The Seach for home: "The Farmhouse"

warning: I'm trusting you to not steal this house from me. ;) (really though, haha)

Well, are you surprised? ;) ;) The house we're loving now is a farmhouse that was built in 1889. (Camila guessed it & Kelly was close with a barn-- I'd SO take a barn!!! It's another dream of mine actually haha) Anyway, the house is about 25 mins away from where we're at now & is on an acre of land. (we want land SO badly) It's only a mile and a half from the new grocery store (which is really important to me for convenience!) and is being surrounded by brand-new housing developments. When we walked into the house the couple living there thought we were crazy to want to live in the house & not tear it down because that's what everyone's doing. [Which I think is really sad-- this place is so beautiful & has so much history, I couldn't imagine tearing it down!!]

I love the front of the house: It's already white & I'd love to paint the tin roof red (ok, maybe silver) --see below-- and add some black shutters, fix the porch swing & layer it with pretty pillows, add hanging ferns in the summer, hudrangeas all around it-- ahh it could be gorgeous!!!!

Below is a view of the house from the backyard. (check out all that land!!!) It's hard to tell from the pics, but there's this perfect meandering stream throughout the backyard with 2 (really old but possibly gorgeous) little bridges over it. I think in the Spring when everything's lush & green it would look like something out of a fairytale.

Moving farther out is definitely a scary proposition for us. I'd love to stay near my parents & this is where I grew up & everything is just so convenient here: DC, Tyson's and even the country. (I would definitely be closer to Lucketts though if we moved here!!!) Below is a little tour of the inside of the house. Here is the room I'd use for the dining room/ sitting room:
I'd do a central pedestal table probably stacked with books & pretty things & have some wingchairs in the room that could be pulled up to the table for dining or working or projects. chandelier, lots of linen, you know the drill. The floors are the original wood plank floors (covered by carpeting & linoleum in places) painted brown. They'd be going white straightaway, like in Darryl Carter's Virginia farmhouse, below:

The plaster walls are the originals made out of sand & horsehair. The owner of the home was born in the house & lives there with his wife. (They seem like really nice people.) They covered up some of the plaster walls with 60s faux wood paneling (see below) which would be coming down asap. I'd also want to do french doors in the back of the kitchen (below) to a deck:

Here's another shot of the kitchen. To begin with, we'd simply paint the cabinets white because of budgets constraints & then attempt to do out own concrete countertops & find discounts on SS appliances. And let;s talk about the CEILINGS... As you can see, there are drop ceilings throughout the main level & I am DYING to tear them off & expose the beams & plaster ceiling!!!! I cannot even tell you how excited that gets me.

Here's the teensy living room, below. Again, the paneling would be coming down, the ceilings would be exposed & you have to picture white wood floor & linen sofas. The big dilemma is where will my hutch go? I think I have a spot for it.

Picture something similar to this: (from Honning & Flora)

Here's the laundry room/ sunroom. I'd definitely attempt some sort of laundry hiding ... and I'd ditch the door (or disguise it with curtains) so I could use that wall. I'd probably float my little desk & maybe do shelving on the long wall. ?? this room is SKINNY!

Goiny upstairs, there are 3 bedrooms & I'd want the hallway to look something like this (belwo, Atalant Bartlett):And here are the 2 bedrooms:

I cannot tell you enough how beautiful the walls are. They're like something out of Mount Vernon... (the smoke houses & such) When my husband & I opened the little doorway to go up the stairs & saw this curving tiny staircase & the walls we just looked at each other & it was like we had ESP. we LOVED it. It was like a time warp.

This is what I'd want to do: ( a little window enlargement in the first bedroom pictured) pic from Atlanta Bartlett-

Anyway, after coming home & having my parents roll their eyes at us & basically trying to reign us in (not my dad- he's all go for it because he's a dreamer like me) we started doing some research the next day. So here comes the bad news...

Well, the house is on 1 acre but most of that acre is on a floodplain, (the beautiful brook!) meaning you can't build on a flood plain. This is why no builder has snapped this place up yet. (Same as last time!!!) It's also less than 25 feet from the road & you wouldn't be able to put a flush addition on because you can't build within 25 feet of the road. (In a couple of years we hoped to put on a huge addition-- don't worry, we'd make it look like it had always been there...) I would put a room like this (Below, Darry Carter's LR) in the addition:

And here's the rest of the "bad" list: the gravel road it's on is being converted to a 35 mile perhour paved road (arggg!!! this is a HUGE NEGATIVE), we would need new: electricity, septic, central air & heat & probably plumbing... ($100,000+) So, that is a lot of money which is okay if the price for the house is low enough, but it isn't getting me up & running & out the door to put in an offer asap.
I also now know (looking at comps & finding out how unbuildable this lot is) that the house is WAY overpriced. It's only been on the market for a month & I doubt the couple living there would take the offer we'd be willing to give. But... maybe after it's been sitting for a while & they've found out about all of the lot's restrictions, they'll come around if we're still interested. I also feel like the market is still going to drop & we don't want to just jump in when we have this awesome opportunity to wait it out...

So it's not off the list, but I'm not gagga for it. Time & cost will tell!! what are your thoughts???


ps- I forgot to mention that the house is WAY under our budget so even with all of the $ needed to get it up to code, we're still under budget. (that's my favorite part of this house!! ;)


Sweet Nothings said...

I think it has amazing potential, and you could do WONDERS with it!!

Kara said...

I flipping LOVE it, Lauren. Can I move in with you!!?? I LOVE old farmhouses and this one is the perfect diamond in the rough. With your amazing vision and talent it is to die for. Just make sure the price is right so you can do all the fun things you want to. :)
Keep us posted!!

Linda at Lime in the Coconut! said...

OK...There is no doubt that you could work magic there. But ALL new electrical,septic,plumbing, hvac....that is HUGE. If it is in bad shape, it should be selling for the price of the land. 1 acre is a that is prob the reason for he higher price.

25 min away is nothing...but a highway IS detering (although 35 mph doesn't sound like a highway).

One thing you didn't mention is the school is the district? The town? Something to consider for both kidlets and resale.

Then the heart factor. Is it singing to you?? despite all the barriers??

Exciting though....I love this part of the hunt (weird...I know)

Terri said...

I'm excited for you, but I have a realtor friend who always says "it is wonderful to see all the possibilities but it is also a huge financial decision". In other words, you have to love the possibilities but you have to decide with your head and not your heart. Unless you have unlimited money.

You don't want a money pit and you don't want a flood plain (which is the first thing I thought when you mentioned the brook!).

A lot to weigh. All new wiring too? The land is gorgeous but old houses can also be a nightmare of costs. Definitely good to see you are leading with your heart but your head is also in the right place.

Keep looking. The best choice should never cause you worry or fear, only positive excitement.

xo T.

Terry said...

Very bad sign: rip rap on the creek banks. Flood plain requirements (that cost you extra time, permits and money) will only become more strict. I do love the house.

Anonymous said...

love the little winding creek in the back yard. The house is soo beautiful. You have such an eye for seeing the potential beauty in things.

DesignTies said...

I think your vision for the house is awesome -- I'm so impressed how you can see the potential of all the rooms :-)

Lots to think about with this house.... it would look fabulous after all the changes you have planned for it, but will you be OK with the highway and the building restrictions and all the other potential issues that come along with the house??

If you keep looking, maybe you WILL find the perfect old barn that's just waiting for your decorating magic!! :-)


Blueprint Bliss said...

It has great potential! But not matter what y'all find- I know you will transform it into something beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I hope you get it! I think in this market, you're smart to wait and see if you can get them to come down on the price. It's totally charming and has tons of potential. And with your touch, it's going to be the best "before and after" EVER. Fingers crossed! P.S. Go Redskins! (Those blankets cracked me up.)

Things That Inspire said...

I am so impressed with your vision! I have a hard time seeing beyond what is in a home, so if the decor of a home is wrong it has a huge impact on me. Of course, this is mainly through pictures on the internet, I have an easier time when I actually see something in person.

It's fun to go through the 'house hunting' through your eyes. Keep us posted!

LindsB said...

I think that house has SO much potential! There are so many things that can be done with the house to make it look amazing. I mean the down sides of the house are kinda big, but I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that it stays on the market long enough that they will practically give it away to you.

The pictures you put up along with the rooms that are there already are beautiful! I could totally see every room in that house with your touch, then again you could make any house you live in beautiful!

alice said...

I am totally the type to get head over heals in love with something and throw caution to the wind and ignore all the "cons" of a potential project. I admire the fact that you're taking a step back and letting time and the market influence your decision... if it works out, it really will be meant to be. And if thats the case, it sure will be beautiful once you get your designer hands on it!

Chris said...

Well, my practical side says step away from it, but my dreamy side says buy it today!! Your ideas for the home are spectacular!!!!! Time will tell. I'm sure you'll weigh the pros and cons, but good luck on your decision!

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

You have great vision ! I can't wait to see what you do end up with and how it will all come together! Don't you dare let me miss it!

Dagny @ Beautiful Living said...

It definitly has potential! Love the fantastic garden! We waited three months before placing a bid on our house, and we got it over $100.000 under the asking price :)

Louisa said...

Hi Lauren,

I really enjoy reading your blog and had to comment on this post! I can see why you're excited about the house and I agree that you have terrific vision.

But, all of the problems you mentioned are major and scary - septic, electric, plumbing, the flood plain. Those issues will end up costing more than estimates (as most things do). I know it's frustrating when you have a budget and you really like a house but the worst thing is to buy a house and then have it be a serious money pit - they'll be no money leftover for decorating!!

My husband and I found this one house we loved (an old farmhouse dating to 1800) but once we heard it had structural issues, it was over. We ended up finding another house that is perfect for us - so
as much as you love it, I'd keep looking. Things will work out!

Good luck!

Denise said...


All my best wishes to your family in your search for the perfect farmhouse. When we bought our land in western NC, some historic structures came with the property at no charge (a 1906 farmhouse, a tobacco barn and a corn crib). The previous owners did not attach a value to the structures even though the house and the land had been in their family for almost l00 years. We decided to save the old farmhouse and we're still working on it. We've yet to turn our attention to the barn and the corn crib. A much needed addition is now in the design phase for the house. Looks like we're here to stay!!

DesignTies said...

Oh Lauren... I LOVE this house! I took one look at the exterior photo of the place and knew it had potential!! But you're right to hold back and be cautious, particularly since the owners are currenlty asking too much for the place. Personally... I'd have a hard time actually seeing the problems (my excitement would overrun my brain!)... but that's why my husband is the practical one! Ha!!
Victoria from EdinDesigns @ DesignTies

A Touch of Country said...

go for it if you can get it for a great price! Can you get a "pardon" from the building permit people to add on. sometimes they put a notice in the paper and if neighbors don't cause a stir within a certain time frame, they'll let you do an addition.

Anonymous said...

It is really lovely and with all your ideas it would be a dream. So sad that there are so many negatives! I would have loved to see what you'd do with it.

Lauren said...

Thanks everyone so much for all the advice!!! (and keep it coming!!)

One thing I should add is that this house is WAY under our budget so all the repairs & things needed to get it up to code would till make it cheaper than our budget.

ps- I think I'll add this to the post just in case!!

Haven and Home said...

Is it weird that this gets me excited, like I am moving in? I can totally see all your changes, it will be amazing! I will keep my fingers crossed!

kay* said...

wow - i think you're ideas are great and your ability to see the potential is amazing. lots of people pass on great places because they can't see beyond ugly carept or kudos to you. i'm very impressed with all of the research you've done on this property. i think it has great potential to be your dream home....

the fact that someone would want to tear it down though...a place with so much just so sad.

Cote de Texas said...

Actually I absolutely love it. the age is a major plus. houses like this last for ever. the wood is probably almost fossilized by now. so much potential - you could probably raise the roofs to the rafters on the second floor, hummmmmmmm - I'm in love. the creek. etc. why do you consider what you have to do with drawbacks? septic, new electricity, etc. - those will be pluses!!! especiallyl with your budget. you don't have to live there forever. I LOVE IT AND i WANT TO SEE YOU REDO IT!!!!!

Velvet and Linen said...

I can see why you fell in love with this house, Lauren.
It would totally inspire me as well.
I would love an acre of land, flood plain and all!
I am impressed by your ability to keep a level head in such an emotional situation. I am so bad at that!
I'm an impulse house buyer. The last two have worked out pretty well, but our first condo was a big mistake!


diana said...

love it too, but a word of caution. we have an old farmhouse built in 1835 and it takes a lot of tlc. roof is leaking again and we just re-insulated the basement. The heating bills are astronomical. That said I do love it-- the old wood floors are like butter on my feet. We are getting ready to make repairs and I think the red roof is striking. Wonder if it would go with a slate roof, since part of our roof is slate?
Also, we took an old horse barn, 27x31 (also 1800's) and put screens on one and a half sides and turned it into a screened porch pavilion. The old beams inside are wonderful. Have to paint the flooring this spring, and haven't decided on a color yet.
good luck...i don't think you can go wrong, as long as you enjoy the work.

Patricia Gray said...

What a beautiful old farmhouse. I can see you living in it and fixing it up with your character and personality!!

j u s t i m a g i n e said...

oh wow !!!!!!!!! wow wow wow...heaven...what a wonderful project....dreamy !! love your inspiration shot tooo...this will be fun !!!!!!! (for me)

No.35style said...

ohhh such potential!! charming and a pretty property...keep us updated what you decide!