I’ll never thoroughly understood the draw that old and worn antiques have on me but they have always caught my eye, even as a young child. The lines on furniture, the intricate details in drawer pulls or hinges, the tight wood grain, it draws me in like a good story will. Most antiques today (over 100 years of age of more older) have lived through at least one World war, the Great Depression, civil unrest, multiple Presidencies, and some may have found themselves living a new life from abroad. They are pieces of someones past and therefore carry an unspoken legacy that continues on that is palpable at times. I like the idea of weaving their story into my own.
Period- appropriate trends in architecture and interior design attract me in the same way. I enjoy blue willow china, McCoy pottery, the funny face of a Staffordshire dog figurine the same way I enjoy a good worn bead board clad wall, wavy glass, a wonky door that doesn’t stay shut, or low ceilings and rustic hand-hewn beams and plaster. They all have a story. They were an intentional choice of someone in that time out of necessity and carry on an unspoken beauty.
While we weren’t seeking out an older property for our new home and instead choosing to build again, I wanted that worn and lived-in feeling with our new old home. We also wanted our foot print to be smaller and started exploring smaller living spaces. We looked at many story and a half farm (Midcounty_Journal has one of my favorite story and a half houses on Instagram) house features online and in magazines and landed on a simplistic design we thought, for our future home. We started building our garage and quickly realized that we didn’t need a separate house from the garage, we could build a comfortable living space above the garage as a Carriage house might have existed a century ago.
A carriage house would have housed a horse drawn carriage, the horse or horses to pull the carriage, and an attendant such as a stable hand or driver. They may also have various landscaping or small farm equipment and store bits and bobs needed for maintaining various aspects of one’s life. As history progressed, carriages became cars or horseless carriages and drivers would become mechanics and very likely still live within the carriage house until they no longer did. Something I found particularly interesting about carriage houses is that they are as small or as large as they need to be in order to accommodate carriages, horses, or now, people and their families or remodeled into shops or other building. Below is one of the larger carriage homes I found aspiring and thought it a lovely renovation. (another fun design to hunt is the conversion of older stables into homes.)
As we poured through image searches, I became enchanted with the idea of a carriage house as we felt it would suite us perfectly for a few reasons.
#1 We did not want to over extend ourselves financially. A carriage house’s footprint historically varied on the owners needs but many we found were smaller dwellings and had a manageable footprint and simple layout.
No expensive roof pitches, extra floors, en suites, walk in closets, or large rooms. They were smaller, intimate, and simple containing the necessities to live comfortably. With our first home, we invested our savings and took out a small loan for the remainder necessary to finish the build. It was not a large amount but it was still something we were on the hook for no matter our life circumstances. Through the hard work and sweat equity we put into making our last place our own, we were able to sell and have cash in hand to carry out our next build. We did not want to owe again and have worked diligently to invest in quality materials and can do so a bit more comfortably because our footprint and living space is small.
For reference, our last house was close to 2800 sq. ft and our new place with be close to 1400 sq. ft.
#2 We are determined to live with less and having less space should mean, we will live with less stuff.
After we sold our last house, we promptly moved into an 800 sq. ft. apartment that’s essentially a studio with a door that separates the bedroom/bathroom area form the kitchen/living area. We are a family of 4 and it has been quite the adjustment. I was only able to bring our most essential items to this place and this has forced me to think about space and storage differently. One of my favorite books from several years ago coined a term “stuff manager” and how many women are not homemakers (not actively making their home) but managing it’s contents within in a self-inflicted burdensome way. I highly recommend this book for those wanting to pair back their contents and edit ruthlessly. It’s not a true minimalist mindset but helpful points to think through to begin bringing about a home design you love and can manage well.
Some of y’all are thinking, really? You didn’t realize managing stuff could trigger stress? No my friends, I thought having perfectly decorated home would bring me joy but the constant seasonal change and updating drove me batty. That sentiment was a good prompt for me to start looking at my “stuff” differently and more intentionally. Would this thing I have built to last or serve an important purpose? Did it have value? Would it withstand wear and tear the way me need to utilize it? What aspects of design drew me in? What felt timeless?
Curating a space with your style and also thinking long term, makes culling that much easier. I look forward to the day when we have a storage room clean out. I have in my head exactly which pieces of furniture I want to keep and which no longer fit the bill for practicality purpose. Surprise surprise, most of what I want to keep are well made and sturdy antiques and art. Beauty is just as important to me as practicality is. I know even so, some art may need to find new homes as the wall space is not the same in 1400 sq. ft as it is in 2800 sq. ft. (or 800 sq. ft.) for that matter.
Something else that makes me extremely determined to fit #2 into the forefront of our design is the conviction to consume less in order to grow contentment in our hearts and in the hearts of our family. Our culture here in America is consumer-driven. I don’t like the unnecessary pressure of “needing” something and getting it just because we are marketed it to fill a specific need. I want to use what we have, and let that be enough. I have shared many times on instagram and will bring that over to the blog soon, the wonderful growth that stirred our souls from our trip to El Salvador in 2015. One cannot walk into a rural community abroad and not be touched by the people, the way they live, their livelihood and draw parallels of their own life. It’s humbling and inspiring. It drives me to redefine necessity and want. Essentially, we can all live on a lot less and be grateful for what we do have available to us.
Lastly #3, We want our carriage home to be a comfortable place to eat and sleep but we also want to be intentional with our time outdoors and enjoy building a legacy on our family farm.
When you have a need for gardening and beautifying your property with landscape design as well as cultivating a farm, you can only do so much from within four walls. You will have to be outside with shovel in hand. We all love the outdoors and while we will have a nice place to eat and sleep, we want to be just as comfortable and intentional with the space we live in outdoors. We see our new farm as a legacy we leave for our kids and grandkids, and that makes the work we do today important. Our hope through this experience is that we continue to grow closer as a family and instill values that outlive us and guide our children to do life differently in the world.
Where we are today:
We have a wood structure erected and a nice plot for a garden at the moment which will have plants in it soon! I cannot wait for that. I’ll be sharing the garden in it’s own posts, so if you enjoy that sort of thing, go check out the gardening and homesteading tab.
As of this week, March 6th, 2023 – we are excited to begin adding cypress shake to the outside and trim boards with our exterior colors! Until that post, here’s a peek at the outside of one of the dormers with our favorite house wrap by Benjamin Obdyke called Hydrogap (Not sponsored) and window tape. We also used copper flashing to capture the heirloom quality we want for our structure.
and for my own sake, photographic proof that I did something productive and have a deep appreciation for my husband for all the hard work he does. There is not much he cannot do or figure out. He makes me a better person.
What a lovely blog post Carina. I have steeped away from Instagram as I recognized that it had become such a time suck. I always found blog posts more thoughtful than Insta reels and am so glad when someone keeps their blog current. I love seeing the progress on your house.
Thank you! I too am wanting to use time more wisely, and blogging just makes sense. Thanks for reading and following along here too!
Oh! This is so lovely!!!! I’m excited to see it all done 🤩
Thanks, Emily! 💕 I think we are finally
Turning a corner. 😂 it’s happening!!