Make-Do Make-Over

My husband and I began our own ‘flip this house’ project over a year ago. Needless to say, the flip hasn’t hasn’t happened yet. “Flip” is a cute, quick word. We need a different word for what we’re doing to transform our house. A slower word. But, it is going to happen. When you’ve lived in a place for awhile, there comes a time when not just one thing needs attention, but nearly everything you look at either needs to be freshened in some manner, replaced or repaired. We Are There. So, over the past year, I’ve been idea idea hunting and planning. C’mon in and let me bounce some ideas off of you. I’d sure appreciate it.

Ok, to brief you … we live in an 18 year old mobile home. I’d never lived in a ‘trailer’ before. Confession: I’ve not been content with this dwelling. It was always our intent to build a house later. Well, it is later, but for some reason, there just isn’t the fire to go through with building a house from scratch. If we were 30 something rather than 50 something, maybe our mindset would be different. I honestly don’t want a new house or more house. I want an old house with charm. So, now that our ‘cabin in a can’ is aging, it is all the more justifiable to make some big changes toward creating the cottage I long for. The basic skeletal construction of this home is ok. It is the ‘cheap junk’ finishing touches inside that have always irked me. And those things are either gonna be painted over or outta here! I’m referring primarily to cheap ‘wood’ trim and other details. To begin this ordeal, we replaced the vinyl siding with cement board and painted the house barn red. We added barnwood trim. Next in line is a large ‘over-hang’ enclosed porch and a covered patio that will run the length of the house. Lastly, a metal new roof over all. All said & done, this won’t look like a trailer anymore. The effect I’m after is the look of an old red barn – specifically an old fashioned carriage house.

So, the outside is well underway and as I write this, my husband is laying insulation in, doing the electrical wiring and working out where to hang the radiant cove heating panels. Sometimes I wish we could just hire people to do some of these things. But, Oh Nooooo, a rancher can fix and build ANYthing. So, the to-do lists around here sometimes get long in the tooth before they get done :o) However, we are making progress! While our en masse home improvement project gets underway, I’ve been idea hunting and I found a great hunting ground at Pinterest. I’m glad now that this project didn’t go any faster than it has because I’ve changed my mind about many things – from the porch & patio to the kitchen. I try not to get overwhelmed and just focus on how nice it will be in the end.

So, the kitchen walls and the cabinets get painted. All of the walls will eventually see paint. And, eventually new flooring. I kinda like the two-tone colors of the kitchen cupboards above. I’ll also sand some of the paint off to antique the wood and replace the handles with some kind of simple knob … maybe old spoons :o) Also, see the faux tin tiles on the wall? I’m going to do that too under the kitchen cabinets. I bought the panels at Home Depot. Anyone have pointers for me??

Over the last two years, I’ve been junk hunting in earnest because I knew this day was coming and I wanted to have some good ‘stuff’ to work with when we got ‘here’. Example: two chandeliers from an old hotel – I’m thinking they might work on the patio as ‘elegant junk’. In addition, I picked up some antique tables, doors & windows at auctions – a couple need some TLC. I did buy one treasure that is decor-ready, but the porch it is destined for isn’t done yet. I’m so excited to be the new owner of an antique mantel…and it is a big white one … with a lot of scuff and patina. I sit on the steps of the porch as it is now, with tools and sawdust all around, and imagine what will be … arranging furniture in my mind. In the end, the result will hopefully be a charming family-room porch. We’ve never entertained a large group of people because of a lack if space. The new porch is to be much more than a ‘mudroom’. A harvest table will sit under the windows on the east wall and I believe we can seat 10. I’ve got several old chairs and it is possible that maybe an old church pew might come into play if I can find the right one at the right price.

I’ve been going from room to room figuring out where to go with plans for the ‘rest of the story’. As I said, this old girl needs a make-over from head to hoof! I want to make many decorative goodies and turn some dirty junk into purty junk. I’ve been collecting fabric for sewing projects and paint for smaller pieces. At last count, I’ve got 4 or 5 furniture refinishing projects in the offing.

So, the other night I was looking through my pin-boards at Pinterest to revisit ideas and then I noticed a new pin by MaryJanesFarm about MaryJanes new store in Idaho!! Talk about inspiration … here’s a photo sampler from MaryJanesFarm at Facebook …

When our home renovation project is further along, I’m thinking that a shopping trip to Idaho is in order. I’ve dreamed of staying in one of the wall tents at MaryJanesFarm (like the one on the cover of the Outpost book) … and finally getting to meet MaryJane in person.

Until then, I’m going to get to sweep up a lot of sawdust and go through several paintbrushes. Have you undertaken similar projects?

Oh, and did I mention that via an agricultural grant, I might be getting a 14 x 30′ greenhouse? A farmgirl’s dream come true. And, of course, that will have to be put up also. Anxiety here I come. Maybe the shoemakers elves will have pity on me and show up in the middle of the night. My friend, Anita, told me about the program and this is the last year it will be available. So, it is now or never. If it comes to pass, the project will save me from running out of things to do. :o)

How about you, what have you got planned for projects this spring/summer? Are you working on one now? I’d love to hear about it.

  1. Nancy says:

    Wow! What great ideas. It sounds like you’ll nearly be building from scratch! It’s always fun to see house all those ideas coalesce into reality. You must post pictures of your progress!


  2. Lacey says:

    Shery, Pinterest has also given me many great ideas….it’s so addicting! Right now we live on a small ranch that we are renting, and renting is alright, but can be a pain! We have been searching for our own ranch for over a year now…..and we are beginning to get impaitent as our rental is older and has many problems like flooding, broken taps and pipes and doors that will not stay shut! Anyway….I have been collecting my stash of "someday" items for over a year and I, like you can’t wait to put them out where they should be!! There is also NO GARDEN area here so I’ve been growing almost everything in pots which we store in the garage for the winter…what a pain it is to have to haul them back and forth all the time and my truck can’t wait to have a garage for the witer!! Thanks for another GREAT post, I can’t wait to see your end product!! Good Luck!! 🙂

  3. Brenda says:

    Oh wow Shery, I love the pics you have pinned! I could live in any of those rooms! Especially love the top two kitchen pics. When we bought this property a few years ago I would not have picked this house at all. Hubs wanted this 10 acres all woods surrounding some really nice lawns and a couple of ponds also. But the house is a Modular. Brought in three pieces and set upon a basement. The previous owners tastes were not anything like ours. The cabinets and fixtures are low end and I have slowly been trying to make it ours. Some painting of cabinets in a bath and some in the kitchen. It is a lot of work but you will be so happy when you have made it over. The front of our house just has a deck like step up to the front door, I so want a porch…one day. Hubs is like your man, he wants to do it all himself so it goes slow. I think I need to let him have his pole barn first though because he built my hen house for me first. This past week he pulled up carpet squares from my work area "studio" in the the basement and has laid black and white stick down tiles. It has brightened my area up so much. I have been painting an old dresser to store some fabrics in and the man has also taken an old upright gun cabinet and added shelves that I am going to paint to store fat 1/4’s in. He built himself some beautiful new wall cabinets for his hunting rifles last year. I keep forgetting to share them on my blog. He is a self taught wood worker and does it for a hobby. Now plumbing, I do wish we would hire someone. My kitchen sink has had a leak every six months since we move in four years ago….. Looking forward to all your reveals as they get finished!


    Hi Brenda, Ya know one thing I learned when writing the furntiure refinishing article about Norma Ploog (in the current issue of MaryJanesFarm) is that making do for the common man was the norm <with furntiure>. A lot of coveted antiques today are piece-meal examples. I have one. Buying lumber was a luxury, so often a discarded piece was recycled piece by piece. Your gun cabinet turned into a quilters fabric shelf fits right into that idea. Norma is refinishing a really ratty old shelf – tall, shallow – just right for folded fabric too. It is structurally ok, but needs paint and she’s going to add a beadboard door to it. Your checkerboard floor sounds really cheery. My mama’s kitchen floor is similar – red and cream. Thanks for stopping by!  shery

  4. Joan says:

    Oh Shery, I thought I was a BUSY lady but wheweee you do have it going. There is nothing like projects to keep one ALIVE. Your ideas are smashingly wonderful – I can see them now – very good. And the green house – oh yes you must – it will be a great happening at your ranch – wish I was close enough to be an ‘elf’ for you. I too am in a PROJECT – 6 yrs. ago after having disabling back surgeries my sister and I moved from the suburb to the plains – albeit we do live in a housing area. Our other home was 50 yrs. old and this one is 6 – new/new/new. So for 6 yrs. we (mostly me – I’m the crazy one) have been trying to make our new home look/feel like our old home – with all our old family antiques/hand me downs, new old finds and much sewing, refinishing and still more to do but you have encouraged me to pick myself up and get busy so here’s a CHEER for you and your projects and can hardly wait to see them come to fruition. P.S. thanks for the pic’s – got some ideas from them.

  5. Karin says:

    WOW!! I am so impressed. WE bought an old log (hand hewn) cabin 5 years ago. I have lived in it about 8 months total straight, other times it was visiting since I travel when I work. I loved your ideas. I have a terrible time trying to find soemthing that would work with the log walls. At first I thought it would be great but everywhere I look there is wood and logs. Being hand hewn there is nothing flat or level. This has inspired me to "try again". Now where do I start. I am finally getting a garden space (you would think with 200 acres I would at least have that. It has been cleared as of yesterday and they removed the old double decker outhouse that was someones idea of a joke. My husband sealed it off so no one would get on it and fall and that was as far as it got. (He travels also for work) I am finding that I can do just about anything (well almost). All I can say is THANK YOU… Keep us posted…

    Oooooo, a log home. Now there is a dream. I do know from others I’ve met over the years that log wall interiors are a challenge in ways unique to log surfaces. I bet you’ll get it all figured out. A little encouragement goes a long way…and thank you for that. You hang in there too…it’ll be so worth it in the end. Thats what I keep looking at.   Shery

  6. Margaret Taffi says:

    Wow! I also live in a trailer or modular. I call it my cardboard house! I plan on painting and replace all that faux stuff bit by bit! My goal is to get another place with land. I moved to 1/3 acre after hubby died and left 13 acres. I have been un happy ever since! I will make this home a real home this spring! Thanks for the ideas and motivation! Good luck on your projects!

  7. Terry wright says:

    Shery, as I read your blog, it occurred to me; ‘have you and Lynn ever thought about buying an old house somewhere and moving it to your place?’ It would be alot of work, but it might be more of what you want?! Home prices are good now, so maybe it could be profitable?

    Hi Terry,  Yes, we’d considered it, but we decided that it was more of a task than either of us were up for. Moving such a structure is a monumental undertaking and in our location, such a house would have to be moved from quite a distance. So, we just decided to ‘make do’ with what we have :o)   Shery

  8. Sandy says:

    Our entire married life of 40 years has been a looooong DIY project in one way or another! The computer engineer can also do anything and so we have never hired. Until last year. Our 35 year old DIY cabin at the lake had to be expanded to fit our growing family. It would have cost too much to fix everything and then add on so we rebuilt, hired the entire thing! Have exactly what we wanted. Inside is all pine and alder not stained, and dark wood floors. It is so nice to come here and have everything we ever wanted. At 66 years old we think we were too old to start over again from scratch.

    I think you will love cabinets of two different colors. The red is so warm and folksy! I love old stuff remade into something new and useful. You are so inspirational and have so many great ideas. I look forward to seeing your work in progress.

  9. Claudia says:

    Oh do I know what you mean. My house was built in 1875 and I love it, but it is my work in progress. I love pinterest too! I think Home is Home and I love making it warm and cozy! Love your blog!

    Dear Claudia,  WOW…1875 IS an old house. I bet it has so much character and charm. That is what I miss and hope to recreate in some fashion.  Shery

  10. Oh, wow, I LOVE all these ideas. You should do them all, when time permits, of course 🙂 🙂 Whatever you do in the kitchen, make sure the sink is one of those deep, old-fashioned porcelain sinks…that’s like one giant sink..nothing divided into two compartments, just the single large one. Those are cool, vintage chic and will make washing large, awkward objects so much easier 🙂 Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂

  11. Michele says:

    Oooooh, ooooh, oooh. I told you we were sisters. I, too, live in a trailer after recently losing my condo to foreclosure. But, like you, I have decided that this sweet little place can be the farmgirl home I have always wanted. I want to put in a footed vintage tub in my bathroom and am working on putting lots of beadboard in the kitchen. I actually have that cute flowered bread box and almost bought the red phone at the antiques mall yesterday. And the tile backsplash, yep, doin’ that too.
    Love your posts

  12. Shirley says:

    My friend displays her quilts in her log home and they are perfect !

  13. bonnie ellis says:

    Sheri: Your house trailer sounds like the size of our house. We have lived here 48 years. We have it mostly as we want it but the thing that happened is the wonderful decor began to fill the house to overflowing. I have rid myself of many things and kept the best. I like it here. We have a pantry. We have no basement but the pantry is where it’s fun to decorate. My kitchen is white. This way, whatever colors you want will show up and be accents. My next project is to build a barn in my garden area. Not much room here either but I am determined. Good luck with your project. I know what it is like to live in a space while remodeling. The first project my husband tried I had plaster on the counter and in every crevice of the house. Of course he never covered up any where! Bonnie

    Hi Bonnie! The barn-shed for your garden sounds great. I see on off in the distance here too, but with everthing else going on it is for sure a’ways off :o)  Thanks for writing.  shery

  14. You have some great ideas! And I like that your plan to put them to work in your mobile home.

  15. june says:


    Rancher, electrician, they’re both the same. " NEVER hire anyone to do something when I can do that." The problem with that is the hired someone has a crew, we only have a crew of one or 2. So the list grows. Oh well, when it’s done it will be perfect! Plus the cheaper cost gives you more money to go farther down the list. Lower costs/more patience.

    Your ideas and plans are wonderful, please keep us posted with more pictures. I love seeing your progress.


    Hi June! Thanks so much for the shot of encouragement!! You’re right too. When ‘admiration day’ comes (the day when you stand back and enjoy the end result), it will be great…..if we ever get there :o)))))    Shery

  16. Christine says:

    Great ideas! It will be beautiful when you’re done! Love the kitchen with the red cabinets! Keep thinking and dreaming on, and it will be done soon. Please post pictures as you get things done. Wishing you the best and God Bless.

  17. Treese says:

    You and I have a lot in common! We moved from a beautiful 5000 square foot Victorian home in another state to a small 3 bedroom modular home back in Colorado. We too thought of building a “dream home”, but are not sure we want to stay in this part of Colorado. So, every day I try to decide if we should improve this home or even bother because we may move. However, I find it depressing sometimes as it is a sad little house to me. We have put up a huge beautiful new barn and a huge hay barn, plus shelters for the horses, cattle and bucking bulls we raise. We built a beautiful heated chicken house I wouldn’t mind living in! LOL. I often say our critters live better than us!

    We have had to store all are beautiful antiques including furniture in a storage which to me is like throwing money away every month.

    I have always felt home is where you hang your hat, but I have never seemed to warm to this house, maybe because I have always thought of it as “temporary”. Good luck in your project. You are a creative person. I can ride, rope, shoot a gun better than most men, but the creative gene past me by. I can’t cook, sew, darn or do any of the artsy projects you and your friends do. I admire your talents. I am a pretty good oil painter of county scenes though.

    Treese/Colorado Cowgirl

    Dear Treese,  You’re absolutely right about the temporary notion. I’ve been living in this house for many years without having married it. I finally decided to make this space MINE and make it look that way. I wish I could blink and make it done!

    If you get to where you can smoke a peacepipe with your home, I bet some sprucing up and all those lovely antiques would finally make your home your own. I think some of us girls are funny that way. Female animals are VERY fussy as to where they finally decide to make their ‘nest’ :o)

    I would love to see your paintings. Hey, I’m only good at a fractional spec of all there is to do on this planet. We can’t do it all and I don’t rope either. I can dally to help Lynn with a sick cow or calf, but I just never friendly’d up to a rope.   Shery

  18. Deena says:

    Shery, Pintrest has been a great inspiration for me too. I have been living out of boxes waiting to move for 20 years. I had decided to get out of "box mode" and started making a "nest" out of what I have. A trip to WalMart for a few detail items and it is looking very homey. When my daughter’s friend walked into the new area I redecorated she said, "Wow, I feel like I could just come in her and sit down." From a 17 year old it just doesn’t get much better than that.
    Thanks for the reinforcement and I look forward to more pictures.

  19. Emma says:

    I love all the things you have incorporated on this project. The colors are wonderful! Great job! My husband and I are just about to embark on a journey of building our new house called an earthship, out of old and recycled material. I love using Pinerest too as a sounding board to add just the right things to my taste and recreating it. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Marcie says:

    Hi Shery,
    I love all your ideas and the photos too. Yes, you are right about making your house your home with personal touches and nice comfortable things.

    This is our first home of our own. We are retired and have always rented and the last place we were in over a decade but managed so it wasn’t a rental but we did not own it so we really could not put down roots. Now, we can… we own this place. Our home is a mobile home and like you, we decided to make it look and feel like a house. We tore out the garden tub that was in the master bedroom and tiled the floor and made the room larger and re-did the master bath. We replaced all the cheap fixtures and re-tiled the second bathroom. We added a handmade wooden mantle to a wall in the living room and each room was painted a different color. We got rid of all the mobile home mirrors that were on the walls. We added a metal roof to make the place more secure.

    We landscaped the entire yard with native plants that attracts a lot of birds and butterflies and added a seating area for us… all in all the place looks so different from what it did when we arrived three years ago. This place does not feel like a mobile home anymore but feels like our home now.

    Yes, make your house your castle. I love all your ideas.

  21. Denise says:

    Hi I too buy things and wait for the item to show me where it wants to live. People are like that too. We get our homes but we have to live in them sometimes for years before they show us what they want to look like. Our home use to belong to my parents. We bought it 8 yrs ago. It has taken me that long to feel like it’s my home to change.My mom lives next door and doesn’t like some of the new decorating ideas that are out there. So I hesitated changing anything. Now like you said things need work and attention. I’m going my way!. I have always loved the look of painted stairs, I’ve got them now. The old carpet became dangerous. Now I have nice paint and cushy step pads. Sweet and cheap. Gotta love carpet remenants. My mom did help me make new curtains for the dining area and valence for my bay window in the kitchen. We too have a long list and my husband won’t hire it done. There are days I wish it was all done, but I guess that’s how life works. You have to have a list to function. Enjoy your list, I’ll enjoy mine and we’ll both get beautiful time together with our husbands, sawdust, paint, sore muscles, etc..

  22. Jan says:

    Hi Shery, Wow, what an undertaking you are doing! I love all of your ideas, especially the kitchen. Would love to see a picture of your mantle. I have been looking for one for years, just haven’t found the ‘right’ one in my price range yet. I love to decorate, but with a move facing me, soon, don’t know what I will have in store for the future. I am still working on trying to get that little place in the country that I wrote to you about a month or so ago. It is very small so I will really have to get creative with my decorating if I get it! Best of luck on getting the grant for the greenhouse. That would be awsome!! Will be looking forward to your progress reports. Thanks!


    Thank you Jan. When I saw the mantel, I thought about it for a month. I knew it was what I wanted … but …. it kept nagging me and it will fit into the scheme of things. So, even thought the room isn’t done yet, I went and bought it. I think it will had the OLD feel to the room as much asnything else.  shery

  23. Sherri Hazelton says:

    Looks awesome. I am currently living in a mobile home,also, with another large one just feet away. Torn about setting up the second one, needs a lot of work, but may be moving in three or four years. Wondering about the grant for the greenhouse. Could you give me some info on that since I live in the beautiful state of Wyoming also? Straight across, a bit more than half way to the other side. : )even if I couldn’t have it here, my parents have 10 acres on the other side of Basin where it could be set up. Thanks much. Another Sherri.


    Hi Shery,  Go to your County Extension office and they can give you the specs. I don’t know that much about it yet, but the structure is a frame with a ‘tarp’ over it. I may opt out if it doesn’t look wind worthy. As you know, we get REAL wind in this state.  shery

  24. Becky says:

    thank you so much for this. I also live in a modular home and have wanted to do some redecorateing but didn’t think it possible for such a home. You have given me inspiration and the desire to do something.

    Love your ideas and think it would be a good idea for me to make a trip to Idaho also.


  25. Reba says:

    Hey Shery,
    In 2010 I painted my kitchen cabinets cherry red on the bottom, and left the top white (they were all white). Most everyone thought I was crazy then! At age 55, I thought, why not??? Since then I have enjoyed my kitchen so much!! It is so bright and cheer-y. My house was built in 1973, a tri-level, look-alike to many in the neighborhood. But now, my neighbors, friends, and family are always looking to see what is "new" and interesting. I have found that the colors and style that usually catches your eye are what you should use. I was surprised at how it all came together. I have had so much fun with my home, even while I’m waiting for my "dream" home. I have a sign on my cabinet that says "Home is where your story begins." That is so true!!

  26. cora jo says:

    Shery, Welcome to "trailerhood". We also bought an old mobile…1978 model. Paint goes a long way, so does redoing. We added a room where the screened porch was…my sewing room. I love it here. We have nearly 2 acres on the river so our back yard is huge and private. Thanks for all the ideas, you really pick me up when I need it most!

  27. Lilli says:

    Hi, Shery…
    I am going to retire to a 30-year old modular (it’s paid for!) and have been contemplating many re-decorating tasks. I like the look of an "old" house too. Many times I have longed to be able to find a decorating book or magazine that would address the needs of those of us living in mobile homes…but to no avail. If anyone else has seen one, let me know. I am not "handy" or especially creative, so I usually have to see someone else’s ideas before making them my own. Sooo, when you are done with this project, how about publishing a picture diary of your journey? (Don’t forget to include how to paint mobile home paneling!)

    And by the way, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your blog. You are the bright spot in LOTS of my days!!


    Hi Lilli! You made MY day Lilli…with your kind words of affirmation.

    I’ve seen a couple articles in magazines about mobole home make-overs – interiors. Only two. You’re right, there is precious little out there that would offer good tutoring on the subject of specific helps. Mobiles homes do pose challenges not seen in stick-built home…well, in the general sense. And, furthermore, there are a lot of people who live in them. A LOT. One could argue that what works in the way of ‘re-do’ in a ‘real’ house applies in a mobile. Well, anyone who says that hasn’t lived in one. Granted, some of it is true, but I know that so much of my discouragement happens when I stand back and look at something nice that I’ve done and the ‘it’ looks nice but ‘it’ is in a ‘trailer house’ room and looks it. Many folks don’t care. For those of us that do, the challenge makes us wrinkle our nose often. In my worst mood, I once said to my husband, "Dressing up a trailer is like polishing a terd". ;o) I was so aggravated with the cheap walls and FAUX wood trim…emphasis on cheap…as in crap. There, I said it. But, I’ve since combed the hair down on my neck and have simply committed myself to making changes that will make me smile. I will take photos and share of them, of course! Thank you for the vote of confidence.   Shery

  28. Barbara says:

    Hi Shery,
    Glad to know there is another 50 something remodeler of manufactured housing. We are enjoying making our new one even better on our 5 acres of prime California desert. My favorite room so far is the Victorian Library/one room school house living room. Will enjoy watching your progress. Maybe we can swap some ideas, too. I’ve been trying to convince my husband that a ranch in Wyoming would be even better than this place in So.Cal


    The winters here keep the cattle population larger than the human population. From May until November it is God’s Country!! But, the winter…well, it sure ain’t for weather sissies and I AM one. I’m like a cooped up housecat that pokes her nose out the door into the frigid breeze and/or driving snow and decides cooped up is not so bad after all. Winter is no friend of mine anymore. BahHumbug ;~[  shery

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