Today is the last post in my house tour series. If you’ve been following along, you know that we sold the house shortly after I started this series. We’ve since packed everything up and moved to El Paso, Texas where my husband began a new ministry as a full-time Army chaplain.
So, some of you may be wondering why am I bothering to finish showing you the house we left behind. After all, in just about a week, all the paperwork will be signed and it won’t belong to us anymore.
It is because God has done amazing things for us in that house, and I want to write it all down and keep a record of it so my kids can look back and see His hand when they can’t remember much about it because they were too little. I want to take a moment to reflect on the work we did over five years, some of it slow and tedious, some of it exciting, but all of it a testimony to God’s provision for us. It’s my way of marking the path, of setting up a stone of remembrance. Because we think we will remember. But we easily forget.
This last portion of the house tour brings us to the part of our home renovation that, collectively, is the biggest reminder to me that God cares about me, even the little things about me that wouldn’t matter to anyone else but my Abba, like what kind of flooring I like and whether or not my bathroom has a sink.
This is the part of the house that reminds me that He is in the little things just as much as the big things.
It is also the main reason we bought it. Sure, we loved the view, but most of the house was cheap and unimpressive. But then we saw this:
Glorious, isn’t it? This looks like an unfinished basement, but in actuality, it was considered a crawlspace. A 500 sq. foot crawlspace with 9 foot ceilings, electrical outlets, and plumbing for a bathroom. Yeah. That.
Because this space was unfinished, the square footage was not figured into the price of the house or our property taxes. The previous owners had used the space for storage and a (rumored) marijuana growing operation in the back corner.
We knew we could finish this space and add all that square footage to the value of our home. Besides, Jeff needed an office/library, and this was perfect.
There was just one problem. The room had no interior access. You had to go around to the back of the house in order to get in. One of our first projects was to build a staircase from the rec room (which we used as a fourth bedroom) into that unused space.
Here are my girls in the rec room before Jeff and a contractor blasted through the foundation with jackhammers and added the staircase.
And this is the staircase after all the dirty work was done.
The picture is taken from the rec room looking down into the last level of the house, which is the space we added. But just a note while we’re here: we needed the rec room to be a bedroom because we have a slew of children. I took you on a tour of this room in this post. Check it out!
But since we’re talking about our office space today, let me get back to business.
We purchased an exterior door for a whopping $40 at the building recycle store so that the room could be locked from the inside in case a future owner ever wanted to use the space as a studio apartment. The small area to the right of the staircase became an extra storage room that we used to house a large, commercial freezer I bought on craigslist for $100.
It’s hiding there behind those bi-fold doors that we also got on the cheap.
After the staircase was in, Jeff and his crew of helpers added two windows and finished the ceiling and walls.
It was a mess, but at least we could get into the room! Slowly, it started to come together.
But we still had to do the floors. We really wanted hardwoods throughout the house, but we couldn’t afford it. Especially when we both fell in love with Tigerwood (Tigerwood, the exotic flooring, not Tiger Woods, the creepy golfer).
Tigerwood was not in our budget. Neither is Tiger Woods, but I don’t really want him in my house anyway.
So, we looked at flooring and calculated flooring costs and went back to thinking about flooring some more. Meanwhile, I had an “I wonder…” moment and typed “Tigerwood flooring” into the craigslist search engine. Sure enough. Some builder had leftover flooring from a home remodel. It was enough to cover our entire downstairs, and he was selling it for a fraction of the cost. Plus, he delivered.
Jeff, who had never installed flooring before, spent quite a bit of time on his knees putting the stuff in. But oh, are those floors gorgeous.
Okay, so they are prettier when they are clean but I was busy moving. Still, they are beautiful, especially when at one point, it looked like this:
This is a picture of the room in progress. Right about this time, we were deciding where to put walls. Most of the studs were in good places, but some were not. For one thing, we wanted to expand the bathroom. We wanted a full bathroom because it increased the usefulness of the room. That way, it could be a master bedroom, a studio apartment, or even a guest room.
But, we were totally out of money for this renovation. To top it all off, the twins had arrived and life was crazy.
But, God knew our needs. The crazy contractor (you know, the one who knocked my wall down?) found a bathtub at a garage sale for $10. It was in perfect condition and was just the size we needed. I surfed craigslist while nursing twins and found a pedestal sink for $25. We even came upon a box full of tile at a building recycle store in Seattle for just pennies a tile.
And that is how God gave us a bathroom that went from this:
This is why I have to remember. God is so good.
But that’s not all He did.
The “crawlspace” was so large, we even had room to build a storage room off to the right of the bathroom and a small closet to the left.
As you can see, the closet door is on the left, the storage door is on the right, and the bathroom is in the middle. And all three rooms have those gorgeous (cheap) knotty alder doors and inexpensive trim we rustled up in our wanderings.
The storage room is actually large enough to be a bedroom or a kitchenette if someone wanted to put in another window. I wanted to put in another window but my bank account had other ideas. That wall on the left, where the ledge is, is the front of the house. Shoot. We should have put a window there.
But even without a window, this room was a godsend for us. We stored everything in here, including the twins when some relatives came to visit and those boys wouldn’t go to sleep because they could see me in the same room with them and they thought that if they could see me, they must need to be nursing.
Most of the time, however, this room was packed full of all the stuff a house of seven needs.
In fact, prior to the move, we had another shelving unit on the left wall and all those books were in the main part of the room along with a bazillion of their closest friends. Did I mention the movers counted 177 boxes of books? I’m sure they loved us for that.
But we needed all those books because biblical studies are Jeff’s passion, and this was his sanctuary (aka, Man Cave). This is where he would come to prepare lesson plans and grade papers and hide from the five children.
It was perfect for him.
He even had his own little covered landing because it rains a lot in Washington and a man never knows when he might need to step outside and shine his green laser at the night sky.
Here is the Man Cave again, from the outside.
It is amazing to me what God did for us in providing a house with all this extra room. We have been blessed to live and work in this place. It took five years to make it beautiful, but what a beautiful home it came to be.
I was thinking about this during our last week at home. The sky was grey, and I went out on the back deck to sip some tea and reminisce. The tears began to creep into the corners of my eyes, so I looked up to blink them back and saw this:
There was a rainbow in the sky above our house, just for me.
It has been a great five years.
Special thanks to all our our wonderful friends and family, especially Jeff’s parents, John and Lois, who spent countess hours at our house painting and beautifying. I could not begin to list all the people who donated their time or expertise over the years, who charged us much less than they should have or who conveniently “forgot” to charge us anything at all. To all the friends and neighbors who have made our house feel like home, we are so thankful for you!