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Chatfield couple brings home back to life

Fri, Apr 18th, 2014
Posted in Chatfield Home & Garden

Photo by Barb Jeffers

Every day Melissa Wood drove by the house at 25 Fillmore Street in Chatfield, Minn. She fell in love with the large home on a corner lot and saw its potential. The majority of the population would most likely have looked at the home that was for sale and saw a house built in 1870 in need of such repair that it would have been torn down. But not Melissa Wood. Melissa saw what the home had been and could be again. In her vision she saw a beautiful Victorian home in its glory days.

After talking with her husband Tony the couple decided to purchase the home and begin a monumental restoration project. Melissa states that she “just loves old things” and has always wanted to restore a house. She also owns Adourn in Chatfield which is a shop featuring re-furbished vintage and antique furniture and accessories as well as handmade and vintage items, jewelry, and gifts. Tony, an electrician, favors the new aspect of the restoration project. So the couple with two different tastes will blend the new with the old in their home.

After purchasing the home in October of 2013 Melissa and Tony began the project immediately by replacing the roof as the existing roof was over 85 years old and was leaking. Then began demolition inside, which included gutting the house. Tony stated that the home still had the old knob wiring and cast iron plumbing so that was all replaced. Floors and ceilings needed to be straightened as they were sagging and walls needed to be furred out in order to make them straight. Tony also made sure the walls were well insulated for energy efficiency.

The couple began with the upstairs and kitchen so they will have living space while completing the restoration on the remaining parts of the home. Luckily the house has two staircases so the unfinished part of the house can be sealed off while work continues.

Melissa and Tony do not want to remodel the house per say; they look to restore the home to its original condition as much as possible. All of the original woodwork and trim was still in the home so that has been carefully removed and labeled. Melissa will spend the hours to sand and repaint the woodwork so it can be re-installed.

All of the original radiators in the home still work which will adds to the home’s charm. A new boiler was installed which is very high in efficiency leaving the two chimneys in the house obsolete. One has been torn down with a second to be removed in the future.

Receiving help from many family members and friends Melissa and Tony have been able to do the majority of the work themselves. Tony used to build houses so in addition to his electrical expertise he has the construction knowledge as well. The kitchen and full bathroom have in-floor heat and a new energy efficient water heater was also put in.

Although Melissa would have wanted to save and restore as much as possible from the home, she says they have also been able to save a lot of money by re-using everything from old hardware on the windows and the windows themselves. Any windows that were broken the couple will search to find glass at a salvage yard because “it’s the old wavy glass” stated Melissa. Melissa said, “I love all the little details” that keep the character of the house.

The home will have modern amenities such as new stainless steel appliances, outdoor lighting, and speakers outside, but the couple will also use many materials appropriate to the period for the house. Melissa plans on finding tile to replace the old tile in the kitchen as it could not be salvaged.

The Woods say their favorite part of the project so far has been tearing things apart and finding how the house was originally. When the demolition work began on the upstairs, they found the upstairs was probably one big room at one point in time with vaulted ceilings and had been changed over the years. Tony kept the vaulted ceiling in one bedroom to keep the house as it was originally. Many of the 2x4’s have been re-used and additional boards will be used for the top of the kitchen island.

The biggest challenge for the couple has been finding time to work on the house. With Melissa spending the majority of her time at Adourn and Tony working as an electrician, extra time would be hard to find for anyone. Then add the fact that the couple was blessed with a daughter, Emma, just four short months ago and one can understand that “extra” time is very hard to find, leaving Tony working all day and spending his nights doing work on the house.

Tony and Melissa hope to be able to move into the house in approximately a month and spent last weekend painting in preparation. The paint colors for the inside of the home will be neutral. The home will have three bedrooms and one and a half baths.

Once the inside of the home has been restored the Woods’ will begin on the outside of the house where the color palette will be more colorful. Melissa thinks she will use five colors on the outside of the home, which will highlight the wonderful aspects of the architecture including the beautiful porches that are prominent on Victorian homes. The home also has a carriage house that the couple plans to restore as well.

Tony actually spent time in the home as a child when visiting the Gjellstad family who owned the home for many years and when she finds the time Melissa plans on doing additional research on the home to find out more history and any old photos of the house she can possibly find.

Melissa states that she is not a “cookie-cuttear type house” person and sees the beauty in old things while Tony says, “Anything can be fixed,” which makes the Woods’ the perfect family to bring the house full of character back to its beginnings while they themselves begin their family.

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