Home Sweet Homestead

“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

I saw a piece on NBC who lives well on less than $20,000 (which is pretty close to what we get from living off our land and the produce sales) and it reminded me of our family and little house here in the city.

When you step into our 1917 home, folks often comment how nicely decorated and homey it is.   Sis and I like to proudly tell them that practically nothing was purchased new. Yep, that’s right, most of the furniture and such were given to us, purchased second-hand or picked up free from the side of the road.

Prompted by the news piece,  I thought it be an opportune time to give you a little tour of the house highlighting re-purposed, recycled and reused items that make our house a home.

Note: Sorry for the watermarks — these are NOT OUR PHOTOS but are by an independent photographer, so I had to make sure they didn’t get used anywhere else.

Second hand cabinet, old 18 year old gas stove our grandma purchased for us, baskets and other knick knacks all second hand

Energy efficient fridge (purchased new 10 years ago with rebate)

Handcarved leather art made by the guys, inherited antique whatnot and trinkets, neighbor's discarded tea tray, inherited china cabinet and working butter churn from salvage shop

Bedsheet curtains, salvaged pillows with new covers sewn, neighbor's discarded vintage chest, table and chairs found at salvage shop and plates that were being dumped because they weren't a full set. Second hand rug from my grandmother.

Second hand chair, hand knitted throws, clock from the old homestead in New Zealand, Jotul wood stove (the only heat source for the home) Collection of National Geographics given to us by a friend Old chest from the homestead in New Zealand.. The TV is a tad bit out of place but it was the only one that was ENERGY STAR rated.

Vintage chest from dad's old homestead in New Zealand, hand made leather basket by the guys, second-hand sofas with slipcover, oil lamp, and second bedsheets & hand lace valance reworked into curtain.

Oil lamp, second hand lace valance reworked into curtain, second hand sofa, handmade leather vase by they guys, hand knitted afghan on second-hand chair, homeschool educational books, hand knitted throw and McGuffey's Readers!

Care to share how you are “Living Well With Less?”



  1. Melissa says:

    Very lovely home. I have the same slipcovers on my couch. I love how everything doesn’t exactly match.

  2. Daedre says:

    Yay for painted ceilings! I painted the ceiling in my living room sky blue and most people don’t even notice that it’s not white.

  3. Deanna says:

    I am glad I am not the only one who makes bed sheet curtains and refurbishes old furniture. Just because it is not new it doesn’t mean that it is not usable. Almost all of my furniture has be procured free or secondhand places. I also found a set of matching sofas a purchased a year apart from each other everyone thinks we purchased the set together. 🙂 I find it is more liberating to live on less because you have to get more creative with how you are going to handle the items you bring into your home whether it be clothing or furniture.

    I love how everything in your home seems to have a purpose or is hand made. It is truly lovely. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Ginger says:

    Your house is decorated very nicely. We bought our current furniture at an estate sale in PHX. Often comfortably situated retirees sell off the old stuff and move to AZ only to die in a few years. Their children back east don’t want to ship the new stuff and instead sell it. We have beautiful white leather furniture, brass floor lamps, television cabinet and china hutch (filled with paternal grandma’s china) purchased for pennies on the designer dollar. We also have access to a furniture wholesaler, which we have used from time to time. My maternal grandmother has given me many items such as linens and china. I can’t say I’m as good at it as you. Nevertheless, I find it thrilling to bypass the corporate scene and hold onto my husband’s life blood.

  5. Heather :) :) :) says:

    Oh, this is so beautiful. I lOVE vintage homes, and my great-grandparents had a home just like yours back in the day. It’s still standing, surround by apartment buildings now.

    You have everything decorated very, very vintage cute 🙂 🙂 Oh, that kitchen, I want that kitchen 🙂 🙂 Since my dad and I are in-between jobs, whatever we buy is almost always gently used second-hand but still first-rate super vintage cute 🙂 🙂

    I have a copy of McGuffie Readers at home, the paperback version. I also have a chest (from dad’s college days) that almost looks just like the one you have in your living room 🙂 🙂

    We unplug anything that doesn’t have to be plugged-in to save money, among other things 🙂 Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 😉

  6. Jackie says:

    I LOVE to re-purpose things, shop at the thrift store, and live simply, so viewing your home was a treat for me.

    By the way, I also have a set of Mc Guffey readers…great books.

    Joyfully, Jackie
    A blogwriting mom at Quaint Scribbles who loves teaching her daughter how to combine blogging with creative writing.

  7. Kandi says:

    I have almost never bought new furniture. What I have gotten new was from the scratch and dent dept of stores. My home is furnished in ‘Early Goodwill’. We used to shop at a Goodwill that was located near a military base. When people would get shipped out many times they would dump their furniture. You could get extraordinary deals there. People always comment on how ‘homey’ my place is too, that they feel comfortable. Guess there is a lesson there to be learned.

  8. says:

    I love the inside of your house. Our 1916 home does not have some of the craftsman features that yours has… columns, intact wood work, etc. As we restore our place, Im trying to bring more of that back to our house so it feels period like yours already does.

  9. says:

    While we love the Christmas season, we are going light this year with no Christmas tree and instead of gifts, we are giving the gift of our time to friends and family. If they need help on a project we will help. If they want to learn to grow veggies, we’ll guide them and get them started, etc. After all, once we are out of time on this amazing planet… thats it. So the gift of time is precious if you really think about it.

  10. Cindie K. says:

    Very homey and welcoming. And so clean and orderly.
    I love inherited pieces; we have quite a few in our home, too. I also love going to thrift shops for goodies. Sometimes I use them for a while and take them back for the shop owners to sell again! As I get older, I treasure hand-made, home-made and hands-on more and more. Thank you for sharing pictures of your house.

  11. Nebraska Dave says:

    Anais, Very nice home. I’m afraid my house does not look so picturesque. With a seven year old running hot wheels all over the house and a daughter Christmas baking, the house looks …. very lived in. Where is the man cave for the guys? Really, pink walls and ceilings? :0) My house is a 1965 vintage and until it’s broke and can’t be fixed, it doesn’t get replaced. The stove is about the only original appliance in the house. All the other things were replaced in 1995 not because they were outdated but because they all decided to break at the same time. It was an ugly year for house maintenance. I keep the temperature in the house at 68 during the winter and 80 during the summer months to same on utilities. I have installed timed motion lights in the house entry and laundry room as they always seemed to get left on. They are set for five minutes of light and then turn off. My next move is to get a programmable thermostat for the furnace although I’m not convinced that saves as much as claimed. Heavy drapes and curtains cover the windows at night during the winter and during the day in the summer. Since the three window gang in the living room faces south the drapes are open in the winter to let in the solar sun power during the day and closed most of the time during the summer. It’s all about a lot of little things that add up to a difference.

    Have a great Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

    • Anais Dervaes says:

      LOL Actually the color is “Antique Rose” and the color was picked by none other than Farmer D himself. I’m telling the truth! Actually, the color is much warmer in person 🙂 Oh and our home doesn’t always look so neat and tidy. We cleaned up a bit for the photo shoot .but now there are boxes in the dinning room and the kitchen is slightly messy after a day’s worth of canning yesterday. Our stove’s getting old so one day will have to replace it. Not looking forward to buying a new one… perhaps I should look for a vintage gas stove. But they are soooo expensive.

      • Chris V says:

        Hi Anais ~~ Me too on the vintage gas stove! Most of our furniture is old as the hills. When we bought our CC cottage it came furnished. We did replace the mattresses because … ewww! We also got rid of the regular gas stove in favor of a small apartment gas stove to save on heating up the oven, etc. It’s worked out just fine. I lost out on an opportunity to get a vintage gas stove at an estate sale that was a steal. Something came up and I couldn’t make it there the first day of the sale and it went. If you have access to any estate sales via local newspapers listings on the web, you may want to check it out. Out in these parts, the estate sale people often include photo links in their ad before the actual sale so it saves running around. Also, sometimes at the end of the first day you can make a bid and get it at the end of the day and/or the second day of the sale, the item can be up to 50% off or more! Happy hunting!

        • Chris V says:

          PS … Your home is just charming!!!! LOVE IT!!!!

  12. Erica says:

    Lovely home. I like the bright colours and mixture of different colours.

    Our home is an eclectic mix of furniture bought secondhand, given to us and a few things purchased new. I am not as skilled with a sewing machine so our one handmade window covering in our bedroom is a tablecloth with a scarf drapped over it. During the winter time, I hang a small comforter over the window to keep out the cold. The wall hangings in our bedroom are framed cards that were hand painted by a student and a beautiful music quilt that was also a gift made by the mother of a student. Handmade gifts are wonderful. They radiate the energy of the person who made them and the kindness with which they were given.

    Our Christmas tree is a norfolk pine we purchased almost 18 years ago. At first it was only strong enough for paper decorations which one of my husband’s music students made for us. Over the years, it has grown and has been repotted several times. Now it is decorated with stars I made from oatstraw. A dear friend showed me how to make them and gave me the straw (drinking straws made of straw). I guess that is where the name came from.

    I wrap and decorate presents with anything I can find around the house, recycled paper, old christmas cards, cloth, ribbons, pinecones, old magazines. beads, bells, candy. My husband and I are musicians.

    The outside of our house is decorated with old wind and brass instruments. They are all instruments that were given to us because they were beyond repair. We grow flowers (no edibles) in two saxophones and, to the horror of one of our brass playing collegues, a baritone. We also have an old saxophone hanging in the front entrance that I keep my umbrella in and we hang our dogs leashes on.

    Speaking of dogs, some of our dogs favourite toys are old socks stuffed with old socks. Our one year old puppy carefully chews a hole in the sock and happily pulls all the other socks out one by one. Afterwards I stuff they back in and sew up the hole or just tie a knot in it. Sometimes I take an old sock and tie a series of knots in it. The dogs like to play tug of war with these or just chew on the knots.

    I signed out a cool book from the library called ”Housing Reclaimed” It is full of photos and stories of house made for next to nothing with reclaimed materials. Sadly, it is overdue.

    Merry Christmas Everyone! I hope that your holiday is filled with peace and joy.

    • Tammy Vegetarian says:


      Thanks for the clever old sock toy suggestion for dogs. My black Lab will love it. “Housing Reclaimed” sounds like a really interesting book–I’ll have to try to check it out from the library. Very creative and resourceful of you to use old instruments for flower pots. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Jennifer says:

    I just got a couch from a rummage sale for $30! And a seating bench from the side of the road! And a rug from my dad! It doesn’t look like college decor either so I’m thrilled!

    • Anais Dervaes says:

      Sweet scores! 🙂

  14. Rosie says:

    Thanks for the tour of your house. It looks so comfy and nice. Congrats what you have done on a shoestring.

  15. Amanda says:

    I’m snoopy and would love to see the rest of the house 🙂 Maybe one day we’ll get as complete a tour as we have of the yard!

    • Anais Dervaes says:

      You aren’t the only one… LOL 🙂 We wanted to get someone with a “special camera” (don’t ask me which kind though!) to do a 360 walk thru of the garden but they charged too much. If you go to and type in our address you can check out a pretty cool “bird’s eye” view and street view of our place 🙂

  16. bill from lachine says:


    I really enjoy your website and your adventures in sustainable agriculture in a city environment.

    We have a small garden, cook most of our food from scratch, do composting, recycling, etc….and try to do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint…..

    Good luck on your journey going forward.



  17. Cindae says:

    Have you ever tried Freecycle?????? We have a freecycle group in our town, and I love it! I give things away, and recently got a “new to me” couch. The great thing about this group is that it is all given away. No selling allowed.
    When I have something I don’t need, I freecycle it. If I need something, I ask on Freecycle. If I see something someone is offering, I send a note to that person to see if they haven’t already given it away.

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