The Beginning

So, we bought a house on auction. Sight unseen other than the dilapidated exterior, overgrown lawn, and more than a handful of trees that need to be cut down. The beauty of this house is its location in the charming historic district of Sherman Hill in Des Moines, IA. In addition, the property is a double lot, which means double the opportunity to make a positive impact in this historic neighborhood that we also live in. This property purchase excites my passion for residential design, and my husband’s passion to buy properties no one else would, and turn them into gems.

The Before. It is cute, right? But really, can’t you image a covered front porch, welcoming stairs, and a front lawn minus all those trees? The first thing to go was the chain link fence surrounding the property. Bye, Bye, Bye.

So here begins the journey of transforming this double lot into two, modern houses that fit within the context of the historic neighborhood. It will be hard, time intensive, exhausting, and fun. We will learn a lot as we dig into the walls of this 1890 home and create plans to build new on the other side. But first, we have to tackle what the previous homeowners left behind. Unknown to us, we purchased a house that was occupied by hoarders. Like really intense hoarders. So here are some before photos that show just how much stuff we have to dig out before the fun really begins. Please note, these photos were taken after filling a dumpster and a half.

What we have learned thus far:

  • Have the biggest dumpster delivered. The biggest one there is. With a big door that you can walk into with your wheelbarrow. You don’t have to throw things over the top of the dumpster, and it costs the same.

  • Tackle it in small time frames. The amount of stuff is overwhelming. By setting a few hours aside with the goal of tackling a single room, it makes the end goal easier to complete and achievable.

  • Apparently we are crazy for buying this. Or, so people say. They tell us we should tear it down, it’s a waste of money, and time. Let’s just hope they are wrong.

  • Apparently we are also great neighbors. It’s like Christmas when we tell people we are working on this house. And when we removed the chain link fence, the neighbors eyes lit up like it was the best thing ever.

I hope you follow us along on this transformation. I will be sharing the whole process, the design, the influences, and hopefully someday, the end result. So here’s to this crazy journey of home reno in an 1890 hoarders home.