Garden in June

Vegetable garden in June

Every night when I get home from work, I walk through the garden. It’s one of my favourite times of the day–outside at the farm, seeing what’s grown during the day, appreciating all of the hard work we’ve done so far.

The garden is finally taking shape as I’ve envisioned it would from the start–as in years.

Sprouts are growing, from hollyhocks to beets to onions and sunflowers.

Hollyhock seedlings

Beet sprouts

Green onions


Some of the plants have gone beyond sprouting and moved onto blossoming.

Tomato blossom

Potato blossom

Marigolds amongst the tomatoes

Sage blossom

There are even signs of fruit on the raspberries and grapes–although I’m working myself up to picking the grapes, as the vines are supposed to focus on growing, not fruiting yet.


Baby grapes on new vines

I’ve planted herbs all around the perimeter, lavender, thyme, sage, rosemary, basil.

Rosemary plant

The biggest progress since my final Dueling DIY update are the trellises for the squash, raspberries and tomatoes. I’ll go into more detail on each of these as we go through the season, but here are a few snapshots for now.

The tomatoes are planted under a simple 2×2 wood frame. I’ll add strings once the tomatoes grow a bit more.

Simple wood 2x2 tomato trellis

Matt hammered 12 steel T-posts around the 2 rows of raspberries. I still need to string wire between each post to hold the raspberries upright, but the hard work was definitely the posts. So much hammering.

Raspberries trellised with steel T posts

The biggest addition is our squash trellis. Fingers crossed this works to corral the squash. We have a big garden, but I learned last year that it was no match for squash.

A-frame squash trellis

We have a few more tasks to do before we can officially move into maintenance mode: hang the gate and spread the straw for our deep mulch experiment.

But for now, I’m enjoying my evening walks and seeing the growth so far.

What’s growing at your house?

China cabinet makeover plans

Last week you saw the china cabinet that I’m going to make over for my office. Today I’m back with my makeover plans–and a couple of spots where I need your input.

This cabinet is a win for a lot of reasons: drawers (surprisingly hard to find), the exact width I need to fit on the wall beside the window, solid wood, decent quality.

Silverware drawer in the vintage china cabinet

It has one big miss though. It’s not quite as tall as I want. The three shelves on the upper hutch are great. But they’re too short to hold even a magazine. So I’m planning to rebuild the top to give a little more breathing room between the shelves. I think I can reuse a lot of the hutch–everything except the side pieces, which isn’t a bad thing because I don’t love the half-moon cutouts anyway.

Vintage china cabinet

I’ll make the old and new wood blend with a coat of white paint, but I have a plan to let a bit of the wood show through. Hopefully I can sand out some of the scratches.

Scratches in the wood top of the china cabinet

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the pulls yet. They’re all wood and completely recessed into the doors and drawers. I can’t remove them without leaving big holes in the cabinet. I’m wondering if some gold paint would work. I have an idea it might look a bit campaign-esque like this dresser from Centsational Girl. What do you think?

Recessed wood pulls

The other area I’m questioning is the legs. Right now, there are two long legs on the bottom. Basically 2x4s screwed to the cabinet. (Please ignore the dust).

China cabinet leg

I feel like I’d like something a little more traditional. Here are some options I picked up from Home Depot. Which do you like best?

Legs for the china cabinet

I’m not sure when I’m going to get to the cabinet makeover, but I’m excited by the possibilities.

What are your ideas for the makeover? Any ideas to deal with the handles? What about the leg options?

Thrifting with the in-laws

A few months ago (yes, I’ve been holding out on you guys), Matt and I went out to dinner with his family. The restaurant just happened to be next to a Value Village, so there was a family thrifting excursion after dinner.

After a little while in the store, Matt and I exchanged a look. His said, “I didn’t find anything. You ready to go?”

Mine said, “Nope. Absolutely not. I found something I’m quite excited about. You have to come over here right now.”

After years of searching I had found the cabinet that I wanted for my office. My office is our last untouched room–in fact it’s still full of boxes that have been in there since moving day. The cabinet is my trigger to paint the walls, unpack the boxes and finish this space in the way I’ve been imagining for years. So I was not leaving the store without this cabinet–no matter that I was surrounded by my in-laws.

In fact, the in-laws were a bonus. My father-in-law was our chauffeur for the night and his truck was just what we needed to transport the cabinet. My sister-in-law stood guard over the cabinet while I went to the cashier to pay. And my mother-in-law found my father-in-law and told him to bring the truck.

Ahhh, family.

Want to see what had me so excited? (In a very poorly lit picture?)

Vintage china cabinet

I have big plans for this cabinet. I think it’s going to be great. I’ll share some of my plans next week.

Do you go shopping as a family? Is there any furniture you’re hunting for?

Dueling DIY – The Final Update

Six weeks ago when I launched this Dueling DIY adventure, I thought, “I got this. No problem. I’ve got six weeks! Sarah’s going down.”

I had a somewhat ambitious list, but I thought it was entirely doable. Now that we’ve come to the end of the challenge and my final report, I’m stiff, I’m sore, I’m proud of what we accomplished… but I’m also a little bummed that I couldn’t cross everything off.

In that respect, Sarah, whose update you saw earlier this week, is the winner.

Here’s my final list:

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Build raised beds around the perimeter
  • Build trellises for the raspberries, tomatoes and squashes (I have wood and wire, but nothing’s put together yet)
  • Start a few seeds indoors
  • Till in the ash, straw and manure (still only half the garden is done)

And a couple of maybes:

  • Weather permitting, plant grapes and potatoes
  • Run a waterline out to the garden (this one is Matt’s task, so I’m not really feeling too bad that we didn’t get this done)

So I made it just over halfway through my to-do list (56% if you’re wondering).

The perimeter beds were definitely a much bigger project than I anticipated–both in terms of the amount of work and their literal size. But I’m really happy with how they turned out. In fact, I’ve already started filling them up with onion (seeds), sunflower (seeds) and grapes.

Grape buds

Although filling might be a bit of an exaggeration. According to my original calculations when we started this challenge, the perimeter of the garden is approximately 175 feet. The beds are just over 2 feet deep, which means we have 350 square feet in the perimeter alone. I’m not sure Matt and I eat enough food to keep up with this garden!

Rustic raised beds in a round vegetable garden

The outer beds are obviously where I spent most of my time throughout this challenge, but the interior of the garden–or at least half of it–got some attention too. We’re now up to 5 rows of potatoes (who exactly is going to eat all these?). We have three rows of reds, which we grew for the first time last year, and then we have two new varieties that we’re trying out: Kennebecs (highly recommended by Karen at The Art of Doing Stuff) and Russian Blues (another Karen suggestion that I couldn’t resist adding just for fun).

Potatoes growing in the garden

Our sprouts have overcome their damping off and are growing well. In fact, I’ve moved on to the hardening off stage and they’ve spent a few days outside this week. Matt brought home some tomato plants to supplement our own seedlings. Those can probably go in the garden this weekend, but I’m going to let our sprouts grow a bit more before they move outside permanently.

Sprouts and seedlings

Aside from finishing the raised beds, our biggest accomplishment last weekend was wrestling an abandoned hay bale out of the tree line beside our big field (where it and a friend have lived for years)…

Bales of hay stuck in the trees

onto the trailer (seriously, it took us about 45 minutes to get to this point)…

Straw bale in the trailer

and up to the garden.

Straw bale for mulching the garden

I’m going to try the deep mulch method to deal with weeds, maintain moisture and add nutrients to the garden. This bale is going to be my mulch. Hopefully it’s enough because I do not want to go back to get his friend. What a ridiculous way to spend a holiday Monday morning.

So obviously work does not end on the garden just because Dueling DIY has concluded. Trellising and tilling and gating and waterlining are still going to happen. As is planting and growing and (hopefully) harvesting. And I’ll be sharing more garden updates as we go along–I can’t help myself.

The beauty of taking on a project like this Dueling DIY is that in the end we each win. We’ve each made progress on our gardens, and we’re closer to enjoying the fruits of our labour (literally) than we were six weeks ago.

Thanks for the motivation, Sarah. And congratulations on your victory. I may have to send you a potato as a prize. And thanks to all of you for following along, doing your own challenges at your homes and encouraging us.

How’s your big spring project going? What gardening progress have you made recently?

Dueling DIY Week 5

Five weeks ago Sarah in Illinois and I started a friendly Dueling DIY competition to help us get our gardens in shape. In last week’s update, Sarah was distracted by newborn kittens and falling behind. I gave a fist pump and started to calculate how much farther ahead I could get. But apparently I was counting my kittens before they hatched as the saying goes. With just one week left, I’ve had a setback. Read on to find out what happened and if you want to review the progress we’ve made up to now, you can check out all of the previous posts here.

Let’s start with the bad news first.

#1: In this Dueling DIY challenge, this is all of the cuteness I can offer. Cute absolutely, but perhaps not at the level of Sarah’s kitten cuteness.


Bad news #2: Some of our sprouts aren’t doing so hot. I think it might be a case of damping off. Although some things might be turning around. (More on this below).

Wilted watermelon seedling

And the worst news: We lost a full weekend of work because both Matt and I are sick. I ventured outside at one point and spent 45 minutes lying on the lawn when I felt like I couldn’t stand up anymore. Matt is on antibiotics for throat and ear infections. I’m holding on to my belief that this is just a cold. The amount of time we spent horizontal meant that we didn’t spend time working in the garden. So, so, so incredibly frustrating.

But between the time of my last update and being struck down with this plague, we had accomplished a few things. So there is some good news in this Dueling DIY challenge.

We have a new team member: Colonel Briggs. Short for Briggs and Stratton, our new rototiller. Honestly, Matt’s been wanting an upgrade since we inherited Fairfield. When he brought the Colonel home, he declared that the rototiller couldn’t have just a single name, hence the title.

Matt put the Colonel to work right away, and they’ve tilled half the garden.

(A face shield is not normally necessary for tilling. Matt wanted ear protection, and his chainsaw helmet was closest).

Tilling the garden

We’re thisclose on the raised beds. I have about four timbers left to set–less than 1/8 of the perimeter to go. Then I have to spread the cardboard, layer in the mulch and top them up with dirt.

Raised garden bed made of logs

We had four yards of triple mix delivered, and I’ve filled the raised beds more than half of the way around the garden. I feel I have to say the beds would be completely done if we hadn’t been sick. Argh.

Four yards of topsoil

Despite not being finished with the garden set-up, we’ve already moved on to planting. Three (!) rows of potatoes are in, and we’re not done yet. A new shipment of seed potatoes arrived in the mail yesterday.

Potato shoot

I’ve also planted eight grape vines. I’m so excited about these grapes. Although I fully admit that I have no idea what I’m doing with them. I’m trying to read about pruning and planting and trellising and training. Right now, I’m focusing on watering them and keeping my fingers crossed that they take root. Please share any tips you have.

Freshly planted grape vines

In terms of smaller updates, let’s start with the literally small–the sprouts. As you saw at the top, we’ve had a lot of shriveling and dying. We’re down to just one watermelon out of seven. We lost about half the tomatoes too. I think it was a case of damping off, so I’m giving the watering can a rest.

The sprouts continued to die, but I was very surprised that some new sprouts started popping up as things dried out. We have a new watermelon–our first of the Crimson Sweet variety–and a whole bunch of new tomatoes. I know I’m going to have to separate the sprouts that are doubled (or tripled) up. I’m not sure I can bring myself to pinch out the extra sprouts, but I’m not sure I can keep everyone alive if I try to separate and transplant them. Any advice?

Crimson Sweet watermelon sprout

Pepper and tomato seedlings

The other win is that the raspberries–black and red–are weeded. And the raspberries themselves are spreading like weeds. I’m so pleased with how they’ve settled in.

Young raspberry canes

And if we hadn’t spent our whole weekend horizontal, we would have the trellises set up to support them.


Let’s move on, shall we? We’ll take a look at the original to-do list. Again, I can cross a little bit more off.

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Build raised beds around the perimeter (more than half done)
  • Build trellises for the raspberries, tomatoes and squashes
  • Start a few seeds indoors
  • Till in the ash, straw and manure (half done)

Only one week to go in this Dueling DIY challenge. Send vitamins.

Garden Dueling DIY Week 3

Sarah in Illinois and I have entered into a friendly competition this spring to help us get our gardens in shape. We’re now at the conclusion of week 3 of this Dueling DIY, and I’m sharing my second update. You can check out all of the previous posts here.

It was just noon on Sunday. I had a long list of things that I wanted to do in the garden, but I was running out of steam. I managed a few more hours before I hobbled retreated indoors. (Sarah, take note that I said the garden claimed a temporary victory. I am not conceding anything yet in this DIY duel).

I still don’t have any dramatic before and after pictures to share yet. But I can report some progress.

The big accomplishment so far is edging the garden.

Our garden is 2,462 square feet, which means, if I’m remembering my geometry formulas correctly, its outer perimeter is roughly 175 feet. Whatever the distance, it felt like it took a very long time to go around the whole outer edge.

Here’s what the edge looked like at the start. Ugh.

Edging a weedy garden

Here’s the progress shot.

Edging the vegetable garden

And here’s the final.

Wood "curbs" to edge a vegetable garden

We used the fence posts (or in the case of the image above, the telephone pole) as “curbs.” I’m hoping they accomplish two things: 1) Keeping weeds out of the garden. 2) Keeping small critters from crawling under the chainlink and into the garden.

Matt cut the fence posts to length with his chainsaw and then we dropped them into the shallow trenches that I’d dug around the perimeter.

Remember this picture from my last update of all of the materials for the garden?

Materials for the garden update

We’re now down to a single pile of posts (and some firewood).

Fence posts

I also made a dent in the lumber part of the pile when I went on a marathon stake making session.

An electric mitre saw is perhaps not a conventional garden tool, but I wanted a lot of stakes.

Cutting garden stakes with a mitre saw

How many stakes? I couldn’t find the energy to count. More than 10 gallons worth.

Pails of garden stakes

The stakes came into play with my plan for the other half of the fence posts: the raised beds.

My plan is to build shallow raised beds just around the outside edge of the garden. These will host asparagus, grapes, rhubarb, sunflowers, and probably beets, lettuce and who knows what else.

Again, I’m using the fence posts as curbs, and I’m holding them in place with the stakes.

Shallow rustic raised vegetable garden beds

After digging my way around the outside of the garden, I have no desire to do more weeding, so I’m giving the lasagna method a try within the raised beds.

I used cardboard for my base layer. (Die weeds, die).

Using cardboard to kill weeds in the vegetable garden

Then I covered that with a layer of straw mulch that has been composting in the garden since last fall. I was surprised how much the straw has broken down already. I think it should be good food for the new beds.

Straw mulch

Four yards of topsoil arrived yesterday morning, so I will top up the beds this weekend.

The raised beds were where I lost my mojo. I had a small sledge for hammering in the stakes, but swinging the hammer over and over (and over and over) was surprisingly tiring. So I’ve made it halfway around the garden.

I know it’s halfway because I’ve marked the centre aisle with our super long rope. The picture below doesn’t look like a lot of progress, but you might be able to see the curbs at the far right waiting to be set in place.

Unfortunately, you’re also able to see all the weeds. Matt got the rototiller running with no trouble, which got us very excited, but as soon as he started to till it stalled. And stalled. And stalled. So frustrating. So the straw and weeds and ash are all still sitting on the soil.

Gardening progress

One place the weeds are gone is in the red raspberry row. Woo-hoo for small victories. (The twine is to mark the row until I get a proper trellis in place).

Raspberry row marked with stakes and twine

A bigger victory is how much the raspberries have expanded. Look at all those little plants. This is going to be good. And the black raspberries next door–while still weedy–also appear quite healthy.

Raspberry sprouts

My usual gardening sidekick is Bax. It was nice to be a trio this weekend thanks to Matt’s help with the fence posts. However, as soon as Matt was done cutting, Bax was more than ready for bro time–indoors. Apparently he’s only interested in gardening if he can work on his tan at the same time. The weather was cloudy and drizzly, and as much as dude likes to pretend he’s an outdoor dog, he’s a fairweather outdoor dog.

Thankfully, Ralph is much tougher than her brother, so she braved the weather to keep me company. And unlike the sunbather, she actually participated, inspecting the raised beds and even assisting with some weeding.

Ralph in the garden

Ralph in the garden

Eventually, though, even I gave in and retreated to the indoors. (Ralph as always stayed outside).

However, there’s still some more progress inside. Tomatoes (Sicilian Saucers) and peppers (a random mix) have sprouted, and I transplanted our tallest watermelon sprouts already.

Watermelon sprouts

We cut our seed potatoes down to isolate individual sprouts, and they’re firmly at the grody stage. We really need to get them in the ground this weekend.

Chitted potato sprouts

The weather forecast is supposed to be bright and warm this weekend, so I have high hopes again for progress and productivity. However, I’m away from the farm a bit (have to remember Mother’s Day) and… guess what… picking up my grapes. I’m excited to have my first vines. Finger crossed I can keep them alive and help them grow the way they’re supposed to.

Before I get to that, though, let’s go back to my original to-do list. I can cross at least a couple more things off.

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Build raised beds around the perimeter (half done)
  • Build trellises for the raspberries, tomatoes and squashes
  • Start a few seeds indoors
  • Till in the ash, straw and manure

Three weeks to go, Sarah. We’re halfway through this Dueling DIY. Are you going to make it? The garden may have kicked my butt last weekend, but I’m going to be back and better than ever in just a few days. Watch out.

What progress have you made on your spring projects at your house? Any tips for lasagna gardening? Or building raised beds? How about growing grapes? Or keeping a rototiller running? Do you have any furry gardeners at your house?


Sarah in Illinois will be sharing her update in our Dueling DIY gardening challenge later this week. I couldn’t help sharing a small–very small–garden update of my own today.

We have sprouts!

Watermelon sprouts

Two of the seeds we planted last week have sprouted. These are sugar baby watermelons.

There are 36 little soil pellets in this container, so we have a lot more sprouts to go. And we have a long way to go until the garden is ready for these sprouts. Dueling DIY continues.

Do you have any sprouts at your house? Have you ever used pellets like this before? (This is our first time). Any watermelon growing tips?

Garden Dueling DIY Week 1

Fire in the field

In this Dueling DIY garden challenge, I am on fire. Literally.

These were my jeans at the end of Saturday.

Burned cuffs on my jeans

And this was the back of my neck at the end of the weekend. Ow-ee.

Sunburned neck

If you’re new to this Dueling DIY series, Sarah in Illinois and I are undertaking some friendly competition to help us get our gardens in shape this spring. You can check out all of the previous posts here.

Now, if you look again at that top picture and squint through the smoke, you might notice that the fire is some ways away from the garden itself–that big round thing with the fence around it.

Fire in the field

Blame it on my pyromaniac tendencies. Blame it on the other outdoor task on my 2016 Home Goals list–general property cleanup. Blame it on the first nice weather of the year. I got a little bit distracted over the weekend.

I cleared a stack of about a dozen incredibly heavy metal siding panels that had been hiding in the weeds on the south side of the garden.

Sheets of metal siding

Wiley and me moving the siding

Then I cleared the weeds themselves–using my preferred method of fire.

Burning weeds in the south field

Burning weeds in the south field

I cleared a very large pile of lumber at the edge of our centre field–and lit some of the really punky stuff on fire. (I might have a problem).

Lumber pile at the edge of the field

Field after clearing the lumber pile

I cleared a stack of old fence posts beside the driveshed.

Pile of old wood fenceposts

I’ve moved these fence posts once before, picking them up from where they were scattered around the property and tucking them behind the driveshed. I had to remind myself a couple of times that I had moved them before, and I could move them again.

Moving the fenceposts

These things were heavy. The very last one was the girth and almost the length of a telephone pole–not even close to a fence post. Example 8,694 of why I don’t need a gym membership.

Moving the fenceposts

But I digress. All of these clearing tasks do actually have something to do with the vegetable garden.

The fence posts are going to become the “curbs” around the outside of the garden and the raised beds.

Some of the lumber from the field is going to be trellises for the tomatoes and stakes to hold the curbs in place.

The metal T-posts that were mixed in with the lumber pile are going to be the trellises for the raspberries.

So my big accomplishment in this Dueling DIY is that I have amassed all of my materials. A whole lot of materials.

Materials for the garden update

My other accomplishments are on the non-heavy lifting side: I ordered seed potatoes and grape vines, and we’ve started some watermelon, tomato and pepper seeds inside.

Here’s my original to-do list that I shared last week. I can cross just one thing off.

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Build raised beds around the perimeter
  • Build trellises for the raspberries, tomatoes and squashes
  • Start a few seeds indoors
  • Till in the ash, straw and manure currently spread over the garden

But here’s how I’d calculate my scorecard so far:

  • I cleared the weeds from a space roughly equal to the size of the garden. Maybe this means fewer weeds to go to seed and infiltrate the garden itself.
  • I am prepped–and stocked–in the garden materials department.
  • I moved a telephone pole all by myself–in fact the equivalent of several telephone poles if you put all of those fence posts together.
  • And I lit myself on fire.

Beat that Sarah.

Thanks to everyone who shared their garden/spring to-do lists last week. Please share your progress. How is your spring project coming? Are there any pyromaniacs out there? Who else gets distracted from the primary project? What are you working on in your garden?

Vegetable garden dueling DIY challenge

I’ve been eagerly waiting to get back into the vegetable garden, but Mother Nature has not cooperated so far this spring. In fact, we had snow three times in the last week, negative temperatures and windchills.

But I’ve decided it’s time. No matter what Mother Nature thinks, gardening is going to happen.

Now I’m in Canada, so it’s not going to happen for a little while. The traditional start date for the Canadian gardening season is Victoria Day–also known as May 24 (or the 23rd this year because we’re all about the holiday Monday).

That’s six weeks away, which I think is perfect. There’s lots of work to keep me busy until frost has passed.

Garden at the beginning of April

It turns out, I’m not the only one with a gardening to-do list. Sarah in Illinois has one too. Inspired by DIY Diva and Ugly Duckling House, we’re kicking off a Dueling DIY challenge. Today, I’ll share my spring garden to-do list. On Wednesday, Sarah will share hers. Every week from now until Victoria Day, we’ll post progress reports and help keep each other on track.

We hope that you’ll join in too. Share your to-do list in the comments today, and come back each week to share your updates.

Raspberry canes sprouting

Here’s what I want to accomplish in the next six weeks:

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Build raised beds around the perimeter
  • Build trellises for the raspberries, tomatoes and squashes
  • Start a few seeds indoors
  • Till in the ash, straw and manure currently spread over the garden

And a couple of maybes:

  • Weather permitting, plant grapes and potatoes
  • Run a waterline out to the garden (this one’s Matt’s… I’m not sure he’ll be as enthusiastic about Dueling DIY as Sarah is)

I think it’s do-able. I just need a little co-operation, Mother Nature.

Are you looking forward to gardening season? Or do you have another spring project? What’s your to-do list?

Country style guest room details

Robin's egg blue country guest room

Today I’m diving deeper into the guest room makeover to share the details behind some of the pretty pictures you saw last week.

Pretty much every project we do here at the farm is a budget challenge. But this guest room is budget to the extreme. Hand-me-down, redo, thrift and even scavenge were the name of the game. The only things I bought new were picture frames, window treatments, a blanket and towels. Even the paint was reused from the mudroom.

Designers talk about jumping off points. For me the jumping off point in this room was the fake wood paneling on the walls–not the most favoured design feature. It may not be shiplap, but it was definitely country, so I decided to play up the farm factor with pine, white paint, rustic elements and pretty robin’s egg blue paint.

The colour is Wythe Blue from Benjamin Moore. Because the walls are paneling and not drywall, there are little trim pieces in each of the corners and against the ceiling. I decided to play these up–like in my inspiration image–with white paint (Cloud White also from BM–our standard trim colour at the farm). Precision taping paid off with really, really crisp lines, and the white corners add some neat interest to the room.

Robin's egg blue country guest room

Matt helped me scrape the ceiling, and now it’s beautifully smooth to showcase the thrifted chandelier I found. I think this had been painted black at some point in its past life. The only change I made was to remove the glass shades and shorten the chain (our most frequent guest, Matt’s brother, is 6’4″).

Rustic black chandelier

The pine comes courtesy of the armoire and desk from Matt’s childhood bedroom. I’d like to style the top of the cabinet somehow someday. Maybe a small collection of books and magazines for guests?

Robin's egg blue country guest room

The trunk in the corner is my scavenged find. My parent’s neighbours put this out for garbage. My Dad and I carried it home–approximately 20 years ago.

This trunk is an example of choose what you love and you’ll make it work. At first, the trunk played a nightstand role in my teenage bedroom. Then it was a very handy side table in the living room at Matt’s and my first house.

Now it’s returned to its nightstand function in the guest room. The clock, lamp, water bottle and drinking glasses are all thrifted from Value Village.

Vintage trunk as a nightstand

Above the trunk is my favourite feature in the guest room, vintage family and country photos.

The top photo came from the city archives collection. It’s the blacksmith shop that is still standing in the little town that’s closest to the farm. Below that is a photo from my family archives. It’s my great grandfather on a sleigh loaded with huge logs. The neat story shown in the photo is that the sleigh is so heavy it has actually broken through the ice that my grandfather and the horses are crossing.

Vintage family photos displayed in the guest room

On the other side of the window, the top photo is the general store where Matt worked as a teenager. However, it’s another archive shot with a horse and buggy outside the store–not the common conveyance when he worked there. Below that is a photo from Matt’s family archives. His great-grandfather with a team of horses and a wagon loaded with hay.

You know I’m all about personalizing my spaces, and these old pictures are a really meaningful way to do that.

The rustic frames that look almost like barn wood are a score from Ikea. I brightened the mats with a coat of Cloud White paint.

Vintage family photos displayed in the guest room

This side of the room has two more hand-me-downs from Matt’s childhood bedroom: the painted dresser and the pine desk. The painted glass vase and the hydrangea are from my MIL and work perfectly in this spot.

Robin's egg blue country guest room

The dresser is super cute. Each drawer is decorated with an illustration of a nursery rhyme scene. (The wicker waste basket was another thrifted find).

Vintage dresser with nursery rhyme illustrations

Jack and Jill nursery rhyme illustration

Our welcoming crew of Bax and Ralph are on duty on the desk along with a thrifted organizer (that I repainted) that holds pens and notepads.

Guest room desk

My distressed chair was a freebie courtesy of past owners. Its red stain was splotched with mauve and mint green paint. Adding a coat of white paint was a big improvement, and I think the distressed look works here. The log cabin pattern pillow is a made-by-me from way back when I was a teenager. I was surprised how well the pink and blue tones in the pillow cover work with the quilt I chose for the bed.

Distressed painted chair in front of a pine desk

I bought the quilt when we first moved into the farm. It was about the only thing I did to establish a comfortable guest room back then. Fortunately, it works well with the blue-green paint, so I’m keeping it.

The curtains and curtain rods are new–although the curtains are a DIY, so I’m not sure they entirely qualify. The rods are my go-to Hugads from Ikea. The curtains are my go-to dropcloths from Home Depot (see my tips for making dropcloth curtains). Maybe because it’s my second time around, these curtains weren’t as tedious as the last set I made. Still not my favourite thing to sew, but not quite as painful as before.

This final corner beside the desk was the one spot I wasn’t sure about. My original vision was to hang a vintage painting by Matt’s grandpa and below to have a weathered little ladder where I could drape extra blankets. However, this corner was the best place for a mirror, and I felt that the mirror would be more appreciated by guests than the painting.

Robin's egg blue country guest room

Plus, when I saw this unusual mirror in the thrift store on Friday night and spent all weekend thinking about it and when it was still there on Monday afternoon, I knew it was meant to be. A coat of white paint freshened it up, and I still have a place for extra blankets and towels in a large thrifted wicker basket set on the floor (the towels are the other new purchase in the room).

Robin's egg blue country guest room

There’s one thing that’s missing from the room, and that’s the bedframe. I have a great metal headboard and footboard from my bedroom at our old family cottage. Matt and I repainted it before we moved into our first house. However, the paint has since chipped, and it really needs to be stripped.

The bedframe has been living in the barn since we swapped rooms in our master bedroom switcheroo last spring. If the weather ever warms up, I’m planning to bring it outside and remove the old paint. Once it’s stripped (and potentially repainted), I’ll set it up in the guest room.

Even without the bedframe, I think we have a beautiful room that’s welcoming for guests. It was really fun to pull all of the details together for this space, and I feel like we ended up with a room that’s perfect for our farm setting, our family and our guests. This was the first item on my home goals 2016 list, and I’m crossing it off.

Robin's egg blue country guest room

How do you save money when you’re decorating? Who else is reusing childhood furniture? Do you have a vintage family photo collection? What have you picked out of the garbage and reused?