Starting as a 1915 Farmhouse – the Evolution of Grandma’s House

Jul 09 2023
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Like so many older homes our 1915 farmhouse has gone through a lot of overhauls and additions over the years. It began as a 500 square foot box with a same sized half story above it and a same sized basement beneath it. Also, like with a lot of homes from that era, the only access to the basement was on the outside of the home and the staircase to the second story was so steep it was dangerously akin to climbing a mountain. I was able to piece together where walls and doors were originally because they were shown in the hardwood floors uncovered (and then refinished) during the renovation.

The “front” of the house with the gorgeous stained glass window and frosted door was facing the road, though I assume (even back then) they used the “back” door as their main entrance.

(To this day my aunt and mom still refer to our front door as the back porch though its always been used as the main entrance.)

In 1929 the addition of the screened in porch was added with the extension of the wood shed to the north. This added another 500 square feet to the main floor literally doubling the living space.

(I actually found 1929 engraved into the foundation when I was crawling beneath it during the renovation… not one of the more pleasant days of my life lol.)

When I was renovating I uncovered that there had been a previous door cut out of the house siding that I believe was the original “back door” before the porch was added and the door then moved a few feet to the north.

1915 Farmhouse

Like so many older homes our 1915 farmhouse has gone through a lot of overhauls and additions over the years. It began as a 500 square

Like so many older homes our as gone through a lot of overhauls and additions over the years. It began as a 500 square

The theory is that the barn was built then as well because 1929 was engraved into the stucco on the front of it. HOWEVER, it is not entirely impossible that that’s just the year the barn was stuccoed – no reason it wasn’t just a wood barn for years before as you can clearly see it was not stuccoed in the picture.

After his return from WWII my grandpa purchased the farm with his family and then eventually bought his family out and he and my Grandma made it their home around 1951.

It was around this point the house really got some changes made to it.


They put the bathroom in what was the back “room” of the original house and butted the kitchen right up to it.

They built their kitchen from scratch, entirely for my Grandma who wasn’t much taller than 5 feet. The countertops were low and everything was easy for her to reach – it was pretty sweet.

Though because my Grandpa didn’t just build things to last but built things to last a nuclear blast unfortunately there was no getting the lower cabinets out without entirely destroying them.

I believe I told my mom that even if the house fell down those lower kitchen cabinets would have been fine.

I was bummed I wasn’t able to save them though I was able to save all the upper cabinets!

DIY Farmhouse Kitchen Reveal, somehow I took space AWAY from my kitchen and yet I ended up with MORE storage and a bigger feeling kitchen! A small remodel!

Kitchen reveal at the Grandma's House DIY home tour! 15 months of renovation, remodeling a custom country kitchen with a cast iron sink after a full gut.

1915 Farmhouse

My Grandparents also enclosed part of the screened in porch, thus creating an indoor entryway, laundry room and new inside staircase for the basement.

They didn’t do much to the second story.

All of the trim, molding, doors and windows up there were clearly original to 1915 though the linoleum was an addition lol. They also added closets upstairs as well. They shared one room and my aunt and mom shared the other while they were growing up.

It didn’t take long though for my Grandpa and Grandma to be ready to put the second floor (and the freakishly steep staircase behind them) so they enclosed another portion of the screened in porch for their bedroom.

Over the many years they milked Jersey cows out of the barn and farmed in the back fields.

They retired in 1978 and started wood working!

They transformed the barn into a to-die-for wood workshop and built dressers, hutches, lamps, jewelry boxes, bird houses and furniture of all kinds. We have four benches in our home that they built plus a gorgeous hutch in our kitchen, some outdoor furniture, a couple of stools and a couple of lamps too.

I don’t doubt their years of wood working were their very best years. The kids grown, no more cows to worry about etc. Just puttering in their workshop building whatever they felt like and tending their gardens.

I remember the smell of stain and polyurethane while being out there with my Grandma.

Those smells remain some of my very favorites.

To this day I open a can of stain and it just makes me happy.

Like so many older homes our 1915 farmhouse has gone through a lot of overhauls and additions over the years. It began as a 500 square

Like so many older homes our 1915 farmhouse has gone through a lot of overhauls and additions over the years. It began as a 500 square

Like so many older homes our 1915 farmhouse has gone through a lot of overhauls and additions over the years. It began as a 500 square

1915 Farmhouse

Unfortunately though I didn’t get to share much of it with my grandparents as they were growing older by the time I came around as I wasn’t born until 1986.

When my mom gifted me my horse we changed the back of the barn into horse stalls and fenced in the old cow pasture so he and my mom’s horse could be kept here.

Our horses stayed there for a few years before moving to our family home after we built a little stable for them. I don’t know the exact date here but I don’t think I was older than 15 so it would have been around 2000.

The barn at that point was growing more and more worrisome so getting the horses out of there became a big priority.

At 88 my Grandpa passed in 2004 and, sadly, my Grandma’s eyesight was slowly failing to macular degeneration as well.

It was nearly ten years later at the age of 96 when my Grandma joined my Grandpa.

On their headstone we had engraved a picture of the barn.

The 1915 farmhouse stood empty since late 2012 though I visited it when Grandma was in the memory care wing of a local place here. With her passing it fell to my aunt and mom to start the long job of emptying a lifetime’s worth of things from the grounds.

There was A LOT more furniture than we expected! One of the out buildings was jam packed.

We kept everything they made of course but I also really couldn’t bare to part with the other old pieces either.

I ended up filling an entire garage stall lol I just couldn’t help it. It was all so beautiful and showed so much potential.

I embarked on my furniture refinishing adventure that summer after my Grandma’s passing. I loved every minute of it and its all still with me today, returned to the 1915 farmhouse sometimes not far from where I found it.

Grandma’s whole bedroom set went right back to the same second story room and we use it every day.

Black and White. Old photos, my farm, my home, my family pictures throughout the last seventy years. My grandparents farm left to me in their passing has gone through numerous changes over the years from renovations they did to my own giant renovation to make this farm my forever home.

Like so many older homes our 1915 farmhouse has gone through a lot of overhauls and additions over the years. It began as a 500 square

Like so many older homes our 1915 farmhouse has gone through a lot of overhauls and additions over the years. It began as a 500 square

Like so many older homes our 1915 farmhouse has gone through a lot of overhauls and additions over the years. It began as a 500 square

Houses just can’t sit empty.

It seems strange but I think they absolutely begin to decline much faster without a person living in them.

It was over those months then that me, my mom and aunt had all begun thinking about me and the house.

Coincidentally I had been looking for a little farmhouse to renovate over those last years of my Grandma’s life… I had no idea it had been right here all along.

I think my mom and aunt were thrilled and terrified for me.

Thrilled that the house would stay in the family and be restored, terrified for me because WHAT AN UNDERTAKING!

Because there was nothing for it, the house needed to be entirely gutted.

The second story had knob and tube wiring and the first story hadn’t seen an electrical upgrade since the 1950s. Besides that there was basically no insulation in the walls and all of the windows needed to be replaced.


I began the renovation in early 2014 and moved in in 2015 though you guys know I wasn’t “finished” with the house yet… hell I would argue that it’s still not finished lol!

But when I moved in I had completed the majority of the BIG stuff.

I replaced the little garage that had been falling down with a new two car garage and I knocked down the wall, incorporating the wood shed, to make the entryway twice as big giving us more room for a dining table.

The house had brand new electrical, plumbing and insulation throughout. The only place that wasn’t sheet rocked, painted and trimmed out, at that point when I moved in, was the basement.

The deck was done and the house had all new windows, doors and siding.

I know many people in their 30s who have moved countless times and wow is moving a stressful, labor intensive, experience.

Like so many older homes our 1915 farmhouse has gone through a lot of overhauls and additions over the years. It began as a 500 square

1915 Farmhouse

During the renovation I enclosed the last of the screened in porch and opened the kitchen up to the living and dining / entryway with large beams enormously changing the feel of the original home.

Enclosing the screened in porch was a bummer but, seriously, anyone who has ever lived on a dirt road knows exactly why I did it. There was no enjoying that porch – the dirt clung to every surface like a second skin.

It was just wasted space.

Doing that meant that now we have two “legal” bedrooms on the main floor plus a smaller room that could totally be a bedroom in a pinch.

I took out the old bathroom so I was able to put in a full galley kitchen with a French door on either end of it out to our big deck. I stole space from the long living room to put in a little main floor bathroom – that remains something that kind of bugs me but damnit there was just no other place to put it!

The second story I added a wall and transformed it into our master suite, the smaller bedroom became our bathroom and closet and the other became our bedroom.

I saved as much as I could from the home.

The 100 year old floors are still just my favorite thing ever even though they were a nightmare to refinish. (To this day there is nothing but wood flooring throughout this house except for the concrete in the basement… apparently I really don’t like carpet?)

The old stained glass window and etched glass door are still there. In fact I saved all of the old doors I found and used them all here in the home.

I replaced the insane steep old staircase too – my first and ever attempt to build a staircase… it was a challenge lol.

Lodi finished the basement when he joined me here in early 2019.

It was pretty neat to move in to this house in 2015 – the year it turned 100. I hope to have a little celebration or something in 2025 to celebrate her turning 110.

Like so many older homes our 1915 farmhouse has gone through a lot of overhauls and additions over the years. It began as a 500 square

One day I remember very clearly was walking our horses back here, fifteen years since they had stayed in the barn when my Grandparents were still alive.

And they absolutely remembered… I know this because my idiot terrified-of-everything gelding didn’t freak out near as much as I had expected. In fact he even seemed kind of excited to come back!

He’s still here too, and bringing him back felt beyond right – this was our home.

Added to the home, since my grandparents’ had it, is another kitchen, two bathrooms and a second living space.

People obviously live very differently now and it can be hard to balance respecting the old but also making a home that works for modern day living.

Outdoor hangout spaces were not a big thing back in the day. I guess if you spent every day all day outside gardening, milking, feeding, farming, preparing for winter etc. you’re pretty glad for walls and a roof when you get home.

Besides the master suite on the second floor I knew the biggest change that I couldn’t wait to make was creating outdoor space in the shape of our wrap around deck.

Back when my grandparents owned the home there wasn’t even an outside door to the north or east of the house. You had to walk AROUND the house to get back there.

So, the house went from three outside doors to six lol and I have no regrets!

We have three French doors that open out to that wonderful deck and we really love it.

This home took care of my grandparents for over fifty years and I am so fortunate we could make it our own.

Outside the home, just in the last couple of years, Lodi and I added a third stall to our garage and a new lower deck. Some of you know though that the biggest change to our farm happened just a couple of weeks ago.

The barn is officially gone ๐Ÿ™

Mom and I sat in the kitchen of our little 1915 farmhouse and watched the old girl go, one piece at a time.

I’m going to collect myself first before sharing that day here but I will say that it was very sad but also a relief… Its going to take a long time for me to get used to the barn shaped hole in our yard.

Adding String Lights to our new pea gravel deck and fire pit. Wow did this break my brain... Here was our situation: The tall posts on

Like so many older homes our 1915 farmhouse has gone through a lot of overhauls and additions over the years. It began as a 500 square

1915 Farmhouse


  1. Nicki
    July 9, 2023 at 10:35 am

    I really like your posts and look forward to them every weekend. In 1984, we purchased a “house” for less than $5,000. In 2021, it was sold for many times that amount – but I’m not telling how much was spent to get it back in shape during those years!

    Keep up the good work – Very pleased to share the progress you have made with this house.

    • July 10, 2023 at 9:35 am

      Thank you Nicki, so glad it worked out for you! Older homes can be such an incredible amount of work!

  2. July 9, 2023 at 11:42 am

    What an interesting and exciting story!! I loved hearing about the history of your property and Kudos to your Mom and Aunt for keeping it in the family by passing it on to you! You have done an amazing job and are to be totally commended!! I am sure it has been quite a journey for you but what an amazing outcome!! You should be so proud of yourself and I am quite sure that your grandparents are!! Thanks so much for sharing this story!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!! Now I want to see more of your renovations and what you home looks like now!!
    I hope you are having a great weekend!! We are finally getting some much needed rain but it may be a bit too much all at once…

    • July 10, 2023 at 9:35 am

      Thanks Deb, its been a wild ride but I wouldn’t change a thing. Finally got some rain too but not far from us they got like 8 inches… that’s a bit much! lol can’t we just get a normal amount of rain for a change?!

  3. Toni in Niagara
    July 9, 2023 at 12:19 pm

    You will get used to that barn-shaped hole in your yard and view, but you will always have a barn-shaped hole in your heart. And that’s okay, because the heart grows, and the hole is not a void, it is a vessel for those special loving memories.

    Best wishes always.

  4. Sandy
    July 9, 2023 at 12:55 pm

    Tarah, what a wonderful post. You, and now with Lodi’s help have done so much. You have done a great job keeping the integrity of your grandparents home intact, as much as possible. I love how you made it work for your lifestyle. Thanks for the detailed pictures. Enjoy the rest of summer!

  5. Jeannie
    July 9, 2023 at 3:04 pm

    Losing the barn is sad. Were you able to reclaim some timbers?

    • July 10, 2023 at 9:36 am

      Hi Jeannie, yes I’m still pretty bummed about it – we were able to save a ton out of the barn over the years fortunately.

  6. barbara
    July 9, 2023 at 5:09 pm

    It’s wonderful the farm stays in the family! While the pictures are bonus; may I suggest another *documentation*? Since your Grandparents are gone; perhaps your Mom and Auntie (possibly others?) could provide MORE, history(as to their upbringing, memories) of the Homestead? Oral History, as it were. There may be even more photos floating around, that no one knows about! I suggest recording the memories. (in the future, those voices become treasured more than anyone realizes! I speak from experience!) You have come so far, in such a short amount of time. Kudos, Warrior Woman!

    • July 10, 2023 at 9:37 am

      That’s absolutely a wonderful idea Barbara, thank you so much!!

  7. Carol Dammer
    July 10, 2023 at 11:26 am

    I loved reading and re-reading this post and others that you have documented. It brings back so many memories of Arvid and Charlotte and the farm. You are truly blessed!

  8. Nmp
    July 10, 2023 at 7:20 pm

    You are always a joy to read. You and Lodi make such a wonderful, loving, hardworking team. You have been blessed with your grandparents legacy. The two of you will make that farm a place of joy, wonderful memories and beauty. You have accomplished so much in such a short time. Your grandparents taught your mother well and she in turn raised a remarkable daughter.

  9. September 14, 2023 at 12:53 am

    Seeing that breakfast table makes me nostalgic. We still see our clients go with those even today. Great share. Amazing home.

    • September 15, 2023 at 9:11 am

      Thank you for stopping by!

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