The Old Homestead

Logan and I fell in love with our house on our first (and only) day of house hunting. We went home after viewing about six homes in total and made an offer that night. We wondered at the time if we were crazy for rushing things. I HATED our temporary apartment and we were so new to the cities, we hadn’t explored enough to commit to a particular neighborhood yet. But, this magical house tucked away on a hidden cul de sac in a close, but small, suburb hit all of our needs as well as many of our desires. Plus, it had a nostalgic quality about it that reminded us both of our grandparents’ homes. It had good juju. It just felt like home.

Ironically, Logan found the house online before we even left Colorado. I had rejected it as unacceptable, but by the time we actually started working with a realtor, Logan had convinced me to give it an in-person look. {Logan here: I knew from the flagpole, which I really wanted in our yard, that this was a winner. It has taken Britt a really long time to start realizing that I am ALWAYS right about everything.} Buried under 3 feet of January snow, we really had no clue what we were in for. Is the roof in good shape? Who knows. Is the backyard a swamp? Who knows! Are there squatters living in what we affectionately call “The Murder Shed?!” WHO KNOWS! 

The Murder Shed

We didn’t care. We fell in love and, by February, we were moving in (amid yet another snowstorm). In the end, we bought at the top of our budget, and to be honest, possibly purchased more home than we could handle. But two years later, we still love it.

The house had an odd mix of Native American, Southwestern, and Asian decor (again, ironic given our unique histories with China and the American Southwest). The previous owners had built the house themselves and in it had raised their family. It was a home filled with history and love, and you could feel it.

Pros:

The kitchen, dining, and living room are all on the same floor, perfect for entertaining (which we love).

A large, glorious, park-like backyard. (Yes, there are mosquitos, but there are also wild turkeys, deer, ducks, foxes, coyotes, opossum, squirrels, bunnies, dozens of species of birds and the heretofore unidentified critters that skulk in the night. {Logan here: At one point I thought I saw some otters, but after some digging we decided they were most likely minks.})

A magical, 3-season sunroom we have dubbed the “Outback.” It was quite literally the room that sold us the house.

We are 10 minutes from downtown St. Paul, and 15 minutes from downtown Minneapolis.

Cons:

  • No air conditioning… This is a fight we will continue to fight. While there aren’t many days that A/C is actually necessary, those 3-8 days per year (so far) of swampy, Louisiana bayou in July, sit perfectly still in your underwear and still sweat kind of days, might just kill me. Is it worth the exorbitant money to add A/C for those few horrible days a year? Logan says no… I disagree. We shall see. {Britt’s very tender.}
  • Low ceilings. That’s it. Literally nothing we can do about that.
  • We are a little further into the suburbs and less city-adjacent than we were originally hoping, but we have since fallen in love with our little community.
  • Massive property maintenance. Lots of gorgeous, mature oak trees means lots of spring and fall clean up. We “knew” this when we bought, but knowing and experiencing are two very different things. The sheer volume of landscaping maintenance leaves me on the edge of overwhelmed every single season, to say the least.

The house was in pretty good shape, just dated. So, we started a massive “honey do” list for the both of us. Here is what we have completed so far…

The first year, we started by painting much of the house and removing heavy and dated window treatments. It’s amazing the difference a simple coat of paint can make for a very small investment.

I converted a bedroom into a posh walk-in closet. High maintenance? Ok. But we don’t have kids and my shoes need room to breathe. (Some finishing touches are still required.)

We painted the faux wood paneling in my office. This was a huge, smelly, time consuming project that ultimately made an enormous difference.

Replaced the much-contested antler chandelier. Love it or hate it, everyone had an opinion about our dining room chandelier. Logan and I actually love it… but not above the dining table. We removed it in favor of a modern, minimalist light fixture that is more appropriate for the ceiling height. We will find a new, more fitting location for that glorious antler chandelier… we are just waiting for inspiration.

We added an invisible pet fence which consisted of hand trenching and burying heavy gauge wire around our almost half an acre property. Oh. My. God. That was dirty, painful, back breaking labor. Take my advice, if you plan to install one of these on your property, just rent a trencher. {Or just do it…. it builds character.}

And finally, this last summer, Logan added a raised garden bed for fresh veggies, and a backyard fire pit for campfires and marshmallow roasting.

Perfect place for marshmallow and weenie roasts.

We have many more dream projects in the long-term plan, some big, and some small, but time, expertise, and most of all budget seem to limit our progress. But one at a time, we plan to research, and conquer the following:

  • Mini bathroom makeover – A plan to stomach our downstairs bathroom until such time as it can be completely gutted in the future;
  • Painting Logan’s office – a Ravenclaw or running motif?!{Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure…};
  • Find updated furniture for the loft and “Outback;”
  • Design and build a new, enlarged backyard deck;
  • Replace carpet with hardwood flooring for main floor; and finally, 
  • Remodel kitchen including refinishing cabinets, replacing all appliances, countertops, and backsplash.

We will plug away at one project at a time. We plan to do as much work ourselves as possible, and we will take you along as we learn to manage this property. Stay tuned!

Britt

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