Old House Renovation Story: In the beginning…

The first time I scoped out my old house, it was with an eye to “fix it and flip it.” You see, the designer in me had a dream of giving a boost to some of the neglected old homes in town. Fortunately, my local banker friend liked the idea–and my business plan–and so an offer was made on the house… and accepted.


The old gal had some issues, but as far as I was concerned, she was entitled to them. After all, it was September 2005, and she had been standing in that same spot since 1907. She’d experienced a little “remuddling” but nothing substantial, so mostly I was facing original elements. Usually that’s fantastic, except original knob-and-tube wiring doesn’t fall in that category. But I’m getting ahead of myself…


In the beginning–when I first saw her–she looked like this. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but her porch roof was sagging terribly and obviously in need of some attention. The knee walls were crumbling, too… and the concrete steps had decided to lean to the left.

House renovation


Exterior Task #1: Fix the wAvY porch roofline

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Renaissance Man and I were happy to oblige.  “We” (aka he and a hired hand) jacked up the porch…

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Removed the old brick footers… That was an easy task! When the weight was removed from them, the mortar (aka sand) just trickled out. Kinda scary… If you want to see what rotten mortar looks like, check out THIS POST. It’s another time we got to “play with jacks” at our old house.

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And dug and poured a new concrete footer…

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Rebuilt the previously-collapsing knee walls…

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Cleaned out the area under the porch… See the two colors of brick? The lower section extends down into the basement, and the new porch floor will sit between the two. In old houses, windows like this one were used as coal chutes–back when coal was the heat source for the house.

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Rebuilt the floor… Finally, after doing the balance beam walk across floor joists for what seemed like forever.

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Eventually, the painting was done… and the steps got “leveled” by using old bricks from a chimney that had to be lowered. This is what she looked like a couple of years ago–before a new roof and before a new round of porch repairs.

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But back in the beginning, there was a whole other story going on behind that front door.

House renovation

It wasn’t pretty. Friends thought we were crazy. I’d do it all over again.


Would you… if this is what you started with?

old house renovation


Next week I’ll open the front door and invite you in. then over the next few weeks we’ll visit one room at a time as I walk down Memory Lane in preparation to part ways with the house that has been my haven for the past eight years. Why? Because Renaissance Man and I have decided: It’s time to downsize our life–and upsize our faith.


If you’ve enjoyed this part of the story, you might like THIS ONE. (It adds to this story–and includes more pics!)


And if you’d like to have gorgeous hanging ferns at your house, check out THIS and THIS.


I can’t wait to share more of this old house renovation story with you! If you want to hear it, be sure to sign up on the sidebar to get new posts delivered via email.

 UPDATE: Now that the entire story has been told, here are the rest of the chapters…

The Living Room

The Study

The Dining Room

The Kitchen and Dish Pantry

The Master Suite

The Upstairs Bathroom

The Upstairs Bedrooms

The Mudroom

The Gardens

Lessons From An Old House Renovation


I’ll be joining Mosaic Monday at Little Red House and Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.



  1. There is NO WAY I would even consider it!!!!! I have often wondered what special gene those of you who enjoy taking an dilapidated building from zero to hero must possess. I don’t have that gene AT ALL!!! You guys did a fantastic job, and I say both “Congratulations!” and “You must have been out of your ever-lovin’ minds!!!) 🙂

  2. I’m going to love this series. I have always longed to fix up an old house. For most of the (nearly) 30 years we have been married, I have stalked one potential after another, only to be thwarted at every turn. About a year ago, I realized that God had just said NO, and it’s all OK. The truth is that my husband just doesn’t share the love of renovation so it would have been a burden on him and never a blessing. He would have done it *for me* had God ever said YES so now it’s my turn to do *for him* and accept God’s NO without pouting. .

    That said…. I still love to visit them and read about them. I guess my old house love will just be of the vicarious sort.

  3. I’m with Debbie (comment before me)!! I am going to love your series!! I love to see an old house brought back to life and see its beauty restored. I don’t have the courage or know how to try it myself so I admire your strength and vision. Looking forward to seeing more of your home.