Like I said, this house was an old lame dog when we bought it. In case you don’t believe me, here’s a series of pictures. The house hadn’t been cared for in a very long time, and the bar was never set very high when it came to either construction or aesthetics. Just about anything would have improved the place. This is what it looked like on the day we closed in June of ’07.
This is the front of the house, and definitely its most flattering angle before we started doing any work. You have to look closely to see the sagging porch, the broken windows, the disintegrating shingles.
Here’s the house from the back yard. It was the model of neglect. The tree on the right was suffering from lack of water, the fiberglass “roof” over the back porch was disintegrating and depositing its flecks of yuckiness into the soil of the yard. The pile of brush in the left hand corner of the photo is actually the carcass of an other-wise healthy cherry tree that someone had dismembered and left for dead. (Alas, the tree is still alive, but I fear it will live out its days as a quadraplegic.)
A close-up of the back porch gives you an idea of the horrors. Just imagine this space multiplied by the space of a 100 x 150 foot lot, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how the whole place looked. Needless to say, we spent the first couple of weekends just cleaning and disposing of everything that screamed “send me to the dump.”
The inside was less cluttered, but not much prettier:
This is the living room. It’s hard to appreciate that this could be a decent room someday. It does have 9.5 foot ceilings, and big windows on two sides. When we bought it, it also had crumbling plaster, sagging floors, flowery (& very dirty) curtains, brown shag carpeting. And a ceiling fan that mysteriously featured wicker.
Adjacent to the living room is the dining room, where the original woodwork had been mercilessly ripped out, and apparently discarded. The plaster had also been removed. Admittedly, the house had no insulation, and with winter temps regularly falling to 20 below (on a bad winter like ’08), it must have been pretty brutal to live in this house. So they ripped the plaster out, threw in some fiberglass insulation, and covered the whole mess with fake wood paneling. The trim was never replaced. And, as a part of this misery-reducing regimen, the previous owners also lowered the ceiling to about 7.5 feet. This resulted in a lovely condition at the stairway:
It may be hard to see, but the door into the stairway has been cut off at the top, due to the lowered ceiling in the dining room. An extra bonus was that, if you were a tall person, you could look above the fake ceiling when walking down the stairs, and you could see the accumulation of dirt, rough framing, and other unmentionables. Kind of like peeking up the skirt of the hairiest guy in the room.
This is a corner of the bathroom. Its cavelike quality is difficult to fully describe. But the nice south-facing double hung window had been ripped out and replaced with four glass blocks, creating a that special prison-like atmosphere that is being featured in all the trendy house mags.
This is the future master bedroom, upstairs in the old part of the house. More half demolished plaster, exposed insulation, broken windows, fake wood paneling. Blah blah blah.
This is the kitchen, on the east side of the house. It must have been the only livable part of the house. It had actual south-facing windows and other forms of natural light, some insulation, and a wood stove. It also had lowered ceilings, vinyl flooring, and an unfinished row of plastic tiles around the counters.
Another view of the kitchen. It’s making me cringe to look at all these old photos, so I’d better stop. lm.
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Tags: back story, original condition, renovation