I am no stranger to redemption. Adopted from the streets of Brazil at age five, I know how powerful second chances can be. So when my family and I moved to Northwest Arkansas from Southern California and were met with decay and mold inside the property that we intended to transform into a community farm (@folkandflora on Instagram), I was not deterred.
I often quote 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 which says “This too shall pass” because I know that sometimes we go through really hard situations that feel like they last an eternity.
Throughout this renovation, it’s been a deep encouragement to me how these ‘light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
Ever since my childhood running wild down the orchard rows near our ranch, I’ve had a dream of owning my own farm. I envisioned many a night camping under the stars, radiating with laughter, and snuggling under blankets, as the storms of summer — and life! — rolled by. And so our family decided to pack up our things in California and buy a farmhouse in Arkansas, so our three boys could live out their childhood in wild surroundings, too. Little did we know we’d be camping a whole lot sooner — and for different reasons — than we originally hoped! Last year, as we knocked down the walls and began renovations, we unearthed unimaginable amounts of mold. This decay had been hidden so intentionally and deliberately, under layers and layers of hastily-added paint, flooring, and cabinets — none of us could have ever anticipated the extent of the damage. Faced with deeply rotted boards and planks, we had no choice but to move forward, choosing to believe in redemption, and choosing to embrace the truth that beauty can arise from ashes. And so we began the painstakingly slow process of stripping the house right down to the studs. Since the house wasn’t livable in this state, we set up a travel trailer on the property and took refuge there. As you can imagine for a SoCal family of five, it was quite an adjustment! But our cramped quarters served as great motivation to get the whole family involved in the renovation. The process was more complicated than expected; weather, permitting and zoning, physical limitations, and financial delays all slowed our process considerably.
The original footprint of the home was over two thousand square feet, but since the mold took such a tight grip on the place, the salvageable pieces left us with about half the space. As we began to build back up again, our first priority was to get our boys situated again. We started by reframing the master bedroom, and converting it into a bunkhouse. We built four twin-size beds right into the wall, creating unique rooms-within-a-room which each boy could personalize by decorating the shelves and beds as he pleased. While giving each of the boys space, this dual-function design also allowed for the center of the room to focus on imagination and play.
I’ve always been a fan of eclectic style, never drawing fully from one genre, but instead mixing all kinds of elements to create a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. (Have you ever seen a velvet sofa and velvet drapes in a boys’ bunkhouse before? I hadn’t — until I designed this space!) Since there’s a lot of white in this room, I didn’t want the lighting to fade away into the ceiling, so I added contrast with industrial lights and Edison bulbs from Schoolhouse Electric.
Surprisingly, even though this was the original master bedroom, it didn’t originally have a bathroom. So we moved the stairs to create enough space to accommodate a full bath, and installed cement tile (cement ought to be able to keep up with three growing boys!)
When designing, I have to keep the future of the space in mind, while also balancing my own sense of aesthetic with the needs of three active boys. Mercury mosaic tiles added a splash of modernity to the shower floor — not enough for the boys to be bothered, but enough to make the space feel fresh. And we tied in a few industrial elements here, too, to extend the style from the main bunkhouse.
Those metal towel racks and tissue holders? We made them ourselves, using pipe sections from the local hardware store, then fashioned shelves from leftover two-by-four lumber.
This room was a labor of love, one we are very proud of as a family. We all came together, and worked long hours alongside one another. We all pitched in. Even the boys helped, taking out nails in the subfloor, sanding, painting, and helping put together the finishing touches. We wanted our boys to have the rich life experiences growing up on a farm would offer them, but getting to this point has been a bit of a wild ride. We still don’t have a completed home, but our menagerie of farm animals is growing, the wildflowers are bursting up out of the ground, and we’ve created lifelong memories already.
Every time we look at this bunkhouse, we’re reminded of the miracle of hard work and perseverance, and the magic of never giving up on our dreams.
And through it all, I can see redemption being carried out, every day, in ordinary corners of the world — and any bumps we experience along the way are not permanent.
I carry in my heart the hope of the eternal. This too shall pass.