Friday, May 31, 2013

From Animal House to Our House: A Love Story - Ron Tanner

Summary:  Ten years ago, Ron and his then-girlfriend, Jill, did the impossible. They bought condemned property -- a big Baltimore Victorian brownstone ­ and vowed to bring it back to its original glory.  The house had been home to Baltimore's most notorious fraternity for a decade and now, wrecked and abandoned, it was filled with garbage. As if that weren't daunting enough: Ron and Jill had been dating for only six months and they knew nothing about fixing up old houses. Friends, family, and concerned onlookers told them not to do it ­ they would surely lose their shirts and their love in the bargain. But Jill wanted the house and Ron wanted Jill. So Ron bought the house. (Image and summary taken from

*I was given a copy in exchange for an honest review.

My Review:  Talk about a gutsy move to impress your girlfriend - buy her a 3500+ square foot Queen Anne and restore it to its former glory!  Ron Tanner's journey through mostly self-taught home improvement had me biting my nails.  HGTV is one of my favorite channels, I just love watching people restore something that's been unappreciated.  Had Reality TV been as big of a deal ten years ago, I have no doubt that Tanner's journey could have been a series!  From learning the idiosyncrasies of the restoration game, to contractors who disappear, to every possible imaginable problem that could arise, this was such a fun journey.  I found myself groaning along with Tanner and his girlfriend, cringing at rookie mistakes (I'm no reno-guru, but I can swing a hammer, and I'm definitely more at home in Home Depot than in a scrapbooking store!), cheering when things went their way, gasping at the health risks they were exposed to, and wishing I could sit at their hearth at Christmas.

This pair would have had their work cut out for them in any case, but the prior owner of this gigantic house was a wild fraternity.  Let's be honest.  We know what boys are like when they get together.  Add to that accounting alcohol-infused decisions and you can imagine the state the home was in.  

Ron learns a lot about himself and about the choices he's prone to make during the process of restoring the Queen Anne.  It's heartwarming to see his personal growth and how that growth affects his relationship with Jill.  While this is a "love story", Ron and Jill's relationship is definitely protected in the book.  This love story is the story of Ron, Jill, and the Queen Anne.  Through working together, I definitely felt them grow closer and could appreciate the qualities they both brought to the restoration.

One of my favorite features of the book was the collection of historical facts about homes built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that Tanner doles out throughout the narrative.  I loved hearing about the purposes of these quirky features and then seeing him succeed in restoring them.

My Rating: Four Stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  The premise of the book is clean, but there are a lot of "f" words.  Also, there are some disgusting leftovers from the frat boys that Ron and Jill have to clean out. 

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