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before and after

Before & After: Old Home Love

by Annie Werbler

Though they’re usually busy finishing houses for people other than themselves, Candis and Andy Meredith of Old Home Love have managed to carve out some time over the past two years to work on their own 1859 prairie house in American Fork, UT. The couple’s passion for “saving and renovating old homes” is documented in the television show that follows their impressive restorations of historic properties. With a big, beautiful family of six young boys, one baby girl, and two cats, the couple finds local structures from the 1800s in total disarray, and brings them up to contemporary living standards for modern dwellers.

When the Merediths found it, their own home was slated for demolition. Growing up nearby, Candis had always dreamed about living there, but “it had not been loved since before I was born,” she says. The previous owner was ready to tear it down when the demolition crew bumped up the pricetag because of the sturdy adobe walls. He listed it, and Candis went into contract within an hour. She knew this would be her family’s house, and that they were the ones who needed to save it. For its day, especially in Utah, it was a mansion and very special place — considering that almost everything there in the mid-1800s was not much more than log cabins. The home had been through many years of neglect, was piled high with garbage and other unmentionables, and was condemned. There were literal demons drawn on the walls, plaster falling apart everywhere, a roof that had been leaking for years, all broken windows, ivy growing on the inside, and a single outlet to power the whole home — with extension cords running everywhere. It was a miracle that it was still left standing. But underneath the mess remained the original floors and moldings, and the rare, original kitchen cabinets. The family did a full renovation before they moved in and completely restored what could be saved. They added new electrical, HVAC, plumbing, and roofing. They wanted the house to feel fresh, bright, and open, but still historic and cozy. They almost always paint their interiors all-white inside and reintroduce historic light fixtures (a chandelier in every room, in addition to several modern can lights, gives excellent results). With seven kids, they make sure nothing is too precious to get dirty or broken. The house is meant to be lived in, not to be a museum.

The pair is thankful that their home still exists and will continue to exist because they saved it. It was built well and was made to last, but with neglect, its beauty was hidden and almost lost. Candis and Andy are also happy to share their passion for saving old houses with the world. They hope to inspire others to love, save, take care of, and restore old homes, too. They currently have 13 historic homes that are either being renovated or rented out to loving families. The work has attracted television viewers and online followers alike, with a TV show and tons of Instagram followers learning from their every move. Check out two hours of Old Home Love Sunday, December 6th on DIY Network for more of the Merediths’ stunning approach to livable restoration. —Annie

Photography by Cami McIntosh

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In the restored Utah kitchen of Candis and Andy Meredith, an overhung butcher block countertop accommodates the large family of nine.
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This was Candis' view when she walked into the home for the first time, and she immediately knew the rare original cabinetry deserved her time and attention in restoration.
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One of the few non-antique chandeliers in the home, this new piece adds drama to a simple kitchen.
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Rare jars from Andy’s collection, most of which were found hidden in a secret cellar full of canned food from the early 1900s in one of the houses restored by the couple.
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Adobe is left exposed in the kitchen because the "not-in-a-corner corner" sink keeps it protected. "We love seeing what our home is made of every day," says Candis.
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Candis and Andy still want to do some detailing work on the original cupboards, but love all the character 150 years has given them.
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Fitting the formerly dilapidated kitchen with proper electrical, plumbing, heating, and air was a big accomplishment.
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Though the room isn't totally finished yet, the whole family spends time in the kitchen around the large island.
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People frequently offer to take the old sink should the Merediths grow tired of it, to which they reply, "We like old things - that’s why we live here!"
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Doors are covered in a chalkboard paint, one of the couple's favorite paints due to its matte finish and durability.
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An antique regulator clock hangs on the wall near open cupboards, which will eventually receive doors and crown molding.
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In the master bedroom, Candis and Andy use crisp white walls as a pristine backdrop for any new (or old) pieces they collect.
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The house was condemned when the Merediths bought it, but came back to life with a lot of love and hard work.
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The couple loves anything antique, especially items from the 1800s. They couldn’t wait to buy a Victorian baby gown for their first girl.
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The homeowners found a decorative tapestry at a local antique shop that works as a unique headboard alternative.
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Draperies used in place of closet doors soften the look of the room.
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A mourning bust of Prince Albert (Queen Victoria’s husband) and a cathedral amethyst rest on an antique dresser.
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The spinning wheel was a surprise gift from Candis’ dad, who brought it to Utah from across the country for her.
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Most of the home's rugs are antique or vintage, and many are sourced from eBay - the family's favorite place to shop (and also their addiction).
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For every house they restore, the Merediths buy an antique ring by which to remember it. Two Georgian pieces and one that dates back to 1910 are some of Candis' favorites.
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Most of the home's antique chandeliers have been collected over time, made in Spain of brass and crystal.
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Candis’ grandmother also has a deep love for antiques, and gifted many of her treasured pieces - including this dresser and an original watercolor painting from the 1800s.
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When shopping, the natural patina of age on things is an attractive feature; with seven kids, nothing can be too precious that it can’t get dinged or dented.
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Candis and Andy don't feel the need to purchase expensive antiques, as they get just as much joy from five-dollar finds (like an ornate little booklet) as things with a much higher pricetag.
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Due to a strong love for the character of old houses, crystal knobs are one of the many things the pair collects.
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Trash removed from the living room filled four dumpsters.
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The Merediths worked hard to bring the home up to modern code without having it seem too changed. In the living room, they ran heating and air conditioning through the existing adobe stove chimneys and placed an antique grate over top to avoid new build-outs.
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"We love how bright and airy the house feels now! This piano has been passed down to the oldest daughters since Candis’ great grandmother and is a focal point in our home."
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A microfiber sectional made to look like velvet, durable enough for seven kids and two cats.
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Properly running the electrical required a lot of trenching, and several layers of beautiful but ruined wallpaper were scraped off to repair the original plaster.
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In the parlor, many collected antiques are on display.
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The Merediths have dug up several bottles and treasures in their backyard from previous eras when people buried their "garbage."
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An 1890s parlor set with its original upholstery and a mourning wreath made from handspun yarn decorate the room.
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The dark green wall color will serve as a deep backdrop for all the art awaiting display.
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The lovely pink couch that belonged to Candis’ grandmother was covered in plastic her whole life, but now seats kids playing Nintendo.
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Previously covered in asbestos tiles for years, the homeowners repaired all the original lime cement and coated it with a special emulsion paint for preservation.
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The stunning black exterior paint color was inspired by the Prime Minister’s residence in London, England - #10 Downing Street.
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"We still get people asking if we ‘meant’ to paint it black," Candis jokes. "Yes, we did!"
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The couple commissioned stained glass with the year their home was built - 1859. "We are so proud to display how old it is," they share.

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