Howard Lake Herald, December 15, 1997

Waverly couple remodels old house


"Sometimes strangers knock on the door and ask to see the inside of the house," said Jaylynn Newton of Waverly.

As Jay turns the pages of her picture album with the "before and after" pictures of their home, it is easy to see why this would happen.

Jay, husband John, and two daughters, Lisa, 15, and Chantel, almost three, live on Elm Ave. in Waverly in a home they are renovating.

The Waverly City Council presented the Newtons with a certificate of appreciation Dec. 5 for their hard work giving the old house a facelift, both inside and outside.

The house, built around 1870, was in need of extensive refurbishing three years ago when Jay and John moved in.

"We moved in during an ice storm," said Jay, and as we got the side-by-side refrigerator/freezer partially through the door, it got stuck."

Jay had visions of the refrigerator sliding back down the icy steps. She took a butter knife and removed the trim from around the door, and the appliance barely got in the house.

John and Jay are very positive people. In order to tackle a project of this size, self-motivation and ingenuity are important.

They have to decide what they want and how they will go about it.

So, it isn't surprising they met in a somewhat unusual way. Jay wanted to meet John, so she let the air out of his tires, while he was parked in front of her apartment.

Unfortunately, she forgot she did it and went shopping. When she came back, he was still changing tires, so she did get to meet him.

She finally told him what she did two years after they were married.

Before the Newtons moved to Waverly and started this project, they lived in Buffalo.

When they decided to purchase the house in Waverly, people asked them why they would want to move there.

Jay explained, "It is the people. We have the friendliest neighbors. When someone moves into the neighborhood, everyone comes to welcome them."

She said, "One of them sends cookies on a regular basis."

The home used to belong to various members of the Lammers family. Greg Lammers was the person who sold the home to the Newtons.

"It was an awful green," said Jay.

She found out it wasn't exactly a decorator color. Lammers' dad had some leftover paint and it went on the house.

"He was hoping someone would come in and fix it up," she said, "but when I started tearing off the old wallpaper, I thought he was going to cry."

Lammers spent a lot of years in that house, and it "belonged" to his grandma.

Jay said it was hard for him to see anything change, even though he wanted the house taken care of.

The Newtons did most of the work themselves.

"I would never tell anyone to do this. Jay laughed at me when I came downstairs one day after working on the plaster on the upstairs ceilings. My face was white, except where I blinked some off around my eyes, and when I coughed, dust came out," John said.

"Every time the we did something," John said, "it would never fail, someone else would show us an easier, better way to do it."

The Newtons worked together for about five minutes at the beginning of the remodeling and decided they did better on their own.

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"We get an 'F' for 'Plays Well Together,'" he said.

So, Jay would do things to the house while John was gone.

John works second shift, so when he came home at night, it was always a surprise to see what was in the front yard.

"One morning the kitchen floor ing was there, and another morning, it was the built-in cabinets from the bathroom," he said.

"I always knew what my project was for the day," said John.

John hated the green carpet in the living room, and Jay ripped it out for his birthday. Lucky John!

People would stop and watch their activity, especially when John tore off the front door, threw it out into the yard and proceeded to toss other stuff after it. Snow was falling at the time.

Once in a while Jay would get the surprise instead of John.

One day she came home to find the door to the stairway in her newly painted living room cut out with a saws-all.

A new queen-size bed for her to sleep on was impossible to squeeze through the doorway, so John cut it out.

Jay does her share of impulsive fixing, too. There was a little red shed in the back yard. Someone said he thought it was a fish house.

"Jay couldn't stand that, so she immediately turned it into this little Swedish chalet thing," John said.

Back with the house renovations, the attic was not insulated and had a bat. Both problems needed to be fixed. John insulated; Jay killed the bat.

Kitchen cupboards had been sanded across the grain, so they needed paint. The harvest gold appliances had to go, said Jay.

The upstairs had no heat, and the wiring needed major help, said John.

"We've done almost everything ourselves," he said.

It took two weeks to get off the five layers of paint and wallpaper in the upstairs bedrooms, said Jay.

"I steamed, pried, and scraped," she said.

Then Jay saw a wooden valance in a shop that she wanted for above her kitchen window.

When John heard the price, he said, "No, no, no. I'll make you one." He did.

Then he made flower boxes for the outside of the house out of pallets.

The hardest thing to do was the stairs for the deck, he said.

"I cobbled together three steps from the sidewalk to the deck, and they fell apart.

"I'm fighting and fighting with these stairs, when Jim Lammers came by and told me he had a pattern in his barn.

"It took the whole day for Jim, Jay's dad, and me to build three steps," said John.

Without Jay's dad, John said he would be lost, because he had few carpentry skills when he started.

"Now I'm doing work for the neighbors," he said.

Jim Thrift, a neighbor, is a wealth of advice. For instance, the Newtons were applying primer to the exterior of the house, when Thrift came around the corner.

He had an idea that would beat putting it on with rollers, he said.

"Why don't you spray it on?" Thrift asked.

"We don't have a sprayer," said John.

Well, Thrift had a shop vacuum with a leaf blower attachment.

The end product looked like something out of a really bad science fiction movie.

It used the shop vac, the shampoo attachment from Jay's Kirby vacuum cleaner, drinking straws, (don't ask), and lots of experiments to get the paint thin enough.

"It worked," said John.

Jay had to come behind the spray contraption and use the roller here and there, he said, but it saved them a lot of time.

More conventional methods were used on the final coats, he said. The house is now a soft yellow color.

"I don't like to paint in the house," said John. There are no power tools involved. It's too boring."

They try to do the inside stuff in the winter and outside stuff in the summer.

Jay didn't believe how much it cost, just for the yard.

"I had no idea. It was $300 just for grass seed, once the 30 brushy trees were cut, black dirt hauled for the lawn, and gravel installed on the drive," she said.

Next summer, the roof will get new shingles, and new windows will be installed.

In addition to renovation of the house, Jay has a flair for decorating. She also tends to purchase a few craft items at the sales.

John said, "I guess we will have to get a larger house. Jay is out of wall space."

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