At the time, though, all I could see was the wraparound porch and 7½-foot-wide hallway that first caught my eye. I knew that behind the heinous facade were good bones and restorable hardwood floors. An unenthused Realtor, who hadn't expected me to make an offer, had pulled up a section of the rug for me. The boards were scuffed and scarred, but they were solid heart pine.
Plus, I thought the place was a steal. I bought it in December 2004 for $70,000, and we managed to set aside $20,000 for fixing up the house, a project we jumped right into. For two months before moving in, we spent our free weekends—Jimmy's a nurse, and I work for the local theater company—ripping out flooring, repairing cracked plaster, and knocking down walls. It's amazing: It costs $500 to have someone demo just one wall but you can do it in 10 minutes with a sledgehammer and little know-how.
Shown: The 1919 bungalow sits on a one-acre property and is wrapped on two sides with a porch.