We came upon an iron fence beyond which was a sprawling lawn beyond which was the house. The first story was barely visible for the forest of shrubs and trees overgrown around it. The shingles around the weathered chimneys were sliding away. It was perfect.
It was also not for sale, but my husband could not be stopped by that technicality. He tracked down the owner and mailed him a letter filled with all the reasons why we needed this house. This to me seemed pretty bold. You can't just ask someone if you can buy their house right out from under them, I thought. And even if they could get past the audacity of this request, certainly they wouldn't want to sell this magical house. I was not hopeful. While we waited to hear something, we took daily trips to "visit" the house, which was really just us parking in front of it until we thought neighbors were becoming suspicious. We would just sit and look at it, talk about what we thought the inside looked like, and I would dream about living on the other side of the fence.
Weeks later, we got a phone call. The owner told Cory it was a good thing that we were in our twenties because this house needed young people with a lot of energy. He and his wife had purchased the house eleven years earlier with the intention of fixing it up. They lived there for a few years and then moved to the house next door still hoping to continue to the project. But the older they got, the bigger the house seemed for two people and the less they cared to do all of the work it would take to improve it. The only reason they hadn't put it up for sale is that they wanted to know their neighbors, to know that they were good people. And I guess they thought we were because they sold it to us.
The house was built in 1926 and last renovated in the early 1960s. It has been vacant for five years, collecting dust and falling into disrepair. There is virtually nothing in this house that doesn't need work. It's been waiting for us, and now we're making a home in the wildland.
wildland n. a wild, uncultivated, and uninhabited area
People have called us a lot of things when they see the gravity of this project. Ambitious. Brave. Crazy. At different times, I feel like all of these things. I definitely feel crazy when I'm sitting in what is for now the only inhabitable space in our 4500-square-foot home--a 12 x 12 bedroom where we eat, sleep, and basically do all of our living. Renovating this house is an enormous undertaking that we don't expect to finish any time soon. We're taking it step by step, room by room, and someday we'll have the dream house we could see the first time we saw this dilapidated old mansion.
And so begins all of the work that has inspired this blog, which will not only document the progress of our renovation but will also be a collection of design inspiration, projects, and ideas.
It's going to be quite a journey.