At the end of Aldeah Avenue you will find a modest grey-toned bungalow with a red front door. Stick around long enough and you may just see a beagle named Wyatt run out into the front yard to greet you. Avid bikers and DIYers Carrie and Jonathan are the owners of this 1926 bungalow. It doesn’t take long after sitting down with these two to grasp their appreciation for its history and the strong love they keep for their home.
Horace and Ruth Wren were the original builders. At the time the home was valued around $4000. Horace was the owner of The Recreation Barber Shop located in downtown Columbia. Sadly though, a few years later in 1935 the Wrens were forced to move from their home due to the affects of the Great Depression causing Horace to lose his business. From there on out after the Wren’s lost the home, the bungalow became a rental property and later switched to owner-occupied. Before Carrie and Jonathan purchased the bungalow in April of 2012, the home had been flipped quickly and cheaply without much consideration of its history. Overlooking the work needed to return the home to its original form, the two fell in love with the bungalow. Carrie remembers thinking that the place was the cutest when they bought it, though they look back now and consider, “What were we thinking?” They find it hard to comprehend what they saw in the bungalow with the contrast of how it looks now.
Neither Carrie nor Jonathan have ever renovated a home before. Jonathan has helped others with renovations but never to this extent, and Carrie, who previously held the position of Director of the District, has a great love of historic preservation. Both aspire to bring back the character of the bungalow through close attention to historical detail.
The home upon purchase wasn’t in terrible condition. The foundation had already been addressed and the home in general had been kept up fairly well. However, cheap vinyl siding in a hue of mint green covered the exterior and the rooms ranged from shades of light pinkish-grey to deep blues. Jonathan, with a sigh says about the move in condition of the home, “The bones were good.”
Carrie says the main focus when renovating their home has been about “respecting the history of the house and respecting the era of the house.” Early on in the renovation process, much of their focus went towards picking out proper colors for the exterior and interior. They looked to Sherwin Williams Arts & Crafts colors when deciding. After going through an online poll between Carrie and Jonathan’s two paint choices, and having their friend Photoshop their home to “test out” the colors, they finally decided on a Bunglehouse Grey for the body of the home. It took them roughly six months to decide on the color and about four days for the home to be painted. That is the type of dedication these two have when it comes to renovating their historic home. No detail is overlooked.
About a year in, the home was landscaped with help from Carrie’s father. The electrical was also a very concerning issue shortly after moving in. Jonathan, having experience in wiring, took over when it came to fixing this situation. The breaker box was outdated and lacked the capability for additional breakers to be added. After fixing the necessary electrical issues and potential gas problem due to a flexible copper pipe, the two made one of their first big investments. Hardie board shingles were installed in the gable on the front of the home. Before, it was covered in grey cheap siding that didn’t go with the home’s era whatsoever. The shingles were staggered to add a more whimsical appearance while still keeping with the historic element.
The front walkway was also redone in April of 2014 due to the bricks being uneven with weeds growing in between. New steps to the front porch were added after the old ones caved in around Thanksgiving time. The back patio with its brick, gravel, and slopping cement was also given much needed attention. The screened in porch in the back was redone with half of it becoming a seating area and the back half occupying their collection of bikes.
Carrie and Jonathan try to take on as much of the renovation work themselves as they possibly can. Carrie remarks of their DIY efforts, “How much can we actually do on our own?” In response to that, I would say a lot. The home is welcoming upon entry, with furniture suited to the size of the rooms and a color scheme of earth tones, all in keeping with the era of the Arts & Crafts bungalow. The doorknobs, previously being dysfunctional cheap brass plates with glass knobs, have been replaced with oil rubbed bronze plates and knobs, still distinctive of the time period. Even all the light switches and outlets match the hardware. Outside on the front patio and back patios you will find unique lights designed by Old California Lantern Company. This company, located in Orange, California, specializes in Arts and Crafts style lights that are made by hand. The lights, being hand crafted, stand out. They are not mass-produced but made with dedication to the craft. Carrie and Jonathan are all about craftsmanship. Carrie says of the lights, “Back when bungalows and arts and crafts were big you would have artisans who did this stuff, and now you still do.”
It’s not just the historic aspects of this home that makes Carrie and Jonathan love where they live so much; it’s the neighborhood as well. On Aldeah, the homes were designed with the neighbor in mind, demonstrated by the alignment of the porches. Jonathan says they can stand on their porch and easily talk to their neighbors on either side of them. He comments on the neighborhood, “You can’t get away with not knowing your neighbors,” and that’s especially true when you share a driveway. Long lasting friendships have been created due to the closeness of the homes. They know basically everyone on their street. Aldeah is lined with bungalows and homes older than 50 years. It appears that the people of this neighborhood truly care about the history of the area and seem to want to maintain it properly. It’s sort of like a historic treasure in a society that always strives for the latest, newest thing.
Carrie and Jonathan love their home with a great passion. They are aware that it is small with only 900 square feet, but they feel that they have all they really need. In response to having a larger home with unnecessary space and rooms, Jonathan made the remark, “I mean I would have rooms dedicated to stuff, and when I say stuff, I mean like… bears. A bear room. I would have a grizzly bear in a room. “ Carrie responds with, “Oh Wyatt would like that.” They are happy with their cozy bungalow and they should be. Their renovations thus far have changed the home from quick-fixer-upper to beautifully redone bungalow. The Wrens would be proud.
For more information regarding the bungalow, visit Carrie and Jonathan’s blog at comobungalow.com!
** Pictures were taken by the property owners and can be found on their blog.
** Currently a neighborhood plan is in progress for this area which includes Aldeah Avenue. The City of Columbia’s neighborhood planning process helps neighborhoods identify their specific needs and priorities helping to guide future development and redevelopment. Additional information concerning this planning effort may be found here!