This young family finds that with hard word and big dreams, a lot can be accomplished within a few short blocks.
Boundless energy is a description that comes to mind when talking with Charlie and Jessica Christiansen, the young couple who live inside the charming 1940s bungalow on Hayselton. In fact, their HGTV – style home is just the beginning of the story. More than merely a neighborhood, this area is where they live, work, entertain and find recreation. In a word, they are totally invested.
The couple bought their current home in 2010 and then bought and revamped a building on Main Street in 2013. The building, which was originally Hall’s Drug Store, is where Charlie runs his business, Shelter Insurance, and where they operate West Main Pizza, their first endeavor as restaurant owners.
“I’ve always loved the character and uniqueness of the West end,” Jessica says. “I grew up here, and to me, it is an old-school neighborhood. The character of the older homes and buildings are charming. You can look street to street, and virtually no house is the same. There are amazing river views from many backyards.
“We like that it is a self-contained area where you can walk to Angelina’s Cafe for a great breakfast, buy a few little extras and fill up your car at Break Time,” she continues. “There’s even a floral shop. Our pizza shop, we believe, helps round out things a bit because it’s a corner place where families can have lunch and dinner. We also have a full bar where people just hang out and enjoy.”
Although Charlie once preferred new construction to old, he quickly became a believer after renting a house with a friend on Douglas Drive when he and Jessica were still dating.
“This is an ideal part of town to raise a family,” Charlie says. “Most people don’t have the opportunity to live like this anymore. No cookie cutter subdivisions: The trees are full and lush. Many of the houses here are brick, which you don’t find much anymore. People walk and ride their bikes here.”
The building, where daily business happens for Charlie, took an enormous amount of reconstruction to bring it to where it is today. According to Jessica and Charlie, it was a feat they could not have accomplished without the help of family.
“The project ended up being a lot more work than we anticipated, and we are thankful to our family for their help and support,” Charlie says. “Now I can walk to work, and we’re in a highly desirable area on a corner lot that gets lots of traffic, which is great for business. The space looks awesome with exposed ceilings, stained concrete and unique fixtures that we’ve added throughout. It’s not your typical insurance agency look with dropped-tile ceilings and industrial carpet. It’s a place I enjoy.”
Jessica, an avid neighborhood jogger, had an eye on their current home for some time before it came on the market. She made it a point to gear her route in that direction whenever possible.
“At the time I was a third-year law student and living in a house on Westmore Drive that I bought at age 22,” she says. “Our current house was owned by a friend of my mother’s, and I always loved it. The first day the sign went up in the yard was the day I put in a bid. I was determined to buy it.”
Nowadays, between practicing family law with her mother, Mary J. Browning, Jessica stays busy as contractor, construction worker, interior designer, wife and mother to their five-month-old daughter, Lincoln. Every room in their home has Jessica’s eclectic and creative touches.
“The house has great bones, but we changed colors and repainted every room,” she says. “Once I changed one thing, it led to another, but we pretty much love everything about it. As far as decorating, I enjoy mixing a lot of different looks. I have everything from modern to vintage to shabby chic and touches of industrial urban.”
Structural changes in the home consisted of a complete remodel of the upstairs master suite, which included adding a full bath, skylights, laundry room, a new heating and cooling system, walk-in closets and built-in dressers. Without a doubt, they say, the most difficult feat was when Charlie hauled the cast-iron claw-foot tub, circa 1903, up the stairs. It was “not easy,” according to Jessica.
“The master suite is our favorite place when it’s just us,” Jessica says. “It’s open, spacious and serene with most everything at our fingertips. We sometimes think we’d never leave the room if only we had an upstairs kitchen.”
Another of the more labor-intensive projects entailed taking down a large tree from their half-acre lot and removing branches from other trees to make room for a fire pit in the backyard. This outdoor area, along with the screened-in porch and family room, is where they spend most of their time entertaining or playing with their daughter. Although the couple recently bought another home on Hayselton Road, and they’re in the process of the next remodel, they don’t plan to leave the area any time soon.
“Not as long as my mom and sister live here,” Jessica says. “We love that we can go next door for a sip of wine, and people drop in on us. Our neighbors allow our dog to run on their property, and they bring us homemade honey mustard. You don’t often find neighborhoods like this. We are thankful to our community, family and to God for the opportunities we have been given. It’s all been such a blessing.”[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”1″ gal_title=”West End Loyalty”]
Andy Wilbers Plumbing
Brad Perry Electric
Carved in Stone
Cole County Concrete
Engineering Surveys and Services
Matt Rimillar, architect
Midwest Brick and Block
Superior Spray Foam
A special thanks to my father, Charlie Christiansen, for countless hours of free construction work.
We also thank friends and mostly family who contributed to our project. — Charlie Christiansen