A 100-year-old house in the middle of a West Virginia college town

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Welcome to our Dual Faith Home -- Thor's hammer and crucifix.
Welcome to our Dual Faith Home — Thor’s hammer and crucifix.

The offbeat occupant: Jess: Researcher, Grad student, Derby girl
Other occupants: Chris: husband, army dude, cop; Roxy: Hound dog, yard guard; Raven: Rat Terrier, stink bug eater; Huginn: cat, judger of lowly humans
Approximate square footage: 650-1000 sq. feet
How many bedrooms? Three
Lives in: Wiles Hill-Highland Park, Morgantown, West Virginia

Let’s start with the neighborhood. What’s it like where you live? We live in the middle of a college campus; it surrounds our neighborhood on three sides. We’re part of the few owner-occupied hold-outs, trying to keep a nice home, surrounded by college rentals.

How American!

While our neighborhood poses unique challenges — such as random frat boys passed out on our porch, and beer cans in our yard every weekend — it has amazing perks. Within a mile we have both our jobs, shops, bars, restaurants, and all the fun things associated with the University. We get “big city” life while living in a small town. On top of it all, we can be in a state park in 15 minutes and great skiing and a national forest within an hour.


What makes your home offbeat? We’re constantly re-imagining the home and how to use it best. I’ve lived in the house for years and it’s had a string of roommates. We’ve had up to five people living in the house. Right now it’s just the two of us, and in reality it’s the dogs’ house — we just keep it nice for them.

We’re aging punk rockers and sci-fi/fantasy geeks. We both have relatively non-traditional work schedules. We’ve also gotten really good at faking-it-till-you-make-it as adults (shhh don’t tell our bosses: we’re just big kids!).


What’s the most challenging about this space? How do you deal with the challenge? Besides the age, it would definitely be the layout. The front room/living room/dining room is totally separated from the kitchen. This leads to a strange dynamic during parties. Either everyone is crammed into the kitchen, everyone is in the living room, or (usually when we have couples) half are in the kitchen and half are in the living room and never the twain shall meet.


Additionally, two bedrooms are upstairs and the third is downstairs. The downstairs bedroom is surrounded by the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room. This makes it not so quiet.

What’s your favorite feature of your home? The kitchen. Hands down favorite place. It was one of the first things we renovated together. We managed to fit in a ton of storage space and counter tops. Everyone tends to gather in there during parties. And the floor is laminate, but a cool texture and it looks like stone. It also is home to my ever-growing Fiesta dish collection. Nothing like primary pops of color in a warm neutral kitchen to make your heart warm!

Dining room

Second favorite would be our dining room set. It’s a table I rescued from the basement of an old house and benches my husband made. It’s the perfect size for hosting a fancy dinner or a board game night. Catan, anyone?

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from this home? Patience. The quirks in this home have made renovating hard (not a single right angle in the whole place!). Making this house livable, usable, and suit our needs — all on a small budget — has been hard but totally worth it.

I’ve also learned to trust my husband’s judgment. If he is confident we can do it, he’s usually right. If he thinks it’s too big of a project, he is ALSO usually right.

The tile was a pain to install, but the bathroom re-do was a chance to learn how to do crown moulding.
The tile was a pain to install, but the bathroom re-do was a chance to learn how to do crown moulding.

What’s your grandest plan for the space? Nothing, we’ve re-done the kitchen, bathroom, and backyard. When I finish with my PhD we will be moving so we don’t want to do any more. If I could live here forever though, I would want to waterproof the basement and add a garage.

What advice do you have for other offbeat homies? DIY! You can find lots of info in the library on how to do a lot of things. Also don’t let people tell you how much things are going to cost. Research your options and don’t be afraid to try and negotiate a deal. Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a great resource for fixtures etc. We got good deals on our backsplash and counters in the kitchen because they were discontinued items and the store only had limited quantities.

Any stuff or services you want to recommend?
Habitat ReStore
Surplus City in Morgantown

Show me the decor porn!

Comments on A 100-year-old house in the middle of a West Virginia college town

  1. Hurrah! A new old home tour on OBH! Thanks so much for giving us a peek inside your lovely space. Your navy & white bathroom has given me both the courage and the photographic proof I needed to go to the shop and buy dark blue paint for our tiny, ageing bathroom. My partner says it’ll look like a cave, but it has a window like yours does. And yours looks fantastic! Now to learn how to install moulding…

    • Hi Homeowner here! We had the same cave debate. I eventually won out through the power of pinterest. I think what really helped is the white trim as well as tile and counter. The moulding wasn’t so bad once with figured out mitered cuts. We used the non-wood stuff which is flexible and water resistant so that helped a LOT.

      • Ah, non-wood mouldings! That’s a great tip and makes perfect sense now that you say it. We have extremely plain white tile and white ‘fittings’ (sink, etc.), so I think the dark blue will work like it did for yours with white edges. My brain gears are working now — might buy some fake beadboard trim to match the mouldings. Maybe too ambitious, though.

        What did you do with your floor, if anything? The linoleum in our bathroom is super gross.

        • We did tile. its ceramic but looks like grey slate. We found a partial pallet of tile that was discontinued that was enough to do the floor in the bathroom and the small hallway. It was our first time doing tile. The floor was pretty straight forward. The tile in the shower was an ORDEAL.

          • Wow, I admire your courage undertaking so many tile project areas! We’re looking at tile just for the floor. We were also talking about waterproof laminate “wood” flooring, in a deck style, like this Aquastep Havanah Oak. I love the look & feel of tile, but laminate might be a better choice for our house.

  2. I feel like it’s been ages since we’ve seen a home tour.. they’re my favourite part of the site! So much of this one rang true for our house as well.. hahaha.

        • Do it! There is a lot about my house I don’t like. It took me forever to get up the courage to submit. I kept thinking I need the house to be cleaner/more done/ whatever.

          Plus, besides the kitchen where I wanted to show off the floor, you don’t really notice the floors in the home tour. You cant tell that I have a stained rug from college over beat up splintery wood floors under that dining room table. Or that the carpet in the bedroom is 90% pet hair after all these years.

          I just focused on the things I DID like and went from there.

  3. Love this! I lived in Morgantown 14 year ago, and really miss it sometimes. I had a pretty sweet duplex on University N. of campus at the top of the hill. Memories!

    • I love Morgantown…most of the time….after 10 years here I feel like I’ve aged out of the college town life sometimes.

      Your old house is probably gone. If it was on the Grant Ave side of university. WVU bought like 4 or 5 blocks of houses and tore them down this fall. They are building a GIANT dorm there now.

  4. That dragon is full of win AND has a story behind it. Awesome.

    I hear great things about Morgantown, glad you have a great place there 🙂

    The cat in the kitchen photo (where they’re being held) looks so angry but so cute at the same time…

      • Now I need to figure out a way to make him into a wine fountain…….

        The cat flips back and forth between looking positively evil and totally adorable. He’s either bi-polar or, like a cartoon villain, is thwarted from world domination by his propensity to fall down stairs.

  5. What a beautiful house and a beautiful family! I LOVE your colorful valknut!

    Also, my husband and I are also a Thor’s Hammer and crucifix kind of house. It makes me feel so good to see that out in the world!

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