We knew we were supposed to live here when we saw the little house back in the summer of 2000. Even though it was in desperate need of restoration and repair, we could see what it could become.
Although the home was built in the late 1940's, we are only the third owners, so much of the original construction was still there waiting to be brought to life again after years of neglect. It had only been renovated once in the early 1960's when a second story was added. Other than that, for better and for worse we were getting everything pretty much untouched. The home was built on a former vineyard that was subdivided. Each lot in the subdivision was sold at various times over about a ten year period, with each buyer custom-building their home different from the rest. So our home was one-of-a-kind from the start.
When we closed escrow, there was no vegetation in the gardens--just a white picket fence and pergola (which we fell in love with right away). We received the key on the last day of July 2000. During the blistering summer heat of August, we embarked on making the house liveable so we could move in. With crowbars and hammers in hand we naively thought we could renovate everything in about 3 weeks. Boy, were we naive!
Above left: The downstairs bathroom before we did anything to it.
Above right: The downstairs bathroom after we completed the renovation
(although the outlet plate still needed to be hung)
It took 3 months of literal blood, sweat and tears from Hubby, my gifted craftsman of a brother, and me just to get the house to a point where we could move in! My mom even came up and pitched in helping us to sheet rock and tile the downstairs bathroom.
Everyday, I would drive 45 minutes from our former town and begin work in the non-air-conditioned house. My brother (a college student off for the summer) would join me. Hubby would go to work, put in an 8+ hour day, and then join us in the evening to put in another 4-5 hours of hard labor. We'd leave around 11 or 12 o'clock at night, drive back the 45 minutes to where we were staying with my sister and her family, shower, and crash for the night.
Above left: The original kitchen. Nothing was salvageable and we had to take everything down to the studs.
Above right: The kitchen after renovation. We wanted to keep it true to the period of the home even though it was new construction.
Hubby and I acquired matching pairs of canvas painter's overalls that became our daily uniforms. I quickly learned to not care whether I was seen in public without makeup, and the three of us would often descend on an eating establishment still dressed in our construction attire. Many times it was in a sit-down establishment. All pride goes out the window when you're hungry and exhausted.
We did have an electrician come in to bring the wiring up to code. And a plumber came to replace the main supply and waste lines under the house. But the rest of the work was performed by the three of us. It was less expensive that way and we'd get "more bang for our buck".
Above left: The eat-in kitchen area before (that's Hubby peeking around the corner). The little cabinet is the original pull-down ironing board that we happily restored.
Above right: The eat-in kitchen are now. The dinette set is a vintage set that was given to us from the neighbor across the street when she was cleaning out her childhood home.
I learned to appreciate a lot of things during that 3 month period--air conditioning... running water... an operating shower... a flushing toilet... the repetition of the playlists of FM radio stations...
About Halloween 2000, we deemed the house ready for us to live in it because we had an operating downstairs toilet and a shower. We still didn't have a kitchen sink. We did dishes in the bathtub. The sink got put in a month and a half later by a very kind and gracious man, Wayne, in our new congregation at church that found out we didn't have a kitchen sink yet. He insisted that we needed to have a kitchen sink before Christmas. He wouldn't take "no" for an answer, came over one evening, and installed everything. He did it all for a handshake and a "thank you". We are forever grateful to Wayne for making the first Christmas in our home one where we could do the dishes in the kitchen sink.
We were far from being done with the restoration. Over the next 6 years, we were involved in doing some phase of the renovation. We lived with sheet rock dust for so long that it's kind of odd not to have it around anymore.
Over those 6 years, Hubby learned to cut tile and I learned to set tile. Hubby learned to hang sheet rock. I learned how to mud and tape sheet rock and then texture it to look like the old plaster on the original walls. We learned about framing and basic electrical. We figured out how to lay hardwood floors that would match the original hardwood floors. Hubby learned to cut trim and moulding with exact precision (see the photo of our master bedroom at left to see his gorgeous handiwork). And I learned the blessings of paintable caulk. And so much more!
As I look back over the last 8 years, I don't have many regrets. Don't get me wrong... home restoration and renovation is not for the faint of heart, by any stretch of the imagination. But we've learned and grown so much. The experience has helped me to finally put down roots somewhere, because I have put myself into almost every inch of this house.
Some people wonder why we chose to name our home. This is why. Because it deserves a name after everything we've been through together. It's like a member of the family--a home named Rosehaven.
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