Courtney Coleman watched the old, rundown house across the street from hers deteriorate for years until it became her dream house.
Coleman, a special education teacher who now works for her husband, Dustin Coleman, a heating and air business owner, bought a Victorian farm house at 1977 Dry Creek Lane in September. Since then, she said, they have spent every minute available to transform the house and property from shabby to shabby chic.
An artist and decorator at heart, Courtney Coleman was always painting or making something even before she took on this house. Her hands covered in paint has become part of her. "I'm just happy my friends still hang out with me," she joked. "My friends and family don't judge me because I'm always covered in paint."
Because of her creative streak, she's always desired to have a business of her own where she could use that talent.
"For over 20 years I've been wanting to do a wedding venue," she said. Fifteen years ago, she and her husband debated whether to build a house of their own or buy and convert an old church building into a home. They chose to build on West 20th Street.
Then, over three years ago, she watched the Victorian house go up for sale, without any takers — until she and her husband decided they would plunge in.
They are now working on the property to turn it into a wedding and party venue. In addition to renovating the two-story house, they have built a carriage house next door so that they can have a space for events larger than the house can accommodate.
"I drove by this house every day and said, 'Oh, I love this house. It's so adorable.' Of course, it was in such disrepair — an old house that needed a lot of work. I like old buildings and remodeling," she said.
"Everybody would tell me, 'You need to do something with your talent,' and so this is pretty much what I have always wanted to do. This is my dream."
The project has entailed hours of detail work. First off, the 8 acres around the house had grass and weeds that had grown several feet high that her husband cut to get access to the property.
A prior owner had started some work on the house, such as putting in modern kitchen cabinets. Coleman has repainted the cabinets, antiquing the details of them and adding mix-and-match decorative doorknobs to accent the pastel cabinet colors.
As much as possible, the original building materials were left intact. Under old carpet, Coleman found wood floors. She spent hours sanding off damaged finishes. In some rooms, the floor boards had been screwed down every foot or so. She puttied all the screw heads, sanded the putty down, and then painted the floors in decorative finishes, leaving no sign of the unsightly screws.
Several of the rooms have ornate crown moldings and window and door trim. There were some places where the trim was missing and the Colemans could not find ready-made woodwork to match. They ended up making their own.
Old wallpaper was removed, and the walls were refinished.
Outside, the front porch had spindled railings. In one place the railing was curved. Some pieces were missing. She bought more spindles, and a contractor built the curved top railing. The existing pieces required many putty patches to smooth over old cracks. She puttied damaged spots in all the wood and painted the spindles in three colors.
The couple had a contractor paint the house, and a new roof was installed.
Restoration efforts have been so time-consuming, she has not had time yet to research the history of the house.
Coleman said the house still has its original well. She's had a decorative well house built to cover it. The well will be kept, though they have connected to a rural water district to provide water to use for the business. The well may be used to water plants and landscaping, she said.
"We didn't want to get rid of it," she said. "We've heard stories that people would come for miles to get this water. I'd like to know more about the story."
She believes the house was built in 1854 and has been told it was once used a brothel. But it will take time to examine old county records to try to uncover the story of the property's past, she said.
When her husband cleaned out the ditch by the house, he found old wagon parts, horseshoes and other artifacts.
"For our anniversary last year, he bought me an old doctor's buggy," Courtney Coleman said. "It's a big wagon from 1901," and it needed a repair involving a particular screw. "And it was weird because he was out there cleaning up the yard and he found a really old screw for a wagon, and that's the screw we needed for our wagon to get fixed."
La Rose Blanche
Though there is still some touch-up work and other projects such as landscaping to do, Courtney Coleman said she and her husband celebrated having the house nearly finished by having Thanksgiving dinner there last week. She plans to call the place La Rose Blanche, a reference to her favorite flower, the white rose.