Renovation by Evolution

Couple turns 100-year-old farm house into vacation spot

Life is a series of projects. Some go according to plan, while others take on a life of their own. Just ask Richard and Ashira Young.

The Young’s, having sold their second home in Indianapolis shortly after putting it on the market last spring, needed a place to store their furniture. They didn’t want to throw money away each month by keeping their items in a rental unit, but their primary home on their Blue River Valley Farm north of Milltown was too small. Their remaining option was to store everything in an old farm house located just up the hill.

The problem, however, was the approximately century-old house wasn’t in good shape. It really hadn’t been lived in since Richard’s mother passed away 12 years ago, and termite damage was just one of its many problems. In fact, Ashira said the barn would have been a better choice.

The house was in a shambles, she said. It took us just a month or two to clean it out.

So, with little choice, the Young’s began fixing it up. Their plan, Ashira said, was simple: Fix up enough rooms to store our furniture. However, one thing led to another, and before they knew it, they decided to go ahead and renovate the entire two-story house.

The only thing that really remains from the old farm house are these floors, Ashira said, looking down at the hardwood flooring. However, even they required work, as she and Richard stripped off the paint and applied polyurethane coating.

In addition to replacing the termite-damaged joists, the Young’s put in new windows and doors, replaced the outdated heating unit with a new heating and cooling system, installed a new water heater and upgraded the 100-amp electrical system to 200 amps. They also expanded the bathroom, adding a whirlpool tub, and completely redid the kitchen, highlighted by new oak cabinets and recessed lighting.

The exterior and surrounding landscape also received many upgrades, including removing ivy from the side of the house, spray washing mold off of the white siding, replacing the gutters and removing what may have been the largest water maple tree in Indiana near the front porch that the couple was fearful would fall on the house.

Clearly, once we were in it, we knew we couldn’t stop. &I kind of felt like we’re recreating our own stimulus project for the community, Richard joked.

In fact, the Young’s often could be found in area home improvement superstores this summer, which resulted in them going considerably over budget.

Once the couple saw what the project was evolving into, they began thinking about how they could justify their investment. With the farms rolling hills, the Young’s decided the farmhouse would make an ideal vacation spot for different kinds of people.

From that moment, we started working around the clock, Ashira said.

Before she moved to Indiana, Ashira owned and managed a bed-and-breakfast in California for three years. The farmhouse, however, will only be a B, not a B&B, as guests will have access to the new kitchen to prepare their own meals.

This is a whole lot easier than the 10 rooms I had in my B&B, she joked.

With plenty of tourist attractions including two casinos, several caves, a canoe rental business, an art gallery, many wineries and all that Louisville has to offer within an hour’s drive, the farmhouse makes a perfect centralized location for people wanting to vacation in Southern Indiana, Ashira said.

Likewise, its 120 acres some of which border the Blue River and wild life make it ideal for outdoors lovers, including hunter sand those who enjoy fishing, she added. The Young’s have an agreement with Steve Cecil, who does taxidermy and makes arrangements for meat processing, to lead hunting ventures on the property.

What we really tried to create here was avenue that could appeal to different kinds of people, Ashira said.

She explained that its secluded location and amenities like a hot tub, located on the concrete slab that used to be home to the outdoor kitchen, make it a good choice for couples wanting some quiet time, while the nearby vegetable garden and farm animals, including chickens and goats, make it inviting for families looking for the farm experience. Visitors are welcome to all the freshly-laid eggs they can eat and are invited to try their hand at milking the goats. Ashira has even been known to make homemade cookies’n cream ice cream from the milk.

Ashira has lived in many places after growing up in Florida, she spent time in Maryland, Colombia, Boston, Arizona and northern California but has enjoyed living on the Crawford County farm since marrying Richard four years ago.

I’ve always wanted to live on the farm. I’m a city girl, but my hearts definitely on a farm, she said.

Richard used to have pigs and cattle, but has transitioned to just chickens, goats and rabbits. The couple also tried their hand at bee keeping, harvesting 70 pounds of honey during their second year.

It’s been kind of a fun exploration and experience for Richard and me, Ashira said.

Renovating the farm house also has been an adventure.

Richard and I did a lot of work, she said. We didn’t do all of the construction part, but we did all of the painting, stripping, staining and many of the other projects.

It was a challenge working around Richards schedule he has been a state senator since 1988 and spends much of his time in Indianapolis but it was rewarding, Ashira said. For four months, after taking weeks just to get the house ready for renovation, the couple worked from dawn to dusk, and sometimes later.

Despite stress from the seemingly never-ending workload, which included adding a back deck and putting new insulation in the walls, the couple never had any disagreements.

The beautiful thing with Richard is that we are really a partnership, Ashira said, and we like to do things together.

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Rates for renting the farm house are as follows: $165 per night Sunday through Wednesday, $185 per night Thursday through Saturday, and $1,100 per week.

For more information or to make a reservation, call 633-7871 or visit online at www.bluerivervalleyfarm.com

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What They Said...

We really enjoyed our peaceful stay at Blue River Farm.  As senior citizens this brought back many childhood memories.  We have lived in the city for 40 years and forgot the great fresh air smell.  We watched the birds at the feeder while we had morning coffee on the huge back porch.  It was a pleasure to have fresh eggs and vegetables from the garden.  The serenity while sitting on the rivers edge was refreshing.  Everything we wanted was supplied.  The full moon on our last night there was brilliant.   We have stayed in vacation rentals all over the United States and this has become one of our favorites.

Floyd and Louise
Born and raised in Pennsylvania