Kelly and I closed on the farm three months after we married. Everyone thought we were nuts, but we had a strategy. First, we'd renovate the carriage house, since it needed less work, and move in. Then we'd take on the big house. We wanted a large home because we planned to have kids—we just didn't expect to have two of them before the main house was move-in ready.
The first phase was an unexpected, tedious one. Because of municipal confusion, I spent nearly a year doing research and writing letters to prove that our property comprised two legal houses. This had to be resolved: Once we finished the big house's renovation, we wanted to rent out the carriage house for extra income. In the meantime, we were lucky to be able to live in a house nearby that my father owned.
Shown: Kelly and Todd Tuttle, with daughters Gretchen, 2, and Claudia, 4, use the kitchen island for dinner prep and casual meals.