Before they got married about nine years ago, Lindsay Owen and Libbie Miller were about to leave Arizona. They were romancing Portland or Seattle, looking for a city they could connect to architecturally. The look-alike feel of the suburbs had grown old for them.
But they decided to give downtown Phoenix a look before skipping town. And that meant ordering a pizza to the front porch of a home they were considering but had not yet bought. They wanted to see what that bungalow, tucked inside the Coronado Historic District, felt like after dark.
Owen and Miller were curious about the people, the energy and the vibe there. So, they ate pizza on the porch of the vacant home. And put an offer in.
“We were just really excited,” Miller said.
Vintage finds for historic home
Following eight years of gradual, aesthetic touch-ups and scavenger hunts through local vintage shops, Owen and Miller are now exhaling in the afterglow that comes with being part of the community’s home tour, held last month.
“It’s been a slow evolution,” Miller said. “We’ve made one decision every year.”
Owen and Miller were lucky in that the home they purchased, built in 1927, did not need a complete renovation. It was in good shape, and only needed their personal influence to make it theirs.
They started with the floor, because as much as they loved that it was original to the house, they weren’t real excited about the splinters they kept getting from it.
And since the home had no sub-floor, they laid the new wood floor directly on top of the previous one. So, new floor and new sub-floor.
A house with stories
Part of the charm, Owen said, of moving into a historic home is the story that has lived inside it for years.
Upon moving in, the couple found a binder that held the home’s history, and that of the neighborhood, providing insight on the construction of the home and its tell-tale architectural calling cards. The very skinny hallways and petite doorways. The front porches. The abbreviated floor plans.
“There are multiple stories in this house,” Owen said.
One of the stories includes a set of footprints left in the cement, at the base of the front porch, as if an adult and a child had just stepped off into the driveway.
Neither Owen nor Miller knows the history of those footprints, but they love that they’re there.
The neighborhood is part of the home's magic
It appears the Coronado neighborhood loves that Owen and Miller are there, too. Owen is the reigning “Neighbor of the Year” for 2018, as awarded by the neighborhood association. The custom trophy features a golf cart along with her name.
“There’s a band that plays on a golf cart,” Miller said, explaining the prominence of both music and golf carts in the neighborhood. “Everybody loves each other.”
While shooing away the award, Owen explained her extensive involvement with the neighborhood. She helped organize WayneFest, a micro-music festival held at Coronado Park last year, participates in a weekly music-church gathering and supports the Coronado Porch Concerts series, which pops up sporadically.
“We wanted to able to invite other people into the neighborhood. And, it was a way to raise funds for our neighborhood association,” Owen said of WayneFest, which they hope to hold again this year. “I have probably, like, 20 Coronado T-shirts.”
Those T-shirts need a place to live, which can require creativity when it comes to space in a historic home.
Making it their own
Owen and Miller shield their Ikea closet organizing system with a floor-to-ceiling curtain, and they manage to keep the rest of the home clutter-free while punctuating the structure’s charm by striking a solid balance with decorative additions.
Owen and Miller have made their mark with faux taxidermy in the office, a homemade wine rack in the kitchen and a custom, oversized dining table outside.
A chalkboard in the kitchen proclaims their love of wine, custom artwork in the hallway illustrates their affection for their dogs, and the furniture they’ve sourced from nearby vintage shops — including the high-top kitchen table they refurbished themselves — helps tie everything together and helps tie them to the neighborhood they almost didn’t discover.
As does their love of music, on display at almost every turn in the home, along with their devotion to their dogs. One was found at Tuck Shop, and then so aptly earned the name Tuck. The other is a rescue.
“Nobody buys dogs here, either,” Miller said. “They just find them.”
Know of a unique home in metro Phoenix that is not on the market that should be featured? Email [email protected].
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