painting by Yuri Ozaki
What city do you live in? "
My husband, Andy, and I live in Huntsville, Alabama."
Does your house have a name?
What compelled you to rescue a house in such need of help when most people would just buy a condo?
"The house actually belonged to my father in law. He bought it in the 70s to use as a rental property...it was a duplex, one unit up, one down. My husband spent his summers helping him fix it up between tenants, and he's always loved that house. Before we were married, we bought a ranch house that needed a little bit of work, mainly cosmetic. This was right during the HG TV boom with all of the shows about restoring old homes. One day, Andy drove me by the house and made a joke about restoring it and that's all it took. I was hooked! I had never even seen the inside, but I fell in love. We spent a year convincing his dad to kick out the tenants and let us restore it back to it's single family residence glory and become our dream home."
Did you do much of the work yourself?
"While we did some of the work ourselves (demo, restoring the floors, painting, stripping wood, etc) we also utilized the talents of our carpenter friends and such. Oh, and the electrical had to be redone, and I wouldn't even think of doing that myself!"
The kitchen, before.
Looking down into the backyard, before.
Dining room entrance, before.
What was the biggest setback during your renovation?
"I'd like to say we didn't really have any set backs. We knew going into this that it would take time and money...and we took our time to ensure we did everything right to create a timeless living space. Although, not having a kitchen for almost a year got really old. We got tired of eating out all of the time."
Dining room entrance, mid-demolition.
Did you have any favorite Cd's or type of music in general that helped during all the work days?
"Well, we didn't have power for so long, we'd make up a lot of our silly songs. But when our record player finally was hooked up we rotated a lot of Talking Heads, Pine Hill Haints, and The Goodnight Loving."
Living room fireplace during demolition.
How long did the whole project take, from beginning, to where you were able to live there without dumpsters and face masks?"
We obtained the house in December of 2006 and rushed over there to find mold on the walls, a thick layer of hair and grime over all of the carpets, an alligator cage (!!!) in the bedroom, a puddle of piss on the kitchen floor, and trash everywhere. I loved it! Mind you, it was my first time seeing the interior, but I saw past everything and knew why my husband was so in love with it. We began work (an entire gut renovation) downstairs soon after moving in. We lived upstairs with no electricity or water for two months (we became great friends with the gas station down the street) until our electrician dropped us a line from the box and we ran an extension cord up the stairs. We didn't move downstairs until October of 2007."
"It took two dumpsters filled before all the debris was cleared."
What do you do besides work on your house?
"We own and operate a record store, 'Vertical House Records', here in town."
"I am also a wedding/lifestyle photographer The White Rabbit Studios, and a Realtor. My husband also does freelance graphic and web design. We are also both also members of a local comedy theatre troupe called Crash Boom Bang Theatre."
When you began putting it all back together, where did you get your fixtures, furniture, hardware, etc?
"We tried to use as much of the original fixtures as we could. However, I'm a thrift store/yard/estate sale junkie and that's where most of the furniture came from."
Did you have your appliances restored?
"The sink is original to the house, so I restored that myself with a can of appliance paint. We found the stove at a nearby hardware store, and actually bought that before we even had the house. The vent hood is original, so we had that restored as well. A friend gave us the fridge when he found out I had been searching for one for months."
Just for fun, what is your favorite meal to cook?
"I followed my mom's advice and married a man that could cook...so my favorite meal to HELP him cook is a good old fashioned southern dish. During season we try to eat strictly out of our garden and fried okra is certainly a favorite dish to prepare!"
What is your favorite part of the house now?
"Good question. I don't think I have a favorite. I absolutely adore waking up in our bedroom, I love the light that our living room gets, I enjoy the convenience of our kitchen...I think the entire house is my favorite :)"
Do you have any favorite artists?
"Dali was the first artist I claimed as my favorite when I was younger. Another favorite is Nall, who actually used to live here. I have since had the pleasure of meeting a plethora of good friends who are extremely talented artists and our walls support their work more than any "acclaimed" artist. (Which, I should note I don't yet have any good photos of all the art in our home since we actually recently started hanging them)"
What is your biggest daydream right now, in life?
"I'd have to honestly say that all of my desires in life are falling into place. I do find myself daydreaming about what it will be like to have the entire house finished. Oh! One of my resolutions for 2010 will be to put out an album of my own music."
"We have two wonderful children...oh, I mean kitties, named Sadie and Maple. And we actually just found (literally, three days ago) a four week old kitten who were are calling Tiny until we can think of a better name."
Favorite bands or music?
Do you sew? ( I noticed the sewing machine...)
"I pathetically sew. Like, I can make some curtains or maybe a simple a line skirt, but nothing too fancy. My grandmother is an incredible seamstress and can make ANYTHING...I'm hoping one day I'll have her talents. I seem to have patience for everything else on this earth besides sewing."
Do you have any future or current projects at the house?
"Oh sure! "They" say you are never really finished with a project like this. I'm still searching for the perfect pattern for a tin ceiling in our dining room. Also, we've taken a break after restoring the downstairs and we still have to redo all the electrical upstairs and begin restoration up there. I'd also eventually like a screen porch off the back and a greenhouse in the yard. But for now, we are enjoying what we have completed so far."
Do you think you would do it all again?
"Are you planning on staying in this house, or was it more of an investment? I loved (well, still love) the entire process. This has truly become our dream home so we aren't planning on selling. This will get willed to any children we have. I'm actually glad we still have the upstairs to complete because I still have a lot of ideas I want to implement."
I love Andy and Ashley's effortless mix of old and new, of vintage and antique. That blend is something that people work so hard at, and hire people for, and to some it just comes easily. Although I am not sure if the blue trim will stay that color on the bannister and in the foyer, I do love its unexpected friendliness. It goes so well with all the other furnishings and art in Vertical House, that it looks intentional, even though it was there before. Almost like the house was just waiting for Andy and Ashley to come rescue it from the alligator cage and horrible carpet, and make it into a dream home!
Moxie & Oliver