Farm Exteriors Uplifted

When we bought it, this sweet house and all of its fifteen acres was nearly overgrown and smothered by giant ragweed, nettles and burdock. A storm, a week or two before we closed on the property, left tree limbs strewn about so we couldn’t even see the granary down the hill unless we were positioned just right in the yard. From the house, the first day we spied on the place, we didn’t know about the granary or the pig barn as they were nearly overgrown. I was fixated on the house at first and gave little thought to the land – that would come later, in my mind. However, we would soon learn that land is the main concern in the country!

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Looking up towards the house when we found the granary.

 

Brushpiles and Barn

Granary with dead branches and weeds – the view from the yard.

 

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The clay tile pig barn nearly overgrown with elms and burdock.

 

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The pig barn after trees and weeds were removed. It’s in rough shape, but we hope to preserve it as best we can.

 

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We begin clearing the land a few weeks after the purchase.

 

View from Bedroom

The pump house fondly referred to as “The Snoopy House.”

 

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The new roof goes on a very hot day. The original forest green shingle siding was practical, but not cute!

 

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The pump house – clean and crisp! No more red and green.

 

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Pump house gets decorated! And the door eventually gets painted black.

 

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Our first day at the house – the realtor had just mowed so we could get a good look.

 

Southwest Corner

Future site of the deck off the kitchen.

 

West Exterior

We moved the sliding door, added windows and converted entirely to electric and wood.

 

Slider moved and windows added

Here is the deck in progress. The vinyl siding went off and on a few times during the projects before we replaced it completely with fibre cement board.

 

Building the deck off the kitchen

Western exposure makes for a hot deck in summer afternoons.

 

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Deck is done, siding back on, new windows and painted trim. Notice by now it is Fall!

 

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The following Spring/Summer we build the screen porch and prepare for perennial gardens to plant the following Spring.

 

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New windows in the porch and tiny plants in the deck side perennial bed.

 

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A Summer and Fall of work and the siding and new roof are on.

 

North Exterior

North side of the house and the bathroom/laundry room addition added by previous owner.

 

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Northside with addition of screen porch, deck, siding and steel roof.

 

Roadside View

Before: East side view of the property with vinyl siding. This is the roadside view.

 

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East side making progress.

 

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After: Eastside view from “front” yard.

 

Driveway and Garage

Before: Garage in need of some TLC.

 

Garage Exterior

Garage looking to the East on the day we closed. The doors hadn’t been closed in years according to the neighbors.

 

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Bodega added to garage for wood storage.

 

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The garage and bodega with gutters to catch rain water that runs in underground pipes to a cistern near the gardens.

 

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We will be warm for the winter!

 

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A bike trellis made by mom in one of her creative bursts! A great signature piece for the boy’s garage!

 

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View towards the porch the day we bought the place. June 2013.

 

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Renovating the porch windows March 2015.

 

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Steel roof went on summer 2015.

 

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A new Spring 2016 ready for border gardens.

 

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Spring 2016. The house is done except bathroom remodels.

 

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Lap siding combined with board and batten.

 

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The “Driftless Dirtfarm” is taking shape.

 

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Deck garden the first summer – I will need to do some dividing soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Making Do Farm Porch – RENOVATION COMPLETE!

Farm Porch Finally DONE! – Revised August 2016

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It’s time to introduce you all to the newly renovated farm porch! It’s been done for a while now, but it never dawned on me to update this post! So, here you have it. Now the porch has all new windows, built-in storage for wood and seed starting materials, a big coat closet, cute entry with galvanized shoe bins and a cabinet for spring potting or crafts.

The rack you see in this picture is what I use for my seed trays in the spring. Little seed babies love the southern exposure and warmth of this room, so it functions as a quasi greenhouse of sorts. Jeff did the build out in March, but I didn’t get the painting done until a few weeks ago! It has been a very lazy summer at the farm for me – shhhh, don’t tell Jeff that!

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New porch closet for coats and big storage shelves for seeds and stuff.

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The lids of these bench seats are on hinges so they lift up and provide all the space inside the bins for wood, kindling, paper, potting soil, bird seed for the feeders, my seed trays when not in use and other potting materials. I love how I can have all that junk, but nobody can see it! NO VISUAL NOISE!

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Shoes are easy-off as you walk in from the gardens, and if you need to lace-up, there’s a nice bench to rest your bum! We also added that western-facing window, so now we can see out over the lawn and gardens and far-off hills – a beautiful view, for sure.

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Here’s where the mess can happen come Spring – seed trays can be filled and plants potted on this easy-to-clean potting bench. The cabinet holds my canning equipment and the drawers have some house tools, the mouse traps and other miscellaneous craft or “junk drawer” stuff – so handy – and again, lots of junk NO VISUAL NOISE!

Remember my TEMPORARY fix back in 2014? That was better, but SO much better now! Thank you, dear husband! Scroll even further down to remember what it looked like when we bought the place in 2013. It’s come a long way!

Temporary Makeover July 2014 – Ahh! Much Better.

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Our farmhouse porch faces south with a full wall of old broken windows. It is our hope to someday add floor-to-ceiling windows and create a solarium space for seed starting, potting and other plant related projects, but until that project queues up, I figure I need to be able to live with what we have.  I’m not one to have patience for dirt and grime, so in a fit of mid-day frenzy induced by rain, I decided to paint the porch. My main goal – brighten and clean.

The previous owner built this funny work bench and paneled the walls in plywood. It was farm practical, but farm girl unapproved. The grimy dog-scratched doors were gone last summer. We were thrilled to discover the upstairs bedroom doors were actually full-view double paned exterior doors, so we were able to use one of them for the kitchen entry off the porch…much prettier…still needs to be painted, but prettier!

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Clearly, this space was also used for the animals, so it had a subtle smell of wet dog and cat urine. Mice also travel through and occasionally don’t make it, so the bench boxes where they nested and died, smelled of mouse. I found some old junk when I was cleaning. Of course, I hoped to find the farmer’s buried treasure – perhaps a gold brick or at least a can of old coins, but instead I found old building materials, clothespins and a gun cleaning kit. Just what I was looking for. I did score an old pickle crock without a crack or scratch!

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Since the name of the makeover game was make do, I used what paint I had leftover from interior projects. After removing all the nails, screws and miscellaneous hooks, I primed the walls and white washed the old bench. The only floor choices available were turquoise or white, so I opted for blue seeing that this is a major entry often covered with mud. If it were just up to me, I would prefer the white. People think I am crazy when they see the white floors inside the house, but so far the color has worn well, and it is easy to wipe up if need be. I love the bright fresh feel of it. This below…not so much.

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Now we have a lovely place to work with plants, hang our sun hats and prop our toys.

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We even have a place to rest our weary bones! – One of the joys of going to the Cities is to find thrift store treasures for the farm – $10 for the wicker at my favorite ARC Value Village!

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The upstairs bedrooms had all been trimmed out in a stained pine I referred to as “Cowboy Trim.” We replaced it with a milled trim to match the 1870s trim in the living room, but saved the cowboy pine for projects. Jeff made the wood boxes from that old trim to store logs, kindling and paper for winter fires.

I like the “Make Do” porch so much, I may not be inclined to do the real remodel for quite some time!

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Farmhouse Kitchen Remodel – New Old Cabinets

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When this farm came on the market, we figured we’d do a drive by, but not likely buy it. For years we had been looking for country properties, but most of them were less than appealing once we got up close and personal. One property with the most amazing farmhouse and view of thousands of DNR wetlands had water in the basement up to the floor joists. It should have been classified as a wetland itself! Another property had a bedroom strewn with hundreds of guns and pond with a pink shell casing beach. Clearly full of shot and clay pigeon remains, we determined that pond to be poisoned. Asking a realtor to show these properties always seemed like a waste of time, so we learned most often to just drive by and check them out first. Occasionally, our interest would be peaked and we would enlist a realtor to show us around, but most often we were on our own.

About five miles out from our Maiden Rock property, the rolling hills and expansive views began to pull at my heart strings, and by the time we were coming down the road in front of the farm, Jeff and I both found ourselves saying, “Oh oh! This could be good!” The site was spectacular and the farmhouse cute as cute could be.

I went immediately to the house to find that the porch door was open. Inside the porch was a locked door to the main house, but an open window that went into the kitchen! I couldn’t resist, so climbed up onto the workbench and into the house. I opened the door for Jeff and within two minutes of walking around, knew we would buy it. Not only was the old farmhouse kitchen huge, but the master bedroom had two walk-in closets and it’s own bathroom! While entirely a mess and in need of some serious TLC, this was not your average farmhouse!

So, we’ve owned the place for nearly three years now, and we just finished the kitchen last week. When we originally designed the space, I thought I wanted a bank of new cabinets and a bank of rebuilt old cabinets. We purchased a shaker design white cabinet from Lowe’s, and in contrast to the chalk-painted old cabinets, the new cabinets seemed a misfit. Immediately, I knew I would have to find old cabinets to replace the new, and it wasn’t until we bought our duplex that I found the perfect cabinets. Although, I think Jeff would disagree – all the rebuilding would cause him to argue that they weren’t quite perfect!

This first picture is what the place looked like when I broke in through the window.

Kitchen to Livingroom - Day of Closing

Coming from the city and turn-of-the-century homes where small kitchens were tucked into the back of the house, this layout made my design ideas gush! This kitchen says, “We take food very seriously here!” It is the center of the house with a big heart and spectacular views.

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Yep, that’s the window fortuitously open for me to take a stealthy look inside and quickly fall in love!

Beam and Looking to Kitchen

We removed the sink cabinets, centered the sliding door on that wall and added two large windows to either side of the slider to enhance the view and light.

North Minneapolis recycled kitchen buffet

The above cabinet came out of a house in North Minneapolis that got a kitchen expansion. Yes, it is quarter sawn oak, and yes, I painted it unapologetically. Notice the two flour bins. We use these for garbage and recycling.

New windows to the porch facing south

The window I broke into was removed to make space for two new windows that would allow even more light to fill the room with southern exposure.

Chalk painted cabinet

Let the priming and painting begin. Both of the old cabinets were primed and then chalk-painted with a Behr paint called “Pale Lichen.” I made my own chalk paint with flat paint and Plaster of Paris. This color is actually a bit green, but with the dark wax turned brown and with the clear wax looks mostly creamy in color tone. To celebrate the “Farmhouse Coastal” theme, the inside of each cabinet is coated with Behr “Lap Pool Blue.”

The cabinet is filling with dry goods

The photo below shows the Lowe’s new cabinets and a slide in range we scored from Craigslist. Someday I will have a signature range of some sort, but in the meantime, this Maytag stove was really cheap and nearly brand new. The farmhouse runs on electric with solar in our future plans. You might be surprised that I can cook on electric! This stove made the transition quite easy, actually. And, the solid glass top is so easy to clean up – I love that feature!

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The farmhouse kitchen originally had included not only the kitchen, but dining room, bathroom and back entry. So, once we removed the linoleum, we knew much of the floor would need to be removed and new flooring laid to remove the gaps where the walls for these rooms had once been. The picture above shows the dark original floor boards and the new lighter flooring primed and ready to paint.

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That brings us to last month. We were finally ready to begin installation of the new old cabinets that Jeff had pulled from the duplex and rebuilt. The white Lowe’s cabinets were removed allowing me to fill in the last of the little holes whose warm puffs of heated air invited mice into the kitchen!

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Much of the new old cabinets had to be resized and rebuilt to fit in this location. Jeff cut down one of the door cabinets making each of the doors smaller to fit this space, and had to build new cabinet boxes and a panelled end side. The old parts that remain are the doors, the drawer frame and the drawers.

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We celebrate the fact that our farm is above the Great Mississippi Flyway called Lake Pepin. This area lies in the “Driftless” area of Wisconsin forgotten by the glaciers and left with rolling hills and deep ravines. We designed the place to celebrate the water with a “Farmhouse Coastal” theme.

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For the last three years what we would do for a counter top was a great unknown. Many years ago, Jeff scored some beautiful marble from a rehab job at an old St. Paul fire station. The marble found a home as the wood stove hearth, counter tops for the old cabinet in the kitchen and a radiator cover in the living room. It was free and a perfect color for the farm. We priced out granite for the kitchen, but when the nearly $4,000 quote came back, I knew we would have to get creative. So, in the meantime, Jeff screwed the old refrigerator side panel to the top of the cabinets as a temporary counter top. It worked great!

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The old new cabinets got the same chalk-paint treatment as the other two, but this time I used a white wax making the “Pale Lichen” just a little creamier. We decided on stainless hinges and handles on this side of the kitchen to compliment the appliances and dishwasher.

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Now that the new old cabinets are in, I am feeling a bit more irritated with the white stove, but that will have to wait for a later date. I suspect I will search for a similar model, but in stainless. Although, I love the Northstar reproduction range in Robin’s Egg Blue!

Northstar Range

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We found a counter top! Rummaging around at one of our favorite Building Materials Outlet spots, we found some quartz counters for $300. Since the price would allow for error, Jeff decided to take on the challenge of learning to cut and polish this stuff himself. I am so proud of him! He cut out the sink bowl, buffed the edge to a shine, glued a small piece on the wall end to get the correct length and secured the backsplash. In our other renovations, counter top cutting and installation was a task we would contract out, but not any more! The color exchange between the cabinets and counter is a little more monochromatic than ideal, but for the price, it’s perfect!

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Remember the cheese grater light shades! I love the open shelving as well – a place to highlight our color scheme and a few favorite pieces.

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We got this old Kitchenaid fridge off Craigslist as well. It came with white bevelled panelling that we replaced with “barnwood” made from cedar fencing and stained with “Sunbleached” gray Varathane. It’s so tempting to go all “farm” theme with lots of weathered barnwood, but I tried to temper these peices to just a few. Our stove hood and fridge are covered with faux barnwood, and we have the old beam between the kitchen and living room. Of course, the signature farmhouse table stands as a stalwart symbol of the weathered barnwood look!

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The darker cabinet on the left was original to the house but had hung on the wall near the sink. This was painted with the “Pale Lichen” chalk paint and finished with a dark wax. The cabinet to the right is the old quarter sawn oak cabinet with the same color chalk paint as the smaller cabinet, but finished in clear wax. All hardware is original on both cabinets.

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What a view! And, we certainly managed to fill up the space. Someday I will get a real camera so the pictures can be better quality.

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Jeff built this table from a hand milled oak tree my parents gave him when they discovered he had a taste for wood-working. I love how he designed the legs to look so chunky. The thing weighs a literal ton!

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Remember, this is what the kitchen looked like before we started digging in! Now we have a kitchen that takes its farm lunch very seriously!

Beam and Looking to Kitchen

A Farm Office

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This was the stinky room in the house. Don’t get me wrong, the whole house reeked, but this one was tops. I suspect it had been used as the potty for the cats and dogs that took up residency as the smell of urine overpowered the room and the floor was clearly saturated with the slightly oily residue urine leaves behind. I used about a gallon of one of those pet enzyme odor eliminators, sprayed over the course of a few weeks while I was working upstairs, and washed the floors a few hundred times with bleach, but it wasn’t until I primed the space that the odors completely disappeared.

In the 80s remodel, owners moved the staircase and changed the shape of it. With evidence from original door jams that could be seen on the floors, I was able to see how the original staircase would have entered from the kitchen through a doorway. It would have been a steep incline up to the original two bedrooms. This would have allowed for the lofted bedroom to be bigger, perhaps even having a closet. The new staircase is ample with a landing allowing for the upstairs to have a large, open feel. Overall, it was a good design move for the house.

The office is now in the room off the living room that is partially under the staircase. We boxed in the area under the landing in order to accommodate a daybed, but this space could have been used for a small closet, drawer storage or left open. Since it smelled as if the cat boxes were stored there, I was happy to prime and seal it up. There is no odor anymore!

The previous owner never finished the walls the new walls andthe original plaster wall was covered in wallpaper that easily peeled off with warm water and a scraper as the plaster had been only roughly finished. We put up new sheetrock and I skim-coated the plaster to finish. I am so happy with the results. It’s a beautiful, sun-filled room!

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I am so thrilled with the way the daybed turned out! As you have seen, our interior design strategy has been to create a cottage look by painting everything. I like the clean yet unfussy nature of this concept – not to mention, the economic benefits! We have been able to build custom pieces and with hole-filler, caulk and paint, make everything look really fresh. All the furniture pieces in the office were built with pine and a bit of recycled moulding allowing me a budget for the final touches!

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Our second floor bathroom is en suite, so anyone staying in the other two bedrooms must walk through the master to access it. While this is fine for family, friends and other guests may feel a little awkward with that arrangement, so part of my decision to add a day bed to the office was to add a space for guests that would allow them their own bathroom. The bed will have a roll-out lower bed so two can stay comfortably in that room.

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Office with daybed

The Office

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In the next post you’ll see what I did with all these seeds!

 

 

Lagging Spring

Spring in Town

The country ever has a lagging Spring,
Waiting for May to call its violets forth,
And June its roses–showers and sunshine bring,
Slowly, the deepening verdure o’er the earth;
To put their foliage out, the woods are slack,
And one by one the singing-birds come back…

William Cullen Bryant

 

This is yesterday’s deepening verdure. The winter rye is greening in front of the barn, tree buds are beginning to push forward and it is not only Juncos to the feeder.

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BUT, Mother Nature has halted the verdant splendor and given us a more muted palate. Somehow, more quiet and composed.

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Spring is most surely lagging in this northern state.

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Farmhouse Revised

To make sure the full impact is felt, make sure you look at yesterday’s post about buying  a farm. In that post you will find the “Before” pictures. We began this project nine months ago, and while much of the house project is “done” there is quite  a bit of fine-tuning left to work on. Of course, the acreage and outbuildings will keep us very busy for years to come!

We’ve lived in the city for many years with turn-of-the-century oak woodwork, and while beautiful, it is very dark. I’ve been craving light for years, so am thrilled to have been able to highlight the incredible light of the farm. We added windows to both enhance the view as well as to open the house even more to light.

For the interior I chose a monochromatic white color scheme to keep it fresh and clean feeling. Walls, ceilings, floors and trim are all the same white. For dimension, I was strongly influenced by the concept of “farmhouse coastal.” I added beachy splashes with a sea-foam marble for the wood stove heat wall, painted the office ceiling, crown molding and stairs a turquoise blue and have lots of sand colors resonating throughout the fabrics and fixtures.

I also wanted to add a bit of “farmhouse” especially as the house has two large barn wood beams to remind us of the old-timers who hand-sawed the huge timbers that once covered this land. My darling husband was commissioned to create beds, fridge panels, a stove hood and farm table to help the house celebrate its roots! Our laundry, bathroom and mudroom will eventually look like a tack room complete with a sliding barn door. That will be our next project. To complete, in fact, will be a screen porch, a covered porch that will become a solarium and the renovation of the bathrooms.

In terms of interior design, the space is minimally filled. I have yet to decide about window treatments, additional furniture and other objects of interest. I figure I have lots of time to find interesting pieces to fill the space. I’d rather have things I love and that are “perfect” than just fill the space for the sake of it.

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