Twenty Years to Home Sweet Home

August 8, 2019

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I'm Heather, an Old House Lover, DIY Addict, Gardener Wannabe, and Crazy Dog Lady. I have renovated historic houses for over 20 years now with an emphasize on preservation over a quick flip. Now, I take great joy in teaching others the ins and outs of the renovation world.

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Renovating old houses is not for the faint of heart. They cost you a lot of money, time, energy, and a whole lot of flexibility. It’s hard to believe but I’ve been signing up for this for 20 years now. As in I have willingly renovated 5 old houses personally. But it seems that I might have found my home sweet home.

When I type that out it doesn’t seem like that many over the course of time. But when you move out of one house, your stuff goes into storage , and then you and your dogs become gypsies living all over the place during the major renovations – well, you get the point. And then you do it again a few years later, and then again, and then again. It’s taxing and exhausting and yet I keep doing it over and over again. Some might say I have a problem. I like to say I like changing things up.

It Started When I Was Young

As I started thinking about why I love doing this so much, I was reminded that I’ve essentially been redesigning spaces since I was young. Apparently growing up I missed all the signs that design and decorating were my thing. In elementary school I convinced my parents to let me decorate my bedroom to my own very unique (and somewhat questionable) taste. I saved up those little green stamps you got at the grocery store and if you filled up the booklets with the stamps, you could order stuff from a mysterious catalog. Anyone else remember those? I was very serious about it.

Once I filled up enough booklets, I traded them in to get a bedding set. My sister swears it’s the same one from Home Alone but let’s just say it was an odd choice – gray with pops of red, yellow, green, and blue, and with geometric shapes. We painted my walls gray and somehow when the entire house got carpeted, I made a compelling argument that my room should be different. My parents agreed to gray carpet in my room, and my room only. I’m still not sure how I worked that one, or why I thought an all gray room was a good idea.

Fast forward to college where I was always the one that made certain that my roommate and I had matching bedding and coordinating accessories for our rooms. When I rented my first house out of college, I was constantly fixing things up like the kitchen floor or landscaping the yard so it was no surprise that when I purchased my first house, I did exactly the same thing.

House #1

House #1

Immediately I got to work giving a facelift to the kitchen, completely remodeling the bathroom, and painting every room in the house. I can specifically remember my mom and I renting a floor sander and refinishing the hardwood floors that were hidden under the linoleum in the kitchen. Let’s just say I realized that certain aspects of renovations are best left to the professionals. I also worked in that yard for hours upon hours. The large Japanese Maple tree in the front yard was spectacular, so much so that my dad potted some of the seeds from it and gave me one of the tiny trees years ago. I’ve taken care of that special tree dragging it in a pot from house to house over the years.

Japanese Maple Tree

My First House to My 1914 Bungalow

The Back Yard & Screened Porch

When I pulled out old pictures of my first house (before digital was a thing) I found some striking similarities between my very first house and the one I now call home. For instance, the back yard. In my first house I loved the back patio that was just off of the screened-in porch and spent many hours enjoying those great outdoor spaces.

One of the biggest priorities of my new house was the addition of a screened in porch. It overlooks the large trees that tower above my house creating a little private oasis. And on most days, and nights, you can find me hanging out there.

My 1914 Bungalow

Fireplace Revealed

In my first home I removed paneling in the bonus room. The paneling covered this cool fireplace with an arched detail above. This cool find very well may have been the start of my renovation obsession and the joy that comes from uncovering something from the past. My favorite part is being able to turn something old into something new.

In my current home, I also uncovered an original fireplace behind drywall when we renovated the former bedroom. While the fireplace isn’t safe to use anymore, I loved having the chance to expose the original brick.

Family Room

Walk-In Attic

One of the coolest features in my first house was the huge walk-in attic. It had a door that concealed the steps to the attic which reminded me of my grandmother’s house. At her house all of the cool treasures were tucked away in her attic.

In an effort to commit to my current home for many years to come (meaning I’m actually tired of moving), I went ahead during the renovation and installed stairs to my large attic. There’s plenty of space to add a couple of bedrooms and a bath down the road. We actually went ahead and ran the plumbing upstairs during the renovations. To tuck this secret space away for the time being, I installed a door just like my first house, and my grandmother’s. It’s this neat little hidden treasure just waiting for its turn to be transformed.

Attic Stair Access

I find it nostalgic to find so many meaningful similarities between my first house and my present one, My 1914 Bungalow. House #1 led me to Hampton Heights and while I’d love to give this super meaningful explanation as to how I found this special little community, honestly I was just looking for my next house. Lucky for me I found home.

House #1

The Little Yellow House – House #2

The Little Gray Bungalow

The Little Gray Bungalow – House #3

The Americana

The Americana – House #4

Full Circle

Now, 20 years later, I’m in my fifth house, My 1914 Bungalow. Full circle you could say. My home sweet home. I still have a to-do list that’s a mile long but all of the major items are complete so for now that’s enough. This is by far my favorite house and my plans are to be here for a while. Of course I’ll never say that I’ll never move again but since the renovation business is my day job, it’s nice to have a somewhat finished space to come home to.

My 1914 Bungalow

My 1914 Bungalow – House #5

To celebrate this journey and solidify my intentions to stay put for a while, I put down some roots. As in I literally put down roots this past weekend. Do you remember the Japanese Maple tree I told you I loved from House #1? The one my dad had potted the seeds from and gave me one of the small trees years ago? Well, after dragging that tree around with me for years in a large pot, I finally planted it this weekend. And the best part? It’s right beside my screened porch. My hope is that as it grows I can be reminded of my renovation journey and that sometimes it takes a while to find your home sweet home.

Japanese Maple Tree

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