Let’s go on a tour of our latest renovation project, our ‘new’ old mid-century home! Located in SW Michigan, this house is getting a second lease on life.
Meet Our ‘New’ Old House
Last week, after a bit of uncertainty and lots of back-and-forth, we closed on a new property that’s immediately adjacent to our Michigan Tree House. The purchase was definitely not something we had in the cards for 2023, but we couldn’t be more excited to get started and share the process! If you happened to read our goals for the year post, this move directly contradicts goal #2 to ‘focus on smaller projects’ but it perfectly aligns with goal #5 to ‘be open to what happens next’.
The nearly four acre property surrounds our existing property and another small adjacent property on three sides. Roughly three of the acres are natural forest that we intend to preserve for decades to come. Watching the sun set through the woods to the West on a warm summer night is one of our favorite Michigan past times and owning this land will allow us to give the land the love and care that it deserves. Oh, and the house is pretty dang charming too!
We purchased the home from a family estate and they’ve been incredibly trusting of our intentions to bring the house back to its full potential. The entire family grew up in the home and on the land. One of the sons even lived in our neighboring Tree House with his wife back in the 90’s! So when the property was being prepped for sale, they approached us before it hit the market to see if we were interested. We toured the home a couple of times, got a guided tour of the property and gave it lots and lots of thought. We came to agreeable terms and finalized the transaction last Friday. After the paperwork was completed, one of the family members gave us tearful hugs and thanked us for our intention to care for the home as her family had for so many years. It was a touching transition and we thanked the family and let them know that we’ll be doing our best to polish up this little jewel.
So, all that said, let us introduce you to ‘Red House’! It’s a working title for now, but it’ll stick until we make some big decisions down the road.
The Living Room
The main common area of the home is almost fully open and includes the living room, a dining space and the kitchen. (More on the kitchen and dining portion later) The living room has two show-stopping features that immediately had our creative brains spiraling out of control with potential options. We’ve never renovated a mid-century home before, but our brains are swirling with ideas and inspiration.
This wall of 1950’s wood paneling is flanked by a bank of 6 nearly floor to ceiling windows that are in surprisingly good condition. The windows face east and absolutely flood the space with light. We’ve not been inside the home at sunrise yet, but can’t wait to experience morning coffee looking out over the yard.
We’ve also got plans for a huge wall of built-in shelving opposite the window wall to store records, books and tchotchkes. Also, there will be a fireplace in this home some how, some way. We just haven’t figured out the logistics yet.
Below is the view immediately inside the front door. We’ll swap out the wall AC unit in favor of an all new forced-air HVAC system with central air conditioning. The long-term plan also includes a few options to introduce even more natural light into the home, but that’s a down-the-road project.
The home’s kitchen has a lot going for it and also a lot of opportunity to maximize the floor plan. We’re thinking that the peninsula separating the kitchen from the living room area will be removed to make space for a dining table and we’ll do everything we can to mediate beam/support wall to open things up even further.
The range wall will also get some attention in the form of a shift. Directly behind the current range and pantry closet are the steps that lead down to the basement. They’re very steep and very narrow. We’ve got a few impactful changes in store to make things safer and easier to navigate. We’re also hoping to eliminate both of the intersecting soffits that give the room a slightly odd feel. The whole goal is to open things up as much as possible without altering the home’s main structure.
The Second Bedroom
The second bedroom is the larger of the two by far. At 13′ x 17′, it’s roughly double the size of the 10′ x 10′ of the soon-to-be primary bedroom. This space will act as the combo guest room/bunk room/play room of the home and will feature at least two beds. We’re still working on the layout, but we’ll get there for sure!
The current closet is all one open space inside, but we’ll frame a wall between the two doors so the left side with the double doors can remain open for use and the right side can be locked and remain ‘owner use only’ should we decide to airbnb the home down the road.
This room’s wall AC unit will also be removed in favor of the central HVAC system mentioned earlier. This will eliminate yet another penetration in the wall and lend a more cohesive vibe to the space. We can’t determine how Catfish feels about the plans so far, but we’re confident that she’ll get on board soon enough!
The large bathroom will see the most significant floor plan shift of the whole project. Currently, a massive jetted tub dominates the space. Removing it will allow us to carve out an en-suite half bathroom in the adjacent primary bedroom and make the space much more suited to our needs. Plans also include a standard size tub, moody elements and maybe even a larger window.
The bump out next to the toilet is currently the back side of the primary bedroom’s closet. We’ll shift things a bit to maximize space in the bedroom, while also maintaining a usable closet.
Until we’re ready for a full bathroom gut, we’ll retain the standing shower and existing vanity for functionality. This is the home’s only bathroom after all – with the exception of the freestanding concrete block shower in the unfinished basement, but that’s a story for another day!
We can’t wait to take in the view of the forest through this window every morning. Kim is itching to move the vanity directly under the window so you’re faced with this peaceful view as you brush and wash up. Things are already starting to green up in Michigan, so every subsequent visit will see our perspectives shift!
The Primary Bedroom
At one point in the home’s life, the second bedroom was converted to a main floor laundry room for ease of use. Our planned changes to improve the safety of the staircase will allow us to move the washer and dryer back downstairs and convert this space back into a bedroom. The room is small at around 10′ x 9′, but we hope that the shuffling of the current bathroom will allow us to open the space up to an even 10′ x 10′.
We love the windows throughout the home that allow beautiful natural light in on almost all sides. This room isn’t large and it won’t be much larger once the shift is complete, but we’re no strangers to small spaces. We actually prefer a small, well-considered floor plan for a lot of reasons, so this room has us as excited as any!
A Generous Timeline
We can’t wait to get started, but we’re giving ourselves a flexible timeline of 2-3 years to complete the interior and exterior renovation. This timeline likely doesn’t include much progress on the wooded portions of the property or the barn in the lower portion of the yard. Oh yeah! Did we mention there’s a barn?
The potential of this little home is simultaneously overwhelming and exciting. We can’t wait to get started and we promise to bring you along with us the entire way. What questions do you have about the Red House? We’re happy to fill you in on anything we might have missed!