Our New Renovation Project



Our new renovation project is pictured here. We don’t know yet whether it will be our new home or a flipper, but here are the beginning stats:

About 1700 square feet on ground level with another 1700 square feet in the basement. Currently, three smallish bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths. This home was built in the 60’s and owned by the same couple for over 35 years which is pretty obvious from the jade shag carpet in the basement and the Michelob sconces in the den. However, this brick rancher has solid bones and palacial grounds.

My very wise father always told me that you make money in real estate when you purchase it not when you sell it. With this in mind, we negotiated on this property for over 6 months, walking away from it several times.

Since the market stinks, most buyers are skiddish right now, and the house needed renovating, we had little competion for the property. We just waited and the sellers finally accepted our offer. Original list price: $275,000 last year. It was re-priced to $219,900 this Spring. We picked it up for $172K in July.

Since most of the homes in this neighborhood are valued at $225 to $400K, we are pretty confident that we accomplished buying the worst house in the hood (also one of Dad’s lessons).

Anyway, the house has multiple personalities. We hope to return it to it’s mid-century modern self with clean unfussy lines and updated finishes. But now it has colonial touches like brass eagles, victorian wallpapers and light fixtures, lovely but inappropriate turn-of-the-century wooden fireplace mantles, an ornate but added-on fireplace gas stove, and traditional and abstract stained glass inserts closing off the kitchen.

The master bath came right out of Hollywood! The huge mirror is surrounded by a dozen bright, round, bare lightbulbs. One sink is a 40’s pedestal that I understand came out of an old school, while the other “modern” sink is beige with swirls of gold flakes. All fixtures are “gold”, even the frames around the mirrored closet doors.

The main defect to the property is definitely the spiral staircase which is the only interior access to the lower level. The lovely but totally impractical stairs came out of the Elizabethton Fire Station we were told. This history does not elliminate the fact that they are impossible to navigate with a basket of laundry on your hip. And since the lower level will house the laundry, a huge family room, and a new bedroom suite, we know this metal monster has to be replaced with traditional and comfortable steps.

We also know that the staircase is the main reason why this property had not sold. Young families with small children are not going to be happy with the spiral. Older folks or people with trouble getting around are not going to be happy with this only access to half of the house. We are going to remove the spiral and replace it with a traditional starcase in the original place in the home.

I love the gardens and Liza loves the big 2 car garage. We are both going to hate the wall paper removal process. But so far we have changed the locks, removed grease from garage floors, arranged for delivery of dumpster and helpers to start demo on Monday.

Did I mention the sixties bomb sheltor in the basement? Soon to be a stocked wine cellar! More about “Fairfield Manor” soon.

Warm wishes.

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4 Responses to Our New Renovation Project

  1. There’s a ranch home in my neighborhood with a spiral staircase leading into the basement. (the basement can also be accessed through the garage) It sat on the market for almost 2 years. I think the long market time was the fault of the listing price and not the staircase, but perhaps it was a combination of both. Anyway, those spiral staircases are totally impratical!

  2. anitamorrell says:

    You are SO right. It is always about price. The question is… how much the functional impracticality of the stairs affects price. Hugely, I suspect. Stay tuned to our renovation project. We can use all the suggestions we can get! Thanks for your comments. Anita

  3. ybonesy says:

    We have a mid-century modern, Arts & Crafts style. Maybe you should post your renovation, accent, and decoration finds as you go so folks like me can ask you questions about where you found such-and-such, etc. Glad to hear you’re canning the Colonial touches.

  4. anitamorrell says:

    Thanks YB. Have put in long days of demo this week but will follow up with details soon. Thanks, Anita PS. Love Arts and Crafts style homes!

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