As we continued down the main hall of the house (which is all of 15 feet long) the little hands that had been grasping my wrist, pulled me again to the side and into a room that was overlooked by the others. It was set back from the hall by a deep alcove that, at first glance, appeared to be nothing more than a closet. The child pushed open the door, ran from my side and threw herself on a large bed that dominated the room. “This is Ghrhefts’s room!” she exclaimed loudly as she rolled back and forth across the bed. Aside from the bed, I noticed a large closet with a sliding door and that there was ample room for a desk and book shelf in the room as well. Then, before I could take in much more, my wrist was once again under the control of the child and I was whisked back into the hallway.
We quickly walked past the door to a large bathroom that was making a gurgling sound, through the utility room and out into the garage where the other had been standing and chatting quietly. Nancy was awkwardly trying to seem interested in what my husband, Steve, was showing her while the owner stood at the ready to answer any questions as best he could. A previous owner had, oddly, decided to build a bathroom in the garage. It was derelict and filthy and a mouse or squirrel has obviously been eating pine cones regularly while sitting on the back of the toilet. The debris pile left behind was several inches thick. The owner chatted on about the absurdity of having plumbing in a room that could be 20 degrees below 0 in the winter. Nancy nodded appropriately while my husband continued to stare up into the rafters. It all felt awkward and I was really not sure why we were standing around in the garage to begin with. Then Steve pointed to a large beam over my head and let me in on the secret. The beam was very obviously milled from a small milling machine, The blade swirls and cut marks were unmistakable. “this house was built by a woodworker”, he said. “did you see the doors?” He pointed to the one I had just passed through to enter the garage. “They are solid wood, held together with forged iron bars”. I looked and suddenly, it hit me. This house was made of WOOD!
OK, that sounds silly, because most houses are made of wood, but this one was REALLY made of wood. There was no fiber board, no plywood paneling, no commercial grade 2×4’s. This was hand cut, hand milled WOOD. The walls of the garage could not lie. We walked outside and it was more of the same. The exterior of the house was board and batton, all showing milling scars…the porch was large flat planks with lovely swirling blade marks peaking through the layers of pealing paint. This house was not a kit. It was not a random plan, this house was someone’s hard earned dream. This house was built out of imagination and sweat. THIS house was what we were looking for. Our diamond in the rough…and oh boy, was it rough. In the Real Estate industry the frequently throw around the phrase “good bones” when trying to describe a house that is solid, but needs work. The bones of this house were as solid as you could get and I knew right then and there that Steve had made up his mind.
When we got back into the car after thanking the owner, Nancy paused for a moment before asking if there were any other houses we would like to see before we headed back to her office. “Nope, this is it” Steve said giving me a hopeful glance. Nancy seemed a bit relieved and confused at the same time. “What did you like about it most?” she asked. When we told her it was hand made and solid wood, she seemed to accept that as reason enough. “Well, I guess when you know it, you know it”, she said and spent the rest of the trip back to the office telling us who we could contact to remodel pretty much everything.
What Nancy did not know was that our entire plan, was to remodel it ourselves. Steve is a woodworker with an entire wood shop at his disposal. I am an artist with a deep love for anything that involves paint. Together, we were already making plans to turn this jalopy of a house into the home it should have been when it was first imagined by the original owner only better!
Then Nancy dropped the bomb…..it was a short sale.