New Year, New Roads

Maybe someday, I will be able to look back on the years 2014 & 2015 and point out the ways the dreams in our hearts were becoming realities…but for now, the current state of life at the Smith’s is still a bit foggy, at times bordering on a palpable state of disorientation. Today though, in the midst of the current “on-the-road-to-reality” process our dreams are traveling, the sweet, gentle whisper of my heavenly Father captured my heart…

….This post by “The Nester” stopped me in my tracks…our dreams look very similar right now…coming true…but still in the ugly, gonna-look-worse-before-it-looks-better phase! I can so relate to her fickle eyes that immediately see the “to-do” list…and dream of what it will look like…one day…for example…our shed out back will look just like this…

Someday in the future:


Currently: Can’t you just see it??  I knew you could!!007

When we started down this renovation “dream”, we never could have forseen the curves, dips and gravel patches along this road. As it turned out, those obstacles were quite manageable compared to the complete detour of the last two years. We have experienced some personal setbacks in one business as well as crazy explosion in another. We have attempted to “roll with it”…with some days going much better than others…that’s the things about dreams…even the exciting is overwhelming when it is not what you had planned in your perfect little world!

IMG_1204  A gorgeous interior design studio in our gymnasium…nope…didn’t see that coming…


Helping clients design and build their dream homes…you’re kidding, right??

As the Smith Family begins to wrap our minds and hearts around this “new” road…we eagerly anticipate this next year…which we know will have its own share of bumps and rabbit trails!  But one thing is for sure…we are committed to “going big” (*) on the things that matter most to us!  And being faithful in the 8ft section of “pool” (**) we have been assigned!  To God be the Glory!

(*-Must read, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less)

(**-Second must read,  Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living is a Fast-Moving World)





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Guest Suite Bathroom

NOTE:  I have been a failure at keeping this blog updated!!  I have been very busy with my interior design business…most recently my business partner and I have been re-purposing the gymnasium of our home into a design studio and showroom!  I know, I know…if I had a dollar for every person that has asked incredulously, “Why in the world are you doing that?” I would be able to fund the entire project!!  Let me just say…it was a huge decision, and boiled down to the reality that not many people have the chance to take a unique, vintage space and make it into something so amazing!!  for more details take a look here, here and here!

When your home is an historic high school there are some very unique “rooms”…for example a typing classroom…or the teacher’s lounge…not to mention the men’s and women’s locker rooms, complete with trough urinals and gang showers!!

And when portions of said space are being converted into a design studio/showroom there is bound to be some “re-working” of the floorplan!  When we decided to pursue this major remodel one of our goals was to create as much separation between the Smith “home” and the showroom as possible.

Our lower level houses a guest suite that utilized the huge “men’s locker room” (we had removed the trough urinal…but left the gang shower!).  This room was large enough to divide into two spaces…like so…

Dark line down center is "new" wall

Dark line down center is “new” wall

We now have access to a private AsterHouse bathroom (more about that to come!) and a completely separate Smith family bathroom.  So in addition to planning the AHD bathroom, I had got to plan a new bathroom for my family!  So here was my inspiration for the design plan…


Here are the design boards…

bath 2

bath 1


I love the vintage vibe of the subway tile with very minimal, dark grout.  The pops of vintage brass are fabulous and I must have rich textures in a very light and airy setting!!  The aged “cement” floor tile is stunning…pre-aged, so it looks like it could have been here for a long time already!!  And who doesn’t need some green!  AHHH!!  This is one guest suite bathroom that I might have to sneak down to from time to time!!


So far the wall is in…and the shower is done…well, at least the subway tile and shower system.  The custom vanity has been designed and is almost ready to install….standby for updates!!


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A Little Press!

Our local area magazine called this summer and requested an interview and photo shoot!  That was a great excuse for me to finish a few projects that had been stalled and on the back burner for awhile…here is the layout…FUN STUFF!!







page 4

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Exterior Updates

One thing always seems to lead to another….in my case, this project that we lovingly call “our home” hurdled me down a path that has been a huge surprise…I am now one half of an interior design business!!  AsterHouse Design, LLC was born out of my great love for great design and my seeming non-stop obsession with all things “home”!!  Along with my dear friend, Amanda, we have embarked on a journey that incorporates our love of space-planning, renovations and much more!!  (You can check it out here…  Coincidentally, or not, my last post on this blog dates back to, oh, around the time my business took off!!!  hmmmmm…..

So, although the blog has been silent, the project has continued on…

Just in case you need a quick reminder of where this all began….

What we industrial...not even remotely residential...forget "home-y"

What we bought….total industrial…not even remotely residential…forget “home-y”


Added more leaks!!  Salvaged doors add to the charm...

Added roof…no more leaks!! Salvaged doors add to the charm…

Score!!  Vintage lanterns that are perfect in scale for our entry!!

Score!! Vintage lanterns that are perfect in scale for our entry!!

New entry and fully functioning lock and handle!  It's the little things!!

New entry door…weather-tight and fully functioning lock and handle! It’s the little things!!

I will not pretend to promise that you will now and forever be getting regular posts at this site…I will not even pretend to promise I will post once a year…maybe twice…who knows, I may be on a roll!!


March 22, 2013 · 3:18 am

Summer project #1…

We have had people tell us we are “taking the whole homeschooling thing a little to literally!!”  And we just laugh!!  I guess we kinda are…but it works for us!!

This summer, one of the projects at the top of my list is to work on the school room…this room has not been touched since we move in almost 2 1/2 years ago…wow!!  Time flies!!  Oh sure I have brought in more stuff educational resources…I have swapped out tables…three times…in an effort to find just the right thing for our learning sessions…but I haven’t really worked it over!  And it is time…

So, today, I dove in head first…and it about did me in…I had great visions of a space that fosters creativity and is organized and easy to keep clean…and then I remembered that I have three children that use this space!!  Haha!!

Somewhere in the first few minutes of pulling everything off the shelves and out of cabinets, I began to greatly regret my decision to begin this project right now!!  But with a little encouragement from my hubby, we carried on and pressed through the piles of papers and stacks of books and made progress…and I can see it will be so worth it!!

When we first looked at the SchoolHouse, I was so excited about the little room that sits off of the kitchen.  I knew it would be the perfect location for  our classroom…easy access to the sink for science experiments…close to lunch prep…and easy to begin prepping supper while the kids finish math problems…and I was so right!  I love our schoolroom…

I love inspiring spaces…and I so want this space to inspire my children to learn and create and research and THINK!!  I want this space to be beautiful…especially to my children…we will spend many hours in this room…and I want it to be peaceful and happy!!  I am excited to bring it to life over the next few weeks…I’ll keep you posted!!



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So, late this evening, I was clearing off my desk..(.something I have to do quite frequently as I am a serious “pile-er”.  Very organized piles…ok, not always, but mostly…just lotsa piles.)  And I came across this floorplan of our SchoolHouse!!  My husband had this drawn when we first began renovation so I could draw in walls and erase and come up with a final plan. 

Now, here is the deal, I LOVE space planning…nothing like taking a room or home and making it functionally better as well as asthetically better!!  And this was like throwing me into a proverbial candy store!!  Over the years, as Jeff and I had discussed what our future home layout could/would/should be, and we had come up with some fairly certain thoughts.

1. we knew we wanted two living spaces…check

2.  we wanted an open floorplan…check

3.  we wanted tall ceilings…double check

4.  I really wanted my schoolroom/office to be right off of the kitchen…check

5.  I hoped for a large shower…check

6.  wood floors….check

7. big fireplace…check

8. did I mention, I really wanted a large shower??….

9. a large laundry room/closet…limits trips back and forth to small children’s closets!!…check

Many people have asked us how in the world we came into this space and saw past the “now” and could visulize the “gonna-be”…and I guess, I just have to say that God in His great wisdom put those skills into Jeff and I so this project could come to be!!  We both saw it and each day as we eeeek closer to the “finish-line” the vision is becoming a reality!!

When Jeff brought me to this building for the first time, I was so surprised at what we saw…the floorplan was not anything I had envisioned…I was thinking a school with a long hallway and several small classrooms off of it.  So, when I really looked the space over, our wishlist began to come to life…and then as I drew lines and erased and moved and erased…slowly, the floorplan as you see above took shape.  And we couldn’t be happier!!


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A kitchen is an amazing undertaking….layer upon layer…First off plumbing, and then wiring…cabinetry and then more plumbing…a little more wiring then more cabinetry…then a pause as you wait for the countertops…then more plumbing and, you guessed it, a little more wiring…then backsplash…and finally the last of the cabintry.  Whew!!  But just like when the layers of a great cake come together and make something beautiful…the last few months of this kitchen “model” have come together and made a kitchen that is even better than I ever imagined!!  I walk into my kitchen and can’t hardly believe it is really mine!!

The design of this kitchen was very straight forward.  I had been collecting pictures of kitchens that I liked for years!!  And with a very rare exception, every single picture had white cabinetry.  And a very simple door frame (more often than not “Shaker” style).  So I was able to choose the cabinetry very quickly and confidently!!  The other big ticket, style-defining item in a kitchen is the countertop choice…this was almost as easy…I have always loved white and gray marble…it is timeless and evokes a feeling of history…and we were given several slabs of just such marble by my generous father-in-law!!  Knowing that marble is a little higher maintenance, we opted for a totally different look on the island.  We were going for durable and slightly industrial…stainless steel  fit the bill!!  And given that Jeff could purchase the material at cost and his brother could oversee the fabrication…it was a very cost effective option for an island that ended up being right at 12 feet long!! 

The backsplash is a gorgeous black slate…it has been on that wall for almost 100 years.  It was the original green chalkboard that we took off the wall turned around to show the black side and had cut into 7 x 13 1/2 rectangular “tiles” and remounted as backsplash!  I love the black and I love the fact that it was original to the building!!

The pendants over the island were a garage sale find…seriously!!  My mother found them and brought them to us…and they are perfect!!   Just the perfect finishing touch!!

So what began as a 12ft x 24ft open space… 

has quickly become the heart of our (School)Home!!


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Kitchen Model…

Since we have never “modeled” our kitchen, it seems odd to say we are re-modeling…I’m just saying…

From the get-go our “upstairs kitchen” was high priority.  However, we ultimately decided to finish our basement kitchen first…several reason led us to this decision…first, it could be finished to a very usable point in a very short amount of time and with a fairly small budget.  Secondly, we wanted a space that could be useful for entertaining in the “entertainment” level of the house and along with that could be used by those visiting in the guest suite.  Also, we knew that when the time came to finish the upstairs kitchen, it would be amazingly helpful to have a full functioning kitchen already set up!!  And all of those reasons have held true…we did hope to get to the upstairs kitchen last year, but instead put a humongo roof over our heads and the kitchen budget was more than shot!!  The basement kitchen has been great…easy to use, loads of space, freezing in the winter, two dishwashers, two flights of stairs from our upstairs living space and almost like cooking out doors thanks to the wall of windows…love those windows!!  A few negatives, but overall a huge blessing!! 

Having said that…..I AM SO EXCITED TO HAVE MY KITCHEN UPSTAIRS!!!!!  Last week while the contractor was finishing trim and the painter was painting trim I decided to remove the children from the situation and take them to a quiet place so we could get our schoolwork done uninterrupted…as I stood at my Mom’s stove and the kids sat beside me at her kitchen island I suddenly realized I would love having this setup in my own home!!   

The room that will be our kitchen was once the typing classroom…so, I am pondering a way to hint at that history without propping a typewriter next to the sink!!  🙂

 This room sits directly off the living room.(We opened the wall between the two rooms seen on the left side of this picture…)  This view into the kitchen is from the hearth room.

I knew right away that I wanted to make this the kitchen because the doorway on the right side of this photo leads to the schoolroom!!  Unfortunately the chalkboard had to come down, but the tradeoff is so worth it!!

As with any big project there is a ton going on…and nothing going on…we hurry, hurry to finalize plans…then wait and wait…So, here is our current status…cabinets ordered…check…electrical done and waiting for cabinets to be installed…check…plumber coming on Tuesday…double oven, cooktop, sink, dishwasher…check…fridge and microwave ordered…check…cabinet pulls ordered…check…sink faucets ordered…check…countertops chosen and awaiting cabinet installation…check!!

Industirial lighting has been removed and recessed lights installed…we left room for three gorgeous vintage fixtures to hang over the island (watch for future post!!).  Walls painted, trim installed and painted, floors refinished, and holes…lotsa holes!!!!  With wires everywhere (don’t worry…they aren’t “live” yet!!)

and more holes…beautiful holes!!  Holes=progress on my kitchen model!!

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Decorator extraordinaire (sp?)

Eryn will probably regret showing me how to access the blog…and to edit. Sorry honey. You know me though, your social bug who likes to talk. Well, this post is more about you, and how much I love your decorating.

So, to all our readers, hear is a picture worth a thousand words. This wall is in Addie Mae’s room and is a beautiful work of art. Home decor art. And my wife is the all-time champ of beautiful home decor art, with paint. These stripes run along the 14′ wall length and from follor to ceiling (ceiling height is 11′ 8″). I love this wall. And more importantly, Addie Mae love’s this wall. And that leads me to the next comment about Eryn. She is very loving toward the desires of our children. If I recall correctly, Addie requested these stripes and Eryn went to all the work to give her something special. Thanks Eryn for being such a loving mommy!

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In the beginning…

Jeff here. I don’t have the blogging skill that my awesome wife does, but I have been dying to get you some original pics that we found months ago. I am still trying to find pictures of the second major renovation that it underwent in the 30’s but no luck so far. As you look at the pics, you will probably have the same thought I did…”there is no way that is the same building!” Well, believe it!

 So, in the beginning Keats built a school. It was not just any ordinary school. It was a very nice three story brick schoolhouse that served the “Wildcat” area.

In the 30’s, 1937 to be exact, and under WPA, the school was completely rebuilt. The third story was removed (where the old gymnasium resided) and the entire structure was redesigned. To be completely honest, I wish they had left it alone. It was so beautiful!

Well, that’s it for now! I hope to add an editorial on its history sometime soon! Thanks for visiting the The Old Schoolhouse Blog!


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