It’s pretty cool looking at the inside of the 1876 Fixer Upper knowing no one has seen it in its original form for +/-100 years. No more wallpaper, no bathrooms, no second generation flooring. Just wide open spaces waiting for a fresh coat of everything.

Contractor pow wow before Phase 1 Demo began.
(L to R) Danny Jones/QOVACS, Ken, Jared Kirby and Jeff Kirby/Kirby Plumbing,
Bill Combs/Combs Construction.

We are very lucky to have an awesome team working on this project. Bill Combs/Combs Construction is Ken’s go-to, coordinating all the moving parts. Bill and his workers have crawled all over this house, removing all the old & nasty and carting it away.


Originally I thought I would assist in wallpaper removal – and had friends (clearly crazy people…) who volunteered to work with me. The 11+ foot ceilings were daunting, but we thought we could “work part way up.” So naive! Yes, I’ve done it before, with the help of Ken and the kids, for weeks and weeks. SO glad my injured back helped me figure out that I should forget all about that fantasy.

Our visiting daughter-in-law and grandchildren had fun pulling off strips of wallpaper, but it was Bill’s team of go-getters that removed every scrap of that paper in just three days! Best.Decision.Ever.

Let’s take a look at the progress made during Phase 1 Demo:

When I figured out that my back needed repair as much as the Fixer Upper, I let go of the idea of my German schmearing new brick surfaced kitchen walls. It was clear I shouldn’t put my back into anything! So new plan. I asked Bill to remove plaster and expose brick on two exterior walls of the kitchen. He’s currently running down old brick to shore up crumbles, and will be tuck pointing several areas. Once the walls are repaired and sealed, I’m sure I will love them.

A note about the wood floors. The living room’s poplar floors are good. We removed the 1920s 1-inch oak strips in the dining room to reveal the original poplar floors in good condition. We weren’t so lucky with the kitchen floors. There is a section of original 3″-4″ poplar planks butting into a section of 3″ poplar planks, next to several different plywood sections, with a section of water rotted who-knows-what flooring. We’re getting a new kitchen floor!

The new HVAC, electric & plumbing will need to come up through the kitchen floor from the basement, so before we can start the Phase 2 Demo of the mechanicals, we have to remove the old kitchen floor and install a new one. We opted for 4″ T&G poplar planks the length of the room to blend in with the original floors. Where do you find such a thing, you ask? Twelve miles down the road!

“Our Cabin-Heartwood reveals a wide spectrum of natural color variations and heavily textured character… attributes include natural color variations, sound knots, worm holes, mineral discolorations and other non-structural type natural characteristics in this popular and historic collection.” Tiny Timbers

When we built our current home, we became acquainted with Tiny Timbers in Deputy, Indiana. We purchased random width/random length hickory for our floors, and baseboard and trim of a wider profile than available at stores. For our current 1876 house project, we have opted for square edge T&G planks from their Cabin-Heartwood collection. It’s like they know me, right?! I can’t think of a better complement to the brick walls.

And last but not least, the run down Depression era shed behind the house and the old basketball goal and court in the yard are also gone. A temporary gravel parking area stands ready for the next wave of work crews.

Phase 2 Demo is about to begin, and we’re ready to say goodbye to old cloth-covered wiring, funky switches and wobbly receptacles, corroded plumbing pipes, the furnace beast, conspicuous HVAC chases and huge floor vents. Tim McDonough/electrictek will replace all the old wiring, add a new electric panel, and take care of home security. Jeff & Jared Kirby/Kirby Plumbing will replace all water/sewer lines, and Danny Jones/QOHVACS will add new zoned heat and air.

I know what you’re probably thinking. “OMG this place looks worse than when they started!” Sooooo right! But that’s when you know it can be what you see in your mind. All clean, all beautiful. After demo & rebuild comes AMAZING!

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One thing that makes my journey unique is that all of my interests are driven by a joyful and genuine curiosity. I delight in finding less expensive ways to make something or creative ways to enjoy something longer. Finding and creating joy - and sharing it - is core to who I am.