Day 1: The house that built me

Helloooo everyone and welcome to our shiny new blog!  Forgive the sparse layout right now…it’s a work in progress and I was desperate to get a post up.

I’ve blogged before in a few different places, but a new adventure calls for a new space (and a sassy new title – see below, and the eventual “About” page, for explanation).  If you’re here because you know me and I made you read this, welcome!  If you don’t know me and you’re here because the Internet led you here, also welcome and THANK YOU, GOOGLE.

A little about me, us, and this blog: I’m a twenty-something professional living in the northern Black Hills of South Dakota with my husband and our enormous black lab, Buster (who will feature prominently in most photo sets).  We’ve recently embarked on an exciting new adventure: moving into and renovating the farmhouse I grew up in.  Our new home is Fruitdale, South Dakota: a town that, according to the sign that has been there as long as I can remember, has a population of 76 (hence the blog title); according to Wikipedia, that’s wishful thinking and it’s now 64.  I think Fruitdale would be most accurately referred to as an “unincorporated community” (I don’t know the technicalities of that term) or perhaps a “village” – it doesn’t have its own grocery store, gas station, stoplight, or even zip code (because no post office), but it does get to retain its name.


The house sits on 17 acres , and the main portion (there are a couple of additions) is over 100 years old.  My family moved out 11 years ago, and since then it has seen a string of renters with some periods of being uninhabited.  In spite of the understandable wear and tear, its bones are beautiful and its setting is enviable.  (I think my little brother is jealous that we laid claim to the house before he did.)  My goal is to make it into the lovely, breezy country getaway that it deserves to be.


View from the back, including giant cottonwoods and tire swing

So, DAY ONE!  Today (Sunday, actually, but don’t judge) was the first day we were able to go into the house and take stock.  Now, be forewarned, what I am about to say and the photos I am about to show are an honest evaluation of the current state of the house, right now, as a baseline.  Some of the half-finished projects you see were left that way by my family; at the same time, for my own defense and so you don’t worry about my own welfare as a child, I will say that it was more well-kept in my childhood.  Please know that everything I say is free of judgment toward all parties.

As you can see, the siding and roof are in great shape.  Some new trim, a good grass seeding, and some pretty flower beds will be easy fixes.  I’m also envisioning a pretty pergola over the porch, and a porch swing…tons of potential.  The inside entryway (as modeled by Buster), was difficult to take a picture of, but you can see the painted concrete floor.  What you can’t see is that the walls are two completely different types of wood planks.  Both beautiful, but extremely different.  Unlike the finished, painted, tongue-in-groove walls you can see, the walls you can’t see are made of much wider, rough-hewn planks.



Next, you see the “front” (white) and “back” (blue) kitchens – yes, two kitchens!!  My parents remodeled it this way, back in the late 80’s when they bought it.  The front is lots of storage for dishes, and is where we had (and will have) our dining table.  The back is mainly for cooking, and has lots of counter space for canning, etc.  The stove is old, but gas and BIG.  We’ll replace it eventually, but it’ll serve for a while.  The cabinets are solid wood, and are, for the most part, in excellent shape.  The counter is laminate, which has been peeling for years (I have a scar on my arm to prove it, those corners are SHARP), and which I’m very excited to replace with some butcher block!  The floor is linoleum, which (much to my father’s disgruntlement, because “it’s in great shape!”) we plan to replace with tile, and the ceilings are totally popcorned.  The bright blue you see in the back kitchen (“Morning Glory Blue,” according to my mom) is the color that both kitchens were when I last lived there.  The door from the front kitchen opens onto bathroom #1, and the two doors from the back kitchen lead to: 1) the laundry room and bathroom #2, and 2) an unfinished sunroom addition.  If you were standing where I was when I took the first picture, and you turned around, you’d be looking into the living room.



Bathroom #1…


And laundry room/bathroom #2.  To the left of the hot water heater is where the washer and dryer go; those belonged to the renters, so we will get new ones.  As you can see, this bathroom is ITTY BITTY and hard to take pictures of.


Below is the unfinished sunroom.  Lots of potential.  Also a great space, right now, for refinishing cabinets and whatnot.



Going back to the front kitchen and spinning around, you see the lovely living room!!  This room is probably my favorite, because of the big windows, natural light, hardwood floors, and that nice tile stove pad for a wood stove (again, belonged to the renters; we will be moving our own in).



Off the living room to the right are two VERY small bedrooms, which are connected by a doorway.  Picture 1 is from the doorway you see in the living room photo, picture 2 is looking from that room into the adjoining room, and picture 3 is looking into the adjoining room from the living room (phew, sorry, confusing).  As you can see, still beautiful hardwood floors in here, and LOTS of closet space!!  Note the beautiful sunlight streaming in from the south-facing window!  The plan for these rooms is to bust out the wall separating them (demolition is scheduled for Wednesday, 3/8…coming soon!!) and create one stunningly large master bedroom.



On to the upstairs!  Please note the growth chart on this doorway that indicates I topped out in 2008.  It just occurred to me that we must have come back then to visit, since we only lived here until 2005-ish.



Up here is the attic, one full bedroom, and a…sleeping partition?  I guess that’s probably the best term for it.  The stairs come up into a room that is partially partitioned off by a fun little log wall, which has shelves on the other side.  Behind that wall is the space you see with the red wall – it slopes pretty drastically.  The full bedroom has pine flooring and two pine tongue-in-groove walls.  No pictures of the attic, because it’s unfinished and dusty and has always been terrifying (tbh I didn’t even look in there today), but I’m envisioning a cool kid’s room or Pinterest-esque den.  (The roof/ceiling slopes even more drastically in there, so an adult can only stand up straight in the middle of the room.)



Last but certainly not least, outside.  The best, BEST thing about this old house is the land it sits on.  Please forgive our South Dakota winter for the excessive brown-ness.



Below, you can see the back yard, complete with homemade swing set/tree fort/zipline (not visible), tire swing, and giant old cottonwoods (which are STUNNING in the summer and fall).  There are also grape vines, that tangled clump of vine/bushes behind the fort.  I think they’re more along the lines of jelly grapes than wine grapes, but we’ll have some fun with those!  Behind that is the big, BIG field that currently has alfalfa/hay growing in it.  Somebody else is taking care of that for us.



Looking south from the house (basically, if you turned 90º to the left from the previous photo) is the orchard, garden, and shop.  The garden is that big overgrown patch straight in front of you, with a wood pile in the corner.  A good tilling will clean that right up and unearth the best soil you’ve ever seen.  Prepare for lots of pictures of amazing produce.  In the orchard, to the left of the garden, are apple, pear, cherry, and apricot trees, plus rhubarb bushes and asparagus underneath and between the trees.



Things I didn’t get pictures of: the hedge of lilac bushes twice as tall as me, the honeysuckle bushes that explode fragrant yellow in the spring, the big, east-facing window in the kitchen that spills morning light on the breakfast table, the creek just down the road that Buster already discovered, and the millions of happy memories smiling out at me from every corner.  We are SO EXCITED and can’t wait to share our new adventure with you!



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