At the end of my last post, Kati asked some very valid questions about the origins of the firehouse and our desire for an untraditional space. I’ve been remiss in giving you some background as evidenced by my pathetic, one sentence “About us” page. Truthfully, I’ve been working under the assumption that anyone reading this blog would know us (friends, family, co-workers who are forced to hear real-time updates about the firehouse), but the web is a big place and virtual friends totally deserve a bit of background.
So, let’s start fresh.
Hi there! We’re Aaron and Heather. We moved ourselves, our photography business and our Great Dane, Mojo, to St. Louis a few years ago. Welcome to our piece of the worldwide web… actually it’s about a third of the puzzle. You can also find us posting pictures of awesome people on our photography site and blog. I also like to cook and blog about it over at Modern Meals for Two. That poor blog isn’t getting much love lately because on top of our usually crazy lives, we just bought a firehouse.
Those are words we never thought we’d utter, although living in an alternative home has always been on our wish list. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of taking something that’s not a home and turning it into one. It turns out that Aaron also loves old buildings and envisioning how to repurpose space. Seriously, we love old buildings. Our idea of a good time is poking around and taking pictures of abandoned spaces.
Anyone still left or did the nerd alert scare everyone away? We know it’s quirky, but we embrace. So, we’ve always dreamed of buying our very own building. A cool old factory or abandoned school (there are lots of both in St. Louis) topped the list. But when reality checked in we knew we’d never be able to afford anything that big… or be able to heat a space like that…
We were always on the lookout for the right space and the right opportunity. When the foreclosed firehouse hit our radar, my first question was “where is it.” The thing about St Louis is that it is SOOO pocketed. Really nice areas butt up to sketchy scenes. In some areas it literally comes down to what block of what street. Like everything with the firehouse, all signs pointed to “this is YOUR chance to buy a unique space.” It sits a few blocks north of a thriving university and a few blocks west of a popular arts and entertainment area. It has no immediate neighbors: just a few Lots, an abandoned house, and a power substation. It faces an elementary school and the streets that flank ours have large, new construction, suburban style homes, which stand out against the traditional row homes that St. Louis is known for. It’s a bit of a transitional neighborhood, but it’s sandwiched between a lot of great things. Honestly, if the firehouse was a few blocks in any given direction, we probably wouldn’t have bought it. If it was closer to the great stuff, we wouldn’t have been able to afford it. If it was closer to the not great stuff, we wouldn’t have felt safe.
The price was another “OMG we can’t pass this up” situation. It was right in the sweet spot of “we’ll save money because we’re not renting a studio and a condo” and “it needs a lot of work, but a lot of it is actually cosmetic” and “we’ll have instant equity.” (We learned that lesson that hard way thanks to being stuck in a cookie cutter suburban house in Kansas City when the market tanked. But that’s another story for another day.)
Two things kept us (albeit momentarily) from signing on the dotted line: the amount of space and the amount of work that needed to be done. I totally lucked out in marrying Aaron. He’s incredibly handy and likes working with his hands. The firehouse is a monster project, but we’re breaking it down into (somewhat) manageable pieces, reminding ourselves that it’s not going to be perfect in a day (or 10… or a year… or maybe even 5) and calling in help where we need it.
Ultimately we decided that we couldn’t pass up on the firehouse because of the abundance of space. We knew we’d never find a perfectly sized live/work space in a cool building on the perfect street in our budget. If we had to give on one point, having TOO much space seemed like an easy thing to live with.
So that’s (a long winded version of) why we bought the firehouse. Bonus points for anyone who made it all the way through.