A House for the Kramer’s..or feeding my wood addiction

My life with Hubby has been a series of houses…some I liked.  Some I didn’t like  (like the one we shot a skunk out of the basement) and some I learned to love.   We are in an unusual situation as Hubby has worked for farmers as a hired hand and some farmers in that situation, provide housing for their employees.  We have been in that situation with his employer for the last 16 years.  It’s wonderful in that we don’t have to pay rent or worry about housing costs.  The not so fun part is when I’d like to make a change or up do and we have to ask his boss.  He’s good about it…I just hate not having the freedom.

We have LOVED living in the house here at the farm.  It’s close to school and Hubby simply walks out the door and he’s at work.  Recently though, we’ve started to have some changed feelings…not about his job, he LOVES his job..but about our housing.  With children now all considered “adult” and their getting married, space in the house here is getting really big some days(when they are all gone) and really cramped when they come home-but we don’t want a huge house just on the five or six times a year they all come home.  We also are feeling our biological clock tick…not for a baby but for a house.  Hubby is 51…I’m a little younger.  If we don’t get a house soon, will we have time to enjoy it?  Once Hubby does retire, we want have something in place to retire to and not be scrambling to make house payments.

You may remember a bit ago we put a bid in for an acreage and didn’t get it.  Now, looking at it from today’s perspective, I am SO happy we didn’t.  It was over priced and the upkeep with the acreage and amount of work that ALL the buildings needed, we’d have been working all the time and drowning in repair costs.

SO…about a week ago, I was looking at the newspaper and saw that a house was newly listed with the local realty.  I thought the house looked like one our daughter Kayla had been in as a teenage babysitter.  At the time I remember Kayla saying, “Mom, the woodwork in the house is amazing.”  I went online to learn more about the house.  The listing said, “Foreclosure that needs a little TLC.  This must see 3 bedroom with wood floors and beautiful wood work though out home has a lot of offer a buyer.  Priced to sell!”

Well…what does that mean??  I was leery and optimist all at once.  Was it the house Kayla had babysat in-Was the woodwork nice…and that was 10 years ago what shape would it be in now??    But do we want to live in town??  The pictured house looks plain, how good could it look inside?  Well I talked to Hubby and we decided what do we have to loose?  Let’s look at it.

As we drove up, we weren’t really excited.  The house obviously need siding and windows.  It looked small and plain.

When we got there, workers were removing crap from the house that the previous owners had left, cleaning and making a few necessary updates…like a new back door because the house couldn’t be locked.  There was 1″ thick of dust on the ceiling fans…cobwebs and the smell of a house that hadn’t been lived in for 6 months.  Saying it needed TLC was spot on.  It definitely needs TLC.   The bathroom on the main floor was started to be remodeled…but no trim woodwork was in place.  There is no garage.  It has a fuel oil furnace that needs to be replaced.  No air conditioning.  Windows need to be replaced.  The kitchen-oh, that’s a whole story on it’s own that I’ll tell on another day.  For today, I’ll just say it needs a new kitchen.  Every room has something-something (or maybe two or three things) that needs to be redone, replaced or renewed.  Every wall HAS to be repainted.  Every floor HAS to be updated.  All but two windows need to be replaced. Thing after thing after thing….

BUT…structurally..it’s good.  The wood work and features of the woodwork are AMAZING.  The woodwork needs cleaning and a bit of TLC- but, WOW.  Hubby and I were both VERY impressed with it.  The layout of the house…we LOVE.  Typically older houses are chopped up.  Not this one.  There is a nice open layout.  The dining room is so big that I can put all the leaves in the table and leave them in all the time and we can still walk around it.  There are hard wood floors throughout the ENTIRE house.  Yes..they need to be redone, but hardwood (my dream).  The bedrooms are decent sized.  There is a built in hutch in the dining room.  There are leaded glass or etched glass windows in three of the rooms.  With the kitchen in disarray, I’ll be able to work with the space how I want.   It’s located on a good street with good neighbors around.  It’s a block from the park.

So with no garage…what do we do?  We need a double car garage.  We want a shop for Hubby to work in (and store his in progress projects in).  The lot is only 66 x 165…small.  Well the next door lot has no house but a garage.  There is a double lot after it that is empty.  There are lots across the alley in the back that are empty.  Hmmm.  Possible potential..but potential doesn’t equal what we’d want- the lot next door.

So we went home to contemplate.  Yes…No…Maybe so.  Do we put a bid in?  There is SO much to fix…but the price is good and will probably come down.

I took photos while we were there.  I looked and looked and relooked at them.  Hubby talked about tearing out plaster and sheet rocking.  I talked about how to redo the kitchen.  Hubby talked about updating electricity.  I talked about how the furniture would fit in the living room.  We talked and talked and talked.  Then we went to a wedding in Minnesota over the weekend and talked and talked with my family.  Do we want to live in town??

We decided living in town was okay.  We are fine with giving up the “living in the country dream”.  Hubby will still be able to work here on the farm.  His boss is great and won’t care it I bring Ruby and walk her on the field path if I want.  The town where the house is only has 250 for a population so it’s far from big.  There are open lots around us.  With our age at it is, we don’t want to move to the country live there ten years and have to move to town because we can’t keep up an acreage.  Both of us hate moving so hopefully, one more move and we’re done.  We’d only be three miles from the farm so Hubby can still come in for lunch on not so busy days.  We lived in town before and didn’t mind it.  I’d have to give up the chickens though.

Monday morning we put in a low bid.  Asking price was $33,000.  We bid $20,000.  After waiting and some back and forth, Tuesday the bank (who owns the house because of a foreclosure) accepted our bid of $24,000.  I am elated and deflated all at once.  I love the prospect of the house…I love what it will potentially be.  I just don’t think I am going to love the in between  months or year before we actually move…cleaning, painting and remodeling.  (Notice sewing wasn’t mentioned)

One thing that bothers me…people who see the house are going to say, “What were they thinking?”  From the outside, it looks frumpy, small and plain (we even thought so initially).  From the few people who we’ve told, that’s the vibe I am getting.  No one who has seen the outside of the house has said, “Wow..good for you!!”  But add a big front porch, a double car garage, siding and windows and it will be my dream home.  Hubby is really good at fixing things so we’ll be doing some of the work and hiring some done.

As far as pictures, I really don’t have much and most are poor quality or taken in an odd angle as this one is.  I’ll show one…it’s what makes me love the house.


Hubby is in the dining room walking towards the “parlor”.  To his left is the living room which will be our office and I’ll have a sewing machine there.  See one of the pocket doors sticking out on the right?  See the pillars and leaded glass cupboards in the woodwork?  See the built in hutch with the doors open past that??  See the hardwood floors??  oh, oh, oh, I LOVE it.  The open floor plan got me…that, the hard wood floors and the woodwork.

If all goes well, (but why should it), we hope to celebrate Christmas 2014 in our house.  We might not have the porch on..but that can be done while we live here.

So my friends…I apologize in advance.  This blog will probably soon turn into a bit of a “we bought a foreclosure home and are refinishing it diary”.  I am sure that Kelli will still have some time to quilt and I’ll be sneaking a bit of sewing in too so it won’t all be house… but once we  get back from our son’s wedding in August, we’ll be really busy with the house.  Closing is currently set for August 1st with the wedding August 3rd.

For those wondering about a sewing room and where my quilting machine will go?  I have a couple options that we are weighing right now.  The house has a couple odd rooms that could work or we many use one of the bedrooms.  We haven’t measured and calculated to know for sure where my quilting machine will fit but believe it or not, I’m okay with that.   If we don’t like any of the options we may make the garage have an upper bonus room.

At this point, it’s all just a little overwhelming.  We need to get back into the house, make a check list and priority list and a expense list and somehow make all of them jive.  We also need to talk to the carpenter and possibly someone to draw out some plans.

So this is our life right now…Hubby is frantically trying to finish up lots of farm work that is still running late.  Thankfully the haylage and oatlage is chopped..there’s spraying, bin building and cattle work and so much more to do to here.  I am expecting a house full of company, catching up on garden weeding, making bridal shower food, and trying to meet a couple deadlines for sewing projects but while all that is happening, in our minds both of us keep asking how are we going to attach the garage to the house?  How are we going to remodel the kitchen?  How do we..how do we..how do we?  The only thing I am saying at this point is I don’t want to live there while the majority of the remodeling is being done.  I’ve lived in the house as remodeling projects were being done several times in my life–Enough to know that just isn’t fun and I don’t want to do it again.

So on this July 4, 2013, USA Independence Day, that is the “state of the Roger and Jo Kramer union”….a new to us house that needs LOTS of work..but has amazing woodwork (it always comes back to that woodwork-doesn’t it).

48 thoughts on “A House for the Kramer’s..or feeding my wood addiction”

  1. Good for you!!! You arel living your dream. Kaboom!!! Fireworks!!! How appropriate!!! Loving the Kramer 4th celebration this year.

  2. You’ve got to follow your dreams and not worry about what other people may think! I’m happy for you- and for what it’s worth: the woodwork got me too!!!!

  3. The woodwork does look great – pocket doors and built-ins are so cool! What fun (it’s in there somewhere, isn’t it?) you will have planning and seeing it all come together.

  4. It doesn’t really matter what the house looks like now. You have plenty of time to give it your look. You’ll figure out where to put the garage and everything else. That doesn’t matter because the wood work is beautiful and it will be even more wonderful when you can call it your home. Congratulations! Happy 4th!

  5. I Love the inside. I will enjoy reading about the house remodel. as much as I do about quilting, Ruby, and your family.

  6. So smart of you and hubby to start thinking about retirement. DH and I did the same thing when we married. He was 54 at the time of our union and we made our decision on which house to keep and what to do to it based on our retirement years. A good solid house is a great investment. You can make it into a home.

  7. Congratulations on your house purchase! The nice thing about needing to re-do and upgrade is you will be able to make it exactly as you want. As far as the empty lots around and next door to the property – are you able to contact those property owners and ask if any of them are interested in selling? Either now or in the near future?
    Good Luck and I, for one, won’t mind at all reading about your house project(s).

  8. Tammie Stephens

    Jo I am a dedicated follower of your blog and am soooo sooooo sooooo excited for you!!! A new home for retirement, designed like you want, changed to meet your likes and needs. I just know that house is smiling and thinking, “I sure am glad they found me, now I can be a home again and they come with a dog and lots of quilts.” I’m sure it’s telling all the other houses around, “You ain’t seen nothing yet”. BTW I love that pocket door, I have a couple in my house and they are the best things. And the wood WOW it could not be more beautiful. I can’t wait to follow your housing WIP, it will be done before you know.

  9. That woodwork is scrumptious, I can see why you would love this house. Congratulations, wishing you a hassle free closing day. It is going to be so exciting watching what the two of you do with this little neglected darling house.

  10. Congratulations! How exciting to get to fix a house up! And you are so lucky to have a handy husband… mine is all thumbs when it comes to fixing in the house. It will be a lot of work but so worth it. Good Luck!

  11. What a wonderful, scary, awesomely exciting adventure!! Even though I don’t know you guys, I think your thought processes on the entire to buy/not to buy is spot on and in my opinion, I think you made the right decision. You will end up with a lovely home that is your OWN as well as some great memories on how you got your home to the beautiful lady she is going to become. Congratulations!!!!

  12. From the one picture you showed, the house looks beautiful. Once you are done with it, I am sure it will be a gem.

  13. Congratulations. I am so happy for you. We have built and remodeled and I agree with you that living in it during the work is no fun at all. I remember having to dust the dishes while taking them out of the cabinet..yuck. From the one picture you showed, the inside
    looks like something I also would have fallen in love with. It is so nice to find something that you can truly make your own.
    Good luck to both of you. What a way to celebrate the 4th of July.

  14. barbara woods

    we live in a home that part of it is 155 years old ,redoing it as we can aford it. has always belonged to hubby’s family but we are in our 70th and still have lots to do

  15. Good luck – you can do it! I’m sure you will have the house of your dreams when it is done. Never mind what people say in the mean time. :)

  16. What a wonderful Independence Day it is, after all…and gorgeous woodwork. Yes, it always comes down to the woodwork. I can totally see why y’all flipped over that house. Lots of work, lots of TLC, and lots of love (not to mention money) is gonna go into restoring that beauty, but it’ll all be worth it in the end. Better get going, tho, Christmas is coming…and I’m sure you’ll want to host it in your new home! :)

  17. Oh how absolutely marvelous!!! I am looking forward to seeing this duckling become a swan!!! Love your forever house :)

  18. I’m so happy for you and your family! The most important thing is what you feel about the house, not what everyone else thinks. Go for it…be happy! You’ll make it your dream home, I feel it! XO

  19. Oh, Jo, I am so excited & happy for you. That photo is just the kind of elements I also dream about. Yes, it will be a challenge living amidst all the construction, but oh my goodness, it will be SO worth it (on so many levels) in the end.

  20. So excited for you, Jo! You guys are taking on a huge project, but what an opportunity to make it your own. Enjoy the process. I look forward to following you on your journey. Happy 4th to you and yours!

  21. oooh! Congrats on the house! You don’t find woodwork like that in new houses. I grew up in an old 1930s row house and my dad did a lot of wood built-ins in it…sure do miss that.

  22. WOO! HOO! Congratulations! I love the woodwork and pocket doors, great buy. Wonderful decision and you can make it how you want it, your vision. I’m so happy for you both. Today is your Independence Day. ;-> Toni Anne

  23. Your house looks amazing! The woodwork is beautiful and I love pocket doors and built ins. If I were you I wouldn’t worry about what people think. My cousin bought a fixer upper that had her friends wondering what she had gotten herself into and when she finished fixing it up it was beautiful inside.

  24. Because of my bad english, I can’t express what I feel, but I want to tell you how happy I am for you.
    A new house, your own one ! it’s wonderful to fall in love for a house, and that’s what happened to you. So I wish you the best and I’ll be here everyday to read your posts about your remodeling projects and fixing works as I am for your quilts projects.

  25. Congratulations!! The outside will soon match that fantastic inside & you will have secured your future home for an absolute bargain price.
    Looking forward to all the pictures!!

    Worthing, UK

  26. How exciting! And the woodwork is to die for. Love the pocket door and the built ins. You’re smart to get the big projects out of the way before you move in. Best of luck on your house journey and congratulations!

  27. Psalm 34:7 says:
    “Take delight in The Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

    How awesome that The Lord has provided you with a new place to call home!!

    Congratulations to the Kramers!!

  28. Congratulations!!! Don’t worry what others may think, they just can’t see your vision. It takes a lot of work but well worth the investment. It will be yours and you will be ready for your golden years without having to constantly fix things. WoooHoo!!!!!

  29. Congratulations! I look forward to seeing what you do with the house. Maybe consider adding a full bath downstairs if it doesn’t already have one. That way you can stay in the house well into your old age.

  30. Congratulations Jo and family! An exciting new adventure is about to begin. I hope you share it all….the good, the bad, the ugly. I love watching home remodels.

  31. Nancy Angerer

    Congrats on your new (old) home! I love older homes and love wood. In 1980 we bought a home that had been built in 1926. I loved the wide window trim and the wide baseboards – all had been painted. Over the next 13 years we stripped all the wood and refinished it. My husband even sand blasted the paint off of the brick fire place. I remember it took me 8 hours to get all the layers of paint off of one side of a door frame. That was when I decided not to keep track of time any more:) We are both 70 years old, and we have just downsized to a house in another state so that we can be close to our oldest daughter. It is hard to leave a home we loved, a church we have attended for 52 years, and our Bible study group. We are still unpacking, and I don’t have a sewing room yet (waiting for carpet to be replaced with hardwood). This move was a head decision and not a heart decision. I am sure that when we find a place to worship and a Bible study group, I will feel more like this is home. Your new home needs more work than ours did, but I am sure your home will be lovely and all that you hope it will be. Congrats, again!

  32. Congratulations Jo. Thats awesome. I can totally see the potential, love the woodwork. Enjoy making it your own.

  33. We looked at that home once. You’ve got plenty of woodworking, without a doubt. One thing about have a “sleeper” exterior is the rave reviews of the interior upon entry into your new home. Enjoy your new digs.

  34. Congrats! I’m a follower of your blog and just wanted to wish you well with the house! It’s amazing what a little TLC can do and the sky is the limit! Take your time and do it the way you want! It’s hard work but very fulfilling because it’s all yours!

  35. I never comment Jo but I just wanted to say that you have no worries! A home is a house filled with love — and you have that in buckets — so your new home will be a place of love and laughter, memories, probably a few tearful sad moments but each of them will make this house in town the Kramer home.

    Best of everything to you!

    Melissa in southern california

  36. Yes, yes, yes! It looks fantastic!! A lot of work, but from following your blog for quite a while now, I know you and your hubby are not put off by the idea of work. I can’t wait to follow the progress of the transformation. You have found a gem!

  37. Well, I don’t know about the people you’ve talked to but I think that house looks and sounds AMAZING!! $24,000.00 for a house – people pay more for cars (boats, etc.)…I know there is a lot of cost that will go into the remodel but you are off on the right foot:) I agree, I wouldn’t want to live in it during the remodel, been there done that and I WON’T do it again.

    There is a show in the DIY network (not sure if it is on Netflix) called Rehab Addict. The show’s host buys old houses and rehabs them. The one house she purchased in Minneapolis for $1 (before it was going to be demolished) and redid the entire house. It might give you some ideas on how to do certain things. i love how she takes the house from trash to treasure.
    Congrats and good luck, I can hardly wait for the remodel updates.

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