Thursday, December 20, 2007


I've been blogging about our daily life, being a Mama to four (soon five), and cultivating a home for just about a year now with more success and popularity than I ever imagined possible. Along with the questions and comments on basic things or blog articles, I have always received requests for more information on our old house. "How big is it? What does it look like? What are you re-doing now?"

The Story of Our House

We bought this house on just about 2 acres in a rural area about 11 months ago. It had sat on the market for almost a year, untouched. The realtor told us people were turned off by its sheer size and maze of rooms. At the time, we owned a craftsman bungalow that we loved but we were always on the lookout for a home outside the city for our growing family and dreams. Our requirements were that it had to fit our family, have some land, be in our price range, and not need major work. So this house fit the first three requirements. It needs a lot of work!
Sean showed me a blurry computer printout photo with the description and I gasped. The house was ghetto blue. "I cannot live in a house THAT color! Do you know how much paint it would take to repaint it?"
He convinced me to see it.
Turns out the computer photo was off and the house was more of a colonial blue. Not a great color, but better.
I wish I had taken a photo of the first room as it was when we walked into. It was large and the floor was covered in green outdoor carpeting, the walls were (still are) dark red and the trim (still is) gold. This one room had five doors leading in different directions. It was also unheated.

The rest of the house showed a bit better. Ages of wallpaper painted over, a new kitchen that didn't fit the house, bubblegum, dark purple and turquoise colored rooms. A Mary blue bathroom (so called out of the utmost respect for my sweet Catholic Grandma who loves this particular shade of blue - the shade of most icon Mary's gown). A foot of water in the basement. No downstairs bath. Patriotic borders and rooms in every shade of camouflage green. Wooden molding hung at different heights. Wainscoting hung to chin height. Half the house unheated. Chip board ceilings. I really could go on here but you get the idea. It was not glamorous.
So why did we buy?
The 200+ year old hand built foundation is solid. The home has beautiful character once you look past the obscenities that other humans bestowed upon her. The land is great and surrounded by farm fields. The water in the basement was just because of an unplugged sump pump, of which this city girl had never heard of. This house has wonderful potential. We bought it for $130,000 when single ranches down the road were going for more. Hopefully, once we fix it up and make her beautiful again, we can sell (gulp!) for twice as much and fund our next life in Germany. It was a strategic plan. It is kind of our thing, this pouring love and life into homes and then using them to finance the next move.
While I am trying to avoid posting photos of the exterior of our home for safety's sake (we do have a big dog and lots of guns here.. wink, wink. No, honestly, we do...) here are some photos in the style of our home. Our home was built as a center hall Georgian Colonial.
A Georgian colonial is characterized by five over four windows. Our home has a six room wing off on one side and an attached garage. Two of the rooms in this wing are the original portion of the house dating from 1791. As was typical of the era, folks would build a few main rooms and live in them while they built the rest of the home.We do have chimneys on either side of the house, as in these sample photos. One is in use now and holds our wood stove, the other is walled in and we cannot wait to unearth it! At some time a small front porch was added on that really doesn't fit the home. It is rotted and needs to be torn down this spring. We're thinking of putting a basic stone/cement stoop as in theses three photos.
So welcome to Cultivating this Old House!