Though they’re usually busy finishing houses for people other than themselves, Candis and Andy Meredith of have managed to carve out some time over the past two years to work on their own 1859 prairie house in American Fork, UT. The couple’s passion for “saving and renovating old homes” is documented in the television show that follows their impressive restorations of historic properties. With a big, beautiful family of six young boys, one baby girl, and two cats, the couple finds local structures from the 1800s in total disarray, and brings them up to contemporary living standards for modern dwellers.
When the Merediths found it, their own home was slated for demolition. Growing up nearby, Candis had always dreamed about living there, but “it had not been loved since before I was born,” she says. The previous owner was ready to tear it down when the demolition crew bumped up the pricetag because of the sturdy adobe walls. He listed it, and Candis went into contract within an hour. She knew this would be her family’s house, and that they were the ones who needed to save it. For its day, especially in Utah, it was a mansion and very special place — considering that almost everything there in the mid-1800s was not much more than log cabins. The home had been through many years of neglect, was piled high with garbage and other unmentionables, and was condemned. There were literal demons drawn on the walls, plaster falling apart everywhere, a roof that had been leaking for years, all broken windows, ivy growing on the inside, and a single outlet to power the whole home — with extension cords running everywhere. It was a miracle that it was still left standing. But underneath the mess remained the original floors and moldings, and the rare, original kitchen cabinets. The family did a full renovation before they moved in and completely restored what could be saved. They added new electrical, HVAC, plumbing, and roofing. They wanted the house to feel fresh, bright, and open, but still historic and cozy. They almost always paint their interiors all-white inside and reintroduce historic light fixtures (a chandelier in every room, in addition to several modern can lights, gives excellent results). With seven kids, they make sure nothing is too precious to get dirty or broken. The house is meant to be lived in, not to be a museum.
The pair is thankful that their home still exists and will continue to exist because they saved it. It was built well and was made to last, but with neglect, its beauty was hidden and almost lost. Candis and Andy are also happy to share their passion for saving old houses with the world. They hope to inspire others to love, save, take care of, and restore old homes, too. They currently have 13 historic homes that are either being renovated or rented out to loving families. The work has attracted television viewers and online followers alike, with a TV show and tons of followers learning from their every move. Check out two hours of Sunday, December 6th on DIY Network for more of the Merediths’ stunning approach to livable restoration. —