(I took this photo this morning, to approximate what I saw that first time I laid eyes on our house.)
I tell people that it was a good thing my husband was driving that morning, because there's a good chance that I would have run off the road.
This house is everything I love about houses ... it's old, it's brick, it's in the country, and it's really unusual. What it wasn't, however, was for sale.
This is the first photo I took when we came to the house with the realtor in 2002.
In the early 2002, I was in downtown Fredericksburg on my way to have lunch with my husband. In a newspaper-style street-side box in front of his building, I saw MY house on the cover of a real estate magazine ... with a price that we could never afford to pay. My husband spent our whole lunch together trying to console me.
Fast forward 6 months to the summer of 2002 ... MY house is featured with a big article in the newspaper's Friday real estate section. It was still for sale! Seeing it there was so depressing. I looked at the photos, and started reading the article. The author was describing the house's history and its features. It really hurt to read it. When I got to the end of the article, the part where the author tells who is listing the house and for how much, I saw that the price was lower ... significantly lower, and (most importantly) low enough for our budget.
Against his better judgement (at the time) my husband agreed to let me call the realtor. He said, "What can it hurt to take a look." (Famous last words)
The front steps, 2002.
The house was tired. The then-owners were overwhelmed by the maintenance needs of such an old house and its property, and we could see that the place needed significant work before it could be our home. This caused my husband to have second thoughts about even considering the idea ... but, he knew I loved this place, and he agreed (after three visits, and against his better judgement, again) to go forward and make an offer.
Recognize the side of the house that I featured yesterday?
Armed with what we thought was a comprehensive home inspection, we put together a renovation plan that we thought would take 2 to 2 1/2 years. We would continue to live in Spotsylvania during this time, and the house would be finished by the time our youngest daughter graduated high school ... a perfect time to move.
Big surprise ... Every project on our list turned out to be more involved than we thought it would be. All of the things we thought would be fine, weren't. Plumbing, electrical, roof, plaster ... the list is endless. I tell people that the only thing in this house that I haven't either replaced or refinished is the railing on the stairs (I threatened everyone who worked here not to damage that railing, or there would be dire consequences ... and I'm scary enough to back up that threat.) It took five years until we had the house finished enough to move in.
I think our front yard looks like a park.
Here are a few Before and After photos, to give you a taste of how far we've come. All of the Befores were taken on our first visit, with an ancient digital camera.
The Dining Room and kitchen are in the 1967 addition to our house. Since this wasn't the historic part of the house, we didn't have a second thought about removing most of the wall between the two rooms and completely replacing the kitchen.
Dining Room before, with kitchen door on the right.
A big double beam would insure that our upstairs stayed upstairs.
We completely replaced the kitchen. Here's a taste of the former eat-in corner.
Ready for new cabinets.
After, as of today ... but still not quite finished.
The entry, in 2002, was covered with gold, flocked, Chinese-patterned wallpaper ... completely fashionable in 1967, when it was installed. It was time for a change.
Gold wallpaper, Colonial Revival light, and a stair runner that's way past its prime.
No more wallpaper. The plaster is repaired, and the new yellow paint looks beautiful (BM Windham Cream). Countless layers of paint are gone from the woodwork, and it's ready for primer.
Entry, as of now ... still not quite finished, though.
Our Family Room is probably my favorite room in the house. It has windows that face east and north, and it is always bright and happy.
Dark photo of the family room, 2002.
Moldings stripped and primed, and plaster stripped of paint in preparation for the plasterer to do his thing. Notice the new electrical outlets in the baseboard.
Repaired plaster, fresh paint (RH Silver Sage), and refinished floors. I love the light in this room.
This is where I'm sitting right now, with Maggie sleeping in my lap. The coffee table is a future refinishing project.
This is just an overview to introduce you to this house that I love so much, and to show how far it's come in the 8 years we've owned it. I'll go into more detail from time to time, focusing on various rooms and projects we've worked on.
Remember to come back tomorrow for "Friday Flowers" and the details of my first Giveaway.
I'm joining the 'How I Met My House' link party over at Our Suburban Cottage.
(written by Hartwood Roses. Hartwood Roses blog.)