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48 In Life/ Renovations

The School House


The one room school house on my parents property is the last standing one-room school house in Wabash County, Illinois. My dad bought it in 2005  from the local Ruritans Club {a civic organization for “rural” folks}  for $1. They found termites and were planning to destroy the structure and replace it with a Morton Building when DaddyBoy stepped in.

He had it moved 5 blocks to the northwest corner of his farm. DaddyBoy is pictured below standing in front of the building during the moving process.


It cost him $15,000 to move it and build the new foundation. Shortly after moving it they painted the inside, re-roofed it,  installed 2 new bathrooms {one for boys and one for girls}, installed new windows, back doors, a handful of reproduction school house lights, new kitchen appliances and a new  HVAC unit. The front doors, floors, kitchen and chalkboards are all original {maybe not to the original 1920s version but original to when he bought it}.


The school house now permanently sits about 100 yards behind their renovated farmhouse {from the early 1800s} and is used for family functions. The camp house below sits between the farmhouse and the school house and is their current “project” and has just been updated with new columns and energy efficient windows.


The back porch of the school house looks over the farm. The back porch was another phase of the renovation and serves as the location for the 4th of July fish fry.


In 2006, Erika & Chance had their rehearsal dinner in the school house and their wedding reception in the barn. She talks more about it in this post. It is ideal for any home maker who has just witnessed her grandchildren tear into approximately 12,756 gifts to be able to walk away from a total disaster and host family in a separate building. I think everyone needs a school house!


Every Christmas DaddyBoy serves us his specialty standing rib roast from the very unpretentious school house kitchen. This year he accompanied the roast with cauliflower timbales and brought down cheesecakes from Eli’s.





Another Christmas family tradition is BINGO. Everyone brings white elephant prizes and lots of laughs are had… especially when some gifts reappear year after year.


Most of the tables and chairs in the school house have been donated by various family members, either from their own collection or have been collected from yard sales and estate sales through the years.

DaddyBoy has already started dreaming about the next renovation phase of the school house which will include a wood burning fireplace.

I think that covers the school house!

122 In Renovations

Exterior House Details

2 little pre-post disclaimers:There will be no full shots of the outside of our house. I have a few reservations about that. I am only going to post a couple of close ups, I feel confident you all understand! Second, while it’s really enjoyable to renovate a home I fully recognize that it is temporal… the most important thing to me is that we have an eternal home in heaven. Basically, this stuff is really fun to me, but lacks eternal value.

When we bought our house 2 years ago, it looked like this.


Which to me resembled a prison more than a house.


We immediately removed the exterior iron doors, replaced the light fixtures, and removed the shutters. I’m a little weird about shutters… I always like them to look real, even if they’re not. Which means if you were to pretend to close them, I think they should look like they would actually serve their purpose and cover the window. {I know, I’m nuts} Ours did not, and they also drew your attention to the black bricks scattered throughout the brick pattern. After we did these minor little changes we waited to paint. We waited two years, which I know isn’t a really long time, but for me, it seemed like we’d never paint. Our house had 3 different types of brick on it and every time I walked outside I could hear it crying for paint.

The doors pictured above are our front doors, the door pictured below is our side door.


We initially replaced the light fixtures {picture above are the original light fixtures} and then waited to paint. If you look closely you can see that the brick near the front doors is a different brick from the side door… which is a much different brick from the garage. We also cut back the Azaelas that were taller than the roof.


It took me 7 quarts of paint to finally decide on colors. Thank goodness for sample quarts that are only $5 {Sherwin Williams}.


After a few consultations with Erika and the help of both sister-in-laws and my kind neighbor who came by to examine my handiwork on the garage, I finally decided on Clarksville Gray {Benjamin Moore HC 102} for the body and Texas Leather {Benjamin Moore AC-3} for the trim. For the doors, I asked the paint shop to mix Texas Leather with double the formula + black, does that make sense? I wanted it to look like a really rich Texas Leather but be obvious that it’s NOT actually Texas Leather.

We did have painters paint the house. We really wish we could have done it ourselves but the quote we got was almost too good to be true. We also couldn’t figure out logistically how to do it ourselves… we’re finally getting to the point in our lives where we realize the benefit of paying someone to help you… it’s a good place to be… but comes with a price.

They primed and sealed the brick first with a product called Loxon {a masonry sealer} by Sherwin Williams. We used all Sherwin Williams paint in Benjamin Moore colors.

Out front, as I mentioned before, we removed the horizontal handrailing and used my sister-in-law’s spare bricks to create a step. Do you remember when I ran over our brick column? Well eventually {after it stayed like that for TOO long} a brick mason stopped by to see if he could replace it or repair it. We ended up getting rid of the columns all together {and adding lights to the garage instead} and he ended up adding this step for us one Saturday morning.



We also changed out the doors, door hardware, and lights {the lights we bought after buying the house were moved to the garage}.

The doors are by Barnett Millworks in their Mobile Bay Series, they come in either Mahogany or Fir {paint grade}, we obviously went for the paint grade. I believe the company is to the trade only, we ordered our doors through Chapman Building Systems.


Please excuse the landscaping, or lackthereof. The door hardware and lights came from Lowe’s. The lights are really substantial {over 30″ tall} and the price was really good!! I can’t find the actual lights that we have on their website, but they are basically these but in the next size up {with 4-lights instead of just 3}. The door hardware is by Kwikset and it too came from Lowe’s. The urns are from Lowe’s {it’s right around the corner & dangerously convenient, can you tell?} and the ferns are Kimberly Queens and from a local nursery.


My sister-in-law has added a quick tutorial on the ghosts on her blog if you were inquiring. We put up the light fixtures on the side door entrance shortly after we moved in, I think they came from Lowe’s too. We put the same pair on the front of the house when we moved in and ended up moving them to the garage when the electricians came to install the new lights and canned lights at the front entrance. They’re on this great programable light switch that I found, it’s very convenient. The garage was a late addition to the house {I think in ’85} and it’s on a separate breaker… I wasn’t planning on walking out to the garage every night to turn the lights on so the programmable switch was worth every penny!


Several of you asked about how I feel about having windows on my doors. As you can see there is a wall almost directly behind the side entrance with the flag print, so unless they have their face plastered to the door they really can’t see in. As for the front doors, if they walk up to them and ring the bell, then yes, they obviously can see in. However, our house sits back from the road a good bit and you really can’t see in unless you are parked out front and really look hard and if you do that I might call the police. 🙂 Most of our guests use our side door and usually I answer so there’s no need to really hide. If you like to hide or if your house sits on a busy street you may not like these doors.

To ensure that the front steps aren’t slippery when wet {Jon Bon} we used a sifter and white sand to evenly spread sand during the last coat of paint… it worked great and they have a nice rough surface so no one falls and hurts themselves.

Did  I miss anything?

We’re in the process of getting ready for a BIG surprise for the girls… more to come on that soon!