When Amy and I moved into Decatur 5 years ago, the house we chose was filthy and neglected with an awkward galley kitchen, no working shower, a dying HVAC unit, an old roof and several broken windows. We dubbed it “The Pulley House” because there were climbing ropes hanging from pulleys mounted around a skylight that dangled from the 3rd floor loft all the way down to the 1st floor living room. Supposedly, they were for hanging plants. Supposedly.
The Pulley House was so cheap and so weird though, that Amy and I fell in love instantly. Over the last 5 years, we built a 3 story addition, completely renovated the existing side of the house, and put in some DIY touches like reclaimed wood features and a library ladder wall. We’re sad to have to leave this place behind but we’re proud of how it turned out. Here are a few before and after pictures to show just how much has changed since September 02, 2011.
Because of the sloped lot, the house is set back pretty far from the road. That’s great for privacy, but with all the Wisteria and Ivy growing over the crumbling railroad tie retaining wall and unmaintained trees, you could barely see the house from the street. We worked with Southern Trillium in 2015 to build a block retaining wall and relandscape the entire front yard. Everything you see from the garage up as added on.
Yes, there was indeed a unicycle sitting there between the mirror tile wall and broken fireplace. We always wanted the first floor to make a great first impression so that’s where we spent a lot of our DIY efforts. Amy’s dad came up to help us gut and rebuild the guest bathroom shortly after moving in so we’d have one that was fully-functional. We got the idea for the built-in cabinet with library ladder wall during our first (and only) showing. As a craft beer nerd, I also think it’s fun that all of the reclaimed wood that I used for projects around the house was cut from pallets I picked up at Monday Night Brewing.
When we moved in, we had to walk through a narrow galley kitchen to access the stairs that led up to the loft bedroom. It was an incredibly awkward layout and despite being the main living floor, there was no bathroom. Adding on improved the layout by creating a circular path around the stairwell. We kept the original window openings and installed clear Polygal panels to let light into the stairs. The old kitchen became an office, we converted the breakfast nook into a half-bath, and the addition gave us plenty of space for our houzz inspired dream kitchen and dining room.
While a lot of work went into the main floor, the top floor saw the biggest transition. We raised the half-walls in the loft to create a safe room for our children and closed in the floor under the pulley skylight to give the room a sunny reading nook. The loft closet became the kids’ bathroom and we made the original bathroom space open into the new master bedroom. Besides the kitchen, of course, the huge window in the master is definitely our favorite feature of the house.
Would we do it again?
I like to tell people that renovating houses is in our DNA. My dad is a finish carpenter who still builds custom cabinetry and Amy’s dad is a lifelong tile guy. We’re planning to rent for the next year to make sure Winter Park is where we want to raise our girls. We also gave ourselves a year so that we’d have time to renovate another project house before moving in. Trying to live in a house with 2 young kids through an addition and major renovation is definitely not something we want to do again. Even if we end up buying a “move-in ready” house in Florida, I doubt we’ll be able to resist the urge to make it our own.
That’s just how we roll.