The housing crisis a few years ago taught us all something: buying a house we can afford is going to make us much happier and better-off than buying a dream home that we can barely swing. When Carolyn Hanisch and Justin Long were searching for a home three years ago in Kintnersville, PA, they found a perfect small house on the right amount of land. The problem was the $40,000 price difference from the top of their budget to the asking price of this home. They moved on and looked elsewhere, but months later, the same home was reduced in price and was still on the market. They made an offer they could afford and because the owners were motivated to sell, Carolyn and Justin ended up with a home they loved that was in their budget.
What first sold Carolyn, a freelance architectural designer, and Justin, a sculptor and metal fabricator, on this home was the land it was sitting on. “We knew we wanted a property with some land, and when we first saw this place we fell in love with the 8-acre wooded lot and big boulders that punctuated the landscape,” Carolyn shares. “We never imagined we’d live in a log cabin, but we found that this small house had the perfect layout for us and wonderful natural light that flooded through a wall of windows, with an amazing view of the woods.” The rustic lodge feel of the cabin was transformed with a Scandinavian influence to fit Carolyn and Justin’s design tastes.
The redesign hasn’t been fast or easy, but it has been a labor of love. “Our home is a work in progress, and I imagine it will be for quite some time! We’ve done all the work on the house ourselves, which can save money, but can also be quite a test of patience, perseverance and sheer determination,” Carolyn admits. The couple redesigned the kitchen, built an out-building for their studio, painted the walls and the cathedral ceiling, replaced carpeting, built a spiral staircase, renovated the guest bathroom, and built a pantry in the kitchen. The small space now functions in the ways they need it to, but with the preserved charm and views that they fell in love with in the first place. –Lauren