Anna and I (Amy) met on 11/11/11 (strangely enough). At that time Anna was a business manager for an environmental company and had been so for the past 8 years. She had also just completed a 3 year project renovating an old 1800's farm house completely by herself. The farmhouse was essentially taken down to the studs. She moved walls, built walls, added rooms onto the back and even hired a company to jack up the entire home, remove the existing foundation and pour a new one which included an amazing basement with 10ft ceilings. (See our projects page for some "before" & "afters")
I was a technology specialist for a Fortune 500 company and had worked in television the past 18 years, five of which were spent at HGTV/Food Network. I had also been a professional real estate photographer in Las Vegas for a few years. My entire resume' is essentially a jumbled mess of moving from city to city, state to state in the world of television, (and even country music for awhile). My experience with home renovation included restoring a mid century brick rancher in Asheville, NC, and I had 5 years experience shooting and editing Interior Design and DIY shows for HGTV (my specialty was audio).
Oddly when we met we had no desire to quit our jobs, it wasn't something we talked about. I decided to move to Ohio and was looking for a house to live in...when we came across "Wayne" (the 1862 Gothic Revival). It wasn't in a town near anything relevant to our lives (its an hour from Columbus)....but the house was amazing! It was seriously seriously run down - but the bones, the details, the history....it was all there, AND it was on a river...and yep it was haunted...(but what 100+ year old house isn't?) So we bought it - ghosts and all. It might have been one of the more "not so smart" things we have ever done because we are STILL working on it. We go there from time to time and do a little work on it, we figure it's not going anywhere :) However, we also couldn't NOT save it. There were 6 original Gothic homes in Zanesville....ours was only 1 of 2 left, and the other was in such bad shape there were literally mushrooms growing out of the walls!
So the first entire year (weekend work) was spent filling dumpsters....lots and lots of dumpsters...we filled over 10 roll off boxes! The former owner had just left.....and left everything! After we got all of the prior owners belongings out (and I'm not just talking clothes and bedding, I'm talking things like 50 jars of 20yr old pickled sauerkraut), we then had to tackle and rip out water damaged walls, cabinets, etc.....So, on one of the days when it was 90+ degrees - there was no AC and we had spent the day tearing out the 100 yr old horse hair plaster that couldn't be saved (it's not a pretty job, let me tell you) - I was taking a break sitting on the floor in one of the upstairs bedrooms and Anna was working on getting mold filled plaster out of the closet....I looked down at my arm (which was completely black) and said to Anna "I think this is the dirtiest I have ever been in my entire life! We should start a business called "Dirty Girls Restoration""......and so we did. We didn't really have a plan for the business, other than the fact we both had a huge passion for restoring history.
We definitely bought the "hardest" home first! I don't think we will ever purchase another home that has had so many challenges, including replacing a boiler that (according to the boiler people) was essentially a jet engine in our basement. One plumbing issue after the next to the point we finally had to spend an entire summer replacing all the sewer lines in the house and most of the supply lines as well with PEX. (100yr old galvanized lead pipes are not pleasant). We have rebuilt floors, framed like no one has framed before....(did I mention it is a solid brick house)? Not brick on top of framing like they build today, I'm talking 4 layers of solid brick (over a foot thick). Some of the walls inside are also 4 layers of solid brick, meaning there is nothing to drill or nail into.....and trying to get things plumb and square....HAHAHAHAHAHA......not gonna happen with the way those walls have settled. We found rooms we didn't know existed, all sorts of old media, tools, and personal effects inside walls.....all sorts of amazing history within the original framing
So just some quick history...the original owner of "Wayne" was Charles Brendel (a German immigrant). Charles was a shoe store owner and was also on the city council. We found an article stating he was also one of the people they would call to "collect the town dead". We took it from the article that he might have functioned as the town coroner. One room in the basement (with the walk out doors)....we feel strongly is where bodies were probably processed....the door, the venting in the walls...plus the energy is crazy in that room....
Anyway, enough of that. How did we get started in Mid Century furniture?? Well....like I said before we both had a passion for restoring history. At some point I told Anna the story of when I was 5- 6 years old, shopping with my mother and grandmother in a department store which had furniture....I think mom was looking for a sofa or something and they had a Le Corbusier lounge chair. OMG!!!...it was the most awesome thing I had ever seen (this was the Mid 1970's). I would not leave the Le Corbusier. It was only $1200...c'mon mom...that would look great in my room! (remember I was 6). To this day I have never stopped wanting that chaise and I just love Mid Century design in general. So with that in mind, one day Anna surprises me with a George Mulhauser (bentwood lounge chair and ottoman from the mid 50's) that she purchased for $50. I liked the chair, it was an awesome design but not something I really wanted, so...(yes I'm one of THOSE people..the horrible gift receiver)....so I restored it to the condition I would want if I were keeping it , and we decided to sell it. We sold it to a customer in Sweden for $1400!....and thus began our Mid Century furniture business...lol. Actually it has become our addiction! Not only Mid Century but any type of furniture that is rare, they don't make anymore, amazing in design and just plain awesome! Hitting the Mid Century lottery in the little second hand store or someone's garage in the middle of nowhere town, USA is what we live for! We have also perfected our furniture restoration process over the years as well....."doing" is the best way to learn in our opinion.
So, with our name comes an interesting mixed bag of reactions. We have business signs on 2 of our vehicles which has our logo, our name, and "Historic Home Restoration / Mid Century Modern" under the logo. 99% of people don't get past "Dirty Girls"...they don't even get to "Restoration". We really should put GoPro's pointing out of both windows of our vehicles just to capture reactions of people driving by..... ie - You have the younger to middle aged women who think it is absolutely awesome and either take a picture of our sign or want a business card. You have the "professional men"...who do double takes and then speed up or slow down to FULLY read our sign and then determine we aren't in an adult business. Then you have the 20-30yr old "guys in pickup trucks" that zoom by, rubbernecking, then slam on the brakes, get even with us...yell, or gesture or something and never do realize we aren't in the adult business. Then there are the elderly ladies who look at our sign...slowly get a horrified, disgusted look on their face and bat their husbands arm to look over too. And then there are the more elderly men who apparently don't get past the first 2 words either, but because we are females who own a business with "dirty" in the name assume that we MUST clean houses.
So, there you go....We love what we do and we LOVE being Dirty Girls! ;)