{ Rock: Music studio renovation   Nest: Home renovation. }

About our house:
Built 1918
Living space: 760 square feet
Basement: 380 square feet + crawl space
Outbuilding (music recording studio): 650 square feet
Built 1918.
Built 1918.
studio 1918
Original Garage
Purchased 2009.
Purchased 2009.
Exterior renovation 2011.
Exterior Renovation 2011.

About us:

Zera: musician, gardener, haphazard vegan cook, writer of this blog, daydreamer

Graig: musician, effects pedal makers, recording engineer, planner

Marina: cat with a bad attitude and crooked tail

Pearl: feisty, special-needs cat with Cerebellar Hypoplasia and Epilepsy

Stella: blind, loving dog

Charleston Bigsby Marvel III: kitten
The long story:
We rented our house for 10 years before we bought it. The rent was affordable and we were able to have a music recording studio in the basement. Our landlord, Ellman, had a wood shop in the outbuilding behind the house which he used almost daily. As he grew older he came by less and less, until without notice his family moved him into a nursing home. Then we were pretty much left on our own. Sending the rent check off to his family across the country every month.
We tried our best to keep the house in good shape, but since we were renting we couldn’t invest in any big improvements or repairs. We’d often daydream about what we would do if it were ours. Ellman passed away around the time the housing bubble burst, and his family was anxious to cash in on the properties he left behind before the market got worse. They didn’t want to invest in making any repairs to our house in order to sell it, so they offered it to us, knowing that we valued the house more than others would since we had created so many memories here. Over the 10 years we rented, we recorded many records in our basement studio, and we were married in our backyard.
The biggest challenge at the time was getting a loan. Graig had just become self-employed, and we had no savings. There were not many banks willing to give out loans to people in our situation. To complicate matters, the realtor chosen to represent both sides (friends of our landlords family) didn’t really have our best interests in mind. Luckily a good friend of ours, who is also a real estate agent, volunteered to represent us. We also found an amazing mortgage broker, and with their help we were able to make the seemingly impossible happen.
The process of buying our house was one of the biggest roller coaster rides we’d ever been on. One day we’d have a closing date, and the next day the whole deal seemed like it was going to fall through. We’ll never forget the day we finally closed…Friday the 13th, in November of 2009.
We are the 3rd owners of this little house. The original owners left the property to our landlord, Ellman, when they passed. Even though Ellman’s family put us through the ringer when we were trying to buy the house, we knew all along that Ellman was pulling for us.
With no prior experience with renovation, and with no handyman-type skills to speak of, we set out to make our daydreams for this old house come to life. After acquiring more tools than we ever knew existed, and with the endless support from friends and family, (and YouTube “How To” videos), we got to work. Being musicians, our first priority was turning Ellman’s wood shop into a recording studio!
We’ve been meaning to start a blog about our DIY adventures, but considering how all-consuming renovations can be, we are only now making the time to document some of our improvements. We realized how important other blogs have been to us as we research each project, and we want to keep track of the things we’re learning. So much time and effort goes into researching for a remodel before the demolition even begins. The process can be overwhelming, and looking back at the projects you’ve completed can be a great reminder that all the hard work is worth it in the end!
We hope we can be helpful to a few other homeowners that may be facing the same types of fears, challenges, exhaustion, mishaps, and achievements that we’ve experienced.