October 02, 2018

Our cozy, crooked, little house: a never-ending project

Kitchen: A retired electrician's workbench was turned into the center-island butcher block.|Living room: The 1910's chandelier is a literal red light from a Carson City Brothel.|||| Kitchen: A retired electrician's workbench was turned into the center-island butcher block.|Living room: The 1910's chandelier is a literal red light from a Carson City Brothel.|||| |||||

By Davey Davis

We bought our house two years ago because it was about as small, efficient, and easy to work on as you could imagine – a fixer-upper, starter home for a lower-income student/nonprofit-employee couple.

Everything in our house is a little crooked: the windows, the doorways, the floors, maybe a wall or two, so the bar is low when it comes to working on it. We love what it has become: modest, low-stress, cozy, filled with goofy art, easy to heat, cool and maintain.

The house was built in 1905. It is a single-story cottage/bungalow divided into five interconnected rooms with no hallways. The bathroom is basically a closet that connects the kitchen and a second bedroom, and the basement is a partially finished dugout perfect for art projects and bike repair, as well as easy access to plumbing and wiring. 

After being home to an elderly woman and her cats for decades, it had been done up as a typical renter/flipper, with cheap carpets and fixtures and discount tile everywhere. The house was inexpensive because it is on a tiny lot with another house shoehorned in behind it, and it needed a new roof. 

We immediately got to work, tearing up the carpet and sanding and sealing the old fir, double-layered subfloor in the bedrooms into a warm, deep-finish surface. The tiny bathroom was gutted and subway tiled. We did a skim coat of concrete over the tile in the kitchen, built new cabinets with butcher-block countertops, put up some shelves throughout and laid new hardwood in the living/dining room.

We also built in an accessory gas fireplace to give the place a cozy hearth for Christmas. When we replaced the roof, we put a dozen solar panels on it, which have thus far generated enough electricity to cover our entire annual usage.

With the exception of the solar and the roof, all the work was done by the two of us. We learned, fought, broke things, and generally had a great time. KSL classifieds was our best friend as we scavenged materials and came up with weird solutions, including a claw-foot tub from a farmhouse in Logan, a butcher-block workbench from an octogenarian electrician in Provo, and a chandelier light from a late 1800s bordello in Carson City, Nevada.

We've filled the house with local art, random antiques, and books – as well as two humans and two dogs. It's a never-ending project (don't even get us started on the train-wreck of a yard), but we're happy to call this crooked little place home.