There she is. Right now, post-demo, the farm resembles a set built specifically for the new “Saw-meets-Blair-Witch” mashup horror film. The production designer really nailed this one. It’s rather shocking that we ever did or will call this our dream house, but despite its current condition it was still exactly where I wanted to be a couple weeks ago when we visited. THANK GOODNESS, because turns out you can’t return a house (not that we would want to OBVIOUSLY… Ha Ha… ha:)). Sure, when we were there it was 75 and sunny (rare for April in Oregon) but there is something about that plot of land that makes me overlook what “condition” it’s in and just want to live there, with the kids running around getting lost amongst the blackberry bushes and future chickens. It’s magical. It’s almost like the trees block any real harsh wind, allowing only sweet breezes, and there is literally no street noise, despite being in a neighborhood. It’s mostly flat and usable, totally gated, with the house in the middle, an old sports court, so many trees, a barn, paddock, carriage house/sheep’s barn/garage, secondary victorian farmhouse, 2 oddly adorable sheds, a grove of rather ill fruit trees and so much more. It needs a lot of love (and a plan) but honestly, the kids love playing there as-is and part of me wants to make it better (update fencing, remove some blackberry bushes, power wash the sports court) but just keep it super rural and rough except where it’s close to the house (because we need a deck and some pretty native plants that are intentional). What if I just threw a bunch of wildflower seeds and see what happens? I’m also intimidated by the extent of work and I’m scared of myself because once I start “designing” something it gets to be VERY expensive unless I can DIY it – it’s a real gift I have and one that is an occupational hazard as a design blogger (chicken or the egg???). At the same time, we didn’t properly “design” the backyard here and we made some pretty annoying mistakes while rushing that we can’t really undo. So there is something to be said for having a plan before you just go for it (duh).
You drive up a long tree-covered driveway that definitely needs to be paved, but because it’s not, you bounce around on dirt, potholes and gravel, and INSTANTLY you are transported to an old country farm. I want to keep it as-is, Brian wants it to be wider (why do men think they need such huge body clearances? It’s like, uh, dude, you aren’t THAT BIG. There is a (paved) roundabout driveway that connects the original victorian house to the main house and in the middle is a grove of fruit trees that is not in the best of shape but I’m determined to bring it back to life (and by ‘I’ I mean hire an arborist).
As I’ve said before, the house itself was a four-square box with a 1960s addition. It had mismatched windows from different eras, tiny plastic shutters and vinyl siding covering the original tongue and groove. Once it was all removed I actually loved it even more – the vintage windows popped and it felt just more what it should be.
Pulling up to the state of our home while in a white convertible mustang was, well, a hilarious mix of worlds that made us all LOL a lot. Most people driving that car would not look so lovingly at the state of our home, but not us. The Hendersons are a real special mixed breed of wanting some luxury for us, and yet desperate to stay grounded and quietly punish our kids for being far more privileged than we were (I’m JOKING (??)). Nothing like sitting in a convertible Mustang, some Taylor Swift blasting (Brian’s choice, he’s obsessed) and a six pack of fancy microbrew beer next to a dilapidated “dream” farmhouse to further confuse our identity. Back to before demo…
That breezeway has so much potential. You might remember that a few iterations of the design ago we were going to add a port cochere (fancy carport) to the kitchen side of the original house, but as we were there last week we nixed it hard and fast. We love this connection between the two houses and we are just going to have a quick path to the kitchen and build a carport where they had theirs.
This side of the house (above) was one that sure we loved, but we thought we’d be playing way more in front of the living room (near the sports court). But as the sun was setting we realized that this is the most beautiful shady area near the kitchen that might be more of our family hangout space.
Oh, we’ve got rooflines for days. Four different ones that really don’t line up but these are the moments that we are strangely into. The odd, the quirk, a certain level of jank that screams “there is no way we are a new-build modern farmhouse” (nothing wrong with that, but this isn’t that). You know what else brings that sweetness?
This basement entrance with that cute little storm door on it. While this has to go because it’s falling apart, little moments like this say “I’m old and cute”. We’ll replace or rebuild something even more cute and charming (unless we have to remove for any reason). I also love those pretty wood storm windows on those two lower windows. It makes them inoperable but they are so pretty. This is when I fell back in love with the original windows. Without the dumb shutters and vinyl siding, you can really see what this house wants to be, despite looking like a horror house. And if you want to straighten out or line up those windows I see you, but we have decided those kinds of awkwardnesses are actually so unique to an old house (like the rooflines). So while we might change them and it might feel silly not to line them up at that point, if you have these kinds of oddities just know that we think they are sweet, despite being architecturally “wrong”.
Now to the sports court. The biggest selling point for Brian.
This guy is MASSIVE (like AA professional tennis sized court). It has a basketball hoop at one end with a big wood and wire structure to help balls stay in, and a tennis wall on the other side.
It’s not in the BEST shape, but we have no intentions right now of jackhammering it and making it smooth. It likely will never be flat enough to play regulation tennis, but we are hoping that with a powerwash and maybe a skim coat the kids can do everything they want to do there (which includes rollerblading – they are VERY into rollerblading). While I did play tennis in high school I think we are more interested in biking, scooting, playing basketball and maybe even four square.
THE SHEDS (IT’S ABOUT TIME)
There are two cute sheds next to each other on the property. I’ve never had a shed before and now I know why my brother INSISTED on putting in a shed at the Portland project a few years ago – there is just so much stuff that kids play with outside that looks like total garbage when its not stored.
This will house all things sports equipment, but I do have a fantasy of putting in an infrared sauna in a few years (with maybe an outdoor shower/toilet, too??). I’ve been using my sauna blanket a lot lately and it gives me something to look forward to every night so if I keep it up that might be something down the road. But for now, it has bins of tennis balls and a tennis ball shooter that the former owners left for us (thank you!).
It’s pretty darn cute and might be a great place to repurpose the original windows that aren’t energy efficient from our main house.
On the other side of the sports courts lives the cutest little barn you ever did see. It’s separated into two sides – one for livestock to actually sleep and feed, and the other (on the left) could be really anything (its so cute!!!).
Oh the potential. We do want to have some animals (we are still thinking Alpacas and definitely chickens as of now but not pulling ANY triggers until we live there for a while).
On this side of the barn is the paddock (an enclosed pasture). It housed a massive skate ramp (that you can see the markings of above) as well as a trampoline that has seen better days and a treehouse that could use some renovation).
It’s a lot of work, friends. It’s also a lot of space. On this side of the paddock is another pasture down from the sports court that is pretty much overtaken with blackberry bushes (which we are currently having cleared so we can see what we are working with).
I think that since there are so many “zones” it actually feels MASSIVE despite being only a little over 2.5 acres (which is big, don’t get me wrong, but most people say it feels closer to 4 or 5 acres). Of course, what we don’t have is a small body of water – a pond or stream and you KNOW my propensity towards water features. Our kids play for HOURS in our fake stream up here so I do have a 2-4 year goal to find the right place for some sort of natural looking body of water. Frogs are a must 🙂
THE VICTORIAN HOUSE
I’ll give you a full tour of the victorian house, but as you can see on the south side of the house is another field that the victorian house looks over. It’s so sweet and cute.
Inside this house we will eventually have a media room with games, etc for when the kids are older, maybe a basic kitchen for like popcorn and drinks AND then upstairs likely there will be our office. Full tour coming soon 🙂
The CARRIAGE HOUSE/SHEEP’S BARN
The last building on the property is what used to be a carriage house (I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea that functioning carriages were put in here for transport.) It is MASSIVE and has so much potential (if not currently deadly).
It’s really big (could fit 6 cars or like 40 sheep). But 1/2 of it is definitely uninhabitable and unsafe. It’s pretty close to the property line, so Arciform thinks that if we wanted to tear down and rebuild we wouldn’t be able to, so we might have to rebuild from the inside but keep enough of the original walls to get past the city stuff. It’s definitely phase 2 or 3. We have dreams of this being a dope workout area, storage and then just not knowing what my career future will be, I may want to start hoarding vintage finds again for big pop-up curated flea market once a year or so – Any excuse to keep thrifting and creating content around thrifting, upcycling and vintage, but knowing that I don’t need all this stuff for our home… I’ve got storage FOR DAYS Y’ALL. It could also be a photo studio, a place to host workshops… the sky’s the limit, but it’s currently rotted and well, dangerous so…
The video is really where it’s at – it’s super hard to understand where everything is so jusr watch through the ad (thank you) to see me giving you a full tour of the farmhouse property:
Right now I’m barely thinking about the property because I’m too focused on the house (and financially it would need to be a phase two). However, here is our rough plan of action …
1. We need a landscape designer to help with the decking design, the stairs, the hardscape – so we are looking for a landscape team that will be in it for the long haul knowing that we can’t tackle it all at once but we need to have an overall future plan (ish) so we don’t make short term mistakes that would affect our long term ideas.
2. We also need to get all the trees healthy asap so we will be hiring an arborist (anyone know anyone?) so they can start bearing fruit (I have a canning career to think about).
3. There is also one bare area of the fence, about 20′ long that is a bald spot of chain link fence into our neighbor’s yard that needs to be planted for privacy (Ken’s gardener is doing it next week).
4. We want to clean up so we can see what we are working with – the blackberries and ivy have absolutely taken over this property so we are currently clearing enough blackberries to be able to see (and leaving a bunch in the back for picking, duh) and clearing the ivy off of the trees, but leaving it on the ground for ground cover (for now). We’ll leave all trees and all bushes for now and then next time we are up there we’ll be able to really assess the property.
The problem about doing landscaping in phases is just like doing an interior renovation in phases – once you open up to do electrical and plumbing, it’s the best time to do it ALL. Irrigation is the main culprit here (and electrical out to the barn and landscape lighting) – it’s like if you are going to dig up everything to put in proper irrigation then you need to know where it’s going and to what plants need what level of water for however long a day/week/month. So that’s why we are barely pinning ideas for now while we fix problems. We’ll make the area around the house pretty and then not extend irrigation further out knowing that Oregon rains a lot so we likely will only have to water a couple months of the year and if it’s not too close to the house then the grass can be a bit brown and no one is going to die, except maybe the grass…
Check IGTV and Stories Sunday for a full tour (or the video above) because you can get such a better sense of it through video. IT’S A LOT to do, and I would say I’m overwhelmed but we aren’t. There isn’t a rush, we love the ruralness of it now, and part of loving an older home is committing to the long-term restoration of it. Also, remember my #1 mantra when it comes to renovation to negate the stress and keep the complaining at bay – renovating is a privilege, renovating is a privilege, renovating is a privilege (and it is).
So Questions For You:
- Landscape design/architect team in Portland? Anyone? Arborist?
- Green product recommendations (I’m being highly marketed right now based on my cookies, so I’m curious what electrical products are out there, what plant products, etc are good to know about.
- Has anyone affordably fixed a large sports court? And a follow-up question, we want to cover part of it for winter/rain so any great inspiration for making that look actually GOOD?
- I just read that Ipe wood isn’t sustainably sourced – anyone know of any decking material that isn’t orange-y that I can feel good about using for the big porch?
Mostly I can’t wait for the kids to get lost (together) in the woods like we did and build weird forts and worlds with just trees and bushes. Free-Range Parenting FTW!! (hopefully).