My husband Paul & I bought the house just a few months after we were married. Paul is a jack-of-all trades/ handyman/ renaissance man and I’m pretty artsy so we make a good design team.
We know a lot of history about the house. We know that it was built in 1899 and is considered to be a modest American FourSquare home with Craftsman details. We have original blueprints from one of the major remodels in the 30s.
My husband and I purchased the house in 2001 from a sweet elderly lady that had lived there since 1947. Before she lived there, only one other family had lived there before her, so we know that we are only the 3rd owners of this big beautiful 2,500 square foot house!
Another interesting detail was that each previous family had only had one child each and the little old lady we purchased from had lived there by herself since 1961 when her husband passed away. All the woodwork & trim was perfect and well preserved over the years!!!
The home was originally one residence, then a doctor’s office in the 1930s, then converted into three apartments in the 50s (although they were only rented out for a few short years while her husband was still alive). The last major remodel must have been during the late 1940s or 1950s.
When we looked at the home for the first time with a realtor it looked as though many of the rooms had been closed off for decades… newspapers in the windows, electricity shut off, no running water to parts of the house. The realtor kept apologizing and saying everything could be modernized… but I thought NO WAY! It was only the 4th house that we looked at, but we knew it was meant to be ours!!
So we had a VERY nice time capsule house to start with! Not only did I walk into a home that had a furnished 50s kitchen with original stove & cabinets…
I now had THREE 50s kitchens from the former apartments!!! Over the last 11 years we have slowly converted it back to a one residence home.
Here is a list of just some of the major projects we have undertaken over the years:
- Converted 2nd downstairs kitchen into a spacious vintage laundry room
- Removed lots of asbestos flooring [Precautionary Pam reminds: Find and consult with properly licensed professionals, dear readers!]
- Resanded some of the beautiful wood floors
- Restored all electricity & plumbing
- Paint — lots of paint!
- Added more white metal cabinets here & there (mostly found in heavy trash)
- Put the grand pocket doors back in (they had been walled over when they converted to the 3 apartments)
Cool story — when we knocked a hole in the wall hoping to find the pocket doors hidden inside — they weren’t there!!! Shortly after, we coincidently went to a garage sale at a neighbors house and they had these pocket doors shown in my photos for sale for $100!!! When we brought them home, the bolts in the doors threaded perfectly into the holes in our track… we think they might have been ours. Maybe neighbors traded them years ago… who knows!!
And of course there have been tons more decorating and redecorating over the years.
At times, I have dreamed about saving up for a “real” 50s ranch in a better neighborhood. However we have put so much of our heart & souls into remodeling this house… we have really grown attached to it. In some ways, I feel like I have the best of both worlds… original 50s fixtures, built-ins & wallpaper AND turn of the century woodwork, clawfoot tubs and high ceilings. And I honestly don’t know that I would ever find another time capsule home as great as this one… especially for the price — Since it is in a depressed neighborhood, we purchased it for less than $50K! I still dream of fixing up a long & lean rambling 1950s ranch one day, but I have learned to love the house I’m in!! It is so large with plenty of elbow room.
Yes, I did use Pam’s kitchen curtain fabric to spruce up my kitchen recently!
Tappan Stove is a 1961 model. (Same year the previous owner’s husband passed away, so the owner said she never used it much *sad*.) Very clean works perfect!
We love the original pegboard wall in our small kitchen — I don’t know why pegboard hasn’t made a big comeback yet!
The original mermaid wall paper in my upstairs bathroom is my favorite wall paper ever.
One other interesting note is that we have done most of the projects on a shoestring budget! We are full time ebayers, so we don’t have huge amounts of money to buy the best every time. (Despite people thinking that we are making millions on Ebay.) We have had to be really creative and work slowly over years at a time. It does help that we are constantly at thrift shops, estate sales & garage sales constantly for our work… it does make it easier to find things inexpensively… but not always on demand when you need it. I’m still waiting for the right pink 50s clothing hamper to come along to me at a sale for a dollar or two! I can’t bear to spend $80 for one on Ebay! My dining room is home to all of our Ebay storage… that’s what’s hidden behind all those colorful bins!
The bins are just large cardboard boxes covered with fabric — I’m cheap, but I think they turned out looking really custom!
It’s the most 70s room… not my favorite era, but I needed a challenge… now it’s one of my favorite rooms!
In the next couple of months I am getting ready to re-do the downstairs bath. It’s the one with the aqua blue wall board with faux tiles. The wall tiles are not holding up to splashes and it can’t really be cleaned. We are going to splurge and have a tiler do it basically in the same style, but with real tiles and adding a black border with pencil stick trim. I have the Daltile Aqua Glow tiles stacked in my garage just waiting till we save money for the flooring. I’m decorating with chalkware fish & have most of the decor! Thanks to you and your support of saving pink bathrooms… I gathered lots of inspiration from those articles!
A couple of years ago when we realized we were probably staying here for the long haul, we decided to buy the two houses on each side in order to make the neighborhood better and feed our hobby of fixing up old houses! 😉 They were not time capsules, but still had some cool features & old fireplaces. We fixed those up as well and they are now rented out to close friends of ours for very reasonable cost. We fenced in all three back yards to make one large backyard and we feel happy knowing we are improving the quality of this block. We have a lovely community patio in back — it really does feel like an oasis right in the middle of the city. It’s been cool!
Kristen and Paul — thanks so much for letting us take a peek into your character-filled home. You’ve done a terrific job with your remodeling and decorating — we think your mix of 1899-1930s-and-1950s is totally charming, totally homey, totally you! Kudos to you both for showing how we can create beautiful interiors on a shoestring, loving the house you’re in. From the looks of it, I’d say the house loves you back.
Kristen and Paul’s ebay store, The Robot Parade. (*affiliate link)
- Want to make a collage wall like Kristen’s? See Kristen’s 7 step-by-step tips to make a pleasing gallery wall.
- Or shop the Etsy version of The Robot Parade.