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.
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!
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.
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?
Surplus City in Morgantown
Show me the decor porn!