The "Before" Photos

Thirtyeight20 was by no means the gem of the neighborhood when we bought it in late 2008. It was more like the Boo Radley or the Maniac Magee of our little country lane. It had been greatly abused by past owners -- leading to rotten logs, a nonsensical two-family layout, jury-rigged solutions and an overall tangle of bad decisions and poor craftsmanship. Our neighbors were so tired of looking at it that they recommended we tear it town and start from scratch. For several months we were embarrassed to admit it was ours or to show our friends the photos...

But underneath its mildewed siding, and beyond its flaws and challenges, lay an old hewn log house made of first-growth chestnut, resting on a foundation of stones that were handpicked from the property over 130 years before. Most of the house would have to be torn apart, but there was that something under the surface that we felt was worth saving.

Can you see the potential that we saw?

The Entrance: How's that for curb appeal?

The Kitchen: Divided into two rooms, one with a carpeted floor and the other with no foundation underneath. A new foundation is being poured and the two rooms will be combined.

The Bathrooms: Filthy, poorly planned and nary a redeeming quality in sight. We moved the front entrance, so that someday the old bathroom will actually be the foyer.

The Bedrooms: The three older bedrooms had 6-foot ceilings (as my mother-in-law demonstrates below) that we planned to rip down; the two newer bedrooms in the addition had odd built-ins (due to poor planning) and a case of bad craftsmanship. The three older bedrooms are being combined into a master suite.

The Pit of Despair: Behind the door where my mom is standing (below) there was a giant pit of dead space that the previous owners apparently ran out of money to finish. It would take a giant steel beam to tear down the dividing wall and unite the two spaces, but it would be worth it.

Scary Stairs: The 2,900 sq. ft. house had three staircases between the first and second floors! At first we thought there were only three -- but during demolition we discovered another that was enclosed and hidden (creating a dead space) when previous owners built a new set sometime in the mid-1900s. The blurry photo below shows its creepiness. (We're reducing it from four staircases to a more manageable two.)

Poor Craftsmanship: One relatively new addition was built with metal shelving instead of real floor joists. Needless to say, this had to be torn down! Battling the bad decisions and poor workmanship of previous owners has been a challenge, but we know that we are restoring a mistreated house into something better.

So this is the place that, at 24 years old, we decided to call our home. Were we crazy? Probably. But if you you've been following along in our renovation journey, we think you'll agree that the potential is starting to shine through. The house is coming into its own, and so are we.