One of a Kind

A creative couple turns a historic house into the perfect place for a family of three

This historic home is built for family. SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THE HOME IN THE SLIDESHOW BELOW.

This historic home is built for family. SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THE HOME IN THE SLIDESHOW BELOW.

Steve Skaggs and Lynn Lee are no strangers to home improvement. Since moving to Madison five years ago, they’ve restored nine houses. Yet despite their expertise and passion for these projects, their current home almost didn’t happen.

The couple was living in a house they’d renovated on Jackson Street when they adopted their daughter, Addison, who’s now four years old.

Deciding a larger house with a bigger backyard would better suit their family, they began looking for an affordable fixer.

When they walked into a house built in 1845 that had existed as a duplex since the 1880s and since fallen into major disrepair, they stayed only minutes.

“I said, ‘No, it’s just too much work,’” says Skaggs. “It was a disaster.”

But a few months went by and the couple decided to have a second look. Lee saw the potential in the house’s good size, yard and location in the friendly Jenifer Street neighborhood. “I knew this was a gold mine,” he says.

They bought the house after bringing in a structural engineer to tell them whether the house, with its caving-in floors, could be salvaged and set to work. After adding new beams throughout the house, the pair removed sixteen walls, three bathrooms, two kitchens, eight ceilings and three staircases to turn the building back into a single-family home.

While Skaggs focused on restoring functionality, Lee drew upon his professional background in interior design and window displays and concentrated on aesthetics. Although he respected the history of the house, he didn’t want to create a home stuck in the past.

“We wanted a really eclectic vibe to the house—and for it to be kid-friendly,” he says.

On the main floor, an open living area gives way to a kitchen, dining room and screened porch, and on the second story are bedrooms and bathrooms. The pair mixed their own items with furniture, materials and accessories culled from a wide variety of sources, including Madison Lighting, the Habitat ReStore, St. Vincent de Paul, thrift stores and the university’s SWAP (Surplus With a Purpose).

And Skaggs and Lee converted the third-floor attic into an incredible playroom for Addison, a testament of love and a final step in turning the house into what they both envisioned—and what they wanted for their daughter.

“We really love the space,” Lee says.

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.

Find more House of the Month features here.

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