Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Our house - before

Some of you have been curious about my house, so I thought I would do a before and after series. The house is a little over a hundred and had been rented for about 30 years, maybe more, before we got our hands on it. During this time not much maintenance was done. At some point a longer term renter tacked up some Sheetrock and Formica to the the walls and lowered the ceiling in the same mish-mash manner in hopes of slowing the flow of the winter winds.

The first picture is not a true before picture because the disgusting mildewy cabinets have been ripped out and the dropped ceiling removed, but the patch worked walls and rotten floor give you the feel for the place.

Which leads me to a short detour. Mr. W and I were planning on building a new house on this same property. We went so far as have the site prepared, but each day we went to the top of the hill we passed this old house. Each day one or the other would say, "I wonder what it looks like inside?" or "I wonder how bad it is?" or "Wouldn't that house be interesting?" Renters were still living there so we couldn't just barge in.

One day, the roof of the house started leaking and the renters were referred to us as being the new owners. Mr. W raced over in an attempt get a look at the house to make a good impression as a landlord. He went in and then did everything in his power to get out as fast as he could. The conditions were that bad, yet there was still the feeling of something special. We gave the tenants notice because we didn't think the house was habitable and they left leaving their dog, a nasty couch, and mounds of stinky clothes.

Once we got all that trash out, we started tearing out the dropped ceilings and mismatched drywall. We found the bead board and heart pine siding, the dog trot, the fireplaces, and the curved heat trap in the hallway and never looked back. We abandoned our plan of building and threw ourselves into another rehab project, our third since we moved to Mississippi. Our goal was to keep as much of the original as possible while updating wiring, plumbing, and insulation and making sure you couldn't fall through the floor. Of course we needed to modernize some things, like the kitchen and bathroom. We also needed to get rid of the sky blue, silver, pink, lavender, and black door facings and replace all the doors that had been kicked-in (which was all of them). If we couldn't refurbish the original, we tried to keep the spirit of the old.

As an added bonus, since this had originally been my Great Grandparents home, we had stories from my father, his sisters, and a great aunt to help us rekindle the spirit of the house. We felt good about the work ahead of us. And we had a lot of work ahead of us. We had no idea of the structural problems( a little termite damage, though they don't really like heart pine). We had no idea we would have to find a salvage house to match the bead board. We had no idea we would have to have wood milled to match the pine siding on the exterior. We had no idea that we would have to remove every piece of wood so we could insulate properly.

We had no idea!


Frankie said...

You're living my dream. Especially since the house was your great-grandparents'. WOW.

Angela said...

These posts are a gift to your curious friends. I would have ended up doing the same thing, for a house with old bones and stories is better than new anyday! I am really thankful you didn't have to live there while trying to do the refurb!

mull-berry said...

It's cool how you can see past the colorful door facings! The bead board is beautiful. How long did it take to make it livable?

Mrs. G. said...

These are some pretty dramatic photos. You can tell, deep down, she's a real beauty.

I'm with Frankie. You are living my dream too. Just keep putting up those pictures, so I can continue to pretend I'm there.

ZILLA said...

Unbelievable! Aren't all the best gifts in life the ones we have no idea about before we unwrap them? And this is one of those gifts that keeps on giving, to boot!

I LOVE this post!!!