An Inspiring Home Renovation Story: The Morrow House {Part 1}

You may remember this home's charming exterior (pictured at the end of this post) from Season 5, Episode 1 of Fixer Upper. Joanna Gaines commented on the house, "I feel like a dog with a T-bone steak, I am like please give ME the T-bone steak!" She wanted to get hold of this house. However, the first-time home buyers on the episode, who were shown house hunting with the Gaines', selected a different home to suit their needs. 

We don't often get to see what became of the other homes. 

But today, I'm excited to share with you what became of this historic home, thanks to its visionary owner, Amy, and decades of dreams. When I first saw pictures of the home on Instagram, I was compelled to find out more about it. This house is not only stunning, but it has got soulThe story of how it came to be does not disappoint. Enjoy...

Welcome Amy! I'm so happy you said yes to sharing your story with us. Please tell us about yourself.

I have been married for 25 years and we have 5 children together. We have 3 girls and 2 boys.  My oldest girls, Reily and Reese, attend Baylor, Rhett is a sophomore in high school, Gehrig is 13, and Noah is 11. Life is full and wonderful, but it also has its challenges. When our children were little, my husband was travelling a lot and we were trying to build a life, a home, a future. I was always dreaming of things I could do, but knew it would be hard to do some of the things I wanted and also parent well and be a good partner in marriage. 

So one day, when we were at church, out of my mouth, these words fell.... "Lord, take away any desires and dreams I have for myself. Highly gift my kids and show me how to raise them in those gifts... and let my husband achieve his dreams and let me assist him in being all he wants to be."  And really, I never dreamed again for myself for 20 years. It wasn't like I was super mom or super awesome, but I never really thought much again about those desires to build houses and restore old homes. 

I enjoyed praying about who my kids would sit next to at lunch when they started school and who would be their best friend in middle school. The kids are bent towards athletics and so my rear has sat in enough bleachers to last a life time. Every mom should see her kids score a 3-pointer, or hit a home run, or play the tuba in the school band. Nothing has ever been, or will ever be, as fulfilling as those memories, and I am so glad I made them.    

Joey (my husband) and I often did a lot of remodel work in our own home, and he eventually owned his own construction business. So, I got plenty of small opportunities to get some experience and feed that drive I had to make our home a place of warmth and beauty. I spent a lot of those years praying for my kids and our family. I wore the cover right off my Bible, reading and studying. It was kind of like an investment. All those diaper changes, and late nights, and prayers, all were like coins in a bank that built up over time. And as my kids grew, and Joey and I have grown older, I have seen the fruit of all those years of planting and sowing seeds into the places I had set my feet. 

Fast forward (and it really does go fast!) to when I recently started dreaming again. I begun watching Fixer Upper. And, since my girls are at Baylor in Waco, I was having a first-hand show at some of the transformation in the city. I felt like I could do what they were doing on the show. And so I started planning, and talking to the bank, and cutting out pictures in magazines, and researching areas with old homes, and spending hours on Pinterest (all night!). 

On Mother's Day, Joey gave me a card and he had written something super simple. "This is your year."  And I knew what it meant. It was my year to take a step into some unknowns, and take some risk, and see if all those late night ideas could come to fruition. 

So how did you find this home, and what condition was it in?

I decided to email Magnolia and they set me up with a realtor. My original intent was to buy a home for our girls and let them live there while in school. 

I drove Jake (my Magnolia guy) nuts. We looked for months and I just could not find the right house. One day, and I think he had about had it with me, he took me to Sanger Heights, an area which we had never been to before. We passed this house (I was driving) and I ran the stop sign because I could not get over the home. It was covered in vines and trash and it looked like it had been abandoned for years. 

And it looked a little dangerous. So he wouldn't let me get out of the car. I tried to act super mature about the fact he wouldn't let me get out of the car... because here I am almost 50 and he was less than half my age. So we politely ended our time together with no house, and I dropped him at his car. I was a little disappointed he didn't share my excitement for the home he accidentally helped me find. 

So, I took matters into my own hands and called the police to meet me at the house and walk me through. And they did. I would like to say the rest is history, but it's not. 

I stood on the porch and called Jake and told him I was getting that house. I called the city and asked them how to get my hands on it. And they flat out told me no way... it was slated to be torn down in a few days time. 

So about 60 phone calls later, I had a city council member hiding the demo papers in his desk, found out the owner had died 30 days prior, called the funeral home and found his family, and had them sign a contract within 20 minutes of talking to them. I paid the city the back taxes the man owed, which was $17,000. The house was off the demo list... and mine!

Don't you just love learning the back story of this special home? Amy's vision, passion and talent is inspiring. I love how she just kept on calling the city, and wasn't going to take a no. Because when you know, you know.

I also admire Amy for laying down her dreams of home renovation for all those years so that she could pour into her family. As a friend of mine says, "You can have it all. Just not all at the same time." ;)

Find more gorgeous pictures, rooms in the house, and more of Amy's story in Part 2

Until then, you can find out about booking a stay at The Morrow House here.
And you can follow along with Amy on her beautiful Instagram feed here.

What speaks to you about this home? Or about Amy's story?
I'd love to hear in the comments below.


Catch up on recent posts here:
French Market Baskets and Flowers on the Porch * Farmhouse Style Home Office Makeover