Baldwin Building Adventures

There is so much happening in the world right now and so much of it is so, so heavy. I have never felt less Christmas-y- ever. People are really hurting right now. If you are friends with Amanda on Facebook, then you already know that Demetrius is going through hell in the form of a concussion followed by an extended stay at Children’s Hospital. I’ve just lost two friends to cancer, one who mentored me and changed my life and one that while I haven’t spoken to her in many years, had an impact on some of my hardest years. We have a new president in our country and no matter how people feel about him- they fall on one side of a fence that has divided us as a nation AND as Christians. People are hurting right now and it’s no fun.

But….in the midst of all that, we’ve been on a grand adventure. It started less than 6 weeks ago, when being the protective neighbor that I am, I spotted someone with no business in our neighborhood driving around aimlessly and looking at my neighbors houses. I asked if she was lost and she said, “no, I’m a realtor looking for a house.” Done being neighborly and now just being nosy I started to ask more questions.

Turns out, the house was for her and her husband and they were looking to purchase a house in our neighborhood and scrape it to turn it into a modern home.


They had purchased two lots just a few blocks from us (closer to downtown and on a cul-de-sac and next to a stream and walking trail) and wanted to build their dream home there, but being in a historic preservation district, they could only build a Craftsman style home (or similar). Do you guys know anyone who writes on this blog who likes Craftsman style?

In a “hey, just for fun” moment, I invited the realtor to our house just to check it out, but told her the only way we would consider selling is if we could buy those lots from her, knowing the real estate market and knowing if they put them back on the market they would be gone to a cash buyer in a minute. When he got home that night, I told Andy the story of me being a nosy concerned neighbor and really played it all as just being for kicks, because we were not planning to sell our house, but when I said “craftsman home” he stopped what he was doing and said, “OK. Now I’m listening.” In inviting the realtor over to see our house, we were very much like, “whatever happens”. When I say we had no expectations, I couldn’t mean that more. So many things would have to happen for this to work, so we didn’t expect anything.

Stacy (the realtor) came over on a Saturday and within 14 days we were under contract with her. We had agreed on fair pricing- she and her husband buying our house and us buying the lots.

This has been one of those crazy rides that can only be God. As Amanda said to me, “God is giving you something you could have never been bold enough to even pray for or know you wanted.” And she’s right. This is all so far beyond my imagination and expectations…it’s mind-blowing.

After so many things falling into place for us the remaining piece was a place to live while we build our home. Last night we noticed our neighbor (5 houses down from us!!) is renting out his house. He had put up his sign no more than 2 hours before we drove by. It will be available exactly when we need it in mid-February.  He is a friend of ours – someone we have gotten to know through being neighborly, who is renting his house for way cheaper than any house I have looked at. It’s another link in the chain that we can only see as God saying: “I got this. I’m doing this!”

This morning, we closed on both properties and all four of us left the closing table happy. Stacy and Eric are getting to create their modern dream home and Andy and I are getting to create what we didn’t know we wanted.


Buyers, sellers, buyers, sellers

Here’s the start of the plans we will be using. We’re building a duplex first and will live in half of that while we build our home on the larger lot. We are beyond excited and also beyond terrified, but just like getting married (ten years ago yesterday!!) we know it will be exciting and scary and there will be great moments and not-so-great moments. We just know it’s from Him and so we’re moving along…..and all I can say right now is “WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING!!????!!!!”


Baldwin Bedroom Remodel: Part 1

It’s been a long time coming, but the Baldwin’s are finally doing some home updating!

When we moved into this 1950’s ranch 4 years ago, it was literally in pristine condition. Well- 1950’s pristine condition. Nothing had been updated at all. There was no dishwasher, microwave or WASHER AND DRYER! The former owners were the original owners and they did a beautiful job maintaining their home. We were honestly ecstatic to find a home in such great original condition.

Since we were new homeowners on the verge of starting a family, we didn’t do much at all. We painted and…. actually, I think that’s all we did. Painted. And for the time being it really was enough.

But now, we have 3 kids and a (very) small amount of cash so we decided it was time to update. The first intention we had was to completely redo our kitchen. I’m not talking about new cabinet faces. I’m talking about tearing down walls and moving the where the sink is-type renovate.


But since, like I said, we only have a small amount of cash, that went by the wayside and we decided to tackle a smaller, but equally important project: the bedrooms.

Before we get into this new bedroom stuff, you must know four important things:

1. We are on a budget. Budget means- not a lot of cash and only cash, no loans of any kind are used during this process. 2. I am not a professional anything, let alone decorator or designer. I just do what I like and hope it works. Oh and I usually ask Amanda what she thinks and that’s about the extent of the professional help I am getting. 3. We are DIYing this whole shebang. If we get a professional in here at any time, I assure you it will be some kind of therapist and not a contractor. 4. Nothing is perfect and I think it will be a while until all this is done, so hang in there if this kind of stuff is your jam.


Here is what renovating the bedrooms in a 1950’s house looks like:

  • New wiring – including adding new outlets and making everything 3 phase wire (this basically means that the outlets have 3 holes instead of 2. Think about that time you tried to plug in your Mac somewhere and you couldn’t without an adapter. That’s the difference.)
  • New texture on all walls and ceilings
  • New paint
  • New trim
  • New windows
  • Adding lighting in closets and showers
  • New light fixtures
  • New interior doors
  • New door hardware

This is what I mean by boring. These are all actual images that Andy took during the electrical-update phase of this project.


This is how we lived for weeks. These extension cords ran from our kitchen to the bedrooms so the kids could have lamps on. Talk about living on the edge…and I know you see that mess. It was the real deal!


This is about what we saw of Andy for quite some time-his feet while he did electrical work in the attic. Behind him are two babies huddled up after a bath.

Unfortunately, the renovating part of this project is rather totally and completely boring and quite dusty. It was a lot of days of hours (and hours) of work (for Andy mostly) and seeing no progress. I mean switching over to 3 phase wiring is not an exciting thing at all. It means hours in the attic and pushing wires through various places and having Andy yell from the attic to the basement, “DO YOU SEE IT YET?” about the yellow wire. The most exciting part of this is new outlets; a 1950’s house has approximately 1/2 as many outlets as a modern home should have.

As unexciting as this whole first part was, it was actually kind of fun for us. I managed to keep my cool around all the dust and mess and we lived without electricity in the bedrooms and bathroom for a while. We made the most of it and basically all slept wherever we could and lived in partial darkness for so long that once we did have lighting we forgot to use it!

Our house was a total mess. New texture meant bedrooms had to be emptied of all their stuff and so almost everything was moved to the living room. This was actually great because it gave me a chance to do what I like to call Kon-Mari 2.0 : basically, get rid of more shit- and keep the shit I love and I loved it!


Now, for the actual real exciting part of this- here are a few photos of our new doors, windows and hardware. Remember what I said earlier, though, nothing is complete yet. It’s all still in progress, so don’t ask why the trim isn’t up in the hallway. This is a sneak peek.

We opted for Craftsman Style when it came to door handles, trim and fixtures. We’re going to be adding in lots of Mid-Century touches and clean white pieces as we decorate. It’s actually a bit tough for a couple reasons: 1. money, 2. we actually have people (and children) who live here and 3. our house is not large. It’s 1200 finished square feet upstairs, so we’re having to make adjustments to our wish list. But stick with me because I think you will enjoy our before, during and after!

All of our original interior doors were hollow wood with gold handles and hardware. Now we’ve got clean, white, craftsman style, solid wood doors and handles with bronzed hardware. The difference is amazing!


Craftsman style trim and new windows! Hello lower heating bill!!

If you want to follow me on Pinterest, I’ve got tons of inspiration boards made as we work through this project!

Stay tuned because next time I’ll share some redecorating!