Before and After: Dump to Looker

Before and After: Dump to Looker

Lise Harwin
Oct 28, 2008

After our recent post about Julie Almquist's rehabbed cottage, the requests came rolling in for more photos. Fortunately, Julie was happy to comply, sharing several "before and after" shots which show just how much her sweat equity paid off.

Julie also generously shared some of her thoughts on the project. Enjoy!

Mauri and I drove through SE Portland on Saturdays looking at houses from my realtor's list. We had crossed nearly fourteen off my list before I came to the house on Bybee Boulevard. The street didn't have sidewalks so it was hard to know where to park, it was the kind of place where someone would back up on the front lawn and unload the keg right in through the front door.

The RMLS listing described the house as "cute" which usually means small. This place was small and anything but cute. Through the plastic, I could see brown and beige shag carpeting, and wood paneling on the walls. Looking past the huge pile of garbage in the driveway, which included a water heater, a refrigerator, an old typewriter, a garden hose, some wood and a gate. The back yard was big. Lots of mud, a few trees, corn stalks in what looked like rows of crops, some brown canes in a row, some vines growing along a neighbors garage and a small patch of grass.

In the fifteen days between inspection and closing, Portland received many, many days of torrential rains. Here I am, so excited, closing day on "My House." I walked in the door and there on the floor was a lake. It stretched from what would be my dining room into the kitchen and then from the kitchen cabinets to the walls. A good seven foot wide by nine foot long.

I started to cry. I just signed my life away for this...a dumpy little run-down house with a lake in the dining room. I sat down on the back stairs and I called my brother, Mike: "Stop crying! Julie, I can rebuild your house in the six days that I'll be there, if that's what it takes. Everything...can be fixed. Now go buy a bucket and a mop.

It was February 15 and Mike would be flying back to Nebraska. The kitchen was in good shape and we were working on a bathroom addition over the stairs. A window had been removed in the back hallway, and at 5:30 p.m. Mike asked me if I wanted a window in that new part of the bathroom. He said it was going to have to be an odd shaped window- something tall and narrow.

Mike stated he was hungry so we headed to McDonalds for dinner. Mike screamed as I passed it and drove into the antique dealer's parking lot next to McDonald's. I knew it was a long shot, but I just wanted to see if they had an old window that might work. I ran downstairs to the building salvage area and began flipping through windows. As the employee announced that the store was closing, I found it. A tall, thin leaded glass window. The panes were clear with various textures and shades of blue--the color I had planned for the bathroom. Mike declared it the perfect size and I bought it. He had it installed in the bathroom wall before midnight.

I knew then, as I looked out my new-old window, that my days of struggling to get out of bed were over. I had dreams of what this house could be. My old spirit was back and it had a new address.

Thanks, Julie!

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