Our Farmhouse | Sunroom Makeover

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This makeover has been a long time in the making! It's been nearly 10 months since we first started making changes and I am so excited that it's finally done. Like many other rooms in our home, this space has been revamped from floor to ceiling and entirely done by us (including my brother Dan and father-in-law Jim). Wanna have a look? Come on over!

White Washed Stone Fireplace and Sunroom Makeover


Let's start by checking out what this room looked like before we made changes (click on any image to view larger). It's such a cool space and it's absolutely what sold me on this house. I love the high ceilings, wooden beams and all of that natural light! This side of the house was a mid sixties addition and we even have the blueprints from the original owner! 

White Washed Stone Fireplace using Chalk Paint


All of the walls, floor and ceiling got a fresh coat of paint in addition to white washing the fireplace. The brown stone just wasn't for me and I love the almost Nordic feeling it gives off now. I mixed Rustoleum chalk paint in Aged Gray 50/50 with water and applied with a paint brush. It took just a smidge over two quarts and twelve-ish hours to complete this huge fireplace. 

The ceiling had some patching and water damage, so that needed a complete paint job. Thanks to my 6'7" tall brother, I was able to pass over the job. Phew. He also took care of the floors (using garage floor paint) while we were out of town. 

On the walls is my go to white - Chantilly Lace from Benjamin Moore. It's a warmer white which helps keeps things from feeling too sterile.

Black and White Sunroom Plants Jungalow Style

Iron Work

Railings between the first floor and sunken living room were a necessity for safety but stylistically, the midcentury scrolls were not really our style. We opted to simplify the design from a double curved shape to a horizontal run and matching stair rails. Josh of Clutch Fabrication did the custom design and installation and if you have the chance to work with him, I can't recommend him enough. The matte finish rails really set the tone of both the dining room and sunroom and give the space a really modern farmhouse vibe.

Farmhouse MCM hybrid custom iron railing
Kids Play Area CLEAN
Sunroom Railings MCM Farmhouse White Washed Fireplace


The south wall originally had what I can best describe as  window box style wooden feature with seventeen (17!!) exposed bulbs creating an uplighting effect over the two sliding doors (see before photo above).  There is only one electrical point, so Adam wired it with conduit and then routed the back of 3x1" boards we used around the entire room (we kept the paneling and needed the horizontal railing to conceal the seams). Adam then installed these lights, which came in at under $30 a piece, which I think is a great deal for such a handsome light. 

New Lighting


This built in bookshelf and shelves were originally painted the same color as the walls but I decided to use a contrast color on the back boards. When the stone was it's original color I used a really pretty pale green but the whitewash needed something different so I chose Peppercorn in a matte finish from Sherwin Williams. The actual wood from the shelves was reclaimed from the old stair treads leading down to the living room from the upper level. Adam cut them to length and sanded them to the smooooothest finish and I coated them with a mixture of beeswax and mineral oil. 


As far as the shelf decor goes, everything is second hand or pulled from another room in the house. I like to regularly move accessories around from room to room! Here are similar baskets (I use them all over my home!)

Fireplace and Bookcase


When we moved in I bought the black leather couch (with a matching ottoman currently in another room) for $100 off Craigslist. The large black leather chair next to it is from Article and it's awesome! I will buy a couch from them when I'm ready to upgrade this one or for another room. Between the two of those, there's a side table I picked up second hand and made over with primer, paint and some new knobs.

Sunroom Makeover

Behind those pieces is a vintage radio I had in my old house. It's a great piece for interest and character and perfect for hiding cords and gadgets (the front opens up to reveal an old record player that doesn't work)

On the opposite side of the room is a kids sized table my dad built along with some modern style chairs. 

Vintage Radio and Plants


On the floor are two sizes of the same indoor/outdoor rug from Ballard. This pattern hides all the dirt which is great for kids! I layered a smaller rug on top of the big one in front of the fireplace which was from Hobby Lobby. 

The pillows on the couch are a mix of homemade, second hand (sort of!) and bought new (back in 2017!) From left to right - a pillow I made myself, one from Loloi by Joanna Gaines (named Joslin if you're searching!). The front owl pillow is another one I made using a vintage embroidery I found out thrifting that I removed from a frame and used as the front fabric. 

MCM farmhouse hybrid


Because of the abundance of light we have a lot of plants in this room! On the fireplace is a fiddleleaf fig, in the bookshelf and on the radio are pothos plants. Plus we have that groovy 1960s built in planter and the big ledge for our huge monstera! 

That's our sunroom makeover! Wanna hire me for your next home project? I'm available! You can see all of our farmhouse updates here!

Notes from the Field | 012

 One of the dozen plus red sunflowers that all grow on the same plant! I'd never seen so many flower heads on the same stalk until this year! 

One of the dozen plus red sunflowers that all grow on the same plant! I'd never seen so many flower heads on the same stalk until this year! 

Hello! Although I generally dislike blog posts that start by saying, "sorry! I've been busy!" that's exactly how I'm starting this one. I have been busy! All good things!

Last weekend my kids took a field trip to Nana and Paw's house so Adam and I had 48 hours to get work done around the house. I chose to finally complete a big task in my sunken living room and when I'm able to wrap up some loose ends this week I can happily stamp DONE onto that 8 month long project. And by eight months I mean that we started it last year but have been just living with it's completion in bits and pieces. I have some paint I need to touch up and a door to re-trim and then it's time for photos, baby! Even though it's taken a while, it's a huge difference from what it looked like when we moved in. If you haven't seen my other makeovers, here's a link to all of them!

Another big thing I've been putting both physical and mental energy into is planning out head to toe 18th century ensembles for the whole Quirk family. After going to the Jane Austen Festival a few weeks ago (see my previous post), I've been diving head first into costume research. I'm currently working on my own set of stays (an 18th century corset) and I hope to have my gown finished by the end of the month. The one thing that has me teeter tottering is whether or not to go 100% accurate. It seems like there are tribes who research down to the thread (silk!) and others who just stitch it up in whatever fabric suits their fancy. Part of me thinks GO FOR IT! GO ALL THE WAY! and the other, more rational (and time/economically aware) self says - it's just a costume. Don't get caught up in whether or not your print is a decade too old/young for the dress. At the end of the day, it's going to be fun, we're going to look great and I should ENJOY the process, which pushes me more to the less expensive fabrics and using a sewing machine over hand sewing. I am using a pattern based on a dress from the 1770s, so that's a great place to start. Down the road I can always make something more accurate (like if we journey to Colonial Williamsburg next year!) but for now, I'm going to do the best with what I have!

Lastly, I've put the wheels in motion to apply to the Daughters of the American Revolution. I met with my local chapter's registrar and coincidently, we're 7th cousins once removed! We both feel like I have a pretty strong body of evidence to connect my linage to a Patriot who fought in the Revolutionary War! I didn't even know about this group until I went down the rabbit hole of 3 am genealogy (you know what I mean, right?) and a few people suggested it on instagram, so I'm really excited to meet more ladies locally who are into the same thing. 

So that's about it! I'm still getting chills listening to Hamilton full blast while flipping through my costume history books, doodling 18th century outfit ideas and looking for the next weekend Rev War re-enactment in the Midwest. It's funny to me to remember that when I was a kid I dressed up in pioneer clothes to school, (photos here!) and here I am, planning out how I can do it again with my own family. 



Jane Austen Festival at Locust Grove 2018

 an interpreter uses the natural light to do some last minute stitches at locust grove in louisville, ky during the 10th annual jane austen festival.

an interpreter uses the natural light to do some last minute stitches at locust grove in louisville, ky during the 10th annual jane austen festival.

It's official. I've fallen down the rabbit hole that is historic costume. I can barely wait to get into my first set of stays, set my hair into a neoclassical updo and slip into a sheer cotton regency frock. I've been bitten by the bug and I'll never be the same!

On a whim this Saturday, I decided to check out the Jane Austen Festival held annually at the Locust Grove in Louisville, KY. Two thousand eighteen marks the 10th festival which celebrates the 200th anniversary of Austen's novel Persuasion. 

Lately I've been following a lot of historic interpreters on instagram (many pictured here!) who were preparing for the event and it piqued my interest enough to drive down to experience it for myself.  I didn't have time to sew up a regency day dress, so I decided to play street style photographer circa 1818 instead. Everyone looked so lovely - these men and women really bring their best Austen era finest! It was an incredible experience. I had SO much fun and now I have plans to go next year! How could I not?  

And as I laid down my son down to sleep I thought back over the whole day - it really did feel like a page out of an Austen novel. There were the groups of friends that felt a little like the established ladies of society who kind of ruled the show (and nothing wrong with that at all!) The naval group had all the pomp and circumstance one expects from the King's men. Then there were newbies like me, kind of like wide eyed does taking it all in. The setting at Locust Grove was perfect backdrop to the ninety plus degree day which was lovely despite the heat. Do you have a favorite ensemble? Comment with your choice. My personal favorites are the pink dress pictured first and the women's navy military redingoat with yellow sash! 

So without further ado, check out my photos! Can you believe the variety and beauty of these looks? To say I was impressed was an understatement - this group brought their A game. If you see your image and would like a copy, feel free to grab it directly from this page or email me and I'll send over a digital copy. I just ask you to credit either my blog (if you're posting on your own blog), facebook, my instagram handle @starsandfield if you post there!

I took over 400 photographs, so if you recognize me but don't see your picture, please contact me. I have many more I would be happy to share! 

Now who's in for 2019? Will some seasoned vets take me under their wings?

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 This is a group of regency fans from St. Louis! They were the first ladies I saw as I arrived to the festival and all looked so amazing!

This is a group of regency fans from St. Louis! They were the first ladies I saw as I arrived to the festival and all looked so amazing!

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 The matriarch of this family sewed these ensembles for her whole family! There are three generations pictured here! Lovely! 

The matriarch of this family sewed these ensembles for her whole family! There are three generations pictured here! Lovely! 

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I spoke to the gentlemen in this photo for quite a while! He's a historic interpreted at The Hermitage in Nashville, TN! I didn't get his name but it was a pleasure to chat with you!

 Hello to some fellow Hoosiers! 

Hello to some fellow Hoosiers! 

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HMS ACASTA | Royal Navy

Group that portrays the Royal Navy circa 1800-1800. Read more at their site

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Last but not least - here's What I Wore - a modern outfit ever so slightly inspired by the festival. My dress was a Goodwill find, I blocked my own hat and my parasol is vintage! 

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Notes from the Field | 011

Hey friends! I have a spare minute here while the kids are watching the Muppets to say hi. So... hi! Summer is feeling very much like it did when I was a kid. It's hot as hell but when it's even remotely tolerable we've been outside. 

Last week we took a vacation to the lake to spend time with family. I've always wondered if I'm the only one who gets annoyed with my husband, kids, parents and siblings on family trips? I'm so jealous of people who seem to get along perfectly with their entire family because someone in our bunch is inevitably crabby.  I ended the week feeling really exhausted and bummed because it wasn't really as fun as I had hoped for. But like my friend told me the other day, vacations with kids are just bringing your problems to a new location. And man - it stays bright really late in Michigan! We were lucky to wind out kids down by 10pm and then we took turns sleeping with one kid in the bed and one on cushions on the floor. 

Anyways, I really do understand there are worse problems in the world than having a vacation dealing with all sorts of over tired people. I think about that a lot actually. I have a really nice life and I'm really grateful. I also know that hard is hard and it's ok to be frustrated with your circumstances. I really don't have the right balance figured out, but probably like many of you, I'm working on it. 

Speaking of feeling lucky, I spent most of Saturday in a daze and counting my blessing after the kids and I were hit by another car in an accident. Everyone, including the other drivers, was ok, and out of the three cars involved, only one needed towed. The experience was jolting emotionally and made me feel so stupid about the little things I've complained about recently (such as the aforementioned vacation grumbles). Those kinds of sharp impacts really do snap you into sort of an existential quest. 

The other take away I had from the accident was the sincere kindness of strangers. No less than three cars stopped to help direct traffic before the sheriff arrived (this all occurred on a state highway which is pretty busy in the summertime). A neighbor of mine nearby helped me get in touch with my husband and held my kids while I talked to firefighters, EMT and the sheriff. Everyone was really amazing. And the thing that crossed my mind in hindsight was this - no one stopped before helping the other person to ask "who did you vote for last election?" or "who do you pray to?" or "tell me your thoughts on gun control?" None of it. People are people. And if I completely disregarded social media I'd probably walk around this world really delighted that mankind is so... kind. And really, at the core of my heart, I do believe almost everyone just wants the best for their families and communities. I'm starting to feel like politicians and the (enormous and corporate) machines behind them are playing on single issues to turn us all against one another.

I'm going to let those thoughts simmer a little before I write about them more, but imagine what could happen in a third viable party - run by women, was like "ENOUGH OF THIS BULL SHIT DUDEZ! We're not getting anything done!"? Will it happen in my lifetime? Could I be a part of it? All things to think about. 

I'll jump away with that. And leave you with some of my latest photos from rolling with my homies (err... children) on drivenaps around the countryside. And from my kitchen and backyard. 

And... does anyone read this anymore? Until next time....

A Family Through the Decades


On a Friday morning in late June, I found myself with a stack of piles and boxes at my aunt and uncle’s dining room table. Just to set the scene a bit further, i wasn’t uncovering treasures just anywhere. It was at one of my very favorite historic houses - a  Hoosier homestead built in 1885. I’ve always loved this house and it kind of makes looking at equally old photos (like the wedding shot from 1880 below) even more surreal. 

So I'm at the dining room table, opening boxes that my aunt has carefully labeled and divided into categories when I see the above photo. To me, this is like finding gold! From the clothing I can date it to the Edwardian era, probably around 1910. Then I ask my uncle Walt if he recognizes anyone and he immediately points out the woman second from the left. “That’s grandma Kramer!” He says.  

Carl Stoppenhagen and Wilhelmina (Minna) Kramer post for their wedding portrait in 1880.

With this clue I’m able to start comparing labeled photos and start connecting the dots. Of course it’s Wilhelmina Kramer Stoppenhagen! She’s my second great grandmother (or Dorothy’s grandma) her face is easy to pick out in the dozen photos I’ve found of her so next I aim to put a name to the rest of the faces in the portrait.  

Because there are three other women and three men, my next assumption is that she’s posing with her children, husband and grandkids. If I look closer at the woman in a dark hat and dress, I can pick out the smile of my great grandma Mary (see her wedding portrait below). When I look at records, I can also see she would have had three daughters when this photograph was made - Minnie born 1903, Hilda born 1907 and Edith both 1908. I also think the blurry little boy behind them is her son Arnold, who was born in 1910 and is being held by her father Carl Stoppenhagen. 

Mary Katherine Stoppenhagen and Charles Nicholas Werling pose for their wedding portrait in 1902.

So who else had children by 1910? Her sister (first woman on the right) Minnie! Thanks to additional records I found at Barb and Walt’s house, I could date Minnie’s children - Paul born 1908 and Gerhert born 1911. Those kids look roughly like they are three and under a year! 

By taking into consideration the youngest child together with the next to be born (Mary is not visibly pregnant with her next child who would be born in March 1912) I’m ninety nine percent sure this was taken in the summer of 1911! 

The younger woman on the far left would have been the youngest - Lydia. She would have been seventeen. Although she’s wearing a woman’s dress, check out the enormous hair bow she’s wearing in her hair. This indicates so me she might still have been treated as the baby of the family. Or maybe it was popular with the other girls in her class?! Who knows! 

Lastly are the two men on the left and right of the photo. Those would have been the brothers Fred and Charles, but they were only born two years apart - one man would be 24 and the other 26. I’m really guessing on this but the man on the left in the bowler hat looks a little older so I think that’s Fred which makes the man on the right brother Charles. 

So that’s the family! Next I’m going to try to compare this to Minna and Charles Sr’s 50th wedding anniversary photo taken in 1930 (below) to try to match younger and older faces of the same people. My grandmother Dorothy is the second child from the left in the front row! Mary and Charles Werling are standing on the right side just behind the seated elderly couple and I'm pretty sure Charles' twin August is standing just a few people to the left of them! 


Have you ever aimed to date photos? I love using my costume history background to give it my best shot! I’d love to see links to your posts or photos of your family too!