Apartment Therapy Makes a House Call

We finally had the house looking pretty sexy and ready to sell. Really it looked better than ever (isn’t that always the way, you finally get the house ‘done’ and then sell it, oh well). I had always wanted to photograph the house and submit it to Apartment Therapy. AT had been our go-to website for design inspiration for our old house and we’d referenced a number of house tours and features for our next place as well. Now that we had the house done and I had to take photos anyways in order to list it, I thought, what the heck I’ll submit it. I certainly wouldn’t have another chance. I really didn’t expect them to get back to us. But two days later they wrote back saying that our house had been selected from the “hundreds of submissions” they receive to be featured as a house call.

This is the post I wrote for them with the photos they used…

Kent & Darcie’s Dream Home (not my title, by the way)

Name: Kent & Darcie
Location: Caswell Hill neighborhood, Saskatoon, Canada

Our house is a very unique home in one of the most exciting and rejuvenated neighborhoods in our city. Built in 1912 by a successful farmer for his wife and eight children, the house retains the character of a Craftsman-style home while also enjoying all of the modern day comforts due to extensive renovations performed over the past seven years. Sitting on the incline of a hill and elevated from the road with a large retaining wall, the house enjoys expansive views of the city.

The house had been extremely run down when it was purchased in the mid-2000s. It had been the rental property of a notorious slum landlord for the previous 15-20 years and was known as the house to avoid on the block. A write-up in the newspaper described dozens of truckloads of garbage being hauled away, hypodermic needles strewn about and blood splattered walls. This certainly was a renovation not for the weak of heart or stomach. The first major renovation was in the mid-1990s, though it soon fell into dilapidation. Seven years ago when it was purchased from a rental company, significant work was needed again.

The renovations and restoration has been significant from top to bottom and inside and out. Intricate detail was paid to even the most minute parts of the home. The results speak for themselves.

The house is 1900 square feet over three stories with a full height basement adding 600 square feet. The style of home is known as a Craftsman Character home, which is common in the neighborhood, though no other houses enjoy the immense height of the house (approximately 45 feet tall) and the large windows and bedrooms are very unusual for this era.

The house design and style was inspired by the traditional homes of the Netherlands, of which a black house is not an uncommon sight, although in Canada this is somewhat strange. The interior design was influenced by Scandinavian aesthetics. We love natural materials and items with a story. We never collected antiques until we bought this house, but it forced it upon us. The items we’ve collected complement the house so well and speak to its past. But we are also modernists at heart. We love the design of Ray and Charles Eames and have collected a number of their items. Our favorite being the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman. Our other favorite piece in the house is the Ligne Roset Togo sectional sofa. The contrast of the original character of the house and the modern furniture makes the home so much more interesting and fun to live in.

This past year we removed our parking space in the backyard and designed and built a chicken coop/shed. We have been raising three backyard chickens since the spring. It’s something we’d always wanted to try and having fresh eggs every morning is beyond amazing.

I’m proud of the entire house. To have it taken from the brink of being condemned and to restore the beauty of the home by ourselves and the previous owner before us is such a great feeling of satisfaction.

Here is the link to the entire article on Apartment Therapy:

Kent & Darcie’s Dream Home

I had to chuckle initially at the title seeing as here we were about to sell the place. But really the house was our dream house. It’s just our dream had now changed and we were ready to move on.

Still it’s pretty cool to see our house and our design get such positive comments, be featured on one of my favourite design websites, to see it “pinned” on Pinterest and being shared around is pretty darn rewarding, I must say.

Preparing to change our life

After pre-empting our previous plan to sell our house and start building in the Spring of 2015, we now had to rapidly prepare to change our life.

It made a lot of sense to sell our house early: free ourselves of the stress of two places and two mortgages, have money in the bank account to finance our build, be able to focus on the house design, avoid the stress of moving and building simultaneously, be able to save some money over the winter, and experience the country life.

When I told our friends that we had decided to sell our house and move to a “cottage” they thought we were a bit crazy (almost as crazy as when we told them we were going to live in a yurt for the summer). That is until I should them a picture of “The Cottage.”

IMG_2318

Boom!

I think most people pictured a little shack with weathered cedar boards, creaky old doors, a broken window or two, a moss covered roof, and an old coonhound sitting on the deck next to a rocking chair. But this wasn’t your average cottage.

This was an architecturally built guest house with two curtain window walls, one facing east to the sunrise and the river, the other overlooking an immaculate 40 acre property.

Still this cottage comes in at just under 750 sq.ft. with two bedrooms and one bathroom. For some people the thought of downsizing from a 1900 sq.ft. three storey house plus basement, with 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms is a bit intimidating – but we were so excited about it. That big old house, although beautiful, had been wearing on us the past year or so. We’d spent a lot of time and money renovating it and making it our own, but it never quite felt right to us. There was always so much to do and maintain and it seemed that something was always in need of repair. We’d always dreamed of building our own house in the country, so once we entered down that path, the old house became less and less appealing to us. It seemed like a burden and we were looking forward to moving onto the next chapter.

But there was a lot of work to get there – like a ridiculous amount of work.

I think I had blocked the memory of our last move from my memory completely – like disaster survivors do – a coping mechanism to allow you to move on with your life.

We first had to go through the house and make a list of all of those things that I’d either put off doing because it was going to be such a nightmare and/or I had neglected to do because I hated the thought of it. These are all of those annoying little things that don’t necessarily take a lot of time, but they really suck doing. Or, alternatively, they take a LONG time to do and they really super suck doing.

So for the next month, every single night we were fixing, patching, replacing, painting, scrubbing, filling, caulking and all sorts of other ungodly tasks. This was also the same point at which we moved our chicken coop. Once we moved the coop out of the backyard, didn’t have out chickens anymore, and instead had a boring white fence and parking spot again, the house really didn’t feel like it was ours anymore. We didn’t belong here anymore.

We finally were ready to sell the house.