Margaret Reed said the remodeled kitchen in her home at 2644 S. U.S. 27, Portland, is her favorite part of the house. She and her husband Gail bought the house about two years ago and have renovated most of it since then. The changes in the kitchen included new cabinets, countertops, a backsplash, lighting, flooring and appliances. For a look at more photos from the home, see inside pages. (The Commercial Review/Ray Cooney)
Margaret Reed said the remodeled kitchen in her home at 2644 S. U.S. 27, Portland, is her favorite part of the house. She and her husband Gail bought the house about two years ago and have renovated most of it since then. The changes in the kitchen included new cabinets, countertops, a backsplash, lighting, flooring and appliances. For a look at more photos from the home, see inside pages. (The Commercial Review/Ray Cooney)
Buying a house is one of life’s big decisions.
For Gail and Margaret Reed, the choice was easy.
They closed on their house south of Portland less than two weeks after first setting foot inside, and have spent the last two years making it their home.
“We started looking for a house and we knew what we wanted,” said Margaret, 66, a Dunkirk High School graduate. “When we walked in it just … felt like home.
“We’re both Christians, so we always pray about everything a lot. And we just said ‘Lord, when we get to the right house, let us know.’ And that’s just exactly what happened.
“I teared up I felt so strongly about the house. And (Gail) was a little choked up.”
The couple had lived in Millgrove, about 4 miles northwest of Dunkirk in Blackford County, for 40 years and one month, but wanted to move to a single-story home because Margaret had experienced problems with arthritis. They were looking at homes in the area because one of their two sons, Denny, his wife Andria, and children Isaac and Jocelyn, live on County Road 50 North.
They said they knew within a half-hour of walking in the door at 2644 S. U.S. 27 for the first time that they wanted to buy the house. They made an offer the same day, had it accepted that evening and closed three weeks later.And they’ve spent the last two years making it their own.
“We knew when we bought it that we would remodel it, all,” said Margaret.
They knew they would make a lot of changes. But they waited a while to do so.
The made the move in May 2010 to their new home, which is just about a half-mile south of Portland Golf Club on the west side of U.S. 27. But they didn’t start their remodeling projects until the following January.
“I’ve watched a lot of HGTV,” said Margaret, who was a teacher at Pennville High School, Blackford High School and Blackford Middle school and now volunteers at General Shanks Elementary School once a week.
“Everybody says, ‘Don’t do anything for at least 6 months to 9 or a year, because you may change your mind.’ And I’m glad we did (wait), because I wouldn’t have done that half wall. If we had done it right away, I’d have ripped that wall out.”
The half wall, which was previously a full wall, divides the kitchen on the west side of the house from the family room to its north.
For Margaret, the half-wall holds special meaning. The wooden beam that extends from the end of the wall to the ceiling came from the barn on the farm her father, Earl Stephenson Sr., used to own.
Earl was ill when Gail and Margaret decided to buy their knew home, and died before they moved in.
The Reeds’ focus was on walls — and ceilings — even before they started working on the special feature that divides the kitchen from the family room.
Their first work on their home began in January of 2011 when they removed all of the “popcorn” ceilings — eight rooms in a span of six days. They also had the textured walls sanded so that they were smooth.
The least amount of work — new paint — came in the bathroom, which had been recently remodeled by previous owners Matt and Jen Tarter. The Reeds also re-painted all of the bedrooms in neutral colors.
They put doors on the closets in the master bedroom on the southeast corner of the house and a second bedroom on the southwest corner.
And they added a second level to both of those closets, effectively doubling their storage space.
Still wanting more closet space, they built a new closet in the third, and smallest bedroom, which Margaret transformed into her office. The new closet runs the length of the south side of the room, while a long desk created with a counter top runs the length of the north side.
The most striking changes came in the kitchen.
All of the cabinets were removed, and new ones with slab — flat — doors were added with lighting running underneath. Margaret said she didn’t want anything decorative on the front of the doors, referring to such intricacies as “dust catchers.”
The Reeds added a tile backsplash slightly darker in color than the cabinets. And there is an inlay of glass and stone running halfway between the bottom of the cabinets and the new, dark countertops.
Margaret and Gail also swapped the placement of the stove and refrigerator, which they said made the entrance from the living room to the kitchen feel more open, and bought all new stainless steel appliances.
The linoleum floor, which matches the color of the backsplash, has deep grooves that make it look like tile.The kitchen, which is painted a deep red, also has a moveable island, which Margaret said allows her to have more counter space when needed but can also be moved out of the way when company arrives.
There are chairs on one side of the kitchen table. But the other side, along the half wall, is lined by a long bench that opens to ad more storage space for pots and pans.
“I like it all so much,” said Margaret, who cans foods and also makes her own pasta. “I would say probably for me (my favorite part) would be the kitchen, because I love to cook.”
The family room and living room, which connect to the kitchen on the north and east sides of the house respectively, also went through significant transformations.
The Reeds removed the wood paneling that was on every wall of the family room, which had previously served as an office. They painted the walls in a light shade of brown, and the same linoleum from the kitchen covers the floors.
For the living room, Gail and Margaret chose a laminate floor. The walls are painted a pale, light green, a color they decided on after realizing their first choice was too dark.
While his wife’s favorite part of the house is the kitchen, Gail, 65, who worked for General Motors for 39 years, prefers the basement.
The walls of the garage stairway, which leads to the basement, are lined with photos of trains. And in the basement, the significance of the photos becomes clear.
A large train set fills the southeast corner of the room.
It sits on a table that is 20 feet long and about 10 feet wide, with a three-foot cutout in the middle to make it easier to work on.
The walls, which the Reeds painted yellow to brighten up the basement, are also lined with photos of trains. Several working train lamps hang in the garage and basement as well.
“I like it down here,” said Gail, whose train set was in a garage at the Reeds’ previous home. “That was always my dream … to have a nice basement to put something in like this. Everything just came together.”
The basement is also large enough for a pantry area, and a ping-pong table and television for the couple’s four grandchildren.
The Reeds made their vast renovation project more cost-effective by performing a lot of the work themselves and recycling much of the material they removed from the house.
Both Margaret and Gail worked to remove the “popcorn” ceilings, and Margaret did a lot of the painting.
Gail also handled all of the wiring work so that the couple could add ceiling lights as well as the lighting under the kitchen cabinets.
“I was about seven hours in the attic one day just running wiring,” said Gail, who is originally from Dekalb, Ill.
They got a lot of their experience from working on their Millgrove home, which Margaret said brought her sister to tears because it was in such bad shape when they bought it. They completely remodeled that house, which included adding a bathroom because there previously was no indoor plumbing.
Gail had also spent time working construction jobs in Dunkirk with his brother-in-law, Kerry Sulfridge, during times when he was laid off from GM in the early 1980s.
“I just learned from different people,” said Gail, who has also helped with construction work at Dunkirk Nazarene church. “I did a lot of work with my brother-in-law on different things. A lot of things I just figured out myself.”“We’re willing to try anything,” added Margaret, “and that makes a big difference.”
In terms of re-using materials, the Reeds moved some of the former kitchen cabinets into the laundry room.
Other cabinets were moved to the second two-car garage, which was added on in January of 2011.
The tops of the workbenches in the new garage were made from the old kitchen countertop and the door that previously led from the house into the garage. The couple also put in a new front door, and the old one now leads from the original garage into the new.
“We recycled as much as we could,” said Margaret. “We’ve used everything that we took out, practically.”
Despite the amount of work they have done themselves, the Gail and Margaret said the house was attractive to them because of the work the Tarters had put in a before selling. They had put on new vinyl siding, built a deck on the back of the house and replaced the heating and cooling system with a geothermal unit.
The most recent change by the Reeds came in July when they added a concrete driveway. A concrete sidewalk was added along the front of the house, as well as a sidewalk from the door at the back of the garage to the deck.
And Gail and Margaret are not done yet.
On Monday they visited a garden center to begin preparations for landscaping the property this summer. They plan to make the flowerbeds in front of the house larger by several feet and extend them along the driveway.
Margaret said she also has a couple of decorative rod iron gates she wants to place near the front of the driveway with plants around them as well.
“We just … went and got some pots,” Margaret said. “We haven’t done any landscaping. So that’s our project this summer.”