Hello Friends!!!! So so sorry it has been about 2 months since my last farmhouse update. Life has been so busy lately and therefore I have not been able to take the time to create this blog post that so many people have been asking me for. I wanted to get this completed today because it is a really big day for us here at Springdale Farm. We have officially passed the torch from the stone mason to the builder. We have completed all the pretty stone and brick work and are now moving on to actually rebuilding the house to make it whole again.
Since my last update on the farmhouse project we have made a TON of progress. I actually had to go back through my past posts to see where I left off in terms of progress on the house because I forgot what I have have discussed so far. If you drive by the farm…from the road it looks like not much progress has been made at all. But when you are up close and personal like I am..there has been a huge amount of progress and the house is coming along beautifully. This part of the project has actually taken longer than expected because Kevin and I added a ton of detail work to be completed to the interior.
In my last post I talked about the exterior repointing and showed some pictures to really give you an idea of how dramatic the transformation was from just the little work on the exterior. Here are the photos again to remind you where we started.
In October we started the exterior repointing and that process alone with removing all the vines, digging out all the mortar joints and refilling them, fixing and replacing stones that were loose and falling off, rebuilding both chimneys from below the roof line and anything else to stabilize the exterior took well over a month. Here is a picture of the house just after the repointing and stabilization.
In addition to the repointing we have removed the roof and front wall to the original older portion of the house in order to repoint and realign the roof of that side of the house. We removed walls on the front of the house because we are restoring the older portion to be more in line with the way it would have been built originally. It will be rebuilt with a 2 ft set back from the main house front exterior. At some point the previous owners built a make-shift apartment with an additional bathroom in the older side of the house and added a hallway to build a staircase which brought the front of the old house to be even with main house. If you look at the first picture you will see that it is where the white horizontal siding is.
We have completed the foundation for the kitchen addition and also have the stone work and pointing completed on that. The crumbling front wall in the original portion was also rebuilt and repointed as it will be visible when the siding goes on.
On the interior there has been so much work completed. Although from the pictures it is hard to imagine because there is still so much to do. So far we removed all the paster from the 4 fireplaces and had them repointed. We have also had lines run to them to have them converted from Wood Burning to Gas (Propane). The result was more than I could have ever expected and we are so happy with the way they turned out. Here are some pictures of the before and afters.
In the area that will be my walk in closet we had to break through the exterior wall of the main house to create a walk way that will lead to Kevin’s walk-in closet and the dressing room that leads to the master bathroom. Because I wanted to add some cool design details I had our stone mason create an archway. I LOVE IT!
The attic has been completely cleaned out and the stone and brick chimneys at both ends have been completely refinished and repointed. There was plaster on both walls that was crumbling and the decision had to be made to either redo the plaster or remove it and repoint the stone. After seeing how beautiful the stone was the answer was easy and we went with having both walls completely redone. There was a room up there and that space has been completely demolished to reveal the full expanse of the attic to be rebuilt into 2 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms.
There is some framing and other work going on right now also but I will save those details for the next post. We are really enjoying the renovation and watching the house come back to life layer by layer. Although living in a tiny home on the property hasn’t been too fun we are all surviving. I am very thankful summer and spring are on the horizon and we will hopefully get some relief from the crazy cold we have been having.
Hey everyone! I hope everyone has recovered from their Christmas craziness hangovers and have now moved on to your New Years festivities. While I absolutely love this time of year, I certainly do love the calm that January seems to bring after the hectic holidays.
I wanted to jump on and share probably one of the coolest gifts my kids have received in a couple years. I’m sure most people can relate to the whole buying extra presents to fill in the gaps idea when it comes to being Santa for your kids. I swear every year I say we aren’t going crazy this year and ALWAYS, at the last minute, end up buying a bunch of gifts to fill in the gaps and even out the quantity of gifts each of them receives. We always do this, and when I say we it is actually me. My husband is perfectly fine with them not having the same exact amount of gifts to open as long as the money spent is about equal. A quality Vs. quantity mindset and it makes more sense than mine.
I will be honest with you and tell you that in this situation Amazon is my best friend! Sorry Jenn, I do love you, but Amazon is always there in that mad dash pinch of the moment when only Prime can solve your issues situation! In my desperate attempt this year to “fill in the gaps” I stumbled upon this great hands on activity set for kids that are interested in architecture or design. It is call Young Architect by Scientific Explorer.
Being that for the past 12 years Kevin and I have actively been involved in some type of renovation, flip house or design work our kids have really developed a true interest in both design, decor and architecture. I took one look at this and just knew It was the perfect gift for my daughter Reese. She loves doing anything hands on and really has taken an interest in design and decor. So, on a whim and a need to buy more gifts, I ordered the set.
At $75 it is definitely not an inexpensive gift to buy but the fact that we opened it for the first time today and my daughter’s and their friend have been non-stop designing and redesigning floor plan layouts for their dream houses for 3 hours speaks volumes. I am all for any activity that will get them away from their IPhones and using their brains. In a world where electronics rule their lives I try to find activities that do the opposite.
The basis of this set is to literally set up a room by room version of a house or building. It can be what ever they want. The set comes with clear plastic tracers that allow them to draw room shapes in different sizes and piece them together to form the traditional flow of a house. There are hallways, closets, bathrooms, and multiple shaped rooms. After they have completed the room layout they then furnish the rooms with the proper fixtures and furniture. My girls cut the shapes out of the paper that was provided but I think you are supposed to draw the furniture directly onto the plan. After the furniture and fixtures are laid out you build the walls. This part is really cool. With these cubes that are placed in the corners of each room you place clear plastic room dividers onto the cubes to define each space. Once all the cubes are connected and the dividers are in place you have what looks like a 3-D layout of a house. You can also take the stickers provided and place windows and doors in each room but my girls skipped that part because they immediately wanted to dismantle the first house and recreate a new one.
I was so excited to see their true love and interest in this gift set that I felt it warranted a share to anyone who would also have kids that would enjoy this for hours.
The affiliate links are below for this. If you click the link you can order directly through Amazon! Thanks for reading and I hope you have a child who will also love this set like my girls do!
I am sure that everyone has a location that is on their bucket list for places they want to visit at some point in their lifetime. I think of myself as kind of a wanderlust and while my bucket list of vacation destinations is pretty long Italy was definitely at the top. Luckily for Kevin and I we have best friends, who happen to be our business partners, who also share that same love of travel. One tipsy night in 2017, as we are discussing our impending 40th birthdays the idea of an Italy trip was discussed. Almost a year later our plans were brought to life when we landed in Rome for the first leg of our Italian Vacation.
The best thing about traveling with our friends is that we are on the same page when it comes to planning our trips. Our philosophy is not to plan. When we landed in Rome we had only booked our hotel stays in Rome, the 7 night stay at our Agriturismo, the Vatican Tour and the Colosseum Tour…that was it..for a 10 day stay in Italy. And even those previously booked events changed because we hate having our schedules planned for us and prefer to wing it!
If you have never been to Italy, particularly Rome, you are in for the shock of your life. I have never been in a city where the people, every single person, drives so erratically. There will be a 3 lane street where the cars are driving 5 wide and there are still Vespas weaving in and out of cars up onto the sidewalks and back into the street. We landed in Rome on Friday morning so our timing wasn’t perfect but it was still pure insanity that not one Italian was even phased by.
The city itself is absolutely breathtaking. The ruins are amazing to see, the buildings are thousands of years old and look like they are right out of a magazine, there is SO MUCH HISTORY in this city, I could have stayed for many more days! Our first night was my favorite night in Rome. Our hotel was amazing. When we arrived at around 9am we were greated by friendly staff, shown to the ruins that the hotel is built into and offered our first glass of wine and complimentary tiramisu…which was AMAZING! One of the reasons we don’t plan much in advance is because we don’t like to be held to having to be somewhere at an exact time incase we would rather do something else, which is what happened day 1. Not even realizing how tired we would be we scheduled our tour of the Vatican that day at 3pm in the afternoon. After a 10 hour flight, very little sleep, a headache from bad airplane wine and no shower or nap because our rooms were not ready we were exhausted. However, not to be slowed down by lack of sleep and determined to make the best of day 1 we pushed through and decided to make the 45 minute walk over to the Vatican from the Roman Forum. The good thing for us was that we had 4.5 hours to make the 45 minute walk so that is what we did. We stopped for food at this cute tiny cafe around the corner from our hotel, had our first cappuccinos to help wake us up and set off for Vatican City. The walk was great, we wandered in and out of the tiny streets, took in the architecture and stopped in some great little shops for browsing whatever they were selling. In Vatican City we happened to find this great little wine bar called Wine Bar de Penitenzieri that had a good amount of people coming and going so we decided to stop there for our first of many glasses of Vermentino and some delicious pasta dishes. Two things you hear about Italy that are 100% true is that the food and wine are amazing! We found that to be true within our first few hours of being in Italy.
After our lunch and wine break it was time for our Vatican tour. The Vatican as a building is beautiful and to hear about the power past Popes had is just eye opening. They were treated like Kings, hence the reason the Vatican looks like a castle. Growing up in the Catholic church and going through 12 years of catholic school you tend to understand how important the Pope is. But I didn’t fully realize until I walked through the Vatican. I am going to be honest here and I may be struck down for this but I didn’t love that tour. It could have been my sheer exhaustion coupled with a tour guide who spoke so softly his voice was putting me to sleep as I was walking through the rooms, but we couldn’t wait to get out of there and even cut our tour short. We of course went to see Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica, and they were beautiful but we didn’t feel the need to take the 3 hour guided tour.
After arriving back at our hotel and deciding to not take a nap and just push on through the day so we got showered up, went to the Italian Happy Hour our hotel offered us and then hit the streets to try to find an amazing Italian Pizza. We started our night down the block from our hotel at this cute little piazza that had a great fountain, open bars and great shops. We had a couple drinks, did some window shopping around the piazza, found some great flooring inspiration for my farmhouse renovation and then decided to find dinner. You would think that being in Italy you would be able to find great pizza at every turn, but surprisingly that is not the case. Our pizza that night was actually terrible and we didn’t even finish them. My advice when in Italy is to just eat Pasta! You can not go wrong with Pasta or the wine!
On Saturday we woke up and went to get our rental car to make our trip up to Volterra in Tuscany where our Agriturismo was. I am not lying when I say Kate and I were scared to death getting in the car with our husbands behind the wheel and having to navigate through Rome to get to the highway. However, Saturday morning turns out to be the perfect time to drive in that city if you have to. The traffic was much lighter than normal and therefore I didn’t feel like I was going to lose my life at every turn.
Once again we decided to wing it on our trip up to Volterra. Being that we just got to Italy and wanted to see as much as possible we decided to take the coastal route and drive up the coast and see some of the vacation towns. For lunch we stopped in Santa Marinella at the suggestion of an employee at our hotel. We are told it is a popular Italian summer vacation destination so we decided to stop there for lunch. By the time we arrived it was around 2pm so our options for lunch were limited since most places close down around 2 until dinner time. Even though our options were limited for restaurant choices our lunch was great. We sat on the beach, enjoyed great food and wine with great friends. The setting was perfect.
Our next stop on our treck to Volterra was Orbetello. Orbetello is more of a higher end area, and it is obvious. You drive through the arches to the town and it is basically set on the water. There is a main street that you walk down for shopping and eating and there are a few blocks on each side that eventually lead you to water. One great thing about Italy is that from the hours of about 2pm-5:30ishpm the streets are basically empty. We arrived in Orbetello around 5pm so the main street was empty. With in a half hour it came alive and there were people everywhere walking their dogs, meeting up for drinks and appetizers and shopping. That seemed to be the theme for the rest of our trip.
Because it was getting dark and we still had a good 2 hours until we would be in Volterra we set out around 6pm. The drive to Volterra was great except for the roads through Tuscany are VERY windy….There are pin turns often and the region is pretty mountainous. It was great that the boys were happy driving because Kate and I were not about to get behind the wheel. After a 2 hour drive we finally arrived to our Agriturismo in Volterra where we would stay as our home base for the next 6 nights.
When we arrived in Volterra we were starving. The family who owns our Agriturismo also owns a well know and highly rated restaurant in town called Del Duca. So as we were checking in to our rooms Genuino, the owner of the farm, called their restaurant and told them we are coming over. If you ever have the pleasure of visiting Tuscany you must go to Volterra and have dinner at Del Duca. When you go make sure you order the Truffle Carbonara…It was AMAZING!!!! It was so good that we as a table ordered 2 more portions and split it between the 4 of us. It was probably one of the best dishes that we ate our entire time in Italy and it was only our 2nd night there.
Funny Story and fun fact…Let me preface this and say that Italians are not taught English in school so not everyone knows how to speak English. Most of the older generation does not speak English. The next morning at breakfast we were talking to Claudia, who is the daughter of Genuino, and had been our main contact for booking our trip. In Italy there is this thing called the ZTL, Zone Traffic Limited. Most of the cities in Italy are built with stone walls surrounding them. These walls served as their means of protection back when the towns were built in the 1300s. As a means to keep traffic and tourists out of the ZTL there are cameras set up that will ticket anyone who doesn’t have a certain pass on their car to designate them as a resident. Well, when Genuino who is Claudia’s father, told us the previous night to go over to the restaurant, we had no knowledge of the ZTL nor had we known that you definitely should not drive right through the city arches if you did not live there. Since he does not speak English and we do not understand Italian he was not able to communicate this at the time. So us naive Americans piled into our rental car, typed the restaurant address into Google Maps and followed the road into Volterra…which took us right through the city arches and right through the ZTL. Thankfully the cameras in the cities are shut off at 7pm (which Genuino knew) and we were well past that time when we drove through the city. It wasn’t until the next day when we actually toured Volterra in the daylight that we realized that we drove basically down the main street in town where there is almost NO traffic because it is a ZTL..we got quite a laugh from our realization of what we had done.
It’s hard to believe that up until this point we have only been in Italy 2 full days and have visited 4 cities and have experienced so many laughs… Stay tuned for details on our week in Tuscany and our return trip to Rome.
I often drive past the house and stare into the master bedroom windows and wonder if we are going to have ” guests” lurking around the house. There is so much history associated with our property I can’t help but think a few people have left their souls behind in the house. While I prefer to only cohabitate with my family and really have no idea what I will do should I wake up and see a figure in my bedroom doorway, I know it is totally not out of the question.
We have had a lot of fun researching the property to find out what, if anything, could be lurking behind the walls. One of the “fun facts” about the property is that it served as the first stop for slaves seeking freedom on the underground railroad. Below is some information from a write up on the farm.
“The Mendenhall farm, Springdale, is part of a thousand acre grant purchased in 1703 by Benjamin and Anna Pennell Mendenhall and is the only property in the state of PA owned and lived on by descendants of the original owners. The original portion of the house is believed to date back to 1718 with a new wing added in 1836.
The farm lies within the area of the Battle of the Brandywine and family history tells of Private Joseph Mendenhall who was drafted into the Chester County Militia and fought in that battle. Later, the farm was the “coat holder” for the neighboring farm which was an important station on the underground railroad. Fugitives had to cross Springdale Farm to get from Delaware to the first station in PA and pursuers either needed permission to chase the slaves or had to take the long way round, either way the farm was a way to buy time for fugitives.”
The “new wing” of the house, or what I refer to as the main house has a date stone that validates the 1836 time frame, we haven’t found anything that validates the 1718 date for the original portion.
When we purchased the house it was so covered in vines that I didn’t even know there was a date stone on the side of the house. After the guys cleaned off the side stone and pulled out all the old grout the stone was finally visible. They cleaned it off and power washed all the stacked field stone so that they could repoint the whole side. The third picture is the refinished west side. Every stone was repointed and cleaned up and as you can see the result is pretty amazing.
West Side Exterior…Notice the date stone is completely covered
By the time we purchased the house it had sat vacant for 8 years. There was a rumor that a homeless person took up residence in the house, and there was definitely evidence to corroborate that rumor. In the attic there was make shift bedroom and bathroom built between the rafters. When the prior owners were in the midst of trying to save the farm they built make-shift apartments in the the house to generate some income. I can only guess that the attic room was built with that intention. However, I’m not completely sure because of what my husband and his partner found when they were doing the demo work in the attic.
We were previously told that the house had been cleaned out by vandals over the years and that there wouldn’t be much if anything historical left on the property. However, there was 1 thing that was left behind for us to find. Imagine my husband’s surprise when as he was pulling drywall down from the rafters in the attic a book literally fell out of the ceiling onto his head. The book has a copy write of 1836 and is titled France. It is so cool! The pages are very brittle and every turn of a page results in it coming undone from the binding. So right now we have it tucked away where it won’t get touched or exposed to sun. Below are a few pictures.
One of the accessory barns on the property was a weigh station. When the property was in it’s prime and operating as a proper farm one of the sources of income was to sell cattle and hay. The original scale from the weight station is still there. I will attach picture shortly.
First of all can I get a Heck Yea for the cooler weather! Up until recently it has been abnormally warm in the mid-east region. I am by no means a cold weathered maven but 80 degrees in late September and October was throwing me for a loop. I would walk out of the house in jeans and sweater and turn right around to put on my off the shoulder top. So now that fall is here let’s cheers with a warm non-fat chai, (from my favorite coffee bar in Kennett Square, Philter) while wearing our sweaters and boots.
As much as I hate to admit it because I LOVE the sun, I really do love fall. Everything from the trees changing colors, to wearing sweaters and boots for the cooler weather, to pumpkins and neutral home decor (which for the record, I do NOT like Pumpkin Spice Latte)…I just really do love everything about the season.
This fall I am obsessed with bell sleeved sweaters and skinny jeans. Add a cute bootie and a necklace and your outfit is complete for whatever the occasion may be. This past Saturday we went to a fundraiser to raise money for Breast Cancer and I wore this adorable Bell Sleeved Sweater from Nordstrom and my favorite skinny jeans with my Blaze Booties from Freebird Stores
What I really love about this sweater is that it is pretty versatile. Dress it up to go for a night out with friends or pair it with jeans as I did here and it looks just as fabulous. The material is super soft and the length was great, however I added one of my favorite tank tops from Target. I kid you not that I have about 20 of these tanks and multiples of almost every color in case they are in the laundry and I need to wear one. I really love to have whatever I am wearing come down to my hips…call it a momplex..but this tank is amazing and gives the extra length that I love my tops to have.
Links to the items are in the post, Here are the pics from the websites.
I will admit that I am the type of person that once I find something I love I buy it in multiple colors so that I can wear it whenever I want with every outfit, as you have seen above with the target tank top. This was definitely the case with the Blaze Freebird Boots in the pic above. I have them in both the black and the cognac colors. I really wear them all the time as they go with everything. The heal is great, they elongate the leg just enough and the straps and buckles are a cool accessory to the bootie.
This week my family and I are traveling to TX to take a little trip to the Silos and see Austin. Our kids have a 4 day weekend and we thought it would be the perfect time to get away and reconnect after an event filled Summer and early Fall. Be sure to check out my instagram @mkinteriors.pa for posts about our trip and other things with have going on!
What a beautiful week it has been here in Chester County, PA. Still wondering when fall is going to show up, but definitely soaking in this extended summer we are having. It has been at least 15 degrees above normal and while I love it, I will tell you it has been mighty tricky when it comes to picking out an outfit everyday. I feel like I never know what to wear. I am definitely not complaining though, jeans and light shirt and cute sandals are always my favorite outfits. Here is a sneak peak of my outfit today, I really love this LulaRoe Shirley, I will add more on that in a different post…but this in not a typical outfit for where we live. We are normally in sweaters, high boots and jeans by now!
Todays blog post is about my new favorite item to decorate with…the fabulous self-adhering wallpaper from Walls Need Love. I have now successfully used it in 2 rooms and I can not say enough about this product.
I often get asked where I get my inspiration and I’ll be honest and tell you that I just research obsessively for days or even weeks and then I see one thing that speaks to me and it is like BOOM there it is…and then I just build off it. That is exactly what happened when I put together the design for my Shorehouse Master Bedroom. I bought magazines, I used the app Houzz, created Pinterest Boards, and stalked Instagram… the process almost became obsessive because everywhere I was in the back of my head I was looking for inspiration.
For my shore house bedroom I wanted a fun, bold and beachy/tropical design. The main inspiration for this room was the wallpaper. I was on an airplane with my husband traveling from somewhere and I was reading a home decor magazine that featured an article about this new self-adhering wall paper. First off, it immediately caught my attention because I LOVE wallpaper. LOVE IT! I love how it adds pattern and a splash of color and cool focal design immediately to your room. As I kept reading I was even more intrigued because this wallpaper doesn’t need to be glued to the wall. For someone who changes their mind about every 6 months on the paint color for my bedroom this was the answer to my prayers! So as soon as we landed and I was able to access the internet I started doing my research.
As I scoured the Walls Need Love website the bold Red and Blue Hibiscus wall paper essentially jumped off the page and said order me now. It was exactly what I was looking for and the color scheme could not have been more perfect! I love all things blue but this coupled with the red hibiscus flowers could not have been more perfect. So I placed my order and hoped for the best.
Since I have never installed wallpaper before I was a little nervous to commit to 10 sheets of wallpaper and not know if I would even be able to hang one. Can I just tell you how easy it is to install. The hardest part is lining up the sheets but after you get your first 1 or 2 lined up it moves pretty quick from there. I did the whole wall behind my bed, 8 sheets, in a little over an hour. That definitely was not bad for the immediate impact it made in the room.
I can’t say enough about this product, in fact I highly recommend it. If you are interested in check out their amazing patterns click this link…Walls Need Love- Here. They have a ton new art work. If you need help trying to find one for your room just reach out to me!
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In the course of our busy lives I feel like we always have the intent to do this and that. As the owner of a smallish childcare franchise you could say I am busy. Currently we own 4 schools and are getting ready to launch franchises for sale. In my spare time and for fun I decorate and renovate houses with my husband. He does all the construction and I do most of the design…he does get a small opinion. For the past few years I have been looking for a way to document our renovation and design work. This blog is going to be my outlet. Our most recent project was our New Jersey shorehouse. From the minute I laid eyes on this little bungalow I knew I wanted to gut it and bring it back to life. Here is a picture of our little gem before we got our hands on it.
Front OF house
See, it was very cute… Very White…but very cute with a ton of potential…
For the past 60 years it has undergone many, many bad and poorly executed renovations. While I am sure the intent was great the execution was not. We bought this house knowing that this was going to be a project and not a short one. From start to finish it was a full 6 months to be exact..and the house is only 1800 Sq Ft. We are actually still remodeling the last bathroom. Pics to come later on that one.
So this little shore house started with a ton of potential and I couldn’t be happier with the way it has ended up. Below are some pics of what it looks like today. We painted the exterior brick grey to give some contrast to the white trimmed windows, installed a new Shaker door and added blue vinyl siding in a vertical direction to give the illusion of height. We added the window at the top to add some extra light on the interior. The grass and wood columns finish the house giving it the feel of a true bungalow.
Front of House Close up
Angled view to see the porch swing
On the interior we tore down walls and ceilings to create a better flow and add height to the living area which gives the illusion of space. In a house this small having it feel as spacious as we could was important. The kitchen before was boxy and cramped with a wall that separated it from the living room. Throughout the demolition the back kitchen wall was one that got knocked down and rebuilt to make the kitchen bigger…even though we added 18 inches to the kitchen/living room it made a huge difference. Now it is open with vaulted ceilings and a neutral palate that does not darken the room.
The front living area is now open to the kitchen and feels more inviting and comfortable. We carried the floor all throughout the house to try to keep the flow consistent and again not break off rooms that would give the boxy feeling.
The Master Bedroom was probably the most spacious room in the house. Since this is a second home for us we didn’t feel the need to keep it so large. We had the closets rebuilt on the back side of the room and I choose this amazing bold Hibiscus Self-adhesing wall paper for the back drop. It is the perfect beachy bedroom with tons of storage space!
The master bathroom was a hot mess. The walls were patched and uneven, there was a huge jacuzzi tub that was just too big for the room and the teal walls are not my taste for a bathroom. The plumbing and electric behind the walls were an accident waiting to happen. I was never so happy to see studs and subfloor! So after our plumber and electrician made the bathroom safe for use my husband applied my design and the result is just gorgeous.
Since we are at the shore the Octopus shower curtain was more than appropriate. The gold fixtures are the perfect finishing touch for the navy vanity with the navy/gold/greyish patterned ceramic floor tile. I really Love this room.
Well, that was the front half of the house, I will post soon about the back half of the house. Thank you for reading my first blog post and I hope you come back to see more of my design work, I have a lot more to post!