Fall of 2015 saw us in a bit of a mess; figuratively and literally. In sharing some pictures of our house remodeling project, I’d piqued the interest of Angie’s List Magazine photographer Mike Fender. They were doing a feature on reclaimed wood and wanted a picture of our hand hewn barn barn beam fireplace mantle. I was proud of how it turned out and excited to share – the beams came from a barn that had been in our family for years, the round grinding stone on the wall came from the long-defunct Kelley Axe factory that was located in nearby Alexandria, and the iron horse head is my most favorite flea market find.
However, once the realization sunk in that I’d be inadvertently sharing the rest of the house, too; all the parts we were not (yet) proud of…
In a fit of emergency decorating, and furniture building, we managed to make this one room in our unremarkable 1880’s farmhouse magazine-worthy. Full story here.
A whole year passed after the photo session, I pestered the photographer periodically about our fireplace pictures and the reclaimed wood article they were taken for. A article appeared online with a picture of Lucy in front of the fireplace, but no mention of the rest of the project. That’s here.
My heart skipped a beat when the December issue of the magazine arrived with mention of reclaimed wood on the cover. I quickly flipped through until I found a familiar photo on page 23.
The untold part of the story, however, is almost as interesting as what I have shared. And it is the most incredible irony that our house would be seen as appropriate to serve as inspiration to others.
You see, my housekeeping endeavors leave a little = LOT to be desired. I shall not go into details, but I will say that over the years I have been coincidentally gifted with an inordinate amount of cleaning apparati – you know, to make it “easier and faster to get the job done”…
At family gatherings where the women-folk discuss and swoon over their latest vacuum cleaner acquisitions, I conspicuously have NOTHING to add to that conversation. I do NOT belong to the club that “deep cleans”, nor do I wash down my walls annually.
In circles where women are evaluated by their housekeeping; “She always kept a clean house.” I definitely do NOT pass muster. In fact, I fear I may be the example of how not to keep house.
So the idea that my imperfectly-kept house could be magazine worthy is extra special to me. My living room with the cow manure-stained barn beam mantle, industrial steel plate hearth, ancient rug and even more ancient couch is out there for the whole world to see in print. I am most proud of all the heirlooms therein – the mementos that wouldn’t get a second look in an antique store, that are precious to me and my family. A laminated wood lamp that my uncle made, a framed computer printout picture of the barn that the beams were salvaged from, an ornate Middle Eastern horse figurine that was a gift to me from Rob’s grandpa, a trotting horse plaque given to me by a neighbor after I admired it in her house, a old-fashioned looking photo of my parents taken in Deadwood, South Dakota, a vintage engraving of the famous Thoroughbred Macaroni, Macaroni’s actual hoof made into an ashtray (photos of those are here), a tattered copy of Gene Stratton Porter’s Girl of the Limberlost that belonged to my Grandma, an early edition of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty thoughtfully purchased for me at a car swap meet by my (at the time) teenage son, a battered pine night stand (now doubling as a lamp/magazine table) made by my dad in high school shop class, a lighted globe that was a gift from Rob’s mom, a tapestry throw from my aunt, and more. Every single thing in this room has a story. Maybe not an Antiques Roadshow-worthy story, but a special one to this family nonetheless.
This was certainly a learning experience, bringing forth in me resourcefulness and cleaning prowess I did not know I possessed. Here’s to hoping we can transform a few more rooms in 2017…
Want to see what else happens?
Fun on the Farm Part 1 is here
The Epic Mess of Fixing the Fireplace is here
Tearing Down an Old Barn to Repurpose the Timbers in the house is here
The adventure of utilizing the first few timbers as a Fireplace Mantle is here
Utilizing more timbers in a big room upstairs – Of Trials and Strong Backs is here
No One Will Ever See It – an Adventure In Remodeling is here
We are still not finished, but you can see “The Aftermath” of one barn beam project here
Sometimes you have to look back… at scary pictures here
More looking back… Scary pictures, recycling and repurposing here
The surprise that shouldn’t have been a surprise is here