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Staircase, Progress, and "Fabulous Farmers Spotlight"

Good morning Farmers! Happy Sunday to you all.

Wherever you are I hope you’re enjoying some summer fun! There’s been a lot of action up here at the farm - nothing glamorous yet but a lot of good old fashioned progress is being achieved. I hope you saw my tours of the interior spaces on IG stories. This home renovation adventure has been mostly exciting for me lately, except I'm . . .

To me, a beautiful, winding staircase is the spine of a home. This one is no exception. It’s in the center of the home, like an axle from which every other room turns. I can’t believe my favorite feature, that one thing that initially grabbed my heart, may have to come down. Not fully, but it might as well. The rich patinas that have developed over time in the wood of this handrail, newel, baluster, nosing and tread may have to go. Oh no!

Here’s the deal. The old, original, broken heating system in this home utilized inefficient electric wall panels. We knew they needed to be removed, so we decided early on that we would install in-floor radiant heat. It’s just such a pleasing, cozy way to heat a home. The problem is, once we install the heating system in the floor, it will raise the floor height. Not that much overall, and not really a big deal; however, where it gets tricky is in the foyer and how it relates to the staircase. Raising the floor height there would change the height of the floor to the first staircase tread and would result in it not meeting code. In addition, the existing handrail is not to current code. It is only at around 34 inches tall, and code says it needs to be 42 inches. If we were to alter the staircase in any way to distribute the floor height differences evenly to all treads and meet code, that would result in an altered staircase and require us to bring the whole staircase up to code. This would result in tearing a lot of it out. To avoid this, we investigated other heating options such as installing the radiant heating underneath the subfloor, installing old fashioned radiators, etc. I even started to resign myself to the idea I could install the dreaded forced-air system. In the end, we want great, efficient heating; and if that means tearing the staircase out, then we’re going to do it.

No renovation project is void of difficulty; however, you always hope the challenges are minimal and easy to solve. This one is painful but I keep reminding myself that given the scale of this big ole renovation project, this is minor; it’s solvable. It’s not the end of something great, it could be the beginning of something better: a gift, a chance to create something new. It’s a bummer and not something I want to do, but I live for renovation projects; I love the challenge, and I’m at my best when I get to simply create. So design something beautiful, I will do - if need be, we’ll see!

Here is our home renovation progress so far:

Bees removed from portico and successfully placed elsewhere on the farm.

Update: If you saw my IG stories yesterday, you saw me at the farm with my bee expert Ben. We had a new swarm take up residence in the portico. They got very angry as we were trying to get them out. Ben used some rancid smelling liquid and some cedar moth balls to make them hightail it out. We'll know how successful we were in a few days.

New retaining wall completed.

Brush and Deodar Cedar tree limbs removed along the driveway.

Outrageous cost estimates came in to remove all the brush along the drive and to trim all of these stately trees. It was the 11th hour, and panic set in. We were in jeopardy of further delaying this project because the tree work had to be done before the driveway could be excavated. I knew just who to call: Jeff at Image Tree Service. Image has always done an outstanding job for me in the past so I knew I could count on them. If you need a tree expert, call Image, they're simply the best!

Caretaker’s cottage demolished.

We are currently digging what seems like miles of utility trenches.

Her beauty is starting to shine through again.

I wish you all were right here beside me, up close and personal in this home so you could see and feel the transformation as it starts to unfold. It’s amazing how baby steps in home renovation result in huge gains. Just the first step of removing something as minor as old wallpaper unveils the true bones of a home.

To me, there is nothing better than old plaster walls to bring graceful texture to a space. Have you ever run your hand over a honed piece of marble slab? There is a similar experience with old, plaster walls. It’s so different from modern drywall. To say I’m excited is an understatement. I’m ecstatic and thrilled to the core with what has happened so far!

Fabulous Farmers

I started this blog because I had friends and family express a desire to be able to watch me transform this beautiful home from beginning to end. I was brand new to the blogging scene and was apprehensive in throwing myself out into the social media world. I wasn’t sure how Mrs. Colonial and I would be received or if anyone other than my few initial subscribers would want to follow along. I have to say I am profoundly grateful for everyone’s support and enthusiasm for this project. The kindness I have received from you my “Fabulous Farmers”, and this growing community I’m lucky enough to be a part of, has had a huge impact on me and inspires me to keep sharing my story.

A lovely gift of words I received from one of my new subscribers Nancy. Thank you Nancy. Your thoughtful words inspired me to get back to the keyboard and write this post.

To thank you guys and to spread the kindness, I’ve decided to start a “Fabulous Farmers Spotlight.” I think it will be fun to have you participate and contribute to my blog. To read more about it and to find out how you can participate, click HERE, or go to my blog at and select the “Spotlight” tab.

I hope to hear from you soon and to bring something from one of you to my next post.

Sandy Sheldon

Don't forget to "follow" me on Instagram at @rockhavenfarm_ You'll see some things there, including video, you won't see here on the blog.

#Spiralstaircase #vintagewallpaper #bees #portico #HillsideExcavation #staircase #radiantfloorheat #DeodarCedar #ImageTreeService #demolition #progress #FabulousFarmers

Hi, I'm Sandy Sheldon -  welcome to my farm.



@rockhavenfarm_           INSTAGRAM                 #RHFreno

Hi guys! Have a question or comment?  I'd love to hear from you!


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Hope you enjoyed your visit!

This huge interior design and home renovation adventure will certainly test me, but I'm throwing caution to the wind and plunging head first into design euphoria. I have  great things in store for Mrs. Colonial, and hope I can share every exciting and beautiful detail with you! 



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