Building Old Salt Farm

I am in the middle of one of my biggest projects to date—building our new home, Old Salt Farm.  Last year when we moved from Texas to upstate New York, we knew we wanted to build–and we wanted to have more acreage.  So, we put all of our stuff into storage, and moved our family into a small (very small for the eight of us) apartment while we looked for property and began the building process.  I’ve always dreamed of having a farmhouse in the country, and it’s about to happen!! We’ve been limbo for the the last several years, knowing that our time in Texas would be short term, ending up being there just barely two years, and then moving cross country again and now in temporary housing.

I will be so glad to be settled! My list of things to make, build, and decorate is seriously pages long, and I can’t WAIT to get started! I really haven’t been able to do any of that for three years, and I’m itching to do it. My back patio is actually covered with pieces of furniture that I’ve found recently that I need to refinish, but I’m not sure where to put them when I’m done. :)  My poor husband–I keep calling him and telling him that I found something else, and fortunately, he’s a really good sport about it.  We’ve enjoyed being able to see new places over the last few years, but we are ready to build a home and be settled.

It’s been an adventure over the last eight months, traversing regulations, attorneys, and lots of red tape. We have built before, but I didn’t realize how different it would be building in another state.  FINALLY, the ground is breaking this week, and we could not be more excited!

I thought it would be fun to document the building process, and to share what it looks like from start to finish.  The plan is to post weekly or bi-weekly (depending on the building schedule) with updates on the progress, showing how it all works, and giving you a peek at the behind-the-scenes.  If you’ve built before, I would love any tips you have to share!  Even though we do have some experience going into it, it’s amazing how much there is to learn.

So…let’s start at the very beginning…

old salt farm|


We knew we wanted to have plenty of land–space for the kids to run around.  I’m a country girl at heart and having lots of trees, quiet, and room to have a house and a barn was our dream.  It can be tricky though, taking into account where you live, the schools you want your kids to go to, available property, conditions of the land in your area, and cost.  We settled on a particular town that we love, where the schools are amazing, and it’s definitely rural!  We ran into a few problems when we realized that part of the town has some wetlands and flood zones. We found great parcels of land on several occasions, but couldn’t pursue them because of it.  There were a couple of subdivisions that had empty land available, but most weren’t big enough, and we really didn’t want to be in a subdivision–we wanted to be out in the country. We also found a lot of farmland available, but they were devoid of trees, and we wanted woods. We searched and searched, and finally we found a 2-acre piece of property just on the edge of town–totally wooded, with 50 more acres of woods and farmland behind us.  It was perfect.

old salt farm |

old salt farm |


Ever since I read Anne of Green Gables as a child, I wanted to live in a house that had a name.  It just made it more cozy in my mind, and would make it come to life even more. It’s just kind of fitting for a farmhouse in the country!  As soon as our land was purchased, I started thinking of what we could call our new home.  A brine line actually runs on the very edge of our property, carrying salt water to Niagara Falls, and that’s where I got the “salt” part from.  I knew it needed to have “farm” in the name, because our future plans include a barn with some animals and a place for entertaining.  Plus, I’ve always wanted to live on a farm! I added “old” because it made it sound cute. :)  As soon as I thought of it, I just KNEW, and my family agreed.  Old Salt Farm it was, and I LOVE it.


Oh goodness, settling on plans.  That did take a long time.  I looked and looked, and just couldn’t find any that had the major things I wanted, so I found one that had a great basic layout, and the potential to add what I needed, and then customized from there.  I’m a farmhouse girl, so already I knew it was going to be white with black shutters and a huge front porch.

We wanted six bedrooms, an open floor plan, big mud room with a separate outside entrance, two staircases (a back staircase near the kitchen and mudroom), a fireplace in the great room and in the kitchen/dining area, and an area for guests. We live in an area with really high taxes, so that figured in a lot when deciding how much of a house we could afford.  It came down to not the house, but how much the taxes would be!

Designing a house is tricky.  If you make a small change on one floor, it can totally change the floor above it and below it.  You may want a certain thing on the main floor, but not like what that change will do to the upstairs.  It’s like a big game of dominoes, and deciding what your priorities are before you start is essential, because unless you have an unlimited budget or are very lucky, you are probably going to have to make come concessions at some point. Making a list of the things you absolutely want, the things that would be great to have if you can, and the things that you won’t miss is important, which is what we did.  We tweaked and tweaked, and it’s funny–we are still making small changes now!


1.  We met the builder at the property to decide where the driveway would go.  To get to our house, you turn off the road onto a long private drive that we share we with one other house, and then our driveway can come off of that at any point.  We wanted our house pretty far back, so it’s up the private drive about 200 feet, then our driveway is another 150 feet, for a total of 350 feet back from the road.  It’s wooded in the front, so you actually won’t be able to see the house from the road. It’s a side-load garage, so we changed the angle of the house a little bit too.  One of the hardest things about building is trying to envision in large scale the decisions you’re making, because you really have no idea what it will actually look like until you’re done!

2.  We had already decided on the trees that would come down, based on how big we wanted the lawns to be.  I wanted to keep a lot of woods both on one of the sides, the front, and the back. The other side is a little bit more open because of the driveway.

3.  The excavators are there today, and by the end of next week we will have a basement!

4.  I’ve been very busy meeting with vendors and selecting cabinets, countertops, flooring, plumbing fixtures, and every facet of the house.  We needed to choose appliances now, because the kitchen design and cabinets depended on their measurements, and if we were doing a wall double oven, or range, etc. Most of the selections need to be made in the next couple of weeks, so we’re in high gear trying to make decisions to fit what we want, and to fit our budget.  Next week I’ll show you some of the selection process, and what we decided!

old salt farm |

{The last view before digging.)

old salt farm |

{This is our driveway, off of the private drive. It’s a side loading garage, so our house will be on the left.}

old salt farm |

{You’re looking at our property on the left, our neighbor’s 3 acre property on the right, and the 50 acres of woods and farmland behind us. The sunsets are amazing every single night!}


Once the basement is poured, finished, and inspected, the framing starts.  This is where the house really starts to take shape, and I’m so excited to see it start to go up!  This week I’m meeting with lots of vendors and making decisions, even though it can be stressful at times, I totally love it.

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  1. I love this, Kierste! Thank you so much for allowing us all to join in as you walk out your dream! :o) I am so excited for you! Love, love, love the photos and the land. So very pretty! I can hardly wait to see your house! I pray that your house building process is a wonderful one.

  2. I am so happy for you and your family, and can’t wait to see the wonderful homestead you are creating! You have such a wonderful aesthetic that I’m certain the end result will be amazing! I love everything about building, and would build a smaller home except for a: I can’t duplicate the neighborhood we live in and b: the thought of packing up 33 years/ 5 children worth of stuff is overwhelming! And so…I’m redoing the kitchen, a bathroom, the staircase and adding an addition (didn’t I say I was going smaller?) :)

    Good luck with the process…may your home be full of joy at the end of the road!

    1. How exciting!!! And lol about the addition. :) It sounds like you’ve got the perfect thing–a neighborhood you love so much, and updating the home you made with your children. I’m excited to do the same. Thank you so much for joining me!!! xoxo

  3. thank you for sharing the process with your readers! i can’t wait to see it all! i live on a farm too and have most of my life. it’s the best!

  4. Oh my goodness kierste! With all the other talk about building a house in other posts i thought things had been started and close to finished! Im so glad you are going to keep us updated. Do you have an awesome snowplow with all that driveway?

    1. I know, right? You’d think we would be much further along! Seriously, all the regulations and processes that exist here (every party has to have an attorney, meaning we had at least four attorneys involved at one time) really slowed us down, but we are FINALLY starting!!! We are actually going to contract out the plowing. :) It’s HUGE!!

  5. I’m so excited for your family! It’s going to be beautiful! I’ve always wanted two staircases, too. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. :)

    1. Ginger, thank you so much!! The second staircase has definitely been a dream of mine, and I wanted it so much, I actually had to give up other things, like a huge walk-in pantry, since the staircase would have made the perfect place for it, and we couldn’t go any bigger. :) But…I think it will be worth it! This building thing–so many tradeoffs and negotiations!

  6. What an amazing adventure! I love the property you have chosen, I can just picture the go cart trails thro the woods, and the amazing scavenger hunts the kids will have. How very special! Thanks for sharing this with me, it just brings back so many wonderful memories. Can’t wait to see the house and all your plans for furnishings!

    1. Vicki, I’m so glad it brought so many wonderful memories!! I hope that it will provide the same for my kids, and our family. You’ve made me even more excited, thank you!!! xoxo

  7. Looking forward to being included in your home building! While I have never built a home, my husband and I have done a lot of DIY work. I love the idea of the two fireplaces, snowdays and holidays will be wonderful! We have a Cape Cod home and the front porch is one of my favorite areas, I love decorating it for each season. You have such great ideas, can’t wait to see your beautiful home come to life.

    1. Oh my goodness, I have always wanted to visit Cape Cod–your home sounds wonderful! One of these days, we will, and I’ll have to find out the best spots to visit and to stay. I’m with you–front porches are THE best!! xoxo

  8. Love it! This made me think of the movie Mr Blandings builds his dream house with Cary Grany. So funny. Good choice on the side entry garage. As a designer one of my biggest pet peeves is when the garage door is the focal point. Your property looks beautiful. Good luck in your adventure!

    1. Lol, I love it!! And yes—a side entry was definitely something I wanted to have, and I was happy to have a big enough space to do it. Thank you so much for the well wishes, and for stopping by!!! xoxo

  9. I’ve always wanted to live in a farm house so I’m looking forward to following along your building process. Thanks for sharing.

  10. hi kierste
    i am so excited to have stumbled upon your blog. we are a military family currently living slightly east of TX :) read, Louisiana:) haha. at any rate, we are hoping to build our house within the next few years. I haven’t read too much more than this post, but i would love to hear about your process of deciding where to build- how did you even decide on NY? i wish you all the best, and that it all goes as smoothly as possible. looking forward to learning from your experience!!

    1. Thank you so much!! We moved to New York because of my husband’s job, and after living in Michigan for 12 years of our married life, we were ready and happy to be moving back north. We love it here! I will definitely talk more about deciding where to build–it’s always a huge decision. xoxo

  11. Kierste – I can’t wait to see the progress of the new house!! It sounds like it’s going to be beautiful! How fun to have a farmhouse with a barn!! We live in the country as well and just love it! :)

  12. You are literally living my dream right now. If only I could get my husband out of Utah and to someplace green! I can’t wait to see your dreams be built!

    1. Thank you so much, Katie!!! We grew up in Utah, so I know what you’re talking about! I always thought Utah was so green until after we moved, and I flew home for the first time. We went over SLC, and I realized how much of a desert it is, lol! I grew up in St. George though, so SLC always seemed so green!

  13. So very exciting! I am NOT a country girl, but I’ll still enjoy the process, looks gorgeous!

  14. Kierste you are living my fantasy! I can’t wait to follow along to live vicariously through you, and maybe do the same one day. I hope it goes well and turns out the way you dream! Ps I don’t know how you do it all :)

  15. This sounds so wonderful!!! Having grown up in a development and living in one now I wish we had decided to get a place with more land. Maybe one day. Can’t wait to follow your adventure. :) XO

  16. Is there a room for me? I am hoping one of those six rooms is a guest room for your favorite friends!

  17. What a great piece of land I am looking forward to watching the progress of your project. We are also located in upstate NY. Hope you have an enjoyable building process.

    1. Thank you so much!! It’s always fun to meet someone else from upstate NY–so glad you said hello!! xoxo

  18. I love reading about your home building. We are in process of building our farmhouse in Illinois and so much of what you are describing is what we went through. Especially all the changes in the house plan. Haha my husband told me in no uncertain terms that the time for changes had passed. ;)

    New reader – discovered you on Instagram.

    1. Hello, Kim! I’m so glad you found me–thanks so much for stopping by to say hello! Oh, goodness, you really can relate! And I just told my husband we are changing the plans again. :) Good luck to you!! xoxo

  19. Hi Kierste, How is your Old Salt Farm coming along? I’ve been keeping an eye on your blog hoping for an update. I’m thinking by now you have a structure in place. Hope things get buttoned up before an upstate winter storm!

    1. I will have a huge update for you in about a week or so–thank you so much for asking! xoxo

  20. I just read your new update about deciding to build on a new location. I don’t remember reading this post, so I looked it up. Wow – so interesting to read this and you were about to start digging and building, and now you are not there. Was that a little crazy to switch gears? Did you halt things before they started digging and did you have to sell that land? We are in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and we really wanted to build on acreage also. We even put an offer on some land, but we could not negotiate the price. We ended up finding a 20-year-old house on 3 acres that is surrounded by beautiful trees and also has a field…we bought it and moved this summer, and now we need to remodel the house! Some days we still wish we had decided to build so we could really make it what we wanted. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do as we have some similar goals…a barn, animals, treehouse for our 5 kids. You are amazing for enduring in a small apartment … that is another reason that we didn’t build because I thought it would take way too long. Best of luck!

    1. It has been SO crazy. The basement was dug, and we were ready to pour cement, but somethings transpired that made us decide to change locations. In the end, I think we’ll discover where we are supposed to be, even if the journey is taking us longer than we thought. Your home and acreage sound beautiful! It sounds like the perfect place for barn, animals, etc. Isn’t it so exciting to dream about and plan? One day we’ll get there, lol. :)

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