4.6.19

We're Moving...to Minnesota!

We are thrilled to announce our next big adventure: renovating our family farmhouse in Minnesota! This has been in the works for a little more than six months now, and we are SO EXCITED to get going on this next chapter!

Over a year ago, Phil's grandfather sadly passed away. This left the family farmhouse, which he lived in for over 50 years, empty and available. Phil's family understandably wanted to keep the property in the family, but were unsure who (if anyone) would be interested. 

Phil and I have always had an interest in remodeling or flipping a historic home, but it seemed like a distant dream living in Northern Virginia. We could barely afford a small condo in NoVa, let alone a historic home! So when we were asked about the farmhouse, we were absolutely interested. There were lots of factors at play though; could we find new jobs/keep our old ones? Would we be able to afford such a massive undertaking? Were we really ready to make a cross-country move to a state neither of us had lived in?

We spent a few months discussing all the variables. And after nailing down some of the hard factors (jobs, finances, etc.), we found that buying the property was absolutely a possibility. Though we had a rough 5-7 year plan for living in NoVa, as neither of us has much attachment to this specific area (aside from his immediate family living here). At four years in, we're a bit ahead of schedule, but couldn't be happier about the change of location. 



































This move has come as a surprise to many of our friends and family who were unaware both of our ties to Minnesota and of our interest in remodeling a historic home. Since we announced the move a few months ago, we've had a slew of questions crop up surrounding the decision and our plans. To satiate any remaining curiosity, I've put together our most frequently asked questions (and answers):

What's the story behind the house?
The house was built in 1890, and has had some minor renovations in those many years (most recently in the '90s). At over 100 years old, it has some quirks that give it lots of charm (and a few less charming features, ha!). In fact, the house was originally two houses that were combined! It's hard to tell in the picture above, but the left side of the house (with the three windows) was one house, and the right side (that extends out towards the big tree) was the second house. We actually verified this history when we visited in March, when Phil took a trip to the attic and discovered that you can see the roof and shingles from the second house inside of the attic of the first house. Kinda cool, kinda creepy, haha!

The two-house situation is fun, but it means the layout is pretty funky. There are three separate staircases, two that go upstairs and one that goes into the basement. The hallway upstairs is a bit zig-zagged because the two upstairs halls don't line up exactly. And we learned there are three separate chimneys (two are walled in). But these are the types of things we find incredibly charming, so we're excited about them!

Overall the house is quite big. I am unsure of the square footage, but it has five bedrooms (minding that they're historic bedrooms, so very small by modern standards) and two bathrooms, along with a large unfinished basement. A big difference from our little condo we've had for the last few years! We are looking forward to hosting lots of friends and guests at our home, and throwing plenty of parties to take advantage of the space.


What renovations are you planning?
TBD! We are excited to make some big changes, but at this point we haven't determined which we'll be doing. Once we live in the house for a few weeks it will become more apparent what we can make work and what needs to be renovated immediately. We are working with an architect and an interior designer to create new house plans, but the reality is it costs $$$$$ to renovate a big, old house with lots of big, old house problems. So we'll be designing a "Master Plan" for the remodel that has smaller projects we can do over the course of 10+ years to make the overall renovation more feasible.

The first line of action will be fixing things that are broken/outdated and then make cosmetic changes later. Unfortunately that isn't as fun (who wants to rewire a house/replace plumbing instead of designing a new kitchen?!) but we're doing our best to be responsible adults, ha! Thankfully we have a few close family members and friends who have experience in construction/carpentry and have volunteered to help with some of our projects. And we've watched like, every episode of ever show about flipping houses on HGTV, so we're practically experts ;)

In general, we want to keep the charm and history of the house intact while still making it livable and modern. We may move one of the staircases and a couple walls, but most of our changes will focus on finishing/updating rather than remodeling.


Is there property too?
YES. We will be buying 15 acres to go with the house, though there are about 100 adjacent acres owned by family we will have access to. On our 15 acres, there are six outbuildings: four barns, a detached garage, and a large shed. Most of the 15 acres are forested. There are two lakes (apparently one is considered a "pond" by Minnesota standards, but definitely qualifies as a lake to me) that are partially on our property. That is BY FAR the most exciting part to me! I have no clue how swimmable the lakes are, but even just walking to them and relaxing on the shore is amazing. In no world did I ever imagine owning property on a lake, let alone two!


What are you farming?
Our number one question, with a very boring answer: nothing! As mentioned, the majority of our 15 acres is forested. We have one larger open area that we plan on using for a personal garden, but nothing commercial. Historically there were corn fields that accompanied the farm, but these were sold to the neighbor a long time ago. So you can see a farm from our house, but it's not actually ours!

We also have no fenced areas, so animals aren't in the picture either. We plan on getting at least one more dog, but nothing else as of yet.


What about the winters?!
I'd rather have winters in Minnesota than summers in Virginia, ha! I've never lived in a "winter" state so it's hard to say how I'll handle the transition, but overall I think it will be a much better fit for both of us! I'm definitely not an East Coast gal, and mid-Atlantic heat and humidity have not been not my friends. The tradeoff for bitter winters is beautiful summers, and that is one I'm certainly happy to make.

Phil is super excited for all the snow we'll be getting. He is naturally inclined to snow sports having lived many years in both Switzerland and Colorado, and has a long list of winter activities he's looking forward to us taking up. I'm told we'll be trying out cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling... the list goes on. Having only lived in places that average fewer than 12 inches of snow each year myself, I'm looking forward to having a true winter experience (even if it does mean heavy coats and keeping the heat on for six months straight).


How do you feel about living "in the country"?
I think when I tell people I'm moving to a farmhouse in the midwest, they envision vast, empty fields and a small town with one stop light. While we will be living on a former farm, it's actually fewer than 10 minutes from the downtown area of our city (pop. 20,000), and only 30 minutes from Minneapolis/St. Paul. That's part of what made the farmhouse so attractive to us; it has plenty of privacy, but is in close proximity to multiple big cities.

The house I lived in growing up is more "in the country" than our farmhouse will be (and I never considered myself as living "in the country" growing up, haha)! So don't worry, we'll still have cell service and access to a Whole Foods.


What are you doing with the barns?
The barns are in some ways the most exciting part of the property! One barn was built with the house in 1890 and actually looks like a house - it's two stories, has a full basement, chimney, glass windows, etc. We are having an architect create plans for potentially turning it into a second house on the property to use as a vacation rental. The other three barns aren't as charming, but have lots of space and potential.

There is a running list of ideas of what to do with them: turn them into a wedding/event venue, rent them for RV/boat storage, turn them into studio space, create a holiday farm (pumpkin patch, Christmas trees, etc.), get animals... the list goes on! We are still considering all options, but are pretty far from deciding what to do with them. Feel free to let us know any of your ideas!


What are you doing for work?
I am incredibly blessed to be able to keep my job and continue working remotely from our new home! I work remotely already (as do all our staff) but we meet in person once a week for staff meetings. I'll be joining meetings virtually now, and will travel to clients/conferences etc. as needed.


Are you disappointed to be leaving DC/NoVA?
Not really! We have developed an amazing community of friends and family, but overall I'm excited about the change. Being 10 miles outside of D.C. is cool when you want to be a tourist, but most days it just makes traffic unbearable and everything too expensive. So while I'll miss the people, I couldn't be more excited to move across the country.

My personality is definitely one that thrives on change (as is Phil's) so neither of us has any qualms about making such a big move. Actually, I'm shocked I've managed to live in the same place for four consecutive years! Especially since I am decidedly NOT a city person. I've made living outside of D.C. (and London prior) work for my lifestyle, but I've been itching to get out of suburbia for a long time.

The nice thing about having immediate family and a job here is that we'll have plenty of opportunity to return and visit. So we are far from gone forever!


Do you know anyone in MN?
We are lucky to have lots of extended family (Phil's) living all around the state! We have several aunts/uncles/cousins all living within an hour, and several others living further away. Other than family, we're starting out fresh! New location, new friends :)


When are you moving? 
This week! We hope to be moved in by June 9, but it's a long drive from D.C. (20 hours) and we obviously don't control traffic or weather. We'll be leaving MN soon after we arrive for a few weeks of traveling, but we'll be back to get settled in by mid-July. It's a busy summer, and we're so excited!



We'll be documenting our home renovations and new life in Minnesota, so stay tuned for updates! Plenty more photos and stories to come.





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