If you’re new around here, over 4 years ago we made a bold move and my husband took a job at summer residence camp. A big perk of this position, was that it came with a house and meant we would live on-site full-time. We were sold on the fact that this job would give us the opportunity to spend more time together as a family and save up money as we lived rent-free in the camp house. Sounds like a dream right? Well, let’s just say the job came with a lot more unexpected ups and downs than we imagined but this experience has been both humbling and rewarding.
Living at the Camp House has been a major adjustment for our family. For starters, the house is less than half the size of our previous home and was a major fixer upper. The fixer upper part didn’t bother me, but because the home is not ours, having someone else be in charge of the when the upper gets fixed. For me, that’s been the toughest pill to swallow. On the plus side though, once budgets for the repairs are approved we’ll pretty much have free reign on how we want those repairs to be made.
So c’mon inside and I’ll give you the before tour of the Camp House.
Here’s the view from the outside. It’s definitely dated with the iron ivy columns to the 60’s style front door with stair stepped glass.
The dead, unkempt landscaping is definitely not inviting but with a little TLC there’s some potential right?
From the street we could see potential, but when we walked around to the back, well the property just got… interesting.
The matching paint color at first glance gives off a not-so-bad feel but upon closer inspection, the “addition” was everything a remodel should NOT be. When we go inside you’ll see what I mean. But before we get to the juicy bits let’s go back in the front door an into the foyer.
Unfortunately this “before” picture is not truly a before. There was originally some pretty ugly green striped wall paper and floral boarder which as it had started already started to peel I ripped into to reveal the even lovelier paneling underneath. Some of which had been “updated” with a fantastic kelly green sponge painting technique… eek!
The previous owner was a bit of a pack rat, had a few cats and smoked. This meant that any carpet left in the house had to be removed. But the great thing about a circa 1950’s home is that the odds of finding hard wood floors under the carpet are high and we lucked out!
The living room does have a nice large picture window. The window lets in a lot of much needed light which is good because the dark, dingy brink fireplace wall seems to suck the light out of the room. But even though I’m not a fan of the brick, the fireplace with large mantel is a plus.
Upstairs are three relatively small bedrooms. The smallest is less than 100 square feet so it’s pretty tight. On a positive note, aside from making some minor updates like replacing the old light fixtures, adding some new closet doors where they were missing, slapping up a coat of paint, and refinishing the floors they didn’t need much work.
Another plus is that even thought the rooms were small each of the bedrooms has decent sizes closets, which while they aren’t walk-in’s they have wide openings to make it easier to access all of the space. Older homes may have hardwood floors but the don’t often have a lot of closet space, or if they have the space they may have a single, traditional door that prevents you from accessing all of the space. So I was pleased to find that we could add some bi-fold doors and easily get to all of the closet space.
Also upstairs is the house’s main bathroom and although it’s a decent size, appeared to be the original bathroom which is in need of some major updates.
Back downstairs, is the kitchen dining combo. The already small space was made even more awkward by the fact that there is no place for the refrigerator. There are so many thing wrong in this kitchen, things that you can’t see in these pictures. Remember how I said, the previous owner wasn’t exactly the tidiest? It took me three days to scrub all of the grease and grime off the cabinets. Yuck!
This picture was taken after we painted and cleaned but the major renovation would have to wait.
Cooking in here is well… let’s just say I have a new found love for my crockpot. First there’s the tiny oven that won’t hold a full-size cookie sheet or the glass cooktop that is either cold or scorching hot. I didn’t know it was possible to burn water, but with stove it is possible…not that I know from experience or anything😉.
Now on to the really juicy bits of our tour…
The doorway in the kitchen leads to that “addition” I mentioned during the exterior tour. Essentially this “living space” was just a precariously walled in porch with concrete floors and some very creative building techniques. The ceiling that appeared to be drywall was really just painted foam insulation board.If you pushed on them at all they would immediately dent in.
All of the electrical outlets were connected not with your average electrician’s Romex wire, rather they were all wired up with extension cords. Yes extension cords …and most of them weren’t even the heavy duty kind. And if you look closely the windows were repurposed single pane storm windows. Nothing in this “room” that was re-usable. Not even the exterior walls! The walls had so much termite damage that they literally crumbled if you tried to hammer into them. Ok, so I guess nothing re-usable wasn’t the full truth the roof trusses and main vertical support beams were fine. Before it was all said and done, this “room” would have to go back to a porch before it could be considered living space again.
Even though it looks a little scary, the slab space was actually pretty large at about 19 x 30. Properly finishing this space off would give us nearly 600 square feet of extra living space. We’re planning to incorporate a small master suite and family room in this area, more on that later.
If you think the back room looks a little scary well, check out this scary photo from the basement…
If you’re reading this with jaw dropped going, “What in the world were they thinking?”, don’t feel bad I’m pretty sure that just about everyone in our family did as well.
So what were we thinking????Repeat after me “Free housing, no bills, free housing, no bills, free housing no bills”.
When our camp house living situation has tried my patience, I’ve had to say that out loud to myself more than once! I’d remind myself, that if we didn’t seize this opportunity to get off of the hamster wheel we probably never would. For years, I’d been listening to Dave Ramsey say “If you want to live like no one else, you’ve got to live like no one else” which meant that in order to live in financial freedom, we need to make some sacrifices now. If we could be uncomfortable now, we could live more abundantly, debt free later. We’re still writing our story but for now, we’ve chose to step out in to the uncomfortable and see what God has in store.
And don’t worry, Mr. Lemonade is pretty darn talented so I’m sure we won’t be that uncomfortable for too long .