The Adventures of

Last April, my brother and I purchased our first piece of real estate– a historic commercial building located in our hometown. This spring we’re taking the first step toward restoring the building’s exterior to its former glory.

Our building rests in the downtown district and has two levels, a commercial space on the main floor and an apartment upstairs. Here’s a glance at what the building looks like right now:

While we’ve done some of work to the upstairs apartment, it’s time for the exterior to get some TLC. The ugly stone that was added to the exterior over the years really bugs us. In fact, this building used to have a gorgeous BAY WINDOW. Unfortunately, that window has been removed for decades, but we plan to put it back on in the future. Here’s what the building used to look like:

Our building in the mid 1900’s

The Main Street Iowa program is one really helpful tool for young investors like us. The main street designers drew up some potential renderings of the work we’d like to do for free. Not only that, but we applied for and received a grant that will allow us to complete the first phase of this project. Here are some potential outcomes for phase 1:

Option #1

This option requires the least amount of cash to complete. It involves painting the existing architectural elements and adding two awnings to give the facade depth. We love black & white stripes for a chic, but timeless feel. We’ve even seen this pattern of awning used at Magnolia in Texas.

Option #2

This second option involves adding a new window and gooseneck lights to illuminate the business sign. Notice how these awnings cover up as much brick as possible?

Option #3

Last, but certainly not least, is the option most true to the historic photo. It gets rid of all of that ugly brick, adds depth, architectural character, and class if I may say so. We’re estimating this bay window to cost about $15,000 ballpark, so it’s the most expensive option. While we definitely plan to add this element, it may be a few years down the road yet.

This process has been such a learning experience for us. Working with designers, contractors, city and state workers has been so fun. It makes me feel very adult. I think if I could just renovate old stuff full time, I’d be pretty okay with it. Maybe someday…

Which options are your favorite!? Any ideas of your own? Drop a comment and let me know! I’ll be sure to write up another post when the first phase of our project is finished this spring. 🙂

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