A Little More About Us

So this guy (we’ll call him “S”) met this girl (Emily) at the dining hall during their freshman year at Brown. The Ratty being an uninspiring place to meet your soulmate, no sparks flew and it was not love at first sight; the two remained tentative acquaintances (at best) until their senior spring semester when they were enrolled in a class that they both hated, but loved hating together. Soon, with the help of study sessions, delicious food and classic movie marathons, they realized--and with great gusto--that sometimes opposites really do attract, like a lot, and they were married a year later in the barn at Emily's parents' farm.
After their marriage in 2006, S’s job moved the newlyweds from city to city for the first couple of years. First there was Providence, then it was Boston for seven months (brr!), then onto two glorious years living right on Miami Beach. Emily found jobs doing fun things like writing for a newspaper, working for a non-profit and managing marketing and PR campaigns. It was a great adventure, but eventually the pair--S from Maryland and Emily from Pennsylvania--decided to give up the nomadic life to move closer to family. In the fall of 2008, the couple moved to Maryland and Thirtyeight20 was born. Actually, it was more like a slow and painful resurrection. The couple purchased the neglected property at a foreclosure auction, hoping their vision could transform the dump into a unique and beautiful home. Situated on six rural acres with a stream running down one edge and peacocks milling about the yard, the land alone was a gem for the price and a great investment.

But the house… oh, the house! Built around 1880, it was a two-story cabin made of first-growth, hand-hewn chestnut logs on a stone foundation. A timber addition was added around 1900—adding a kitchen and bedroom. Another large addition was added by a previous owner in 2000 as a great room and upstairs in-laws’ apartment. It didn't look like much from the outside, but there was potential hidden under the dull gray siding. They envisioned exposed log walls and a rustic modern vibe; they were both pretty handy and had talented family and connections, so why not give it a shot?

The fun began. The house had no real floor plan; adjacent spaces did not connect properly, and sometimes not at all. The kitchen sink was in the foyer. A set of stairs had been enclosed and left as wasted space. The ceilings upstairs were 6 feet high. A door in the living room led to a gaping, empty hole (known as the “Pit of Despair”) with no floor, no walls, no nothing—aside from piles of trash that had been left behind by the previous owners. Renovating this ol' shack, they knew, might take a lifetime. So, with the help of a few talented family members, friends and an occasional professional, Emily and S figured they may as well get started tearing down the bad, restoring the good and rebuilding it better.

A few of the tasks they’ve completed since September 2008 have included:
  • Gutting pretty much everything, removing every wire and pipe, replacing warped floor joists and hauling away multiple dumpsters of debris.
  • Integrating the in-laws’ apartment with the rest of the house.
  • Ripping out the attic to create cathedral ceilings in the original sections.
  • Completely moving a staircase to make some sense out of the floor plan.
  • Patiently scouring building material auctions and waiting for deals on everything.
  • Building a floor over the gaping Pit of Despair to double the size of the living room. 
  • Installing hardwood flooring, building a sweet stair railing, painting, caulking, crying and using a bucket as a toilet for a really long time.
And really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. To find out more about their eternal project, just read the blog, ok?

When not working on the house, Emily works (from home!) as a marketing manager for a marketing-to-women firm and S is a business analyst. They also like to cook and enjoy good food and wine, be inspired at their church, have adventures with friends and family and antagonize each other, in a good way, whenever possible. They are 26 years old and have no kids, no kitchen and no real idea when this is all going to be over. But everyone is learning a lot, and Emily and S are extremely thankful for their parents (who provide untold amounts of help and support), their friends who have stopped by to lend a hand and for all of you who are cheering them on!

So that's the story, which is still unfolding. Questions? Comments? Advice? We love hearing from you!
Updated 1/6/10

1 comment:

  1. This is absolutely amazing! I'm in awe. Hubby and I have bought two foreclosures and are currently looking for our next home, hopefully in the country. I'm a new reader! Cannot wait to read through your archives. =)


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