A Sentimental Project: Fixing Oma’s Haus

 

Imagine a quaint little white farmhouse resting atop a hill overlooking acres and acres of grazing land. Now imagine that same little house 150 years later, after multiple generations of families living in it, and even more generations of rats, roaches, termites, and God knows what.

This is “The home place,” or “Oma’s Haus,” or “Popo’s House:” the home of my great grandparents. They raised their kids, cattle, and farm on that land, and it remained in the family to this day. The home place has many memories for us, and we can’t stand the idea of letting it go.

I spent many weekends there throughout my childhood despite the myriad critters that lived with us, and recently, the house has simply become too rundown to use. After sitting as a storage place for my Grandma to put her canned goods and sewing projects for a few years, we finally mustered up the courage to start renovations.

 

Program:

Our vision for it is to keep it as original as possible, while updating the house to make it safe, and livable. My parents are most likely to be using it as a weekend home, and a possible venue for family reunions, and hosting holiday events.

My mom loves the whole rustic country chic style, and has been furiously pinning farmhouse designs, color schemes, furniture, and indoor decor ideas to her Pinterest board. My dad is a bit bipolar on decisions at this point. Because of our German-Texas farmer heritage, he is extremely frugal. In his recent retirement, he’s become quite the handyman (in his mind) and is trying to do a lot of the housework on his own. That being said, he has a tendency to try to keep the broken, original furniture and the retro wooden paneling.

 

Oh dear.

 

At the same time, this is his grandparents’ house, and he wants to take care of it. He has also been looking into getting brand new stoves and kitchen appliances that are designed to look old, and fancy vanities for the bathrooms. His position on renovations vary from “do the most with the least” to “This IS going to be the best.” Depending on his mood, and how close it is to tax day, he’ll move from one extreme to the other.

Not to say he’s some cheap old fart, or some rich white guy, he’s still my dad, and of course I love him. I’m just saying that not many of our plans are set in stone at this point in the process.

So, we’re aiming to keep that endearing little country house vibe, while updating it so the house fits today’s demands in function and southern fashion.

 

What we’ve got

This house is an extraordinarily spunky dwelling. Country folk have to be creative, yet practical with their budget and with the land given to them. It was originally one two story, rectangular block of a house. The kitchen was once probably built into the living room, and was switched around quite a few times. We can tell this by the holes left in the ceiling and walls from each time the pot-belly stove was moved.

Here’s a current picture of the house. We took our the 150 year old tree stumps holding the house up, and got it leveled. In the process, the construction crew tore off the remains of the skirting, and we trashed the deck by moving out some furniture, and making it one of the many makeshift homes for construction equipment. Also, some of the siding has been taken off, and the surrounding plants were pulled up. I promise it usually looks a bit more flattering than this.

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Later on, another entire house was attached to this house to create a master bedroom. You can tell this by slight differences in design, and the most irritating design flaw I’ve found about this house.

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Do you see it yet?

 

The roof line. The second house’s roof goes higher than the original’s, thus creating this little bump. That giant log on the ground used to be a tree that blocked this monstrosity off, but now, it stands for all to see.
Ugh.

 

In the floor plan, it’s a little harder to see. The master bedroom, and part of the living room are all part of the second house. The deck was added on when the houses were combined. In the 50’s, my great uncle was born, so there was a small add-on with his bedroom, and a functioning bathroom. I also believe the mudroom was an add-on due to the hideously ugly windows and door that probably came from the 50’s or 60’s as well.

On my tablet, I was able to get a free trial for Autocad 360, so this is what I mustered up for the original  floor plan, as well as what we hope it will look like when it is finished.

popos-house

It’s a little whimsical as far as floor plan formatting goes, but it’s functional for the most part.

 

The house is pretty quirky. The more we understand of this house, the more history we uncover. My great grandparents were notorious for being cheap on top of being isolated from proper builders, plumbers, etc. I took a hammer to the paneling in the kitchen to find at least three layers of wall paper stacked on top of each other, and finally the original shiplap walls, partially painted a turquoise-green shade. I say partially because they left spots blank where the furniture covered the walls. This partial-coverage occurred in almost every room in some way. The flooring in the master bedroom was originally beautiful wooden planks, then was covered completely in vinyl. Next, someone wanted to paint the vinyl floor, and put a carpet in the center of the room. The middle was still that same vinyl, but the very edges were all painted… After that, someone decided it was a good idea to put a sheet of fake wood over the exposed areas. Evolution is real, and I’m really not sure if it’s a good thing.

 

This is only the beginning of what we know and what we’ve seen. More ideas are sure to come, and more stories about the renovations, and excavation of this historical site are on their way!

 

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

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