When Ben and I got engaged, and were offered to live in our little old house, we were ecstatic. I knew about the history of the house, so I figured it might need a little cosmetic work done, like painting and maybe some new carpet. But who cares, right? We were in love and could care less what we lived in as long as we were together. (Raise your hand if you’ve thought this before). So after the previous occupants moved out, we went in for our first look. It wasn’t the Ritz by any means, but it didn’t look so terrible. We thought we could slap a coat of paint on it and clean it and it would be just fine.
A little back story: we believe my great granddad bought the house, which, at the time, would have been a one room shack. We estimate this first room to be about 100 years old. He eventually built 4 more rooms and a bathroom. I never met my great granddad, but from what I’ve heard, he was an exceptional Christian man and an all-around great guy. Unfortunately, it seems his building skills were slightly lacking. See, when he built the additions to the house, he built them on the ground. The back bedroom (which is our bedroom) was built flat on the ground. There was no guttering system either. So you can imagine that a house, made of wood, sitting on the wet ground, would have some major wood-rotting issues. The renters who followed in the previous years tried to add some wood paneling and new carpet to hide the sagging floors and buckled walls, but you can only mask a problem for so long.
So the previous renters and occupants shut off the back bedroom (our bedroom) completely. They used it as an outhouse of sorts, where they stored farm and yard equipment. Yes, our bedroom may or may not have had a lawnmower in it. So we hired a handyman to help us whip up the back bedroom. The first day he came to work, we pulled the old sheetrock off our bedroom wall, only to find this:
Yep, termites had destroyed the wood in the house. We kept pulling sheetrock off, and kept finding more damaged wood. Keep in mind, we only planned a minor facelift, which meant no sheetrock destruction. Before we knew it, we had went crazy and gutted the whole house (except the kitchen; it was the last addition, so it was in decent shape). By this point we would have liked to have just burned the house down and started from scratch. In fact, the majority of people told us we were wasting our time. But it was FREE, and I love a good deal. So off to work we went. We were determined to fix it up, and spend as little as possible on it.
After about 6 months, we went from this:
Living room shots= Wood paneling overload! Notice the sloping floor, too.
Gutting about 90% of the house was not an easy task. We definitely had our hands full. But, it was an awesome learning experience, and we are thrilled with the end result: a roof over our heads and 4 solid walls! Plus, we did it all on a pretty tight budget. Our goal was to get the house in a livable, healthy condition while spending as little money as possible. We wanted our building materials and even our home decorations later on down the road to be as resourceful and budget friendly as possible (more on that later).
We laugh when we talk about the remodeling process. We had a handyman who helped us with a lot of the structural work and the rebuilding process. But we still managed to do quite a bit ourselves. I did, however, bring several years of remodeling experience to the table. I have painted several of my dollhouses with finger nail polish. I also once tried to build a playhouse from tobacco sticks.
Several hundred smashed fingers later, we are pleased with the house. It suits us perfectly right now, and we are thankful that we can add another chapter the history of the little old house.
More glamour shots:the bathroom before.