"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Better than original: Former dryland wheat farmer — along with his interior designing wife — restore a farmhouse that outshines its past

By on June 25, 2019 in Featured Homes with 0 Comments
Looking like landed gentry on the front steps of their farmhouse, Julia and Greg Scott, and their little dog too, anticipate the adventure of a bold new move into a semi-permanent fifth wheel trailer. Photo by Donna Cassidy

Story by 

Susan Lagsdin

Photos by 

Travis Knoop

You have to be a little bit fearless and pretty sure of your bearings when you make big life choices like the ones Greg and Julia Scott have made. 

First, the couple sold their fourth-generation Pomeroy wheat farm and moved to Wenatchee in 2007 for Greg’s job, investing in an almost-unlivable old orchard house on Easy Street. 

This year, now that they’ve finally restored it to almost sublime perfection, they are selling the three-story 1912 house (with its jampacked, and larger, shop and storage barn) and plan to live full time for a while in a 30-foot Rockwell fifth wheel trailer.

That choice was triggered by the recent birth of their first grandbaby in northern Idaho. They’d assumed their three kids would eventually follow them to Wenatchee, where Greg’s sisters live; that didn’t happen, so when he retires from Stemilt in a few years, the couple will head east to establish new roots.

“Everyone thinks we’re crazy,” said Julia, who’s cheerfully, certifiably sane. Career and restoration work and friendships have been satisfying, but for the Scotts, after 12 years it seems natural to move down the next turn on their path. 

In 2007 they simply sought a country home with an outbuilding. But they hit town, Julia said, just as a local headline blasted: “Wenatchee #1 in Nation for Percentage of Real Estate Increase.” 

The charming old house on .84 acre, all they could afford at the time, had been recently gutted for a re-do by the seller, leaving the interior in shambles. 

When the Scotts first saw the house, this classically detailed archway was just a sagging framework between two rooms. Greg fashioned the pillars over two custom-built boxes.

Both Greg and Julia agree they wouldn’t have taken over its full restoration if they’d known how hard it would be. 

They also agree that the hundreds of hours of shared work have brought the couple, married 36 years, closer together. They leaned on each other’s skills, appreciative of each other’s strengths.

 Julia said, “Greg can do anything, he’s a master fixer — we’ve never ever paid for a repairman.” Greg quipped, “Sometimes I’d spend an hour explaining why something she wanted couldn’t be done, and then the next two days doing it.”

Greg had no prior home building experience, but he said modestly, “I spent 30 years as a dryland wheat farmer. I know how to put things together.” 

Working out of his 1,200 square-foot shop in the cellar of the storage barn, he expertly crafted trim and molding, cabinetry and period ornamentation. He re-routed a steep staircase with a more welcoming landing and managed to even out, some with original fir and some with new oak, floors they said had been “slanted and rippley.” 

Given a choice between a big back porch and a small kitchen, and no porch and a big kitchen, Julia naturally picked spacious and gracious, with carefully-restored original cabinetry.

Julia was the primary scrape-sand-and-paint laborer and made all the hardware store runs. But it was her past study, retail experience, and continuing interest in interior design that makes the house glow with vintage charm. She parlayed a passion for domestic history into a houseful of early 20th Century furnishings and décor. 

An elegant extra touch that Julia declares she will never do again is wall-papered ceilings. During those prolonged projects, she and her daughter Trisha were so stressed by their efforts, she said, that “we laughed ourselves silly” on exhaustion and achiness. “I’ll never know why we didn’t just paint them. Especially the second one…”

Julia still delights in a couple of serendipitous saves. 

“See these original cupboards? Greg had just sanded them down so I could paint them ‘shabby-chic’ when I realized — they’re perfect just the way they are.” In an upstairs bedroom, creamy, antique, cracked and mottled walls look like a faux-painter’s masterpiece. But, Julia said, “I scraped the wallpaper off, got ready to paint, and I saw all this — really, it’s just 100-year-old glue on plaster.” 

The previous owner’s demolition had left a massive pile of materials all askew in the barn. Some seemed to be from 1912, some from a remodel in the ’30s, including windows and French doors, cabinetry, and a puzzling wealth of beadboard, hundreds of feet of it that had been both ceiling and wall covering. That trove and plenty of astute shopping around for re-purposed items helped the Scotts save money and still re-create the vintage styling of the original house.

Asked how tough it was to live full time and restore only part time in those first few years, Julia asked back, “Have you ever lived in a house being sheet-rocked? The dust is everywhere.” 

They soldiered on, hiring experts for said wall work, all electricity and some carpentry. Greg would have liked more concentrated time to dig into projects and finish sooner, but the responsibilities of his job meant he worked mostly in short bursts. 

Master bedroom closets are faced by old mix-and-match French doors. The coordinated wallpaper on the walls and the ceiling is contemporary but helps achieve a vintage look.
One half of the house-width original front porch was transformed years ago into this separate room, now a study with plentiful light and a distinctive beadboard ceiling.

Their craftsmanship was up close and personal. Julia said, “Every surface you see has so much behind it. I can remember what went into every tiny job; there’s so much exacting preparation before you actually do the work.”

The house was, and remains, solid and functional. Some quirky original construction is pure 1912: the zig-zag, walk-in-and-around closet between upstairs bedrooms, the cellar that opens up from the main floor, the space where a full chimney obviously was and now isn’t, a full-length covered porch that early on became a study and a bedroom. 

From studying rooflines and interior ceilings, Greg theorized that the home was probably built very small and then extended in its first decades. 

The Scott’s restoration work (“It’s not remodeling, not renovation or repair,” Julia clarified) includes plenty of new-minted but respectfully old-looking touches that subtly evoke a past era. 

Julia said of their careful selection of materials and design, “We’ve made it more like it used to be than it actually was.” 

Greg and Julia created a welcoming home out of a sad old structure that almost missed its chance. Hopefully, now that it’s on the market (listed with the Laura Mounter agency) they will soon drive off — happily and fearlessly — in their big trailer en route to a new adventure and then on to Idaho. 

Soon the Easy Street house will become another family’s fairytale farmhouse… minus the fuss, the muss and the sheetrock dust. 

Travis Knoop is a local real estate photographer working in Central Washington. More of his work can be found at 

www.TravisKnoopPhotography.com.

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