Lonnie Pyper and Rebecca Long Pyper live in Idaho Falls, ID with their four children in a house that Rebecca has loved since she was in high school. Rebecca is a freelance writer and copywriter with a passion for historic homes, and Lonnie is a pharmacist. Ever the clever reporter, when Rebecca was writing an article on historic homes for a newspaper, she remembered the house she had adored every time she drove past en route to softball games back in high school. Not only would the house be a great fit for the article, but it would also allow a better look inside the house she had long loved.
Fate would bring Lonnie and Rebecca back to their hometown after grad school, just as the house hit the market at the same time. However, since they were both recent graduates (and with student loans), putting in an immediate offer wasn’t an option. Rebecca felt sick because the house was such a gem she was certain it would be gone within a week. Fast forward to five months later and the house was still for sale. With bated breath they offered what they could, and a request for a closing date nine months down the road (which would give them more time to save), and they got the home!
Originally built in 1936 by the city’s mayor at the time, the Tudor Revival was in fact a farmhouse for the mayor’s surrounding farm. The farm land was sold off over the years, but the Pypers lucked out on a larger lot that remained with the house when they bought it. The home Rebecca admired for so long became her own, with not only her creative stamp she’s made through their renovations, but also traditions like their family’s July 4th breakfasts — hosted for 150 of their closest friends and family! Independence Day is quite the occasion in their town, and their home is on a shady street right along the parade’s route.
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Despite the destiny Rebecca felt to own the home, it wasn’t ready to go when the family finally had the keys. Along with Devan Thompson of Harrow Construction, Lonnie and Rebecca began refinishing floors, exposing the original fireplace surround, painting, and opening up the staircase. Five years later they started a second round of renovations that included reversing changes that owners had made over time — like changing the original windows and trim. Rebecca went to work researching other local 1930s homes to best match what would have been original in their own house. She tracked down R.B. Ewart’s (the mayor who originally built the home) grandson, and he was able to send black and white photos of the house when his family had lived there! Those photos were used to find windows to match what the originals would have looked like. The couple also removed several layers of flooring in the kitchen to reveal original fir flooring, restored original crystal doorknobs, and stripped and repainted their original doors. In the six-month restoration and renovation round two, the couple also uncovered a secret room and boarded-up windows.
Rebecca explains that two words inspired every design decision they made in their home: happy and cozy. “I wanted the house to feel like an English cottage with a dash of prep. It is of utmost importance that our home feels good for our kids as they grow up.” Rebecca hopes that her home, and the work they’ve put into it, can be inspiration for others to know that old houses are worth the risk — and what you get in return for the hard work spent restoring them is immeasurable. After seeing the Pypers’ home, we’re certainly believers! —Rebekah
Image above: “Remodeling the galley kitchen was key to giving this house another hundred years of life,” Rebecca explains. “We bumped out the sink wall six feet, making room for an island. We uncovered and refinished original fir floors and feathered in new fir where necessary. We worried the addition would be an eyesore, but our drafter was a perfectionist and made it look good inside and out. You can’t even see the addition from the front of the house — good thing, too, or we wouldn’t have taken on the project.”