• August 1, 2003

Before We Moved In, Sept. 2002

Meet the house that stole our hearts along with our wallets and free time!

Before and After, Restoration Diary

before_01Jeannie and I paint my home office

These are the very first photos of us working on the house. They were taken the week before we moved in. We were trying to get the house clean enough to live in. I have this goofy “I can’t believe I’m a home owner” grin on my face!

before_03David stripping the fireplace

Our restoration SWAT team included Jeannie, a long time family friend, who flew in from Indiana for a week. She was amazing. She cooked meals, spackled like a pro, painted, sanded, spent more time with me at Home Depot than either of us probably care to remember and she even helped peel up old linoleum from the bathroom floor!

before_02Living Room

David’s brother Chris flew in from Utah for the weekend to help us paint and whatever else we asked him to do. He said it it was “fun” but he has’t come back to visit since. We think he is waiting until the house is finished.

before_02aLooking into the den from the living room

Our friend Jeff also dropped by for a few hours to help paint. I think he went on a McDonalds run or two for us. We lived on McDonalds the first 3 weeks we had the house – especially after Jeannie left.

before_04Looking into the den from the living room

before_05Extra large register vent in the floor between the living room and dining room

before_06Dining room’s built-in china cabinet

before_07Dining room, box beam ceiling


before_09Den floor


before_11Kitchen counter was built right up to the pantry cabinet door. Obviously, the door to the cabinet can’t be opened.

before_12We found a phone jack every 3-5 feet, running all around the upstairs bedrooms. Wonder what all those phones were used for?

Comments { 10 }
  1. Chuck

    Thanks for the website. Ann and I restored a craftsman 1917 in Jacksonville, Illinois. It was a labor of love. We now live in Montana and for our retirement bought two unfinished condo units in Lewistown. The old Fergus county high school. Design will be craftsman and your pictures are going to be invaluable.
    Thanks again.

  2. heather


    Glad you enjoy the site! Best of luck with the condo project. It sounds like it will be a lot of work and fun.

    Thanks for your post,

  3. Marian

    Dear David and Family,

    Oh my god! I was exhausted just looking at the photos of what you have done!

    I own a 1924 Craftsman in Florida. Although an abandoned HUD house it was nowhere in need of as much TLC as yours.

    I dont know how you all did it. What kept you keeping on. How you handled a RELATIONSHIP RESTORATION?

    I do love your dogs and the after photos. I would like to know the secret of your resiliance and perhaps a copy of the restoration diet as you have so untapped energy that I would love to harness

    Good luck with it all

  4. Sarah

    I’ve just read your blog all the way through and arrived at your first post. The amount of work you have done is incredible and inspiring! Your house is gorgeous and I really enjoy your writing. I’ll follow your blog from now on!

  5. Debra

    I am considering buying a 1914 Craftsman and restoring it to original condition. (Definately NOT remodel to “Modern Craftsman”!) It is in fairly rough shape now and I found your website while researching what it would be like to take on such a project. What I have found is both inspiring and daunting – but it has helped me decide to go ahead with the purchase (IF I can get the owner to accept a reasonable price – I think she is living in 2006!) Thanks for the site and I will bookmark it for future reference!

  6. Catherine (England)

    Just dicovered your site by chance. What an amazing home and an amazing labour of love. Fantastic!

  7. Debbie

    Wow, my dining room and living room have almost the same exact columns/shelves separating them. I also have a built in china cabinet and boxed beam ceilings.
    I didn’t think my 102 year old house was built from a kit, but now I’m thinking it was!

    You two have done a great job on restoring your old home!

  8. Aron

    All the phone jacks were most likely set up for bookies. Cool :)
    I am remodeling a 1920 built bungalow right now. Mine has a bit of an art deco feel and has all original white painted cabinets and trim, nothing worth stripping (I tried), but your woodwork is beautiful. Great job. I am having fun… can’t wait to see new pictures!

  9. Erin

    Hi Heather!

    I love your blog. I have read it top to bottom over the years. Can you give me an idea of how your inspection turned out. Did you hire further specialists? Where like OMG we don’t have the money to do all this right now? Did you have any structural issues? I find that everything sounds so immediate/dangerous/must be updated now! What things did you just trust could wait? It seems a lot of my neighbors who have renovated homes in West Adams still have yet to update their electrical after 10+ years of living there.

    • Heather

      Hi Erin. Thanks! Oddly enough, our inspection turned out fine for the most part except for the foundation and a few code violations…like a door on the second story that opened to no where except a 2 story drop, our house used to be a duplex and the outside staircase had been removed. But there were helluv a lot of things wrong with our house! There are so many things that don’t turn up until you actually open up walls, etc.

      There was some fungus growing on the floor, or maybe it was mold, that we hired a specialist to come and evaluate. It turned out to be nothing serious. We hired a structural engineer to asses the foundation (the seller ended up paying to replace the foundation).

      We found out on the day we were supposed to sign papers for the house that our home wasn’t directly connected to the city sewer line and was actually connected to the sewer line underneath our neighbor’s home instead. This neighbor had started legal proceedings against the home owner over this issue. None of that had been disclosed to us. Extremely stressful at the time! The previous home owner did pay to connect us to the sewer line but we had to close on the house before the work was actually done because of the timing.

      Also, the roof had been replaced but incorrectly, there was no flashing. The home owner must have known because water poured down the walls like Niagara Falls every time it rained. This also wasn’t disclosed. We really must have wanted our house not to have walked away. :)

      Obviously, the foundation, connection to the city sewer line and roof had to be addressed first.

      1) Refinish the floors and install an alarm system before you move in.

      2) I recommend updating all the structural issues like plumbing, electrical, foundation, roof, water heater, etc. before beginning any cosmetic work. You would hate to have to tear into a wall after you patched it, plastered and painted to get to the wiring or plumbing.

      3) I would maybe do your bedroom and if you have children, definitely the kid’s room(s), so that you and the children have a place that is clean and serene to get away from all construction in the home. We did not do that, but I wish we had.

      4) I would restore the outside next. Nothing made a bigger difference with how we felt about the house then fixing up and painting the exterior. Our neighbors really responded positively. It kind-of bonded us to the neighborhood in a way.

      5) Next, a lot of people tackle utilitarian areas; kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room. If you have a clear idea of how you want to update those rooms than it makes a lot of sense. You want a clean, nice place to prepare your meals, bathe, and wash your clothes. I am still undecided on what to do with our kitchen…I tend to be indecisive. This wouldn’t work for me, but if you have a clear vision than go for it.

      6) Then you just tackle the rest of the house like the living and dining rooms.

      Let me point out again, we did most of this completely backwards. Live and learn. If you happen to have the luxury, get as much done as you can before moving in! Hope this helps. Best Wishes…

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