Re-Constructing Home-Part 4: Potential

Finding a fixer-upper feels a little pioneer-like. There’s a level of grit required to see the raw potential in a house and to set about making it into the perfect home. And shows like “Fixer Upper” make even massive renovations look if not simple, then at least fun.

But what happens when an actual couple with a toddler daughter purchase the perfect “distressed” home and set about renovating it? What does that process really look like from the inside out? 

This blog series, “Re-Constructing Home,” follows Derek and Bethany Wood, and their almost-two year old Evelyn, on their ground-up renovation of their historic Craftsman home in the City of Decatur.


Derek and Bethany pulled up to the house and paused for a minute to assess the current situation. Weeds encroached on the yard. The grass hadn’t met a lawnmower in quite a while. But Derek’s ever-present love of yard work made those factors easy to dismiss. So, they looked past all of that to what matters most: the structure of the house. Were the bones of the house solid enough to persuade them to make this investment—an investment that would require time, money, and patience?

The house, a historic Craftsman home built in 1915, drew them in. Restored to its former glory, the house would be exactly what they were looking for: a classic design, warm and inviting. Before they even set foot in the door, they were making plans for the house.

And then they went inside.

Boxes and random items were stacked in piles everywhere. Derek and Bethany stood astounded for a moment. How could anyone collect this much stuff? The sheer volume of things crammed in to each room made it difficult to assess the layout of the house. And the house smelled old, stale… like life had stagnated here.

But the junk could be hauled away. And the layout likely didn’t matter much, since they were looking at a complete remodel, anyway. As for the smell, well, they could throw open some windows and hit the house with some bleach and hope for the best until they could get the renovations done. It wouldn’t be too bad… And there were those 10 foot ceilings. They’d make the house seem more open and airy, bigger than it was even. Once they cleared all that junk out, of course.

They wandered into the kitchen, where they encountered a conundrum. A large drywall column was situated on the the kitchen island, which made it almost impossible to open the circa 1950 oven. The refrigerator, clear across the kitchen, opened right up on the island also. Well, to be more accurate, it only opened halfway before hitting the island. Easy access to the cooktop was impeded by that giant island in the middle of the kitchen. So, basically, they realized, they were standing in the middle of a non-functioning kitchen. If they bought the house, they’d have to create a makeshift kitchen until the renovation. Like camping, but without all the nature and the fun.

Upstairs there unfolded another mystery: they’d chopped the space up into 3 small bedrooms; another upstairs room featured a hump on the floor that ran across the threshold and along one wall. There were cabinets and a sink in the room. Remarkably odd. And definitely not how they’d design the upstairs of their home—or any home, really.

Bethany and Derek took a mental inventory of the house as a whole: the astounding clutter, the odd spaces, the non-functional kitchen, the funky smell.

And they decided to go for it.

The mess in front of them paled in comparison to the raw potential they saw in this house. They believed that they could turn this house into their dream. And Derek and Bethany aren’t short on adventure, the love of a project, or vision for what could be. So, they were in.

Ultimately, they bought two stories of potential.


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