In the world of home design and decoration, it is perfectly natural to have spaces in need of decoration and remodeling. There’s a captivating allure and a nostalgic charm associated with it. This irresistible attraction often takes control influencing the desire to to revive and enhance these buildings.

This attraction led a Gen X woman to purchase a crumbling 1890s manor. After several years of passing it by, hoping that someday someone would buy and remodel it, she finally bought it. What she didn’t know was that restoring this house was no child’s play.

It Was Love At First Sight

On this day, Tabetha Heemstra was passing through the street near downtown Rensselaer in Indiana, when she noticed this beautiful and charming crumbling old house. It immediately captured her attention, and couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Source: McKinley Manor

Tabetha wasn’t bothered about the state of disrepair that the Queen Anne-style property was in. She couldn’t be bothered by the peeling paints on the exterior, Heemstra could see the potential and already envisaged how beautiful the building would look if someone was ready to restore it.

She Became The Person To Restore The Building

It felt like Tabetha had a deep connection with the crumbling house, she couldn’t stop thinking about it and anytime she passed by she’d turn her head to take a quick look at it once again. Tabetha had an interview with Business Insider, where she spilled some tea.

Source: McKinley Manor

She revealed how her head would turn towards the building as they were driving past, frantically wishing that someone would fix it and put her back in her former glory. After suppressing her love for a while she finally bought the crumbling house in 2020.

A Passion-Driven Decision

During this period, Heemstra was going through a phase, it was around the time when she transitioned away from helping her husband’s waste removal business. It was time to focus on herself and her goals

Source: Freepik/ bearfotos

Heemstra’s husband had the best idea. He suggested that it was time for her to pursue home restoration, he recognized her enthusiasm for decorating and designing, and it was the perfect job for her.

The Perfect Start For Tabetha Heemstra

Tabetha was intrigued by what her husband said, the idea of house restoration made Tabetha excited, and she soon began to explore all of her available options. And as fate will have it, Tabitha found out that the old and dilapidated house she admired was on the market.

Source: McKinley Manor

This was the go-ahead she needed, Heemstra couldn’t believe her dream home was now on the market, so she hurriedly went to view the apartment the next day and put her offer before them.

The House quickly became Tabatha’s

Heemstra was quick and decisive, she wasted no time when it came to her dream home. Within three weeks of viewing the house, it was hers. When she was asked about the price she paid for her dream house, she replied that she’d prefer to keep it confidential.

Source: McKinley Manor

Source: McKinley Manor

However, based on a series of research from reliable real estate platforms, they have come to realize that the median listing home prices in Rensselaer were nothing below $249,900. So, the price Tabetha paid must have been somewhat close to this.

The House Was Built In The 1890s

Finally, Tabatha has acquired her captivating and charming old house, and she decided to share the details about her house with Business Insider. She revealed that her newly acquired home is a three-bedroom home that was built in 1893.

Source: Wikipedia/American Illustrating, Company Brian Stansberry

It was designed by one of the best architects of that era, the well-known American architect George F. Barber. Tabatha got this Information from a National Register For Historic Places.

This Building Has Been Vacant For About A Year

Tabatha found out that her beloved building had been vacant for approximately a year before she came along. This caused the building to become dilapidated and needed a lot of repair.

Source: Unsplash/ Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

Beyond the visible issue of the peeling paint, the house had other issues that needed to be attended to urgently. It had leaking windows and the whole plumbing system needed to be replaced.

The Roof Was The Only Thing That Didn’t Need To Be Repaired

Everything in the house needed to be repaired, but it was expected from a house that had been designed in the 1890s and had been vacant for more than a year. Practically everything in the property needed substantial renovation and restoration.

Source: Unsplash/ WEN WU

The only part of the house that didn’t need immediate attention and renovation was the roof. Heemstra mentioned that the previous owners had installed a new roof a year before she purchased the property. And that would reduce her workload.

Heemstra Got To Work Immediately

Heemstra soon got to work, she already had a picture of her dream property, and soon started to work on the fixer-upper. Heemstra has been in this restoration for almost three years and she believes that it is almost complete and everything is coming together.

Source: McKinley Manor

All that’s left for her to do is the upper section of the exterior walls. The paints have all peeled off and need to be repainted. Heemstra says she’s not ready to work on that yet and she’ll get to it after winter.

Heemstra Wants To Turn Her Property Into A Vacation Rental

Tabatha’s home is just 20 miles away, and she has no intention of moving in when it’s completed. She has a different need for her property. She intends to transition it into a vacation rental catering to couples and families looking for getaways.

Source: McKinley Manor

Rensselaer is a strategic location and it’s just approximately 100 miles south of Chicago and a two-hour drive from Indianapolis. Visitors will always come around to visit the local attractions like the Jasper County Fair or even go on an art walk to explore the public murals in town.

Heemstra Did Most Of The Work Herself

Just like her usual self, Heemstra took on the majority of the restoration work. Although it’s a whole different process for the plumbing and electrical work. For the specialized plumbing and electrical work, she’s asked for the help of professional contractors.

Source: McKinley Manor

Although many of them were individuals from her church community. And while she had lots of experience with renovation projects in her own house, the renovation of this historic manor was larger compared to her other projects.

The Hardest Part Was Having To Learn A New Skill

One of the most challenging parts of the restoration was the exterior, this was because it had a lot of rich intricate decorative details. And sometimes she found herself using dental tools to meticulously remove old paint.

Source: McKinley Manor

Heemstra acknowledged that adapting to new skills was a tough thing to do, she also expressed how exciting it was to embrace the difficulties, especially when it came to trying new things like grazing her windows.

It Has Been Rented Out Once

Yes! Even though the house isn’t one hundred percent finished, Heemstra has rented it out once. She narrated that although she rented it out to a family friend, she was happy her house could work perfectly for what they intended.

Source: McKinley Manor

Heemstra rented it out to the fiancee of her friend’s son, which she occupied during her bridal party. This brought so much joy to Heemstra, she revealed that it was nice to be able to provide a beautiful spot for her friends.

She’s Getting Ready For Her Next Project

Although it took Heemstra a lot of time and effort to be able to restore her historic home to its former glory, she enjoyed every process. Now this has led her to her next project which is the house next door.

Source: McKinley Manor

She also mentioned that she’s in love with the idea that it’s right next door. It was empty and she thought a little fix-up might help increase the value of the house.

Her Husband Called Her Crazy

The fact that Heemstra thought about buying the house next door was surprising, but Heemstra had already figured everything out.

Source: McKinley Manor

She was going to buy that to help increase the rent and value of her house. Her shocked husband believed Heemstra made an insane move and honestly she was not denying it.

Work At Your Own Pace

Heemstra has a piece of advice for anyone interested in restoring old and crumbling houses. Try and be realistic when mapping out the time it’ll take to complete your renovations.

Source: McKinley Manor

It’s always going to take longer than you think, the only thing you can do is to be flexible with your timing and not be bothered about the “when will it be ready” question. Move at your own pace!

Get Your Coins Ready

If you are ever looking to venture into restoration of old homes, there’s something you need to know and that’s how costly and challenging it is.

Source: Unsplash/ Josh Appel

However, if you have a passion for preserving and restoring historic homes then this commitment will be worthwhile. You need to take your time and try not to bite more than you can chew so as not to get overwhelmed