Slideshow: A stone storybook cottage

Redmond couple used sweat equity to renovate historical home

Penny Nakamura / For The Bulletin /


Published Jun 26, 2012 at 05:00AM / Updated Jan 23, 2014 at 03:04PM

It's a storybook cottage with a happy ending — although the beginning of this tale is a bit grittier, with a plot of how hard work can pay off.

When Sarah Klann purchased her small historical Redmond cottage, it was 2001. She had graduated from college and found her dream teaching job at Tom McCall Elementary School in Redmond, and she knew she wanted to be a homeowner in the area she grew up in and loved. Because Sarah's a history buff, this quaint, 640-square-foot 1930s cottage seemed perfect. Never mind that it was cold and drafty and infested with termites — it was full of charm.

But charm can only last so long in a small, drafty cottage.

As happens with fairy tales featuring cute cottages, there always seems to be a knight in shining armor or a Prince Charming. Eric Klann became that hero in Sarah's life. He not only fell in love with the young schoolteacher, he also fell in love with her drafty old house, and signed up to renovate and expand the tiny cottage.

“When Eric moved in, we barely had enough room for his socks,” quipped Sarah.

History

The cottage is officially known as the Theron Beougher Stone Cottage on the Deschutes County Historical Landmarks Register. It was named after the original owner, who built the stone home out of locally quarried pink tuff stone in 1939.

“It's only one of four homes left in Redmond that was built entirely with this pink tuff stone,” says Sarah, pointing to the stones on the exterior of her home. “I believe it was quarried just outside of Redmond, at Cinder Buttes, but they don't quarry these rocks there any more.”

Of the four homes that still exist, this cottage, according the Deschutes County Historical Landmarks records, is the best example of a pink tuff stone home.

This meant getting permits to expand was challenging.

“To expand, we couldn't block the view of the original cottage from the street, and we couldn't go up too high either,” explained Sarah.

“We had to build around the old juniper tree, too; I guess it's old enough that it's considered historic as well,” said Eric, laughing as he explains his terrible allergies to juniper tree pollen.

A few months after getting the OK from the city and the Historical Landmark commission to renovate and expand the small cottage, Sarah and Eric got married in the summer of 2005.

“We spent our honeymoon cutting tuff stone for 10 days,” said Eric. “I guess if we could make it through that, we could make it through anything.”

Tuff

Perhaps the greatest wedding gift the Klanns received was something completely unexpected. Sarah says it was like the moons and stars aligned for them.

“I was taking a walk around our neighborhood, and I saw that one of our neighbors was tearing down some old tuff stone from the front of their home,” recalled Sarah. “I couldn't believe it, because we needed tuff stone for the addition to our cottage, and we couldn't locally find this stone any more, and here it was. I was so excited.”

After speaking with that neighbor, Eric and Sarah were able to haul tons of the discarded tuff stone to their cottage, where Eric spent weeks cutting it.

“Unlike the original structure, which is made of solid tuff stone, we had to cut these stones to make them go further so we could use them as the faade to the siding of the new addition. We wanted to make it look like the original part of the house,” said Eric. “But now, I never want to use another rock cutter again.”

Work

For one year, the young couple worked on the home every chance they got, after work, on the weekends and during vacation time. They also lived in the original 640-square-foot cottage while they worked to triple the square footage.

“We were working on it in the winter, and we had no sub-flooring, and it was snowing and 20 degrees one night,” recalled Sarah, shivering at the memory. “Even after we had finished the addition, we worked on this house for years to get it as I had imagined. That was the easiest part: dreaming it all up.”

By the time Eleanor was born four years later, the couple had made the house completely livable, comfortable and beautiful.

“We got a lot of help from Eric's father, who framed the house for us, and we had other family members who pitched in. We were blessed to have all this help,” explained Sarah. “This was truly a labor of love.”

What's old is new again

The original cottage had two attic bedrooms and one bath. When Sarah talks about the original two bedrooms, she makes air quotes around the words “two bedrooms.”

“It was really a one-bedroom. To call it two bedrooms was really a huge stretch. To get my bed up to the 'two bedroom' space upstairs, my father had to cut my box spring in two pieces because it couldn't get through the small, narrow, curved stairway,” explained Sarah, laughing at the memory. “Then we had to fold the mattress in two and had everyone pushing and pulling it up.”

On a recent afternoon, Sarah toured her new master bedroom. Standing at the threshold, just off the new kitchen, Sarah explained that this bedroom once held the original living room, dining room and bathroom. The original wood-burning stove had been replaced with a safer electric stove. Sarah lovingly called the old cottage living areas her “nest,” but there were things lurking under this nest.

“We tore out four layers of carpet in here, and there were termites coming out of the floors,” says Sarah. “If you jumped on the floorboards it would bounce; there was no real foundation for this house.”

“I think what they did back then is they dug a ditch and filled it with lava rock, and they called it a foundation,” explained Eric, who spent innumerable hours with Sarah hand-digging a real foundation and digging tunnels so that they could connect the plumbing and duct work from the original house to the new addition.

“I never worked so hard. We had pickaxes and we tunneled through all this hardpan dirt, then we would fill up buckets of this yucky dirt and moved it out all by ourselves,” said Sarah. “I will never do that again.”

Still undaunted, the couple soldiered on with the project, one day at a time.

Preserving the history

What is now the master bathroom once held the original kitchen. From the small original bathroom, which is now a closet, Sarah was able to salvage the original claw-foot tub, which she says was actually in good shape. She added new, period-appropriate reproduction fixtures for the tub, which also doubles as a shower. She pointed to where the original kitchen sink had been located. Above this area is a large picture window that looks out onto the backyard.

Owing to its history, the original front area of the cottage still has a small built-in dairy cupboard within the stone wall of the house. During that era, there were dairy trucks making milk deliveries to the homes in Redmond.

Just off the master bedroom and bathroom area is a narrow, winding stairwell that leads upstairs to the original small bedrooms, which is now happily occupied by the Klanns' precocious 4-year-old daughter Eleanor and their 1-year-old son, Emmett. With their gabled beadboard ceilings, these small attic bedrooms are a perfect fit and magical space for the Klanns' small children.

Leaving the 640-square-foot bedroom spaces, we exit out the door, which was the back of the original cottage. The pink tuff stone around this original back door is now an interior wall for the new, beautiful kitchen, which was done to 1930s-era perfection, right down to the paint on the beadboard cupboards and large porcelain farm sink.

“I wanted to get the color just right for this time period, so I bought milk paint. It comes in powder form and you add water, and I just blended it in my blender and painted all the cupboards with milk paint,” explained Sarah, who says this is her favorite room of the house. A built-in plate rack filled with colorful Fiestaware completes the look in her bright and sunny kitchen.

With three large windows bringing in light, Sarah wanted to keep that light in while still striving for privacy, so she made her own kitchen window treatments by tea-staining white cotton panels with sewn-on crocheted doilies.

From the new kitchen, the couple traveled into the new living room, a space that Eric feels turned out better than he had expected.

Windows on two walls of the living room with vaulted ceilings makes the space feel larger than it really is, and this is “gathering central” for the family.

The new, beautiful windows throughout the house were another hurdle the couple had to work out, as all 39 wood casement windows had to look era-specific to the cottage, which was a requirement from the Deschutes County Landmarks Commission. Eric says they spent a lot of extra money to get the double-paned weather-tight windows just right.

Off of the living room is the second full bathroom that the Klanns also added.

Wanting to keep this new bathroom looking period-appropriate, Sarah scoured the Internet and found another claw-foot tub from an old hotel in Missouri and had the heavy cast iron tub trucked to Redmond.

Passing a small built-in fireplace in the new living room, Sarah ascended on the one feature that gave Eric fits when he was building it: the winder staircase.

“I'm an engineer, but this really taxed my math brain,” said Eric laughing. “We were cramped on space, so we had to put in winder stairs. It was the hardest project.”

At the top of the small staircase is a landing area that is big enough to use as an office space and exercise room.

Off of this office area is a nice-sized bedroom, with a gabled window looking out onto the backyard. To bring in more natural light, Eric added a large skylight. Sarah worked her decorating magic in this bedroom, filling it with antiques that fit this period of history.

“This was supposed to be Eleanor's room, but after we were done, she still wanted to be in her small bedroom, which is right above our master bedroom in the original cottage, and with the baby there too, it still works out,” said Sarah. “So this bedroom is for our guests now.”

Fabulous finds

With this major renovation and addition came major excavation, too, and as the Klanns worked on the home, they made some interesting discoveries.

“When we tore out the layers of carpets and got to the floorboards, we found this Redmond city water bill receipt from the original owner, Theron Beougher; it's dated from 1945, and his water bill was $5,” said Eric, holding up the now-framed water bill.

An unpleasant find was old shredded clothes that were used as insulation around some of the water pipes.

“I guess they used anything they could for insulation back then,” said Sarah. “We also dug up a mummified cat.”

Upstairs in the attic bedrooms, Eric said they found some hidden cigarettes and playing cards in a knothole in the old floorboard.

“It was probably some teenage kid who was hiding these things from the parents,” surmised Eric, laughing. “Oh, if these walls could talk.”

The devil is in the details

Talk to the Klanns about grouting and together they groan out loud.

Not only did they hand-grout each cut stone into place for their addition, they also found they needed to regrout the original cottage.

“Every single seam had to be done between each rock,” said Eric. “But we got really good at grouting. I now have such respect for masons.”

Gesturing in the air with her hands by way of demonstration, Sarah smoothed imaginary grout as she explained how mind-numbing this process became day in and day out for weeks.

“The old cottage's stones had grout falling apart, and in some places they painted the grout between the stones and it looked really tacky,” explained Sarah. “So we had to dig out that old grout and then put in new grout, which is like squeezing icing between the stones. We then used our fingers to smooth out each and every seam between every stone.”

Outside space

Creatively and efficiently using the 5,000-square-foot lot while preserving the history was the goal for the Klanns. While they spent years adding onto the home, they didn't forget about the backyard living area, which Eric says is his favorite renovated space.

Eric hand-built a raised wooden deck off the kitchen and then, realizing he needed to make it child safe, he also built a wooden fence around it.

Off the deck is a chicken coop he built. Eric managed to use the last remnants of the tuff stone on his work shed on the other side of the deck.

With all the outbuildings, you might think there would be no space for a garden, but Sarah, a proficient gardener, built beautiful raised beds surrounding the deck.

To the far side of the deck, the couple also managed to squeeze in a full-size spa, though Eric says if they ever have to pull it out, they'll need a forklift.

Eric and Sarah sat on the deck and perused their handiwork, and analyzed all the sweat equity that went into their now-perfect storybook cottage, as their children played together nearby.

Sarah thumbed through the pages of a scrapbook she made to document the renovation project, and teared up when remembering Eric's father, who helped them build the house.

“He passed away a couple of months ago, and I saw his handwriting on one of the beams, and it made me miss him,” said Sarah, choking back the tears. “He was so instrumental in this house, he'll always be a big part of it.”

Eric comforted his wife with a pat on the shoulder and looked at all the pink tuff stone surrounding their home.

“It probably would have been less expensive to buy a new house in a new subdivision here, but it wouldn't have this charm or history,” confessed Eric, a seventh-generation Oregonianwhose roots run deep in the area. “Now we have our own story to tell our children.”

And like all good fairytale endings with a storybook cottage, the Klanns live happily ever after.

“Eric is my Prince Charming; he made all my dreams come true. I'm proud of how it all came together,” said Sarah, smiling at her husband.

.articleImage {display: none;}