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A Modern Day Grey Gardens - In New Jersey


I hope you're having a great week.  The kiddos started school on Monday, and we're quickly falling into a new routine.  Amazing how different their sleep schedules are when they have to get up early in the morning.  My daughter started at a new school this year, and despite the nerves (on her part and mine), she had a wonderful first day, and loves her new school.  Whew.

I thought you all would really enjoy this house, as I certainly did.  One of my best friends lives in New Jersey, and shared this article, as the house is near her.  It's truly a modern day Grey Gardens story - a house where two sisters lived together (and apparently were also hoarders) and fell into a state of total disrepair, both inside and out.

Let's start with the exterior - here it is before:

To give you an idea of the neglect that this house had suffered, take a closer look - 

The garage in the back - 

Here is the house after it was renovated - you can actually see it now!

The garage was fixed up as well.

The exterior is pretty tame compared to the inside.  And from what I've read, these pictures are a huge improvement from the state the house was when the cleanup first started.  The elderly sisters had piled stuff to the ceiling in every room.

For the sake of comparison, I'm going to post the after photos right after the before's - I know it's easier to view that way. :-)  How's this for a wow?  From what the article said, the floors were in great shape, hidden underneath the carpet.  Absolutely gorgeous!  I love that they run on the diagonal, and if you look closely, you can see the inlay that runs around the walls.  They just don't make houses like that anymore.

Here is a before shot of the stairway.

You can see how it was restored here - so much lighter and brighter!  And I just adore that curved front door.

I don't have a good before shot of the dining room, but you can sort of see it through this doorway.  

And the dining room now - it's great that they were able to save the original corner built-ins.  They look good as new.

The kitchen - I don't even know how to make a before/after comparison relative to the space planning.  Just, wow.

And the after...

While the kitchen is lovely, I have to admit, I would have loved to see a vintage white kitchen in here.  If you look closely in some of the before photos, you can see subway tile - it would have looked stunning.

A scary bathroom (with aforementioned subway tile, and what appears to be a pretty doorknob).

And after - lovely.  Much more in keeping to the style I would have loved to see throughout.

A bedroom - 

I think this is the same bedroom - renovated.

I think this is another bedroom.  I'm not sure.

I don't know if this is the same room or not, but it's still pretty.  Appears to be the master bedroom.

I can't imagine all of the stuff they hauled out of this place!

Much better.

If you want to see more listing photos, click here.  More before photos can be seen in the article here.  What a transformation!  To see the original Grey Gardens (then and now) click here.


Does it make me a stalker if I show up at my childhood home, unannounced and uninvited?


The title pretty much sums up today's topic.  You all know that I have a soft spot for some of our homes of days past.  I talked about the first home that my husband and I bought, and how it's currently in foreclosure, and I even gave you a tour of our second home (which seems to be well loved, even if they don't plant flowers in the window boxes).

Today we're going to an entirely different time and place.  This is the first home my parents bought, and one where I had many great childhood memories.  The kids and I, along with my parents, visited my grandmother over the summer, and the town where we lived is about an hour away from her, so we decided to do a drive-by and show it to the kids.

Here it is circa 1974.

And here it stands today.

I must have been feeling bold, because I got out of the car, and took a look up close, and the next thing I knew, I was on the front doorstep, ringing the doorbell.  I figured it was probably the last time I would visit this place, so what do I have to lose?

The homeowner (a woman) answered the door, and must have felt completely blindsided, seeing me at the door, and my mom standing on the sidewalk, tearfully telling her that this was my childhood home.  She was so sweet and empathetic, and even allowed us to come in and reminisce, even though she was in the middle of Saturday laundry and house cleaning.

Now I ask you, would you let a couple of crying women into your home, if they showed up claiming this was their house 35+ years ago?

It's funny how much bigger the neighborhood felt when I was a kid - everything feels so much smaller, going back and visiting as an adult.  But I have lots of wonderful memories of this place, and I'm going to take you on a bit of a flashback tour.

Already, you can see the exterior has changed quite a bit, both in the home itself and the landscaping.  I have to say, I think it's one of the nicest looking houses on the block.  It even has a snazzy front door.

This house always had great windows, that let in a lot of light, and that still holds true today.  The windows are beautiful, and the homeowner told us that the previous owner did a lot of upgrades and worked in millworking, so there were a lot of great woodworking details added, along with beautiful hardwood floors.

This is the living room, which you see to the left as you enter the front door.

We were there when rust carpet and the color palette of oranges, golds and green was in full force.  My mom was so excited about that carpet.

 This is the corner where the TV now sits.  Many a Christmas tree was decorated here.

This wall looked far different when I lived there as a child.

Paneling, of course!

This is another view of the front windows, as we look out toward the front yard.

And a shot from 1978 - at one of my birthday bashes, where family and friends would come to party.

Yes, this is a Polaroid of me and my dad, Christmas Eve, 1980.

The kitchen has been updated, and the layout has changed a bit in terms of appliances (we didn't have a dishwasher).  But overall, the footprint hasn't changed all that much.

We squeezed a little table in here too, and had a lot of fun when my mom baked a bunny cake for Easter.

There was a dining room adjacent to the kitchen, and an addition was added to the home by a previous owner as well.  So, that space has changed quite a bit from when we lived there.

I didn't snap a photo of the dining room when we were there, but I did find one online from when the house was listed a couple of years ago.  This is looking from the living room at the front of the house (it's an L-shaped space).

When we were there, just a wall -

A shot of my birthday party, taken from the kitchen.

The new owner has turned the addition into a bright office/studio space.

You can access the backyard from the kitchen, which now has small deck area:

I remember the blizzards we had in 1978 and 1979 - that's the top of the garage peeking out from the top of the snow pile.

Just stairs off the kitchen when we lived there, but still space to shuck some corn on the cob.

Or dump out your bubbles...

In the space behind the garage, there was a firepit area in one of the listing photos:

We had a garden back there at one point.  Looking back, it was huge for such a small lot.  I should take gardening lessons from my dad...

At another point, it was home to a swing set.

Back inside, you could access the basement off of the kitchen as well.  I can't find a lot of photos of it when we lived there (my mom must have them in another album).  They've dry walled the basement and added a wood paneled ceiling -

It was a paneling palooza when we lived there - this is the same corner as in the photo above.  Crazy.

I had to sneak back to the laundry area and see where the laundry chute was.  See the square there?  All boarded up.

Back upstairs, I took a peek at my old bedroom -

It was once a yellow, orange and green 70's bonanza.

Along with what was my brother's room.  God bless this homeowner for being so obliging and letting me take photos while she was in the middle of cleaning.  She was an absolute gem, and it made me happy knowing that the house was in good hands, if that makes sense.

The master bedroom.  Interesting that the bedrooms are carpeted now - they were hardwood when we lived there.

The bathroom set up in this house was completely wonky.  There was a powder room off the hallway, which connected to another bathroom that was off of the master bathroom.  The doorway in this photo is actually the first powder room.  These used to be blue and pink - and the laundry chute was off to the left.

So, there you have it.  My childhood home then and now.  I'm so glad I decided to knock on that door and take a chance that the homeowner would let us take a peek.  She was so gracious and kind, and we exchanged email addresses as well.  That's one great thing about older homes - the history can be so interesting.  I think if I lived in an older home, I would love to hear the stories from families before me.  Even if they showed up on my doorstep unannounced with a camera in hand.

How about you?  Have you house crashed a childhood home, or stalked it from afar?  Or, has a former homeowner showed up at your front door like I did?  Spill the details!

Linking up:
Thrifty Decor Chick - September Before and After