The Old Wash House

And so another springtime begins.

Yipppeeeee! I love winter, but I love spring too!

And March 21 means—SPRING IS HERE!

For me, spring means:

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Daffodils.

(yes, that’s a fire in the background. Baby, it’s cold outside!)

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Chicks.

(no, this year I won’t be getting any baby chicks, but they are SOOOO cute. And tempting. One of my friends wants to get some fertilized eggs from my batch. My rooster is incredible and I do have some beauties. In any event, I do not want any baby chicks myself. I’m good.)

 

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Frisky horses. And green pastures.

(well, here they are just standing and eating, other than Merlin who is resting. But lately they have been running like the wind and in the wind. From left to right is Jessi, Cowboy Dan, Merlin and visiting horse Andre.)

(you should have seen my 4 horses galloping through the meadow yesterday. It’s so funny, because I worry about my Merlin. He’s 19 and has some arthritis. I give him all kinds of vitamins. He was leading the herd! Wide open galloping. 5th gear. I need to stop worrying about that boy. He’s obviously feeling grand.)

(Lush, beautiful, delicious grass. After a long winter, you really appreciate seeing GREEN again. I never felt that way when I lived in the city. But here you notice things like that. I have to be careful with the sugars in the grass with two of my horses. I’m getting their pen ready to keep them off the luscious grass full time.)
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Seed acquisition.

(oh yeah, I’m buying them already, are you?)

But not this one. I’ve always heard of this watermelon, but I’ve never seen a seed package with a picture of a rattlesnake on it. No thanks!)

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A new to-do list.

(even though the old to-do list still looms.)

Cats you’ve never seen before. And can’t photograph.

(a new grey striped feral cat in hanging out in the barn. Welcome!—as long as you get along with everyone else who lives on the Farm. S/He scampers every time I try to get close enough to take her/his pic. One day. S/He’ll love me like my other cats: Mustache Cat (who was also feral) and Hoshi and Jude and Anna Belle.)
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Egg abundance.

(at last. Eggs again. I see quiche, and egg custard, and egg salad in my immediate future.)

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and then…

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Colored eggs.

photo (51)Plans for camping.

(oh my gosh, guess what, I keep eyeing those old tiny campers so any of you have fixed up and made so super cute. Pinterest is killing me. But in the meantime, I love my pup tent! First camping trip is planned for May. I already have reservations at one of the campgrounds on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Can’t wait!)

Coconut pie.

Here’s an old favorite crazy good and crazy easy coconut pie recipe. You don’t even need a crust!

Put 2 cups milk, ¾ cup sugar, ½ cup Bisquick or other baking mix, 4 eggs, ¼ cup butter, 1 ½ tsp vanilla in a blender. Mix on low speed for about 3 minutes. Pour it into a greased pie plate. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. Then, sprinkle 1 cup shredded coconut on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

 

Farmer T.

Springtime means time to go visit some schools with my little lamb puppet, Tilly!

(When I come into the classroom or library room, I always holler, “It’s me! It’s me! It’s Farmer T!” Does that sound familiar to anyone? Yep, I stole it from Ernest T Bass in The Andy Griffith Show!)

Now to the subject of the blog post! My OLD WASH HOUSE! I’m asking your advice on how to fix it up and make it cute.

On this, the first day of Spring, 2016, I am actually sitting in the Old Wash House. This is an old shack behind my house. When I first toured this property, I peeked in this door and it was filled from floor to ceiling with broken-down old junk. I think it was the place that, after something lost its usefulness, you drug it out to the Old Wash House. (If I’ve learned one thing about the folks who built this farm from the rich dirt in a mountain valley—they never parted with anything. I think I have found every pail of rusty nails, every feed sack, every single hay rope ever removed from a bale of hay on this farm. Ever.)

Anyway, the thing I noticed, as I looked up was the posts up there. You know what was dangling from them, right? Long snake skins! My own skin flinches as I write that. I am sitting here, under the posts that used to have long dangly snake skins.

Anyway, I didn’t know what this old shed was originally built for. I wanted it to be the “Old Spring House” so bad. But it wasn’t. It had a rusty faucet in the back and a drain, but no troughs and it was too far from the house to be a spring house. I asked my neighbor. And she told me it was the Old Wash House. They would do laundry in here and canning.

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It’s on a hill behind the house, beneath the great black walnut trees, behind the boxwoods and forsythia.

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I’ve eyed this building since we moved here. I wanted it for my very own. It drew me, dangling snake skins and all.

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“For what!?” my husband would ask repeatedly.

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“I don’t know…something….,” I’d always reply, “My studio or my office or my retreat or ….something.”

Finally, the last few weeks, I’ve been able to make some progress.

So, let’s go see my…um…oh, I don’t know, office or studio or shed.

But first. Here’s what it looked like a few weeks ago. Mustache Cat stayed in there for awhile. I can’t seem to find a photo of what it looked like when we toured the farm. But it was a million times worse than this and had snake skins dangling from those rafters.

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And here it is as we were working on it. A friend came to help and put wood slats over the cracks in the walls. He told me that most of this wood in here is wormy chestnut. I had no idea.

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And let me show you where we are in the process. Let’s start at the door.

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Old and new. The latches that keep the door closed.

We put old siding on the interior of the door. The siding came from the house when we added a room and cut a hole in the house. I love the way it turned out.

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So, I cleaned and painted the cracked concrete floor a crazy turquoise blue.

We ran an electric line to it so I could have some lights.

Check out this light fixture.

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I was in the home improvement store one day and a elderly woman called me over and said, “Could you tell me what that sign says the price is on this light?” “It says $7.50!” I said, completely amazed at the price. “I thought so,” she said and then walked away. “Ma’m?” I asked, “Are you not going to get this $7.50 light? It’s a deal!” “I don’t have any place for it,” she said. “I don’t either! But I’m getting it if you’re not,” I told her. “You go ahead,” she said. So I did! $7.50! Yes, $7.50! It has been just waiting for a place to BE for a couple of years now. Boom! Found it!

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Ages ago, I wrote a column about finding “True Grit.” After that, my farmgirl friend, Teresa, sent me this. Isn’t it grand? I need me some of that again. Tank is kinda empty.

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I’ve had this screen door forever. When my daughter was an iddle-biddle, we painted words and sayings on it. It’s been looking for a home! Any ideas of how to make this useful in a studio/office setting?

And that table to the left of the screen door is from one of my grandmother’s rental houses. It has an old enamel top and has been with me for a long long time now. Wobbly and missing the drawer, but sentimental and stellar. I’ve also had the cabinet above it for a zillion years, but don’t remember where I got it. Probably a flea market.

I’ll show you some of the other things on the walls. Here’s the old faucet in the back of the house.

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My Mom gave me this. Perfect!

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I hung these two things on long rusty nails that were already in the wall. I made the egg chart in 2013, the first year I had chickens. I wanted to keep track of how many eggs I was getting. I remember when I found my first egg in nest box. It was Sept. 22 and some how I knew the chicken that laid it. Incredibly exciting! Now? Well, after a while of keeping chickens, the details no longer matter. I just collect eggs and eat them. I don’t concern myself with who laid what or when.

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I am planning to work some in here, so need a spot for files.

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And here’s the way it looks today!

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I “stole” the bench that was on my porch and added some pillows and a small rug. But as you can see, I’m no decorator. What needs to be done in here to give it that final OOOMPH?? Ideas?

Would you weather the strips of wood so that they are the same color as the wall?

Would you white wash any of the wood?

What would you hang from those rafters? Can you think of anything cute and cheap?

Should I hang curtains?

A larger rug?

???

Any and all suggestions appreciated! I look at this photo now and it actually looks pretty good! Much better than it does in person.

It is so quiet here.

It is so noisy in my house.

I can think here. I’m away from dogs barking, cats wanting in and out, people talking, music playing, phones ringing, televisions going, hammers pounding, etc.

I guess it is not correct to say it is quiet here. It’s just a different kind of noise. Out here I hear farm sound. Outdoor sound. Nature sound.

The wind whipping through the trees.

There is a tall wooded ridge behind our house. And, actually, it is rather famous as the old books say that Daniel Boone walked that ridge. When the wind picks up and blows through those woods, the sound is amplified as it makes it way down to our house. It always stops me in my tracks. I hear the wind blowing today. It is a blustery, windy day here. I feel some wind coming in my Old Wash House, between the cracks. I guess I have a bit more work to do on sealing up the holes. You know what I’m thinking! If wind can get through, snakes can. ha.

The animals at the pond.

I hear geese honking down at the pond and later this evening I’ll hear bullfrogs. They have been noisy for weeks. I’ve been sleeping with my window open just so I can hear them. The only time they go silent is when the temperatures drop below freezing at night. The other evening before dark I went down to the pond as they sang and croaked and carried on. Until. They realized I was there. Then they stopped suddenly. Silent. When I left they started back up.

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Horses.

Horses snicker and neigh. It’s wonderful to hear. I’ve also heard a few times…

The thunder of hoof beats.

The first time I heard a group of horses running down the old farm road close to our house I didn’t know what it was. The ground shook. The noise was intense. It makes your heart skip a beat and quicken. I could tell the direction it was coming from and stopped what I was doing to look. Suddenly, 4 horses appeared galloping at full speed. (They weren’t mine. They just came to visit, I guess.)

I think I can work and create in this space. It has a real good feel and spirit to it. I’ve now written the longest blog post in the history of the world, so that should tell me something. The well has struck water again? Maybe, just maybe.

Spring offers hope for tomorrow.

Until next time, Savor the Flavor of Life!
Lots of love, The City Farmgirl in the Country, Rebekah

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Leave a comment 41 Comments

  1. Your shed reminds me of Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond, with the sound of the animals and the wind in the trees. Maybe you could use the screen door to hang things from thing wire like notes, cards, dried flowers? The rug definitely needs to be bigger. I’d also want the strips to match the rest unless you want to make a statement with a different color or wash. From the rafters I’d hang herbs (when they come in) to dry, or flowers. Imagine the delicious scent in there when you open the door!

  2. Kimberly D. says:

    I would white wash the new wood inside and fine more old tools to hang on the walls. I like the weathered look on the outside, gives it character that it has earned sitting out there all these years.

  3. Rene M Foust says:

    It is just lovely!

  4. Kate Gatski says:

    I think you did a fantastic job with your new space! It looks very elegant. Enjoy!

  5. sherry holmes says:

    I think I would white wash all of it…so light and airy…and then maybe do a gauzy drapy thing from the rafters. And definitely curtains…but that’s just me. I would make it a retreat/workspace. With something to take a nap on….just in case.

  6. Carol in NC says:

    Smitten with your little wash house! What a perfect office. Of course, if it were mine I’d have it full of spinning wheels and dye pots until it was completely overrun and likely unrecognizable.
    I think staining the strips of wood to match the chestnut would look great.

    As for the rafters, you’re in an area where old handmade white oak baskets can be found for a song. Whenever I’m in a thrift store I scan the baskets. Goodwill sells them for one dollar each! The ‘real’ ones are easy to spot. They’re heavy, well made and have a lovely patina. I have a few that are probably close to one hundred years old. Antique baskets aren’t abundant (nor rare) but what a thrill to come across one and hold a bit of history in your hands.

  7. Diane Van Horn says:

    Looks like you are on the right path with that cute little “She Shed”! Love the floor color and the clearance light fixture. If you go to Facebook and search She Shed, there is a whole group on there with fabulous ideas. The newest edition of Vintage Outdoors Magazine has an article on She Sheds and using repurposed items. I am currently working on my own little She Shed. I have found an old iron crib that I am repurposing into a little settee and I am making a ticking mattress and burlap coffee sack skirt and pillows. I can’t wait to see what you come up with and looking forward to other farmgirl suggestions.

  8. WANDA BLAND says:

    How lovely!!! I think you are off to super start! Some questions I have – do you want to use this “special” place year round? If so – do you want to insulate the walls (will you be putting in a ceiling). I would definitely get a caulking gun and seal up all those holes and wind gaps – I share your snake feelings. Really you have your perfect “quiet/special retreat.”

    And you know, you don’t want it to “be just perfect” at the first – you will find the other perfect things for your retreat as your venture about and what fun adding those new purchases along with their stories to your special retreat! Enjoy, enjoy!!

  9. Susan T says:

    Love your Studio/Office/Shed. Could you maybe call it “My Place?”
    If I had such a place, I would put a larger rug on the floor because I like to get my toes nekkid and feel the warm of the rug and the cold of the concrete and I’d probably whitewash those dark boards, but just because the furniture is pretty much dark and the ceiling is dark and the whitewash would make the building a bit brighter.
    And, is screen door screened? If so, I’d put that up and use it to let the air in in the summer. I, personally, hate bugs flying around. I love bugs, I just don’t like the flying around my head bugs.
    But then, that building is pretty well perfect as it is and if you’re happy with it the way it is – leave it alone. But, I don’t want to think about those skins and what they were encasing. Snakes have their place and lots of work to do. I just don’t want it to be my place or scaring me as part of their work.
    Enjoy your building – Susan

  10. Dianne says:

    I just love your blogs!! It makes me so happy to know that you are living your dream. I admit to being envious. I sure miss the farms and mountains and nature 24/7. The horse smells, the chicken smells. Maybe it would help to put up some type of shiplap type walls to cover the cracks. This would be your place to just “BE” Maybe have the doors open and listen to the quiet or some JT. Heaven. Happy Spring xxoo

  11. I would add a curtain and call it perfect I love it!!!!!! Marilyn Overcash

  12. Joan says:

    Oh be still my HEART!!!! Your wash house is so very much like the one we used when I was a kid and I ALWAYS wanted to make it into ‘my place’, so now I am living through your beautiful building. First of all LOVE the color of the floor, I would probably find colorful items to hang on the walls and rafters, you know just fun things, not all have to be useful, probably would whitewash the walls for the brightness they would impart, and our wash house was whitewashed. I would use the screen door either in a corner or attach it with hinges to a side wall, kind of like a divider but still could display on either side of it, like post cards, notes etc. oh yeah a a bright something or other too. Jeepers what a fun building and I am sure you will make it spectacular, especially when the ‘guests’ are not hanging around. Up dates will be great fun to see. Thanks for sharing. God bless.

  13. Shari Doty says:

    Here is my two cents: Definitely curtains. I am thinking maybe a small wood burning stove, so you can be in there when it’s cold, and I’d consider hanging the screen door ON the door frame, so you can be in there when it’s stifling. Otherwise, it looks fabulous!

  14. cara says:

    You are so blessed. Would you insulate it so you can use it in winter too. It is like a tiny home. Day bed, water, …..

  15. Linda Buchanan says:

    Best blog ever!

  16. Jennifer says:

    Oh how lovely! A bit of white wash could really brighten the wash house and lots of potted greenery too. Perhaps an old French linen or fine lace curtains at the windows?

    My great-grandfather kept a small wood house on his farm by the creek. It was his quiet place, lit by candles and oil lamps. Painted wood floors and hand made furniture and rag rugs, it was so peaceful and nurturing. You are creating your own quiet space!

    Good job!
    Jennifet

  17. Margaret Rohn says:

    It is beautiful and so peaceful. I would add several strings of “Christmas Lights” or white or colored lights. You could even get the solar ones if you do not have enough power. They would add a calm feeling and more peace.

    Enjoy.

  18. Rebecca says:

    It looks great! You are good at decorating. I think string lights would look good hanging throughout the rafters.

  19. Val says:

    I have so many ideas for your wash house..LOL I would put screen in the screen door and hang it inside the outside door. That way you could prop the other door open and have a bit of breeze blow through. I would finish the inside walls with white paint or at least stain the light bits to blend in with the dark. But I am a fan of white.

    I think you might be a gardener? You could hang a few herbs from the ceiling and they would smell nice and dry well. Perhaps some dried flowers. Gauze curtains or eyelet curtains would be perfect or just a valence would be nice as well.

    Above all, enjoy the space and leave room to tweak it later as you use it. Love the turquoise floor, it is my absolute favourite colour.

  20. Mary says:

    What a lovely start!!! I’d whitewash it, to make it lighter. I’m all about light and airy. I’d also get a larger rug. When selecting a rug, make sure you have the colors in it that make you happy. The rug will be like a focal point. Then, any pillows, curtains, etc. can also contain some of the colors from the rug. It’d tie it all together. I’d hang the screen door on one of the walls. (you can never have enough happy memories) You can get some hooks to hang things off the screening. Just remember this. No matter what items you purchase or bring from the house to place in your new wash house, they should make you happy. If they don’t, they don’t belong there.

  21. Brenda Towsley says:

    Wow, a lot going on your mountain. I seem to still be waiting for spring. The ponds have thawed out and our mallard couple have returned but do not spend much time on the pond yet. We are supposed to get a significant snowfall this week which could cause my woodworker some frowns because he already took plow off of tractor. What a space! Oh how fun it would be to spend time in and surround yourself with objects you love! In my potting shed left behind that hubs built at previous home he put in cross boards between the studs that go from ceiling to floor, I used those to sit all kinds of fun objects. I love the color you painted the floors. I would wash some sort of color over those boards, but I like lots of color. A quilt on your bench? Some old mason jars with candles sitting or hanging from wires. Love your light what a deal you got! An easil with picture of your horse or maybe a canvas for you to paint on yourself. I do hope you enjoy your space!

  22. Cindy says:

    LOVE IT!!!!! Yes, to curtains! Precious. Larger rug, yes! Cozy.

    I need a little retreat like that. My deck does that for me now. But in the winter I need a little hovel.

    Enjoy your sanctuary! ❤️

  23. Lynn Walker says:

    I love your old wash house and what you’ve done so far. I, too, would get a bigger rug or add strips of gunny sack material around the edges to enlargen it. How about strips of gunny sack and fabric sewn together to make cafe type curtains. Enjoy your new space!

  24. Millicent says:

    I love your shed!!! It’s beautiful. I would stain the new wood to blend with the old. I love the look of the old weathered wood. Does the screen door have metal screen? Could it be used with magnets to use as a bulletin board type surface? I would hang it on the wall behind your desk and do that some way. Since it is your space/work space, I would put the things you love in the cabinet on the wall, so each time you glance that way, you will smile. Hope you enjoy your space!

  25. Krista says:

    Ooo the wonderful things of spring! Your pie recipe sounds delicious and I will be trying it out this spring! I love your new space and think you have done very well at decorating it. Your turquoise floor is my favorite! If it were me I wouldn’t do much more. I actually like the two colors on the wall and your layout. Enjoy your new space and the wonderful sounds that accompany it.

  26. Cindy says:

    A day bed in case a nap is needed.

  27. Rhonda Lane says:

    What a darling rustic wash house…inside and out!! Wish I had one! I would stain the wood a bit darker to match what is already there, otherwise you would have to do the whole ceiling too and I think it is better left rustic as it was intended to be. Your usage of vintage furniture adds the color and lighter shades needed….and YES, hang up some baskets (newer ones are easily found for cheap in thrift stores and garage sales) and maybe hang some drying herbs/ flowers and such. Scatter a few old vintage laundry room items about, wash tubs, whatever.
    Hope you have tons of fun with it….I certainly would. :>))

  28. Sheryl Anne says:

    I would use the screen door as a bulletin board- either propped or hanging on a wall. You can use paper clips or something like that to hang artwork etc. from the screens and change easily. Or you could use the screen door as a screen door!
    I envision a need for a daybed or camping cot for naps, so a screen door where you could have a breeze on the warmer days would be nice for keeping bugs out… Or you might decide you need a ceiling fan. I just keep thinking of it being a place for afternoon broad daylight naps!

  29. Dori Troutman says:

    Rebekah…. lots of things come to my mind. But the first one? Put your bench back on your porch; you need a cozy spot to sit with a QUILT!!!!!! A lovely, home made lap quilt draped on the back of your cozy sitting spot. I think it and a cozy chair would add some warmth to the room. Love your space. I, of course, would make it my sewing studio! :-) But it does make a lovely office studio too. Great job! Wish I could see it in person!

    – Dori –

  30. Beth says:

    Your Old Wash House is a great space and you’ve got a great start. Take your time and relax into the space. What to do will come to you and it will totally be you. Our ideas would be just that, ours. Enjoy.

  31. Judy says:

    What a cute personal space just for Y-O-U! I like the color you chose for the floor. That light was a steal wasn’t it? *giggle* I agree with some of the others, a white-wash to brighten it up inside, small white lights thru-out the rafters(might have a double use… keeping snakes away), and use that screen door girlie… keep you cool & keep critters out while you sit and contemplate & create and dream. Oh, and maybe hang a hoop-chair?… what are they called?… folks have they hanging on their porches?… made of rope with a big pillow-type cushion in them… so you can cuddle in & swing, spin and relax! Oh yeah… sounds nice! Enjoy, whatever you choose! Very nice place!

  32. Christina says:

    You need more textiles! Vintage curtains would be great. Also that ols screen door could be used to display items. Staple ribbon along the openings like a French message board. Use for pics or to do lists. I would hang shelves up and display any collection or just things you love. The rafters could be wrapped on globe lighta for an ambient effect. Also green plants. You love on a lovely farm.but I love some green inside as well.

  33. Stephanie Cook says:

    Love hearing about the wind, the bullfrogs and the horses. Very evocative!

  34. Vivian Monroe says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your little wash house, it is adorable. I would if it were me, put insulation in the walls and close them up only for comfort, and I would definitely hang herbs and flowers to dry from the rafters. Maybe put a wood burning stove, I wish I still had mine, I actually had an old cast iron wash stove. they are small and oval shaped. Just some thoughts but what an awesome retreat to go to. Be Blessed. Neta

  35. Carol says:

    Your old wash house is absolutely amazing! I need a place like that for my granddaughter and I to play or work or whatever.

  36. Andrea A says:

    Lovely! I agree with the others about a wood burning stove. Hmmm a washhouse? I think I’d add a “tip of the hat” to its past and work in some vintage white enamelware tubs/basins etc. Many pieces were designed to be stored on a wall when not in use and have a hole ready to hang.

  37. Sharon Elaine says:

    What’s not to love about the Old Wash House? First, a Welcome to the Old Wash House sign above the door respecting the original function. Although white wash would look great – please don’t do anything to that beautiful wormy chestnut. I would stain the strips. It’s all about being a reflection of you and what you love; photos, meaningful accessories everywhere. I love and use vintage, antique and just plain old objects that remind me of my childhood and grandma’s house. A wood stove is rustic and functional. Go up there and get to know it at different times of the day, seeing where the light/sun filters in. With the dark walls. light airy curtains sound great. An overstuffed comfy chair and day bed will soften the wood and add color. Book shelves somewhere free standing or built in. Have fun – want one.

  38. Sally says:

    I’d whitewash the interior, use the screen door for the doorway if it fits, you will get bugs in there if the door/window is open. I would paint the exterior barn red or leave it.
    It’s very cute. I’d hang gauzy curtains and swag the rafters with a little banner maybe for fun. If you like little trailers but don’t have the time to fix up a vintage, check out t@b trailers…I have one and love it!

  39. Deb Bosworth says:

    Howdy Rebekah!
    Wow girl! Lots of great things going on at the farm! It looks like country life is doing right by you. The old wash house is a farmgirl dream come true. Love what you’ve done so far. So many great suggestions for you above but I’ll throw my hat in the ring just for fun. I would whitewash the inside and paint the floor a cheery color or an earthy green. I’d add a comfy chair/loveseat or even a daybed for daydreaming, with a quilt, comforter or throw. A wood stove ( they have electric ones now ) for added warmth in the fall. Then I’d personalize it with photos of you, your family and animals. And fresh flowers of course! 😉 Lastly, I’d install a security system cuz I’m comin’ for your wash house! Actually, I’ve got a shed full of old windows waiting to be installed in my flower studio/shed this year. Cannot wait for that! Happy Spring, sister!
    xo Deb ( Beach Farmgirl )

  40. Deb Bosworth says:

    Oh wait.. Cheery colored floor, CHECK! Love that color!

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