This month marks three years since we purchased our land. Soon thereafter, in May, we broke ground on a very simple farmhouse. In order to cut costs, we decided to build a metal-sided pole barn and finish out the inside as a standard home.
We were fortunate to find a builder who specialized in both of these areas. While we felt truly blessed to find someone capable of exactly what we wanted, we learned that building can still be one of life's more challenging experiences. To read more about what I wish I had known before starting the process, visit my blog this post on my blog.
From start to finish, the process lasted from spring until fall, at which point we moved into our new 1500 square foot home. Complete with one bedroom, one office, one and a half baths, and a large combination kitchen/living area. The outside was finished to look like a barn: red, with a green roof and a cupola. The floorplan I designed myself, scratched out on a sheet of graph paper and handed over to the builder shortly after we signed our contract.
I want to share some of the things that we learned, some of the things we love about our home, and some of the things we wish we had done a bit differently. Imagine yourself dropping by for a visit and a cup of tea. Don't mind the dogs — they are friendly — and please overlook the mess. 😉
Three Things I Absolutely Love About Our Home
It is unique and special to us. I designed the floorplan myself, so it literally has my fingerprints all over it. It takes into account our lifestyle, with easy access to our garden, the chickens, and a lovely view of the pond.
The one drawback to designing your own home is that most people are not architects and will simply overlook details. Our home is still aesthetically pleasing, but there are a few quirks. We have a pokey back hall. The door swing in the laundry room is awkward. I didn't provide enough space in our bedroom to accommodate the much-needed dresser.
If you ever decide to design your own home, I advise hiring an architect to look over your plans before all is said and done. If that is not possible, then I recommend evaluating your current home. What features do you really like? Which rooms are especially functional? Take notes and measure what you do have, then use that information as the foundation for your new blueprint.
The kitchen. Situated right smack dab in the very center, the kitchen is truly at the heart of our home. This is wonderful when bringing produce in from the garden. I bring it right into the front door and set it on the counter. Granted, it is hard to hide a mess when one is canning or fermenting, but I love that it is open to both living areas, and the happy clutter gives the true feel of a country farmhouse. We opted to do without a formal dining room since everyone always congregates in the kitchen anyway. Because of this, whoever is working in the kitchen can still play an active role in whatever else is going on nearby.
Our sliding “barn” door. This special feature resulted from one of those “not-an-architect” moments. I created a small alcove off the kitchen/living area for the master bath, tucked between the office and the master bedroom. It was designed to be private, but I simply didn't notice that it also opens dead center into the living room area… at least not until I emerged from the bathroom one morning with wet hair and found myself face-to-face with the plumber installing our stove. I don't think he minded, but I was terribly embarrassed.
My husband fixed this problem by building and installing a rustic sliding door. It provides privacy when we have company, has also minimizes noise carried from the living area to the bedroom, and helps insulate the bedroom better in the winter.
One Decision I Really Regret
There is no mud room. Nearly every day, I wish that I had one. And I wish it was a very, very large one! In conventional city homes today, utilitarian spaces are small while living areas are quite large. I find that rural living demands the opposite. I need a mud room the size of my living area.
When we moved, I created a beautiful living space with a settee and a Duncan Phyffe antique table, next to the kitchen so company can sit and visit with whoever is in the kitchen. Next to this would-be peaceful and idyllic spot, however, can be found cardboard boxes of co-op groceries waiting to be opened and unpacked, 5-gallon buckets of grain, bundles of kindling, a compost bin waiting to be emptied or an empty compost bin waiting to be cleaned and put away, 40-pound bags of chicken feed, muddy boots, a dog blanket, chicken manure that has been tracked in… The list goes on and on. So much for my tranquil corner.
I truly wish that I had a mud room with lots of shelving and easy access to outside. Somewhere this could all be housed out-of-view, and somewhere the mud and manure can't be tracked in so easily.
One Thing I Learned About Country Homes
They need large closets. Even if you are determined to live an uncluttered life, adequate closet space is still a must. Simple living isn't necessarily simple. It requires gear: barn jackets, gloves, boots, clogs, gardening tools, dehydrators, grain mills, pressure canners, canning jars, carboys, and the like. This gear needs a place to go!
Don't make my mistake and think that large walk-in closets are unnecessary because you are going to “simplify your life” by moving to the country. Just don't do it. I did, and as a result, I’ve had to get creative with alternative storage options. This has created the look of a country French farmhouse with lots of odd mismatched pieces, but there are days I wish I had opted for generous closets instead of our shallow reach-ins with bi-fold doors.
Have you ever had a home custom built? What are some things that you learned from your experience? What advice would you give to someone going through the same process?
We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. This post may contain special links through which we earn a small commission if you make a purchase (though your price is the same).