You Get What You Work For

“You Get What You Work For Not What You Wish For”

Southern House gets a lot of attention and work. For years we’ve enjoyed spending time outdoors, both in our backyard and adventuring to other states. Lately, because of COVID19, our precious family has spent time lingering around a fire, often roasting marshmallows and laughing, making the best of memories. And so the plan for a back porch/deck made its way to the forefront of our minds.

Here is a raw, but real photo of our “before”. The joy is not missing anywhere is this photo, and the work on the deck has not yet begun.

With future plans (not yet revealed), Mike ensured the back deck had a secure and solid foundation (for whatever the future holds). My contribution was a grand staircase off the front and wrangling a toddler so the woodwork could be completed.

One side wrapped around to the side with a staircase leading to an undeveloped courtyard (notice the brick stack!!).  img_0032-1

Each side railing was created with specific attention to detail match the decor and architecture of the front porch, to ensure congruent craftmanship.


As always, we are only beginning; and Mike works harder than anyone I know to make our family dreams, wishes, and fantasies at the Southern House a reality.  More to come.. 

Fast Lane Update

Life should be slowing down. Quarantine has been taken relatively seriously at the Southern House, and we’ve invested heavily in some fun projects. But, “should” if often filled with unrealistic expectations; and in our world at the Southern House, we create our own realities. Instead of decelerating, life seems to be speeding up. With a toddler and *almost* three teenagers in and out of the house, time is precious.

Early mornings have given me some insight into a renewed passion for sharing pieces our life and our little blue house on Southern Avenue.

I am eager and enthusiast to share with you the adventures of the Southern House.

Project Update

Life at the Southern House ebbs and flows, depending on season and urgency of projects within and around our home.  Here is a quick update.
Little has occurred since the grand push to complete the dining room, hallway, kitchen, and downstairs bathroom.  Plans to add in a library in the front room has stalled, while we dive into construction designs, and contemplate paint colors, and furniture selections.
On the sidelines and in the shop, Mike has been engaged in one of his favorite hobbies.   Putting some love into a 1959 Volkswagen Beetle, affectionally referred to as “The Mango” for it’s original factory (green) color.  And… Every artist needs an assistant, right?
More to come.

I Dream of Painting…

“I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Priming, and painting are on the horizon for completion of The Southern House.  (With the exception of discussion of building an in-home library in the incomplete front room.)  The Dining Room has been painted from top to bottom, the floors, the walls, the wainscoting, and the mantle.  The table, chairs, and buffet were a rescue from Mike’s sister’s home in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina; a coat of paint, some wood reworked, and cushions recovered.  And, the wallpaper. Oh, the wallpaper.  Months of discussion and samples and maybes led us to choosing colors that complimented both our kitchen and dining room, with a damask design that hinted at vintage.  The original painting (discussed here) found it’s home above antique folding chairs in the dining room, with another painted watercolor (Artist Ken Matthew) of our home presently resting on the opposite side of the french doors.

Primed and ready for painting.

Painted floors!!! Wini sure loved the space!

Hanging Wallpaper!!

After shots!

Much like the dining room, the hallway and downstairs bathroom were also primed and painted. In true Southern House tradition, most of the bathroom interior were custom works from Mike.   The lighting followed in tradition of our black iron accents with Edison bulbs, as well as the toilet paper holder.  As previously mentioned, the vanity was created out of a chest of drawers, and with water hooked up and in place, I can’t imagine any other piece of furniture there.  Hanging above the vanity is a antique mirror that appears as if it came with the chest, but actually was discovered and hidden away long ago waiting for just the right place.

Hallway and bathroom painted – walls and floors!

Bathroom complete!

The lighting!

… and matching toilet paper holder.


The hallway will collect our family and school photos as our children age, as well as keys and hats on the hall tree (found in Eureka Springs shortly after Mike and I wed).   A last minute decision for a precious hallway included a custom “baby gate!”  With a one year old running around the home, we had to make sure she stayed in the lower level of the Southern House.  So, Mike pulled out an old door rescued from his grandmother’s home on the coast after Hurricane Katrina, cut it down, stripped the paint, and brushed on some poly; hardware was added and a latch, making this little french door baby gate one the cutest additions to our home!

For some previous reading check out the following blogs: BeCase We CanWe Are Floored (literally), and Treasures for Renovators!


Cooking It Up

Wini’s room was the first to be completed, but the Southern House has 8 more rooms to go!  (THAT’S EIGHT!!)

In the middle of painting our neighbor’s house.  Mike began work on completing our kitchen.  Although fully functioning, it lacked paint on the walls, counter tops, and shelving.  There were several debates on what should grace our countertops.  The challenge lied in our desire to maintain simplicity and continue farmhouse decor.  What would it be? Granite? Tile?  We pondered the usual suspects.  But it was Mike’s creative inspiration that led us to choose steel.  Yes, you read that correctly, steel countertops.  Mike bought several sheets of 12 gauge steel.


Much like granite, Mike had to measure and cut each sheet to match each section of countertops.  For the bullnose, Mike purchased decorate stamped steel and welded it onto the edges of each custom piece of countertop.  The finished result was stunning, and it looks as if they had been there nearly as long as the house was built!


Paint was added to the cabinets and walls, finishing off with white trim.   Instead of adding big cabinets above the counters, we opted to continue the simple, open type of storage.  Cedar planks, found inside the house when bought by Mike, were sanded and poly’d with black steel decorative brackets to hold them in place.  These two shelves now hold our plates, and drinking glasses.


Those same brackets were also placed under the bar for extra support.

Matching the same cedar wood as the shelves, Mike made a “trap door” in the kitchen, farmhouse style, on the ceiling.  While the door is absolutely adorable, it serves to allow access to the upstairs plumbing should anything need replacement.

As a barn find, an antique farmhouse table was added to accommodate our growing number of little people, with beautiful mismatched chairs that suite the era of simplicity.


Sometimes, I find myself taking advantage of the how far this precious room has journeyed.  Here’s a quick reminder for myself and those following this adventure..

Here are a few links to previous blogs about our sweet kitchen: Coming Together,   Floors,    and   BeCase We Can.

Our adorable little kitchen isn’t quite finished, but that appears to be the beauty.  As laughter and love, food and dance-offs happen, being finished doesn’t quite seem as important.

New Member; New Life

*hands over eyes* Nearly a year has come and gone, and I have not kept up with blogging about our beautiful historic home.  As life gets more into routine, I want to continue updating and logging our journey at the Southern House.  So, here goes….

With the addition of completing some rooms, we’ve also added to our growing home.   On June 2, 2016, our family welcome our sweet Wini as the first daughter among the three boys.

image (63)

Mike worked relentlessly for months leading up to Wini’s coming to ensure HER room would be complete and ready for her arrival.  He worked until past midnight most evenings and still managed to care for his pregnant wife, and three boys, and work a day job!  (I’m still waiting for him to break out the cape and fly!)

Here are some before shots and during:

Years (and years) ago, Mrs. Betsy informed us that the Southern House was split into two levels, and upstairs and downstairs, with each floor having it’s own bedroom, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom.  Wini’s room was once the upstairs kitchen at some point, and I believe we counted a bazillion tacks in that beautiful hardwood floor.  And Mike pulled EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.  Luckily, most all woodworking was complete and Mike proceeded to prime and paint every square inch.  A soft cream yellow was chosen, with bright white ceiling and trim.  The built-ins (see here for blog) were also painted the trim paint white, and the floors were dramatically finished off with “Kettle Black.”  We spent hours decorating, arranging, and dreaming of the beautiful daughter who would soon be calling the room her own.


Life was, is, and will be super busy, but welcomingly beautiful as we continue building our home and our family at the Southern House

image (49)

Moving On UP!!

Literally and figuratively!!!  Life is rolling right along at the Southern House.  As promised, here is an update on the newest edition – the attic aka the closet.

Carpenter, artist, creator extraordinaire barely skims the surface to what my man can do.  With the looming fact that the Southern House had no closets in the bedrooms… (Yes, I said no closets.  Not even one!)  Mike went UP! The high pitch roofing allowed for more than adequate storage space, so why not closet space too?  So the staircase was created (several months ago) winding up the wall in our master bedroom to the attic, crafted ever so meticulously to match the original staircase of the house.   A hole was cut in the ceiling to begin the construction for the closet to come.


From salvaged large plank tongue and groove boards, the floor was laid (also several months ago).  AND a tiny window was installed.

Walls and ceiling were built, sheetrock was hung, storage shelves built, racks were hand-made from iron piping then painted, and canned lighting was installed.  A small door was even designed for entry to rest of the attic for more storage.

The walls were painted, the floor was painted, the racks were installed, the shelving was painted, and everything was moved from hangers in the bedrooms to our beautiful new  walk-in attic closet!

Life is amazing; moving up and forward every day at the Southern House.  Work has begun on “the baby room” (she is due in June) and a blog will soon follow with details, and pictures.



6 Month Update!!

AC Units. In the midst of bricking the kitchen floor, the heating and air units arrived. 

The Southern House will be cooled and heated with LG Mini-splits; a 54K BTU with four heads, and a 24K BTU with three heads.  We’ve been asked several, SEVERAL times why not central heat and air.  The answer is simple: the Southern House is simple, as we desire our own lifestyle in the Southern House to be.  To be the least invasive, and the most efficient, we chose mini-splits.  Each room is controlled with it’s on header, to be cooled (or heated) individually, or the door shut and the head turned off.  This eliminates the cost of heating and cooling an ENTIRE household, isolating the need to just one or more rooms at our discretion.  Another plus? No duct-work.  Pipes are run (through the walls in our case) and connected to the outside unit.  A small hole is cut to allow the pipes to enter the wall at the head, and then another hole is cut at the bottom to the outside for the pipes to exit and connect to the outside unit.  And no floor vents on the first floor!  All heads are positioned to heat and cool each room efficiently, having two separate fans to blow vertically and horizontally.  Let me not forget to mention the noise… Oh wait, there is none.  We are pleasantly surprised at the lack of noise that the headers made, as well as the outside unit; nearly noiseless.  I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get how much we love the mini-splits and how perfect a decision it was for our old simple home. 

Now for the specs.  The 54K BTU runs four heads: two 12K heads located in the dining room, the master bedroom, one 9K in the spare bedroom, and an 18K in the kitchen.  The 24K runs two 12K, one in the front bedroom (for the boys), one in the living room, and one 9K in the hallway. 

Mike faced an enormous number of challenges with the mini-splits, all of which were resolved with the help of friends, Google, YouTube, and Mikes genius problems solving mind.

And all the while, the boxes were very well used!!


2nd Story Shower.  Part of making the Southern House livable included completion of the upstairs bathroom.  Nearly everything was plumbed and ready, with a few modifications to make the shower work. 

Mike’s true nature as an artist continues to touch every aspect of this home.  And the bathroom is no exception.  With Mike’s vision, we curved 3/4 inch black iron pipe to make the shape of our unique shower basin.  3/4 inch pipe was welded to this custom curtain rod and then fastened to the wall and ceiling with black iron floor flanges.  Ordered from Hudson and Reed, the shower fixtures were a perfect vintage touch.  3/4 inch pipe runs down from the ceiling to deliver the hot and cold water separately, mixing and sent back up to the shower head in a copper pipe.

Baby Room.  Unique and endearing to our sweet home is a small room next to the Master Bedroom we lovingly refer to as the “Baby Room.”  With the limited amount of space and no closet, Mike designed and created the perfect built-in that can double as a closet for a sweet future child. 

Living Room.  Mike added in a built-in “entertainment center” (if you will) to our living room.  Repurposed vintage glass doors were made functional as cabinets to add a farmhouse touch and save money. 

Dining Room.  The damage from termites was devastating and nearly took all the beautiful tongue and groove boards that framed the bay window wall.  (Thankfully the termites are LONG GONE!!!)  And if you remember, we also replaced a very large amount of flooring in the same area.  (You can read about it here.)  A functional bench seat was designed, sheetrock replaced the rotten wood, and the overall look achieved elegance and a sense of familiarity.   

Wainscoting.  To continue to carpentry, and finishing out the trim work on the 1st story, all wainscoting was completed in the dining room, kitchen, hallway and bathroom.  Mike had every ounce of energy and development in the tiniest perfect detail.

Kitchen.  With appliances delivered and in place, cabinet shells were resurrected and a temp countertop was laid.  A bar was built opposite the stove, and included in the design was a rescued original door from Mike’s grandmother’s home, destroyed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.  Kitchen bar lights were purchased, and Mike created much of the hardware with iron piping, tying into several pieces already designed in the Southern House.  Also added were the builtin cabinets that will encase the refrigerator and above the washer/dryer.   

In the midst of this restoration project, WE GOT HITCHED!!!  With the Southern House on the edge of completion, we took a well deserved break in September to run off and get married!  We stylishly left out in the trusty 1967 Volkswagen Bus for Hot Springs, Arkansas, before turning north to Eureka Springs, Arkansas our destination for marriage.  Mike and I were wed in the famous Thorncrown Chapel in the most perfect and intimate way.  We continued our adventure and honeymoon with a stay in a little cabin in Ponca, Arkansas near the National Buffalo River before heading back south and to the Southern House to continue building our home. 

The next project includes the attic.. I’ll post soon!

Coming Together in the Kitchen

In a whirlwind of a month (September) so much has occurred.  I’ll start with the kitchen; considering in the beginning of our dream of Southern House, it tragically had no floor.


The subfloor was already laid, 3/4 inch (as discussed in an earlier blog CLICK HERE).  We worked an entire weekend laying the foundation for the new flooring.  We put down the backer board with concrete, and reinforced with screws (A LOT OF THEM).  Talk about back-breaking work!!

339backerboardinstall 340backerboardinstall

Then came the layout for the kitchen cabinetry.  And I would not have guess such mental efforts would be required in creating/building/designing my own kitchen cabinetry!!  We invested nearly an entire day, arranging and rearranging, and then rearranging again, until we finally decided on the perfect layout.  With the design in mind, the base for the custom cabinets were cut and laid out.  Finally, the flooring.

342cabinetdesign 343cabinetdesign

Have I mentioned that we purchased old Chicago style brick pavers to lay in our kitchen?


Mike came up with an amazing idea to incorporate some style into our brick flooring; hence the herring bone design richly outlined with soldiers.  The soldiers were laid first; square outlining the breakfast area, then outlining the kitchen area around the based built cabinets.  So much mortar, so many bricks, so many up and downs.  And the results were STUNNING!!! Hannah (our boxer) couldn’t help but be in on all the work, er, fun!

348soldiers 352soldiers



The following week, our stove and fridge were delivered, and just in time to be placed atop the brick flooring, really giving a feel for how the kitchen would operate.

372appliancedelivered 373appliancedelivered

There’s more.. But then again, another blog will tell you soon !!

Carrying the Load

So much is happening, I almost don’t know where to begin ! (Almost!)  In the past week, there have been less building and more loading.  From crown molding to brick pavers, water heater, boy beds, curtains to plywood, AC supplies, decorative metal, backer board to picking out the new W/D, stove, and refrigerator, there has been nonstop action.


This weekend proved a new experience for me, as I helped with insulation, and we prepped the kitchen floor for it’s newly purchased pavers.  (I’ll have a whole blog on the kitchen floor soon!)  I had an opportunity to run a hopper, the machine that chomps up insulation and blows it out, while Mike distributed the insulation from the hose in the attic.  Afterwards, we both giggled at one another.  I looked like I was growing fur, and Mike appeared as if he’d been swimming from the humidity, as he was in the scorching attic at 91 degrees.
Enthusiasm is increasing on this adventure of creating the Southern House into our home.
Talk about materials and loads we’ve bore, surfaces a very appropriate quote by Lou Holtz.  “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”