When we started the business, we were operating out of our tiny kitchen in our 1300 square foot house in the historic part of Marysville. It had enough room for a 6′ long rectangular table to be positioned down the center of the kitchen, and I would set my glue gun and wiring station up right top of my oven (which drove Fred nuts). If you’ve ever been in a floral design studio, you know how messy it can get — leaves, thorns, unknown chemicals coming in on the flowers, and the worst part… water spilling and dripping everywhere. Looking back at our beginnings, I’m not sure how we did it, but it worked. Early on, we added a small commercial cooler on the back porch and closed in about a 6 x 8′ storage area surrounding the cooler for vase storage. We also had a sort of difficult-to-access basement with a narrow doorway. It somehow sufficed for about 2.5 good years; but that was it. After our second full wedding season in 2012, and having so much production that we were virtually taking up space for the flowers in the entire downstairs during busy weekends while the kids made-do with whatever space they had left to play in, we knew we had to look for a bigger and better space for our growing business. We put our house on the market in the fall of 2012, and by February of 2013 had it in contract.
My wish-list for the new property kept growing, and it was seeming to be difficult to find a good match. I remember moments and weeks at a time where I failed to trust in the Lord for our new home and business space. That whole idea of not really being able to make any decisions on a new property until having our old house in contract was so hard to swallow. What if the house that we wanted went into contract with someone else while we were waiting for OUR house to sell? What if once our house was in contract, we couldn’t find the right NEW house in time? I had frequently mentioned my frustration to my floral wholesale delivery man, Paul while he was carrying in piles of boxes filled with flowers for us week after week, and he reminded me “that’s where faith comes in”. I remember not wanting to hear that. Sometimes we don’t want to hear the truth. I wanted to be in control. I wanted it in my timing (which meant NOW).
That fall, trying to push things along, we put an offer on a beautiful, historic brick house out in the country that seemed to be perfect. A huge yard, a pond (which was pretty but a little scary with kids), a very large garage that could be transformed into our flower workshop, and the old brick and wood floors that dreamed of! I’m a magnet for beautiful old woodwork and trim, and that house had it all. Except they didn’t accept our offer because they didn’t like the contingency attached to it. Nothing else in the area seemed right. I remember telling my realtor Krista one day…. “I just want an old brick house … on a hill … with land … and buildings … and beautiful trim … and etc” and she actually laughed at me. She said “the on the hill part is a new one”. We kept looking, and I happened to remember seeing this old white house for sale down the road from that beautiful brick house. The white house was situated on an orchard with lots of land. So, we scheduled a viewing of it. We found out that it had been on the market for 5 years, without a single offer having been made. One had to think… what’s wrong with this place? As we walked through the house, I could see the potential. I like a good fixer upper and my wheels were spinning. Ugly wall coverings, hideous thin veneer trim and brass doorknobs from the 1970’s, fake wood doors, lots of paneling, low ceilings, gross carpeting, and the smell of propane gas leaking, but underneath it all…. the character and stability of a 1910 American foursquare farmhouse with hardwood floors, the original plaster walls under the wallpaper, tons of windows, nearly 4 acres of land, an animal barn, a huge pole barn, another cute shed, a large two-story barn with a big loft, and guess what?…. a little shop inside the barn where they used to sell produce (particularly apples) with an adjacent walk-in cooler, 2 additional free-standing coolers, and wait… a huge 10′ wide x 20′ long walk-in cooler hiding in the back part of the barn, perfect walking distance from the little shop which could easily become our floral workshop. This had been used to hold apples and smelled wonderful! Here are pictures of the big white barn that had the little shop inside (first three pictures) as well as pictures of the house’s exterior and interior which is located just to the right of the barn. These pictures were all taken in 2013 before it was ours.
After looking at the house and considering the opportunities for the business with the barn and coolers, we decided to jump on the opportunity, but quickly got a “no thank you” from the owners on our offer. Not a counter offer. Just a “no”. We tried again, this time with a bigger offer, and they countered. The previous owners had quite a different perspective of the value of this property with its’ barns and apple trees and land and sentiments, but what we saw amidst that was a house that was going to need completely gutted including plumbing, hvac, and the works. It was made clear to us that they would not be willing to fix anything, and that this was an “as-is” kind of deal. I didn’t realize that sellers do this, but they shadowed the inspector through his entire inspection, disagreeing with him about every detail that he found to be wrong with the house. It seemed there would be no way to get the kind of loan we wanted due to the owner’s refusal to fix anything that needed repaired. Even though they hadn’t received an offer in 5 years, they held firm to the “as-is” statement. The barn roofs leaked directly onto the big cooler and throughout the shop, the windows in the house were broken, and so many more things that we can’t even remember were going to need to be replaced or repaired. Structurally, the house was in sound condition, and that was something we could work with. Somehow through each situation, our realtor and her team cleared a path to overcome each obstacle, but at the tail end of the whole process when we were so close to thinking we were actually going to get the house, the previous owner would not add a required driveway/easement to the adjacent parcel of land on our North side (which he also owned and was not selling). He told us that we would need to agree to allow him to access that piece of property through our land by driving through our back yard whenever he wanted to (which fortunately the township would not allow for). Then, he said that the only way he would add a driveway to the piece of land was if we paid to have the driveway added. Next, the health department got involved and there were issues with the septic. Detailed soil tests were required to be sure that in the event that the previous owner would ever sell that other parcel of land for residential use, our septic system (which is an old leach bed) wouldn’t be compromised by the nearby addition. We were less than a week away from having to vacate our old house, and yet still against a wall with the seller of the farmhouse. My parents said “move on”. It felt like everything was against us on this, and yet I knew that God had been holding this property for us. It was there waiting for us on the market even before I had started our flower business… before we needed coolers, before we had our third child and needed more bedrooms, before we had considered moving… just waiting.
Finally, after the soil test was done and the health department put their stamp of approval on it (after pressure from the previous owners and our realtor), God cleared a way, and we suddenly had a closing date. We thought we were in the clear, but the day that we showed up for closing, the previous owner decided that he would not come to the scheduled closing, and instead left our realtor with a hand-written note that said we owed him $500 for the existing diesel fuel which was down in the oil tank in the basement of the house, as well as $150 for the existing propane that was in the little tank attached to the gas stove in the kitchen. In the business of moving, and being right in the middle of spring/approaching wedding season, I didn’t take the time or quite frankly have another $650 to throw his way. The keys were ours, and the property title was in our hands, but to my disbelief, after a few days he took it upon himself to come over and hook up a hose to our basement tank from the outside of the house and drain all of that diesel fuel out. It didn’t stop there. He told me that many of the plants in the gardens were special gifts that people had given them over the years and that they were going to come dig them up out of the landscape beds, especially the peonies. I had to put my foot down. As a florist and horticulturalist, those peonies meant more to me than the apple trees. Next thing you know, he was burning a pile of branches on our land, and stated that he had a right to do that because he was the one who put them there. If I found even a rusty bucket on the property somewhere and sat it outside the house, it would disappear. He asserted that he would be getting one more harvest out of the asparagus patch on our land since he planted it there too. He asked that we pay him additional money to move all of his apple farming equipment off of our property and over to the North parcel so that he could put it up for auction, because it would take him extra work to move it over there rather than just selling it on our land If we didn’t pay, he would be having the auction on our land, wherever he wanted. It was ugly, and we at times wondered if it was going to be worth all of the trouble and if we would ever get through it.
Four years later though, here we are, and this property has been a huge blessing to our family and our business. I realize that I might be taking a risk laying all of these details out there so publicly, and possibly really annoying or offending someone out there who knows the sellers, and I apologize for that, as I’m not trying to make the folks look bad. I’m sure their side of the story might look quite different, and I’m sure there is goodness there, but the whole ordeal was real, and I share this with you because I’m simply so thankful that God brought us through all of this trouble to get to the other side… the side where there has been family growth, spiritual growth, and business growth. I also share this to be an encouragement to those who are working through similar circumstances. It’s so hard to let go of control sometimes, but I learned through this that it is not in our timing, it’s in God’s perfect timing. It might feel like you’re up against a wall and that everything out there is telling you that it’s wrong or it’s not meant to be, but hold onto what God has for you and believe that He will see it done.
There are weekends when we have so many flowers here for our wedding and event customers that our 20′ long cooler is completely full to the door with barely any walking space. What would we do without it? The pole barn is now filled with vintage rentals, arches, candelabras, and wedding vaseware with lots of extra space remaining. The animal barn has allowed our children to experiment with having farm animals last year including chickens, ducks, and a pony (and while that venture didn’t last long, it was a wonderful experience, and the ducks still remain). I have hopes that in the future we’ll be able to grow our own flowers…. potentially replacing that 50′ long asparagus patch with cut flowers of many types. We are currently working on plans to add onto the house to accomodate all of the kids with more bedrooms, and a basement for winter flower work (since the barn is too cold for the flowers at that time of year). Each year is bringing new opportunities here, and I so love the blessing of being able to live and work on our property so that I can be with the children through it all. Though I’m not always a patient mom or wife, and I know my faults and weaknesses when it comes to being able to just drop everything at any moment to change a diaper, or make someone a sandwich, or take a little extra time to just play with the children, it means everything to me that I can work and live on the same property and earn an income while being home with my children.
We’ve made many improvements to the home since 2013, and are currently undergoing more interior renovations to update the unattractive old trim, refinish the beautiful hardwood floors which were hiding under all that carpet, and many other exciting details! Here are a few pictures showing what the barn and property currently looks like, an early progress photo of the kitchen which had to have a whole new sub-floor put in since it was so crooked, as well as a current progress photo of our front room (yes, 4 years later we are still working on it — that’s the life in a 1910 fixer upper); and I’m still waiting for real flooring to go on that subfloor which we installed back in 2013 in the kitchen. Some day it will happen! Did you notice that weird animal scene that hung above the mantle before we bought the house? I found a couple of 1800’s cupboard doors that we hung there instead. I love old repurposed wooden pieces!!
Lastly, I have so many pictures of our work and our arrangements being created in our flower workshop in the barn, but they’re mostly close-ups of the flowers. Here are a few clips showing our huge walk-in cooler (sorry, it’s dark), our workspace where all of our wedding work and arrangements are created, and some of our wonderful designers (and me).