I wanted to dedicate part of this blog to the renovations in our previous houses, simply because they are part of the story, and I don’t want them to feel left out and sad because THEY didn’t get a blog. Each house has been in progressively worse condition (and then, progressively more amazing), so it’s an important leg of the journey. Each house taught us something that made us smarter, more knowledgeable, and better at restoration – and more bold. So, when we walked into Martin Place, we weren’t daunted by the mess within. Our restorations at Jackson Street got us ready and capable. It’s our prequel. (Luckily, there is no annoying Jar-Jar Binks in our tale – bad move, Mr. Lucas). I have to thank Historic Indianapolis for inspiring the term “Flashback Friday,” which is always a feature I look forward to on their site. I hope they don’t mind that I stole it with love!
When we made the decision to move to Franklin, we looked at many great historic properties (and a few that weren’t so great). We fell in love with the first house we saw, but someone else had a successful offer the day we saw it, so we didn’t have a chance.
We looked at quite a few houses, and decided on a Folk Victorian on North Jackson Street. A Folk Victorian is a house built in the Victorian Era, that has simplified architecture from the super ornate and highly detailed Victorians, like the Queen Anne. Simply put, they were Victorians that everyday people could afford. Folk Victorians are boxier, and don’t have the asymmetry associated with the Queen Anne – no towers, or bays, or turrets.
The house was built in 1875, and its primary use was as a boarding house. We know of at least three modifications to the house : an addition to the back of the house, the enclosure of the “wrap-around” portion of the front porch, and the raising of the foundation. The addition and enclosure were both done pre-1930, as there was abandoned knob-and-tube wiring in both spaces. The porch space that had been enclosed had a separate entrance to the house, and there was indication in the flooring of a giant built-in desk. Presumably, the space was used as an office when the building was a boarding house and business. We are unsure when the raising of the foundation occurred, but we were most thankful for it : without it, our losses in the flood of 2008 would have been exceptionally greater.
The boarding house aspect gave it some great features that wouldn’t have been typical in that era : larger public spaces, very large bathrooms, and large bedrooms. The bathrooms were probably bedrooms at one point, and 2 of the bedrooms we suspect were two rooms initially.
When we purchased it, the outside was dingy, and the mint and kelly-green color scheme was awful. It really was just a tired white box. The summer after the flood, we decided to work on the exterior. The “landscaping” consisted of ivy EVERYWHERE. Doug is allergic to any type of ivy (So badly that he has become allergic to cashews. Yup. That’s a thing. Poison Ivy allergies lead to ivy allergies which lead to Cashew Allergies which leads to a lucky wife every time he eats trail mix and has to give me his cashews). I, on the other hand, am not strong, and connot get ivy out of the ground. So, to get the ivy out, we decided to hire college students. We asked the Alpha Beta Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, National Band Fraternity, from Butler University to come over. We fed them delicious food, and made a large donation to their chapter, and by the end of the day, we had ivy-free beds ready to look pretty. And college bands had money! Doug and I are both Life Members of Kappa Kappa Psi, so this was a no-brainer.
Paint colors were fun. I had a pretty bright green roof to contend with, and I wanted to be historically accurate for the time period. After much research (and many sample cans of paint from Sherwin-Williams), we settled on a sage green, a deep purple, and a cream, with accents of copper. Purple is my favorite color, so clearly, this was an excellent choice. My $.02 : You should always paint samples on different parts of the house to see what the colors look like in different light. I had some HIDEOUS choices that looked gorgeous the jar. When you are done, use the samples for a craft project, combine them together to make a custom color for something, do what I did, and donate the leftover samples to the art class of your choice!
Much of our work could never be done (or afforded) without the help of our many talented friends. We hired my friend and former colleague Chris to paint the majority of the exterior of the house. He and I are INCREDIBLE friends, and we work well together both as band directors and home renovators. Chris keeps me from going overboard on things : “Darling, it’s too many colors. We wanted her to look glamorous. Not like a street walker looking for men.” And “Get in my car. We’re buying shutters. This house needs shutters.” We’re a good – and catty – team. Chris did 98% of the painting. I did the detail work on the porch, and brought him many glasses of lemonade.
One of my favorite moments in the process was when I was up on a ladder, painting the sunburst feature above the front entry. An elderly man came by, walking his tiny dog, and he just stopped and watched me painting the purple. I said hello, and he said to me, “I’ve been walking by this house at least 30 years. I have never, ever seen that detail before. It’s just great how you are highlighting it.” SWOON. Another proud moment was a few years later, when we met our contractor-to-be, Scott Brown, and his Window-and-Door company wife, Cory, at a workshop on Grants and Tax Credits for Historic Homes. After meeting them, I said, “You don’t know this yet, but someday, I’m hiring you to do something big for us. I LOVE your work. It’s amazing.” He asked us where we lived, and when we told him, he said, “Oh yeah, I know that house. It has a really great appropriate color scheme.” WIN.
We did some landscaping, and changed out the hardware and lighting. Copper was our metal of choice for new door hardware, house numbers, doorbell, and mailbox.
In the end, the house went from boring, bland, and boxy to inviting and charming. In 2012, Franklin Heritage awarded us the “Little Charmer” award for curb appeal improvement. We love how the house turned out, even though painting the exterior was a big project that we were scared we might screw up. The color scheme also worked amazing at Christmastime, which is when we really loved the house the most, inside and outside.