When Tracy and Aaron Ehrliech were house hunting in 2013, they kept circling back to a two-story home in the West Central neighborhood.
It was beautiful outside, but the couple knew for a fact it was a hot mess inside.
Then owned by Tracy’s mom, the 1907 house had been divided into four apartments and was a bit worse for the wear.
“It was a rental home that’s on the lower-income side,” Tracy recalls. “There was stuff everywhere. The carpets were stained. It didn’t even smell good.”
Despite an exhaustive search for something that would require less work, they continued to land on the Walnut Street house.
Ultimately, Tracy says, they decided, “We can either find a house we don’t really like and change it or there’s this perfect house on Walnut Street that needs to be gutted.”
Despite the mountain of work that lay ahead and the fact Tracy was pregnant, the two plunged in.
“There was so much going on. It was insane,” Tracy says with a laugh. “It’s a perfect time to do it. It’s the perfect time to remodel.”
They moved into a second house on the property that was more or less a mother-in-law’s quarters while they tackled the yearlong project.
They tore out everything. “There was no central anything. Bad plumbing. We had to redo everything,” she says.
Along the way, they found a few treasures. Each apartment, for example, had a clawfoot tub. They kept one for their downstairs bathroom. In the siding, they found layers of old newspapers. “I framed some and put them inside the house,” Tracy says. They were extremely brittle, but Tracy says she was able to keep two sections big enough to read to hang on the walls of her home.
While only the shell of the original home remains, the Ehrliechs made their design choices based on the character of the home.
“If you’re remodeling an old house, you have to deal with the structure of it,” she says. “You’re using the bones and you can kind of tweak some things inside. It was surprising to me how well it fit my family … Going into an older home, I thought the rooms were going to be smaller, but surprisingly it’s so spacious.
“It isn’t open-concept, obviously — at all — but it’s amazing how spacious it is and how well it flows. It really fits our family.”
When it came time to decorate, Tracy turned to magazines, not Pinterest, for inspiration.
“I get really interested in magazines,” she says. “I like to pull things. I’ll probably grab 15 magazines — I like paper, I don’t like internet — I’ll start tearing out pages.”
Once she has a pile of photos of kitchens she likes, for example, she’ll start looking for common threads. That’s how she landed on white cabinets for the kitchen.
The couple finished the project in 2014 and moved into the house. But now, Tracy says, it’s time to say goodbye.
“It was a hard decision,” she says. “… We’re moving to a different home because we’re having his parents move in with us. They’ll have their own living space with a kitchenette. It’s a bigger space and more room for all of us.”
Tracy is frank about the fact she’s not thrilled with the new home’s design. “The house is all-new. It’s too country. I don’t like the kitchen either,” she says before looking at the silver lining. “I’m getting excited about the project potential.”
Nominate a Home of the Week
If you would like to suggest a home — a friend’s, a family member’s, your own or a client’s — email Jan Peterson at [email protected] In our quest to showcase the widest variety of homes possible, we will occasionally feature homes on the market. In order for listed homes to be considered, they must be furnished and the owner must consent to an interview. Addresses of homes are published only if the home is listed on the MLS or if requested as part of a homes tour.
Read or Share this story: https://www.news-leader.com/story/life/2020/08/22/couple-transforms-1907-walnut-street-home/5590506002/