
    Granny Trace

  5. 6-23

    Your basement is coming along just like ours did and at about the same speed. Not too fast. Several years after the paint went up we put polystyrene insulating foam on the wall and around those wire pipes. Then we installed some half inch wood strips to which we mounted the drywall. The temperature difference in the whole house was instant and absolutely amazing.

    The next part is still a work in progress. We put down laminate flooring in the family room area, but the tile for the mud room and around the wood stove is waiting for funding. One thing at a time!

  6. 6-23

    :snoopy: Suzanne, I think the name for your space is “Walk Out Basement.” But usually you can’t walk out on all four sides… :snoopy:

    We lost our roof to hail in May, so, since we have to tear everything up anyway, we are adding a big screened porch at the same time, all under a metal roof. Good things come from bad leaks.

  7. 6-23

    Suzanne, check out – it’s just what it sounds like. Recycling your stuff to new people for free and vice versa. You sign up to receive emails of stuff people want to give away, and can send emails of stuff you want to get rid of. Where I live in MD you’ve got to be IN IT TO WIN IT if you want something, people pounce fast on the good stuff. BUT! I scored an indoor wood stove for FREE once :). We took it down to my FIL’s house near Beckley and use it to heat his outer room.

    You could probably pick up some decent farmhouse-y furniture or other odds and ends. Typically near the end of summer is when you see a bunch of people give up on canning and the jars come fast and furious. Good luck!

  8. 6-23

    Good job on all your hard work, Suzanne. Keep it up, everything looks great!

  9. 6-23

    I love the idea of a farm visit! Any idea of pricing?

    One website you might be interested in is Folks list available rooms for rent. I’ve never tried it, but there are lots of good reviews.

    I would love to visit with my grand-daughter. She would LOVE it.

  10. 6-23

    You have made a lot of progress so far. The white paint makes such a difference, so much brighter. Keep it up! :woof:

  11. 6-23

    I will definitely check out your basement when I am there!!

  12. 6-23

    Lookin good!!! I am a big believer in paint, too. I like the idea of painting quilt squares on the floor :happyflower:

  13. 6-23

    I think the farm homestay is a brilliant idea. We did farm homestay on a sheep station when we visited Australia and it was one of the highlights of our trip. They have a whole farm homestay network that matches up farms with people wanting to visit so that both parties get what they are looking for. That made it easy to arrange at a distance, even in those pre-Internet days. I must say, though, that we weren’t asked to muck anything out. :)

  14. 6-23

    I think if you painted the utility box the same color as the brick wall it would blend right in. I used cement floor paint on my garage floor, they have colors other than grey now. I used a nice taupe color, and I didn’t use the speckles that it comes with so it doesn’t look like an auto shop. It was really easy and inexpensive; they have the paint at any big home improvement store. It is also easier to wipe up spills than on cement because it has a bit of a shiny finish. I think if you painted your floors it would make the room look warm and inviting. I commend you for cleaning out all your stuff down there, piles in basements and garages like that are the hardest to sort and get rid of!!

  15. 6-23

    What a great idea to use that space. The paint really does brighten it up. Hey, I think I saw your weight bench on Craigslist!

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