In 2015, we put our farmhouse on 15 acres up for sale and bought and moved into a house in town on 3 acres.  People admittedly thought we were crazy.  Why would you move your boys onto LESS land?  For us it was a move to save our sanity and as a family, I think it has brought us even closer together.  I love my home in my little small town.

Guess who is moving to town? Yes, us! And Liberty! And Chickens!

Timehop is an app that if you do not have, you need to get.  I’ll wait while you download it a moment (iphone or google).  I and the boys check it every day.  Because it was two years ago the end of April that we bought our new to us house, a lot of my timehop photos have been of our work when moving into our new home recently.  It occurred to me that I never did post any photos of the before and after of our home.



Also, while watching Small Town on HGTV the other night (have you watched this?  I am in love with it!), I was thinking what our budget for this renovation was.  I am going to guess that including the new water heater we had to purchase and the new oven I was ecstatic to purchase (Cooking with (gas) fire now, baby!), I think we spent maybe close to 5,000.  But I always try to round up so I am going to say 6,000.  But honestly, people, it was very very very little.  That includes all curtains, paint, furniture, outlets, etc.

Here is a very brief rundown of what we did to make this old house our new home.

Did I mention that there was a hot tub in our living room?  Yah, I’ll tell you about that too.

When we bought our home in 2015, it had been vacant for two years.  The couple who had built the house and made it their home had moved into a condo and the house was sold at auction.  The couple who purchased the home at auction used the outbuildings to store vehicles but did nothing at all to the house.  One of the best gifts was meeting the Vandermolen’s who had raised their family here.  And one of the best things is slowly making this the Dykstra home.

One of the first things that struck me and made me fall in love with this house was the living room.  The realtor, who was not at all impressed with the eight children running through the house (because why would you ever look at a possible new home without friends to help you?) showed us the living room and I looked around and said, “No, no.  This is a dining room.”

Jake had thought I had lost my ever loving mind.

And when I suggested we PAINT the ceiling turquoise, oh my goodness gracious.

This room is plaster.  The carpet was horrible (but clean!).  The wallpaper took FOREVER and child labor paid in cookies to remove.  This room gave me the biggest headache.  But in the morning when the boys were at school and I was here waiting for work to begin I would sink onto the one couch cushion I had for a seat, open my Bible and thank God for this room.  This was also when I discovered Shauna Niequist and was reading Savor.  That my dining room makes me think of Shauna Niequist is so fitting.

Timehop sometimes has ads.  Thus this weirdo Bill Nye thing on this photo.  This is when the potential of the room was finally agreed upon because under this carpet was the most beautiful hardwood floor that we did nothing to.  We literally just rolled up the carpet.  Well, and spent hours upon hours pulling staples out of the floor.  It could have used a great sanding down but that would have been $800 more to spend and we passed since the floors were seriously so lovely.

My boys, knowing my love of this room and wanting heirloom things for it, MADE this furniture.  I have gone in detail of Andrew and his cabinet (you can read all about it here, have a kleenex ready) and I bragged on them both in a recent post.

Before we bought this house we lost it in the dead cold of winter to a tortilla company who wanted to use it for offices and the barns for production (can’t make that story up), my friend Christine told me God had a bigger plan.  And when the house came back on the market, she prayed that we would have it by Easter, my favorite holiday.  And we did.  This year we sat around the table for Easter and I was overwhelmed again what two years has brought…not just in my life but in my family’s lives.  As we sat at the table, I called one of the the boys sitting at the kids table to take a photo.  Everyone just wanted to eat but I love these photos.

The dining room.  How I love it. And this song we discovered this year?  To. The. Heart.

So to recap this room:  We scraped so much wall paper.  So.  Much.  Wallpaper.  We painted the walls yellow and the ceilings turquoise.  I wanted the original white molding to stand out.  We rolled up the carpet and gave the floors a good scrubbing and called it finished.  Even the curtains are the same.

I wish we had added a ceiling light to this house.  It is on the north side and very dark.  Also, had we had the extra money, I totally would have refinished those floors just because once you have furniture in it is so difficult to motivate yourself to move it out.

So what WAS the dining room in this house?

This room off the kitchen.

And as you can see, when we were in process of remodeling it was our dining room sort of.  I was weirdo crazy about what I would let in the house.  I was afraid if we moved in any furniture we wouldn’t get it done and so we had only this picnic table in the house and a couch someone gave us was in the garage.  That.  Was.  It.  All the time the boys were moving things over, but it was all sorts of things to go in the pole barn and work shop.

This room required some drywall work and when we rolled up the carpet we found the same beautiful wood floors…but with pieces missing.  We did have this floor professionally sanded and the missing pieces replaced.  It cost us just shy $900 and worth every penny.

Please note my picnic table.

This was one of the first rooms we moved furniture into.  We were so desperate for a room to feel like home.  We didn’t have cable at the farmhouse and when we moved here we did get cable.  That was when I was introduced to a show called Fixer Upper.  And I was hooked.  I have even posted about how we were taking notes from the show!  I still think about this episode a lot and wonder how we could do some of the things here that the Gaines did there.

This room took a year to pull together.  It just didn’t feel right.  On the first Easter celebrated here, my mom and sister in law helped me move furniture around a bit but it was this summer when it finally clicked and I even put things on the walls.  We had spent so many hours peeling off the wallpaper and painting it that I just couldn’t bring myself to hang anything at all on the wall.

This room is the heart of our home now.

Here we fixed the drywall, took down layers of wallpaper, scrubbed the walls and painted them.  We had the floors redone because once this was two bedrooms and where the rooms had been there was no wood flooring.  Looking at our popcorn ceiling, you can see the outline of the rooms.

I didn’t even clean this up (well, I did shove some dirty laundry out of the way).  This is how we live.  Liberty sleeps all day in the corner of the couch we picked up for free on the side of the road.  The coffee table Andrew built his freshman year in high school.  The corner cabinet was free from someone moving, it had been in their wood shop.  The TV stand was in our basement when we moved into the farmhouse all those years ago.  The feed sacks came from my dad.  The signs on the wall came from CBD. The farming sign was a gift to Jake who wondered if he was letting go of his farming roots moving to town…except we have an acre sized garden he plows with his dad’s old tractor so I think he is okay in the farming department.  It is Well was a song that got me through the past year or so.

We have big plans for this room that we all agree on (mostly) but don’t want to do either because WE LOVE THIS ROOM.

We want to extend the kitchen out here, put an island where the couch is.

For such a large house, it has a small kitchen.

I left a kitchen that had one drawer, and very few cupboards.  The plate cupboard at the farmhouse was being held up by a jar of peanuts.  Not even kidding.  Wish I had gotten a photo of it.  Anyone remember the farmhouse kitchen?  I loved that little farmhouse but oh by golly was I happy to see this beauty.  I just knew I had to change everything.

The cupboards are built so well I wouldn’t have wanted to change them.  But this is a lot of white.  I am not a fan of white (Sorry, Jo!  You have shown me it can be pretty, I will admit.)

I really really wanted a photo of the kitchen clean so I didn’t have to clean it, but alas, it’s not.  Mostly my kitchen looks like this…


Hooray!!! I have the day off tomorrow!!! Whatever will I do?!?!?! 😂🎄

A post shared by Denise Dykstra (@life4boys) on

But for you, dear reader, I did attempt to clean it.

The bold colors I LOVE.  I have not grown weary of them.  Throughout the house we continued to use the same two shades of turquoise and the same shade of yellow.  (Andrew (S1) said our house looked very retro.  Eli (S3) and Abe (S4) said it felt happy.  Which was EXACTLY what I wanted to hear!)

The pale yellow is one that I do have to wash down every day.  But if you do not have boys that play in dirt or work in grease, that shouldn’t effect you.  I don’t mind wiping them down.  At least you all know my cupboards are usually clean!  The red I love.  It hides so much!  I do see it is beginning to chip. I will totally be repainting it the same color.


The kitchen is going to need some loving.  Which is the next remodel we will be working on doing.  But overall, love.  All we did to this room is paint it.  And put on a new faucet this spring when ours suddenly EXPLODED off the sink.  Yes, that can happen.  And as we were in dire straits, we just took a cheap one we knew would fit.

Our big splurges were the dishwasher that has had serious issues and the love of my kitchen, the oven.


This room is also on the north side of the house so it is often very dark.  One light bulb lights up the room and one more is above the sink.  Andrew (S1) made this lamp for me for over my oven.  Just brought it in for me one afternoon.  Asked if I liked it.  I nearly swooned.

But turn around in the dark kitchen and you see this….our back yard.  I thought about showing you when it was all cleaned up but this is typical us and I love that I caught a random Sunday afternoon.  The boys had just cut a dead limb out of a tree and it actually will work awesome for us because it gives us more sunlight on our clothes line.


So you may have noticed we don’t have much for a living room….

There are two basements, sort of, in this house.  One is really truly the basement.  It has a WALK IN PANTRY and the washer and dryer.  It also has a funky room we don’t know what to do with that is the collect all storage type room.  But it also has a fire placed living room.  We have established the fact that I LOVE my fireplace.

But once it was this room…

Why yes, yes, that IS a hot tub in the living room.  THE LIVING ROOM.

It was a BIG hot tub too.  Very nice in fact.

It was an awesome place to eat dinner, to play hide and seek with, to hang out and talk with friends…it was also a GREAT conversation piece.  Lots of conversations like this…

“So, I heard you bought the Vandermolen house.”

“Yes, yes we did.”

“Is the hot tub still by the fireplace?”

“Yes, yes it is.”

Get this, the owner actually took out the bricks to the wall, NUMBERED THEM, jacked the house all up, got the hot tub in there and replaced the wall by those numbered bricks.  He suggested we do that to remove the hot tub (but are we sure we really wanted to?)

We had another idea.

Again, weird time hop thingy but it did require caffein to get this out.

This took the effort of S1’s friends, our new neighbors, strangers….and all of us.  It.  Was. Not.  Fun.  And it was so nasty icky awful.

We then painted the walls (and in all honesty, it took me forever to get it done because oh my goodness I was tired at this time) and Jake only this winter got some trim up.  I love this room at Christmas the most.

Again, I didn’t even have a room photo of this room and I had to clean it quick for a picture because lets be honest, watching movies late at night on rainy weekends makes us all slobs.

For this room we painted and had to put in a new piece of carpet where the hot tub was.  We couldn’t match the carpet so we just went with what we liked… camouflage. And it oddly works.




All the furniture we had or was given to us recently.  Because if you move into a new house, people love to give you furniture they didn’t want anymore but also didn’t want to go through the hassle of getting rid of.  The only thing we purchased was the round coffee table that we got at a second hand store for $10.  We play so many card games on that little table in the winter!

The poles are a pain.  But we don’t know what to do since they are holding up the house. Kind of a key thing.  And I hate these lights so I just use a bunch of lamps instead.  It is so cozy here in the winter and cool in the summer.  Great to have a place to lounge out and watch a movie.  Also this is the room where sleepovers for the boys happen.  The boys can be having a fun time down here and Jake and I can be upstairs and (hardly) even hear them.

I did purchase curtains for this room.  It is the only room I bought curtains for.  I love a wide open window and wondered how I would do that when living in town.  Then I noticed ALL of our neighbors had their curtains or blinds drawn so I said, Why not leave them open?  I will need to find curtains for the south side of the house though because it’s just too bright in the summer and we need them then.  If you see curtains on windows, they were here.  We just moved the curtains around to make them work.

The living room also has a little bathroom.  The shower began to fall apart when we moved in and so my thoughts of this being the boy bathroom in the boy den began to fade.  Also, the boys felt this room felt scary and creepy for a long time.  We didn’t have a downstairs at the farmhouse.


Then one day when I was tired of being kicked out of the main floor bathroom, I brought my make up downstairs and it cracks me up that this boy bathroom (I even got them a camouflage toilet seat!) is now my make up bathroom.  And I love this little place even if it does have carpet on the walls.  (Total side note: this house had carpet everywhere INCLUDING INSIDE THE CUPBOARDS.  If there wasn’t carpet in a cupboard, there was wallpaper.  Not. Even. Joking.  EVERY cupboard.) I’d like to redo the cupboard pulls and I would never lay out a bathroom like this but for me it works great.

Our main floor bathroom was so dark.  So.  Very. Dark.  The wallpaper was everywhere.  The ceiling was dark green.  But the tile?  I love the tile!  Same yellow in here as is on our cupboards.


We left one bathroom for THREE.  Not so fun to clean but OH THE GAME CHANGER three bathrooms are!

Our bedroom I thought would never get done.  Ever.  The walls had paneling glued onto them and it was a bugger to get off.  It was hours of sanding.  My husband was obviously thrilled by this.

I went with a color I had never used before for our room and what was hilarious to me is that it was THE SAME COLOR we found under the paneling.  This house was so meant to be our home!

Our bedroom at the farmhouse was very small so we are used to a small room.  This one is tight with the dressers but it works for us.  My parents just got me the full length mirror which fit so well with the built in book case.  The book case is actually a window.  The house was a ranch style house that they added a two story addition on when their family began growing.  The addition holds our living room and the three upstairs bedrooms the boys have as well as their bathroom.  Anyway, instead of filling in where the window had been on this side of the house, they built a book shelf.



Recently my husband asked me why there were no photos on these walls.  Nothing.  I just haven’t gotten there yet.  I don’t know what to add…just like I haven’t figured out my fireplace mantel or the walls in the dining room.  But that’s the fun!  You just keep working on it!

The boys requested no photos being taken of their rooms.  We let them paint their own rooms.  It was daring and may not have been the brightest idea but it sure made them love them.  And while the boys did request no photos of their rooms, I am allowed to show you them in the beginning.  Hooray!

Eli (S3) and Abe (S4) got the biggest room in the house…to share.  We very literally took a measuring tape out and divided the room exactly in half.  They each got to decorate their side of the room how they wanted.  Eli chose the color blue he loves, Abe went all Michigan State University.  The color we got him was THE MSU green, he said he needed it since he will be playing football with them one day.





Isaac (S2) saw a paint job on pinterest (My oldest three boys and I were always on pinterest when we found out we were moving) and he liked how gray and orange (his all time favorite color) went together.  So that’s what he decided to do.  The room turned out so much like the actual pinterest pin – so NOT a pinterest fail!  There was paneling in this room and he kept it keep a wood feel to the room.



Andrew (S1) moved into his new shop before he ever even began his bedroom.  But I wouldn’t let him move his bed in until his room was painted so he finally worked on it.  It is a very grown up room for my boy who is about to be a man.



There is a big bathroom upstairs that didn’t have a shower and just this fall Jake got the shower in.  That is SO NICE.  But for whatever reason, it is not at all unusual for the the boys to wait for the main floor bathroom to get free so they can use that even though there are two empty bathrooms.  All your life living with one toilet is apparently requires quite the mind change when you get gifted with more.


The lights by the mirror were so cool!  But in the remodel they were gotten rid of.  It’s hard to see but the wall paper in this bathroom is rainbows.  Rainbows and hearts!  The boys were happy to see it go.  Just to be funny, I left all the carpet in the cupboards.  Because why not?

Notice the green thing hanging off the tub?  It made the tub a whirlpool tub.  We got rid of that too but it sure was a conversation starter!

The Deans Ice Cream bucket is a collection of I don’t know and I don’t want to know.  At times it has held fish or cray fish or turtles.  This bathroom I don’t visit, unless to give it a good cleaning that I wish the boys were doing instead.

The last room to show you is the front room.  Or the mud room.  Vandermolen’s called it the breezeway.  I don’t know what to call it.  They had a wood stove in here once upon a time and it was the hang out place for when their kids friends would come over.  But this house doesn’t have any closets for brooms, mops, vacuums or coats and boots and this room is our walk in to the house room.  Not our homes front door but the door we use.  I love the look of this room.


The two huge windows in this room either look out on the back yard or the front yard.  It does not heat well at all.  On any given day it is the drop spot where everyone drops shoes, back packs, groceries, etc.

We thought of making it a laundry room and half bath.  We thought of making it a sitting room like Vandermolen’s did.  Jake thought it could make a great bedroom. We use it for a mud room/outdoor toy place/and my writing spot during the good weather months.  In the winter, I move my “office” down in the basement across from the washer and dryer under the stairs.






I mean, how can you not love a desk that overlooks all this????

But it is the south side, one of those windows I mentioned that does need a curtain.

When we first looked at this house I would ask Jake about something or another inside the house and he would say “I don’t remember, did you see how big that pole barn was?

He had wanted a pole barn for forever and this house on three acres in the middle of town had one.  He couldn’t believe his good luck.

Andrew, S1, requested I not take a photo of the inside of his shop because it is such a mess right now with projects but this little barn?  This place is where one can always find our oldest.  And his buddies.  And his brothers.  They are always working on this that and the other thing.  Someone who doesn’t know us very well said “Oh!  You are the house with all the pick up trucks!”  Yes.  That would be us.  In the summer I never know who is staying for dinner so I always make extra.  It makes my mama heart happy.

As those of you who read our blog you know well it took months before we sold the farmhouse.  It was a huge trusting God time. It took over a full year to sell.  We had hoped to sell the farmhouse and own this new home free and clear, that didn’t happen.  When you are writing out $800 a month checks for insurance on an empty house, you pretty much will take any price to make the house go away.  When it finally sold, we cheered.  When we found out what we owed on taxes, we cried.  Because there was a rental house at the farmhouse, taxes were $6,000.

Now that it’s spring, I finally feel like this is home sweet home for good.  The farmhouse is behind us and can be a happy memory now.  We have been here long enough that we can remember what we did last year.  And while we have projects to work on still, we aren’t living with our life in upheaval.  It feels relaxed here in a way that is wonderful and I haven’t taken for granted yet.  It’s fun to take a weekend and decorate the front porch and then take the time to just sit there.


For Mother’s Day, Andrew (S1) built steps off the back deck.  We had been using the old hot tub steps all this time and so it’s all kinds of wonderful to have real steps!  And the afternoon he built them was a fun afternoon, going down in one of my favorite memories file.


This year we are hoping to get the house painted.  I guess insurance companies don’t like flaking paint.  We are attempting to figure out what shade of dark gray to paint it.  Originally we thought of painting it red but then I can’t use my red metal chairs and gray will make any bright color pop so that’s the plan.  Jake works on scraping it after work and it is a long long long tedious job and I am thankful for the time he has put into this big project.

It will be nice to not have a chipped/scraped paint house in all the photos soon!


Moving into town was the best move for us.  I am sure that we are hard to live next to at times.  I mean, you all know we didn’t have have neighbors for awhile and we were pretty sure we scared them all away.  We are a lot!  We are six of us and two nephews and teen boys working on trucks until late at night and two cats named Hank and Waylon and one adorable dog name Liberty and six hens.  Phew.  We are a LOT.  We are loud and messy and did I mention loud?  We laugh loud, we call loud that it’s time to come for dinner, we plow up fields with loud tractors and race mini bikes and garden tractors.  But introverted loves to be alone at home me also loves walking through town to work or to school or just to go for a walk and talking with neighbors and going to the community breakfasts and being able to say “be there in a second” when someone needs something and stopping in for a tea latte just because I happened to be walking by and someone asked me in.  I don’t kind of like our small town life, I love our small town life.

This has been SUCH A FUN POST to write! Thanks for taking the time to read ALL THE WORDS.  It makes me want to start a new project.  As I worked on it this weekend I…

A. Got a lot cleaned

B. Had fun hearing the boys say “WOW! That sure looks different!”

I tried to be honest with you all and it’s not spotlessly clean because that isn’t our life.  This house isn’t perfect, it has a lot of work to be done, but we love it.  It was a LOT of work and it was exhausting but it was also a LOT of fun.  It was fun to make this old house our new home.

And now I think I will go back to reading my Magnolia Journal (go get it. Get it now) that was damaged in the mail but they are super awesome and sending me a new one so I have that to look forward to.  And eat Shauna Niequist blueberry cobbler.  And just take some time to be thankful all over again for this home of ours.










Share →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *