The old and the beautiful | Homes | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

The old and the beautiful

How a 150-year-old home got a complete revitalization and still preserved its heritage.

The old and the beautiful
Christin Roper

Tara MacDonald and Justin Inglis got a lot of crazy looks when they decided that a stripped bare, yellow- shingled, 150-year-old house near Hubbards was their dream home.

"It would have been way easier to tear it down. People told us, just start from scratch," says Inglis about the then-derelict building on the Aspotogan Peninsula. "You had to squint your eyes very hard to see the beauty."

With broken windows, no water or electricity and a collection of animal tenants, the house was in rough shape to say the least, which made even getting a mortgage a challenge. But thanks to creativity from all angles and 13 months of hard work, the pair re-built its first home together so that it reflects both its history and their personalities.

"We wanted a wood-shingled house, we wanted it on the water, we wanted to live the Nova Scotian lifestyle," says MacDonald of how their search led them to the well-worn home.

"As soon as we stepped into that house I got good vibes. It needed to be loved. It needed to have somebody to look after it, to be able to do it a bit of justice, there's a lot of history there," adds Inglis. "It's very much part of the landscape, you see it when you come around the cove, and its ridiculously important to make it like it belongs there."

The old and the beautiful
Christin Roper

Apart from the four acres of land and killer view, the main selling point of the home was its bones. The beauty of working with a gutted house was that it was immediately obvious that the building was as solid as they come. So after pulling hundreds of square-headed nails from the walls, one by one, the pair got to the less glamourous fixes like windows, wiring and insulation.

"There's so much money," says Inglis, "you have to put in before you see anything---" "---anything fun," says MacDonald, finishing his sentence.

But eventually, once the basics were taken care of and rooms were framed out, their vision started to manifest. Apart from opening the concept of the home, the team that worked on the house kept things rustic looking, flooring the downstairs with barn board floor rescued from a house in Milford, restoring its original floors upstairs, along with the staircase---and bringing in an old railing from another house in Lunenburg to match---and re-shingling the entire house by hand. MacDonald and Inglis also enlisted the help of Sappho Griffin and Denise Coulter of henhouse for a kitchen makeover fit for the rustic reno.

"We were really lucky to find people who were up for it. One of the biggest challenges is trying to convince people of your ideas," says Inglis, who took the creative helm of the project but had hardwork and help from carpenters Ira Stevens and Hazen Emms, who were committed to helping restore the rich history of the home.

"It's amazing what you can do," says MacDonald. "You just have to stick with the vision."

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