I grew up in a quiet little suburb in Pennsylvania where my parents still live. It’s a lovely neighborhood, where everyone knows at least a little about everyone else, the noisiest neighbors are a few small churches whose bells ring out at lunchtime each day and on Sundays, and the hilltop provides a great view of sunset and natural protection from flooding brought on by the annual nor’easters. All in all, it was a charming place to grow up.
In late winter of 2015, the house next door to my parents’ went up for sale after one of the elderly inhabitants passed away. In what can only be described as a fit of unfettered enthusiasm – or perhaps, insanity – we decided that planning our upcoming wedding and juggling our careers was not quite challenging enough, and we wanted to take on a home renovation “project,” and that this house would be the perfect place to start.
To put it mildly, the little brick home that soon became our project house had suffered decades of neglect. From what we were able to gather from the realtor and our own observations, the previous owners had a hoarding problem, and the house appeared to have been (poorly) divided into two separate, albeit attached, living spaces, complete with two equally-outdated and equally-filthy kitchens, and a makeshift latched door that might have been better suited for the Pit of Despair.
I suppose that by the time we toured the property, our (my?) excitement was already percolating, and room after room of disrepair and dire need of renovation was not enough to scare us away. So, we bought it.
Why this house?
I guess the most obvious reason #1 is that my parents live next door. It’s not just that we love my parents and would enjoy having them as neighbors, or that I am quite possibly the most sentimental human being on earth, although I am. We knew that they’d be on board with pitching in on our renovation project not only because they want to help us however they can, but also because the house had long been the neighborhood’s eyesore, and they were dying for someone to do something about it.
That brings me to reason #2. Mr. Crafty and I are the quiet, roll-up-your-sleeve type of people who value hard work and hate to see nice things treated poorly. Knowing that house was in such dire straits tugged at our moral fibers, and I guess we just felt like we should be the someones to do something about it. And who doesn’t root for the scrappy underdog, right?
Reason #3 is that we both love a challenge. And good thing. From edgeless puzzles with tiny monochrome pieces to figuring out how to get a horribly outdated electrical scheme up to code, we both love the thrill of digging into a problem, learning together along the way, and being able to stand back at the end with the “hey, we did that!” sense of satisfaction.
And finally, reason #4, probably the most practical reason of them all, we really believed (and still do!) that the house has great bones, sits on an awesome corner lot, and has enormous potential to become a really lovely home.
So, that’s the somewhat abridged version of how we got where we are. Now we’re busy taking this house all the way down to the brick, and putting it back together bit by bit.
For jaw-dropping Before photos that make us scratch our heads and wonder what on earth we were thinking, click here.
For updates on our work so far, see “Progress” posts under the “Our Home Renovation” tab.