When we first moved to Alabama we were new college grads (for two months), newlyweds (for one month), and newly facing the real world. We got a nice two bedroom apartment in Huntsville and were so ecstatic to be on our own and in our new little home. We loved our time at the apartment and enjoyed walking on the greenway nearby where we would see rabbits, horses, and cows. However, high rent and little leftover money each month made us begin to look elsewhere. In addition, we were trying to add to our scant furnishings on a tight budget which involved refinishing an old chest on the breezeway and building a bookshelf in our living room. Our living room was under tarps for two weeks and things were feeling a little cramped with our projects.
Our best friends lived in Morgan County and we began looking online for houses in that area since real estate was much cheaper there. One little cottage in particular caught our eye and we began our love affair with our house and the town of Hartselle. We took several trips to Hartselle to drive by the house before having a real estate agent take us through. We loved the little town and the fact that the house was only two blocks from Main Street.
The house was built in 1939 and had white aluminum siding. The house I grew up in was also built in 1939 and also had white aluminum siding. My great grandparents built the house and raised my grandmother there. When my grandmother got married she and her husband moved a block away where my dad was raised. When I was born we lived in the house (about 800 sq. ft. with three kids) across the street from my great grandparents and when they died (I was two) we moved into their house. It was a two bedroom house but was larger than our previous house. My brothers got the big bedroom across from my parents and my parents converted the old back porch into a room for me. Even though lots of things were broken and worn, I loved that old house. We lost it when I was fourteen during the flood that hit North Carolina after Hurricane Floyd. Perhaps in some ways the Hartselle house was my attempt to recapture the feeling of that house.
Ok, enough of that. The house had a few quirks when we first looked at it. I thought it was a little odd that the front door had about five different kinds of locks and felt it could be improved upon.
When we started getting really serious about making the purchase, we consulted with our best friends who served as surrogate parents for the house tour so that we could have some wisdom to combat our excitement.
While we were looking around we found a mysterious door in the dining room:
Behind that door was probably the house's most helpful feature during our remodel: the walk-up attic.
Pretty much the entire time we lived in the house, the attic housed our kitchen gear, seasonal clothing, books, and random items. Since we usually only had about 400 sq. ft. of livable space at any given time due to our ripping walls out in various rooms, it was a lifesaver.
After eight months of living in our apartment, we bought our first home. We closed on October 31, 2007. The same day I got the call that I had gotten a job at a local company. I had been looking for a job since we got to Alabama and except for a brief stint at a coffee shop, had had no luck. Finally we had our house and I now had the job to fund remodeling it. We were very excited about the 1,000 sq. ft. we now owned and were a little overwhelmed by the fact that we were now homeowners, and apparently adults. We got the house for $75,000 and successfully lowered our monthly housing payments by about $300 a month. It still seemed like a huge responsibility to owe that much money, though looking back I can't believe we were able to get a house in such a great location for that cheap.