Before & After: An Ugly Duckling Transforms Into The Belle of the Block

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When I met Mark and Darin for the first time, I was actually trespassing in their gated backyard, letting my dog, Rex, run around off his leash. I lived next door to their home that had been for sale for literally four years. The previous owner eventually moved out after having the house on the market for a few years, and Rex and I missed her four dogs a lot. So we’d take our lunch breaks in their yard since it, and the two homes next to it, were vacant. My house was the only occupied house on the block for years, so I kind of felt like I owned the place. Our small town is know for its storied, historical properties with huge price tags and my block was often overlooked because it was dotted with late mid-century, one-bathroom constructions.

After finding me in their backyard, I expected that I had not made a great first impression with my soon-to-be neighbors. Wrong! Mark and Darin were extremely friendly and jokingly called me out as the wacky neighbor who occasionally squats in their backyard. My dream of having a network of cool neighbors was about to come true! Darin runs a veterinarian facility and is an avid DIYer with an expert’s touch when it comes to home decorating. Mark is a floral designer and aerialist, with his rig set up in the backyard for my viewing pleasure. Boy, did I luck out. Sadly, I’ve since bought my own first home and moved off the block, but they’re opening a storefront for their floral business, Flower Haus, this month so I’ll be squatting there soon.

This house was Mark and Darin’s first home and they wasted no time transforming their “ugly duckling” cottage filled with an intense amount of knotty pine into the belle of the neighborhood. With no fear or hesitation, they immediately began tearing down walls and opening the two-tiny-bedroom home with its small living room and larger kitchen into a spacious, open floor plan with a brilliant use of Ralph Lauren Home’s Black Dose paint (one of Grace’s favorites). We’ll be featuring their home tour in a few weeks, but for today’s Before & After, I wanted to tease you with a mini sneak peek of some of the work they’ve done so you’ll have a good sense of their labor, accomplishments and the complete transformation.

Click through the slideshow above to see what they started with and how Mark and Darin turned their ugly duckling from a camp bunkhouse into a comfortable living space that’s all their own. And keep your eye out for their home tour in the coming weeks! –Caitlin

  1. Lizabeth says:

    I am drooling over the chicken coop…!

    1. Nicole K says:

      Wow, someone was sure into that knotty pine! I love how you transformed this place!!

  2. Sara says:

    Lovely home in an even lovelier town! I will be sure to stop in Flower Haus next time I’m in Shepherdstown.

  3. Lara says:

    Mark & Darin know how to bring out the best in things! Great before & after story. My you live happily ever.

  4. Beverly Harding says:

    Awesome transformation!

  5. Randi says:

    Beautiful results: opening up that upstairs wall, as well as the downstairs, made such a difference. The kitchen looks beautiful. They definitely have an eye for design, whether flower arrangements, landscaping, or homes for humans and chickens!

  6. Darlene Sellers says:

    It’s amazing how they made the little bungalow into such a wonderful home. Caitlin, I really enjoy your writing style and the way you told their story.


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