“Never say never.” Maybe Dickens was the first man to pen the phrase, but I’m sure the expression was coined long before. In my experience, any time I have made the bold statement, “I would never…”, it has resulted in the exact thing I said never to coming to fruition. To me, it feels like God laughs at my brazenness and says, “Ha! Yeah, you’ll see!” Case in point: I told Jason I would NEVER (bold, italicized, underlined, exclamation point) renovate an old house. So what did we do? Well, I’m sure you have put two and two together…
Before we were engaged, Jason received a phone call saying the house he had always dreamed of owning was about to go on the market. Within a few days he had a contract signed to make the house his own. You see, Jason grew up almost next door to this house, and his parents still live in his childhood home. After graduating college, he bought his first house a quarter of a mile from the home. Yes, he adored the old farmhouse, but he also loved the neighborhood and beautiful mountain scenery he had always called home. It was a no brainer for him… this was his dream come true.
Oh, the things we do for love. The thought of a home remodel was utterly repulsive to me. I thought I wanted a home in a neighborhood, with a HOA, on a very small piece of land, and maybe even a community pool. However, the look in Jason’s eyes walking through this old, dilapidated house changed my position. His excitement and passion roped me in, and before I knew it, I was encouraging the purchase. While we were not yet engaged, I knew he was the man I would marry and I knew I would raise my children with him in that farmhouse.
The house was built in the 1800s and several families called it “home” before us, so when we renovated it, we wanted to maintain as much of the original charm. Our desire was to find a balance in all the new construction in order to pay homage to the families who lived here before us. A perfect spot to highlight this was the foyer. It was one spot in the house I felt didn’t need much work, and I hoped to keep things as original as possible. Boy, I was wrong about the whole not needing much work thing.
Because we had to take the entire house to the stud walls, there wasn’t ample opportunity to keep anything original. Thankfully, we were able to restore the heart pine floors throughout most of the original home. The gorgeous wood floors dating more than a century back were actually painted the most vibrant shade of powder blue (I’m trying to think of nice words to use here, because it was overwhelming seeing so much blue). We had no idea if it would be possible to sand away the layers of paint while also maintaining the integrity of the hardwood. Somehow, and thankfully, we were able to do it in most areas. There are still knots in the wood grain that have specks of blue, but we were able to bring the lovely wood back to life.
The kitchen and laundry room were both added on to the house by previous owners. We took out walls to open up the foyer and encourage more flow throughout the downstairs. When we did this, we had to match up as closely as possible the original floors to new wood flooring. I shared this in a kitchen remodel post, but Jason was able to find a similar wood and a custom stain to blend the two floorings together.
Upon walking in the front door, you are faced with a staircase that makes a turn into the foyer. The bulky wooden post at the foot of the stairs is five and a half feet tall and was made with the most impeccable craftsmanship. This was key in allowing it to remain beautiful after a hundred plus years. The white spindles going up the stairs are intricate and enchanting, and surprisingly only two were missing after all those years. We knew we didn’t want to do too much to the staircase! We were able to keep the staircase, railing, and spindles and only had to do minor fixes like raising the height of the banister, replacing a couple of spindles, and sanding and painting the wood. It’s one of my favorite parts of the house. I feel like this staircase is so rich with history, as each person who has called this house home has walked up and down them. When I hold on to the handrail, I think about the other mamas who hiked up the stairs to console a crying child, or the wild kids that sprinted down the stairs to run outside.
We took out walls, raised the ceilings, rearranged the layout, and replaced all of the plaster with sheetrock. I wanted to save the original wainscoting, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible. We added new wainscoting to the walls and painted it white to accent the light gray walls. For the staircase, we stained the tread and railing to match the floors. To pay tribute to the blue floors from before, we painted the risers a blueish gray. We also used partially sanded original flooring as a topper on the half wall ledge that sits at the turn of the stairs.
While I’ll never be able to talk to the original family that called our house their home, I hope they would be pleased with the work we have done. Our worlds are so different from each other, making it hard to fathom what a day in their life was like. We have hand held computers (thank you Apple), and they didn’t have electricity. We added three and a half bathrooms to the house, and they probably had to go outside at the most inconvenient times. Yes, we are spoiled! I said “never!” to an undertaking that opened up my heart to people I will never meet. I’m thankful the Lord laughs at my plans and throws me curve balls. I’m also thankful for the passionate brown eyed man who convinced me to go on this wild adventure with him!