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Before & During Photos and the FIRST "Fabulous Farmers Spotlight"

Good Morning Farmers! Happy Sunday and Fall to You All!!

Mrs. Colonial has taken her first breath of fresh air in decades. Of course, there’s a little bit of dust circulating in her two-by-four and truss encrusted lungs because IT’S HAPPENING! We finally got some good traction the last couple of weeks on the home renovation front. After many weeks of a lot of dirt and boulders being tossed around, real progress has been made. Now, when I walk into what will be the new kitchen space, the Dixie Chicks’ "WIDE OPEN SPACES" seems to pop up in my brain.

If you follow me on Instagram and watch my "stories," then you’ve seen most of the progress so far, but if you don’t or if you'd just like to see it in photos, this Before and During Home Renovation post is for you.

We were required to do a tremendous amount of fire safety-related ground work and to allow for better, safer access to the property in case of a medical emergency. As part of that process, we excavated the entire driveway from the street to the house and over to the new barn location. We added new base rock to get us through construction, a passing lane, a turn-around at the top for fire trucks, and a hydrant.

After that, we were in a pattern that was somewhere between barely moving and slow. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, we started to get some real traction on the home renovation front.

It seemed like all of a sudden progress got kicked into high gear and the site became a flurry of activity. Let me show you some of what we've done with Before & During Home Renovation photos:

In the foyer, wall paper came down, the hardwood floor was removed, and then plaster was removed to make way for a new door into the powder room. Having a powder room access right off the foyer is not ideal; however, it was necessary in order to bring the function I desired to the adjacent kitchen. Don't worry, I have a plan to disguise the new access: a "hidden" door.

The small powder room behind the staircase was in pretty bad shape.

We knew it wasn't going to be good, but we had no idea how bad it really was. Once the tile was removed, it became clear a severe water leak had occurred over time and the entire space was collapsing to the ground.

Yesterday, the crew began reframing the powder room by installing new structure in the floor.

One of our goals with this home is to embrace the formal bones of the house while, at the same time, making it more livable for today's lifestyle.

To achieve this, we'll eliminate the formal dining room and create a family room off the new kitchen. The wall to the right is coming down so the family room and new kitchen become one big space. It is important to me that the large crown molding stay in place, so there will be a new cased opening between the two spaces. The hardwood floors throughout this home were in pretty bad shape, as seen in the photo above, so they've all been removed.

Okay you guys, below is one of the biggest transformations so far! If you remember, in one of my early blog posts, I described the smell of this house like THIS. A lot of the "aroma" was due to this space.

Once all the contents and structure were removed, a breath of somewhat fresh air seemed to find its way in. This coming week, the crew will be installing two large, metal structural beams so that the last remaining walls can come down.

Of all of the new, beautiful spaces coming to the farm, the kitchen may be the one I'm most excited about. I can't wait to see it completed. From the wood ceiling beams, to the beast of an island with a marble "ball gown edge," to the floating shelves and the installation of a "health center," the beauty and function of this dream room are highly anticipated.

Looking back, I can't believe the kitchen and the sunroom didn't make my husband and I run to the wine country hills as far away from Mrs. Colonial as possible!

The original plan was to keep the brick floor. The idea was to maintain some of the original character and to keep the budget down. However, I had a hard time deciding between the idea of keeping it and covering over it. Last week, I finally decided to cover it up. We'll be installing a black and white cement tile in both the sunroom and the mudroom/butler's pantry which will be accessed through the opening at the right.

As with all of the other rooms in this house, the living room will undergo a complete transformation. It will be a gathering/entertaining space that functions as both a library by day, and an entertaining/dining room by night!

We began the transformation by removing the plaster in the locations where new elements will be installed. One of those is the new wet bar. I debated over the design of it in an earlier post.

I finally decided on the design above. A new arched opening will be cut into the wall and recessed into a closet behind. The arch will mimic the arch at the front entrance, and will be repeated in different elements throughout the house, bringing a touch of feminine to the farm. The lower cabinetry will be a deep green, the metal/glass shelves will be black, the countertop will have some gray, and a vintage chandelier above (handed down from my husband's Grandmother) will bring a touch of gold.

Now, I'm going to take you outside. This is what the progress on the new ground floor master addition looked like yesterday.

Yes, that is me up there trying to get the best photo.

The crew are really starting to move along. This was the progress yesterday. Today, they started to install the rebar. Next week, it's concrete. We'll have framing before we know it!!!

Well there you have it. A peek into what we've been up to at the farm. The project sat idle for so long that I got lax in my design plans. Right now, I'm having an "oh no" moment and realizing I have much to do and little time to do it. I'm currently finalizing door and door hardware selections, making tile selections so I can quickly order the plumbing fixtures, and facing a myriad of other decisions. Along with that, I just hired a landscape design/build company and a pool contractor. More on that later. Hint, we're installing a "natural" chemical-free pool. I shared a couple of inspiration photos on my Instagram feed.

Before I go, I want to share a "Fabulous Farmers Spotlight" with you. Now that Fall is in the air, it's a perfect time to think about all of the holiday entertaining that will soon be upon us. As you know from my last post, "I Found My Thrills on Blackberry Hill," I have embraced a healthier diet and lifestyle. With that in mind, I'm always thrilled to find healthy substitutes for those old, favorite dessert recipes. Today, I'm shining the light on:


  • 1/2 cup butter, ghee or coconut oil, melted.

  • 1/3 cup grade B maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 cups almond flour

  • 1 tablespoon Great Lakes gelatin (the red or orange can) OR 1 tbsp ground flax

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the butter, maple syrup and vanilla and set aside.

In a food processor or large bowl, combine the almond flour, gelatin, baking soda and salt. If using a food processor, blend for 30-60 seconds until the mixture starts sticking together slightly. Blend or mix in the butter mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips. At this point I highly suggest to refrigerate the dough until it is completely cooled. Depending on the fat used, the batter may stay really "greasy", but it's ok, the cookies don't come out greasy :) The refrigeration should help any spreading issues some of you have had in the past.

Place the dough by rounded spoonfuls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until edges are just golden brown. Let cool for about 10 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing or they may fall apart (but still taste amazing!).

My suggestions:

I've tried these a few different ways and here is what I found:

1. I convection bake them at 350 degrees for 9 minutes.

2. I've tried both butter and ghee, and they turn out great either way, but with different flavors.

3. I use ground flax instead of the gelatin.

4. I use sea salt.

5. I hand mix the dough and refrigerate it for at least 45 minutes before baking.

The first time I made these for my husband, he said he would never need to eat another "real" chocolate chip cookie again!

If you try them, let me know what you think. I love the idea of eating a healthier dessert and enjoying them just as much!

See you soon!

Sandy Sheldon

I'd love to share something from you in a future "Fabulous Farmers Spotlight". To find out how to contribute, click HERE.

#homerenovation #BeforeDuringPhotos #HomeRenovationIdea #InteriorDesign #FabulousFarmersSpotlight #MasterSuite #KitchenDesign #DreamHome #PowderRoom #WineCountryRenovation #ColonialHomeRenovation #MrsColonial #FoyerDesign #HiddenDoor #naturalpool #chemicalfreepool #healthydiet #Glutenfreechocolatechipcookies

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



@rockhavenfarm_           INSTAGRAM                 #RHFreno

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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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