They Call It Home Part 1

May 31, 2015
I have "homes," on my mind, with the building process just around the corner.

But I am not the only one that does, many of you do too, and our daughters do as well.

One of our girls  just recently relocated to California with her husband and son.

They purchased a precious 1950's home in the Sacramento area,

I shared a few photos of their Mid Century Home a few months ago.

However, since then, they have gotten very serious about making major updates and I thought

your might enjoy viewing how it really all began.

So here is part one of Amanda's story...

The first night we slept in our new California house, my two year old son,Wyatt, 
my husband, Preston, our dog, Patch, and myself slept on a full size blow up 
mattress on the floor of what would become Wyatt’s room. 
I couldn’t sleep at all.
          It wasn’t the lack of personal space , or the noise the bed 
made every time I tried to shift, or the fact that we only had one pillow that was 
fully occupied by my little boy’s head. No, it was much worse."

In the attic. 

Scampering their little feet over every square foot of the ceiling above our make
          shift bed. 
They were river rats to be exact.
          We had moved into a tiny 1950’s home in Sacramento that was parked less than

          1/2 a mile from the levee to the American River.

          In December, vacant attics close to the river are prime real estate for these


I wanted to move.

I still remember our first morning in our house.
          It was an early December morning, somewhere between 4 and 5 AM,

          because Wyatt had not set his internal clock to West Coast time,  and it was freezing 

           inside and smelled musty and old.

          As I looked around at the uncovered windows, the banged up 
baseboards, the hideous kitchen and the paneling (oh the paneling!) 
I seriously questioned our decision  to purchase the home. 

1,053 square feet. One bath and three bedrooms. The home was tiny and needed lots of love. 

But, somewhere between the extermination of the rats and overflow of warm welcome (and 

food!!) from our neighbors, how we looked at the house began to change

We bought the house from a family member who had inherited the home from her 


For 5 years since his passing, the home had been a rental.

Previous to those 5 years, it had been the life-long home to Joey and his wife. 

The house was custom built to Joey's plan, each detail chosen carefully and lovingly from 

the reddish exterior paint, to the knotty pine cabinets.

We learned from our next door neighbor that he had dearly loved his home.

The backyard was packed full of trees, planted and nurtured by Joey-  mature lemon, 

orange and camellia trees, and signs of once expertly cared for roses and garden beds.

Our neighbor, who has lived next door to Joey, and now us, for over 20 years, hugged us 

each warmly when she met us. 

"This house has wonderful bones," she said.

 "Joey would be so happy to know it's has fallen back into loving hands." 

As I look back now I think that's what changed us.

For 5 years the home had fallen to the carelessness of renters,

now it was our duty to restore her with love and hard work she had been given for her 

previous 55 years.

And so we set to work... 

Join me next week to see the progress that is being made!


Please Join Me~

Ivy and Elephants


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  1. I went back and visited the "after" pictures on your previous post. My, what a wonderful update! The home is so bright and welcoming. After the panic of the first night, I am glad they were able to settle in and move forward. It sounds like this little house was crying out for their love and care. They must be very hard workers to accomplish so much. The changes are outstanding, yet they have kept the integrity of the home. Kudos.

    1. Merry,
      They are a sweet hard working family, I am so thankful their home is coming together!

  2. Sounds like a wonderful home for your daughter and family. Once they made their "own". Great post, thanks for sharing! Enjoy your Mondy and have a happy week ahead!

    1. I think it is, I visited them earlier in their renovation, so anxious to see the finished results in person!

  3. I can't wait to see the steps involved in how they made this home so beautiful and updated. Your daughter and SIL are very brave in purchasing a home like this - especially with the river rats - yikes!

    1. I am excited to see it too, I know they have been working around the clock-lots of tears when they discovered they had rats living above them...

  4. Wonderful. So much can be done with love and hard work.

  5. Oh, I love this! Stories of houses reclaimed and love poured into them! Can't wait to hear more!

  6. Rats, oh no! I guess that's what happens when you live that close to a river or a field. But I give your daughter credit, and I think it is great that she stuck with it and tried to work hard at her home to make it a special place for her family to live. And the fact that her neighbor loved the previous owner and is so kind to your daughter really says something also.

    Can't wait to see the progress of the house, thanks so much, Jemma for sharing.

    love, ~Sheri

    1. Sheri,
      I suppose that is true, growing up on the wheat and potato farm there were always mouse concerns-but cats took care of that issue for the most part. Her neighbors have had a big impact on welcoming them and making them feel like part of the community-that surely helped too.

  7. Oh my goodness! Rats! At first I thought she was jokingly exaggerating about a mouse or two--but river rats sound big.... I enjoyed reading your daughter's story! It's amazing what a little elbow grease, TLC and perseverence will do! Looking forward to the rest of the story......

    1. Can you imagine moving 2000 miles from home into your first home and discovering you had rats!
      Too much to handle, but they did and now they are enjoying their first home. More to come next week on their renovation!

  8. Rats - they would scare me big time - Kudos for everyone's bravery. But it had good bones and proved to be a gem.

    1. Exactly Sandie, everything is working out for them and they are beginning to enjoy it more and more.

  9. I never would have thought that living near a river would have such a downside. I guess there's always pros and cons!

    What an amazing transformation! I'm sure the home is very happy it's loved again.

    1. I would not have thought that either, but I suppose like most things we always run into the negatives. Thank goodness youth, optimism and hard work endured!

  10. Oh no, RATS! Oh, I do have a feeling rats won't be near them again! Too much love and TLC in the home now and lot's of living! I agree, age, hard work and optimism is another great key!

  11. "The Green Dancer" is beautiful, Jemma. I am seeing so many wonderful portraits that my blog friends like, and I'm learning so many things today. One friend mentioned "Young Girl Reading" by Jean Fragonard, and that is one of my favorites too. I think you would like that one, Jemma. :~)


  12. I had no idea that we had river rats in California, but then again I never lived by a river. I'm happy to know that someone else out there is restoring a home that was once very loved. Good for them! :)


  13. Can't wait to see more pics in the future of your makeover. Oh the hard work that goes into such a labor of love! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  14. This will be quite a exciting that your daughter is allowing us to join her.
    It will be a fun project for someone young to tackle...can't wait to see completed project.

  15. Oh boy, I wouldn't sleep either knowing there are rats above my space! Can't wait to see more pictures of the home, Jemma!


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