In my mind this poem written by Virginia Wauchope Bass describes our little cottage. If I were to invite you inside you may think that you could never live in something so small. I might have had that thought in our previous life. Knowing what I know now, about preserving a piece of the past, it would be hard to convince me to leave.
Moving to Virginia
"It's expensive," is what they told us.
They were so right. When you're moving from Florida to Virginia it can be absolutely shocking at what a price difference it is. We were thinking that we might have to sacrifice some luxuries (granite countertops, pools, etc.) what we didn't realize is that we would not be able to live AT ALL without a two-person income.
Thankfully, God blessed us with incredible parents. Two of which were already living in the area (the main reason we accepted the job offer). While living with them and figuring out life in one of the most expensive areas to live in the United States our daughter took a horseback riding class for toddlers.
The horseback riding lesson was at a barn on the outside of DC. It was beautiful. There were large trees, mountain vistas and space. Going to her classes, once a month, was just what our little family needed. We would spend time at the farm before her lesson. We brought carrots and apples for the horses and fell in love with one of the oldest horses, Ghost. He was a gentle horse and loved small children. Our daughter enjoyed riding around the pen and placing tennis balls in her lap and placing them back on the cones. After her lesson we would look for cute cafés to get lunch. One lead us to the small town that we now call home.
Old homes and buildings lined the main street. Some in desperate need of some love. There were so many appealing things in this town; American flags, restaurants with Brie on the menu regularly, Civil War signs and brick sidewalks. It was like an old town USA out of a movie.
What can we afford?
Nothing... or a small apartment - it seemed that in our area the only options for finding something in the price range of the home we sold in Florida was to rent an apartment or buy a small condo. Going from a three bedroom town home with an open floor-plan, granite, pool, patio, garage, etc. in Florida to a tiny apartment was something we had a very hard time accepting. Our online searches of properties for sale kept taking us further and further away from the city. It really was a blessing from God, though. Sometimes what you really want you don't even know that you really want until you do and then you may not be able to have it anyway.
Disappointment sometimes leads to destiny.
That leads us to the cabin in the woods. My husband kept the faith of finding our own single family home alive. He would pull up any ramshackle place and show it to me. He knew my parents were capable of fixing up anything. They truly are magicians. Completely self-taught. He pulled up a photo of a log cabin in the woods. I know, it sounds frightening. But at this point, I was willing to look at anything. My Mom and I along with our 2 year old drove out to the woods down a rocky dirt road to the log cabin. It had an adorable picket fence and so much potential. We peeked in the windows and walked the yard.
Is that trespassing? There must be a loop hole if the house is for sale. The basement was finished along with the upstairs. Additions had been made. It was perfect and at the low end of what we thought was our budget. We were unfortunately so naïve. I had already decorated the house (in my mind). I created a blog (in my mind) and was already shopping for my cabin décor. My Pinterest boards were filling up when we called to get pre-approval and were completely shut down.
Reality hit so hard. I cried that day. I'm not a huge crier but I cried for a good hour. Then we had a family talk and made a plan. I would have to go back to work in order for us to afford a home in Virginia. So that is exactly what I did. And I knew exactly the type of home I wanted thanks to the little log cabin I fell in love with off Stumptown Road.
I believe in Divine Intervention. My father and I were in Baltimore at the Aquarium with my daughter the day after we viewed our home for the first time. I was on the phone with my husband passing the jellyfish tank discussing our mortgage loan pre-approval. He said that we were pre-approved for the amount of the cottage and that if we wanted to, we could make an offer. I asked my Dad if he was willing to drive over an hour after a day at the aquarium to go and see the house. He and my Mom would be leading the renovation work and I needed his stamp of approval. We drove out to the property, pulled in the driveway and met with our realtor. We walked inside and toured the home. I told my Dad on the way that as long as he thought the work was do-able that we would make an offer. He told me, "None of this scares me." With my Husband's permission and my Dad's confidence I made an offer that afternoon.
The next day, after negotiations were complete, we uncovered history articles on the home dating back to the Civil War. In fact, our home was one of only two buildings to survive a fire that enemy soldiers set to the town. It was the first home built in the town. There are documents recollecting that soldiers were going to set the home on fire but that a woman was upstairs in the bedroom with her young children and waged a verbal battle that lasted just long enough for the enemy's leader to call a cease-fire on the town. Our home and the church across the street were the only buildings that survived. Our street is named after General Lafayette. The amount of history that we began to unwrap was truly like opening a treasure chest. The neatest part was that it was so unexpected. We wanted a home that we could afford with a yard to run around in. God brought us right to this spot. I am so incredibly grateful. In the next couple months we began planning and designing each room transformation as we anticipated closing.
Chalet de marché
— The Market Cottage —