A teen who promised his future wife that he would one day build her the old-fashioned home of her dreams made good on his promise 15 years later, proving that some wishes really do come true.
Stay-at-home mom turned social media influencer, Brittany Smith, 35, lives with her husband, 35-year-old performance shooting coach, Mark Smith, and their two kids in their hometown of Chesnee, South Carolina. The teens met at high school and began dating two months after graduation.
As a child who grew up in old homes, Mrs. Smith had a dream at the time.
“I have a deep-rooted love and appreciation of old character and architecture,” she told The Epoch Times. “Often, and still to this day, one of our favorite things to do is go riding around together in older, established neighborhoods and basically gawk at the architecture and designs of older, historic homes.
“During one of those drives when we were teenagers, I was going on and on about how one day I wanted to renovate an old house so badly for us to live in. Mark said, ‘How about this: one day I will build you a brand-new house, but it will look old, just like these houses you love.’ I thought that was the sweetest compromise ... never really realizing that one day we would really get to make that dream a reality.”
The couple married on Mrs. Smith’s birthday, June 18, 2011. In 2017, they bought a home in foreclosure to renovate, and Mrs. Smith shared the process on her growing social media platform. Two years later, the couple was made aware of a “dream piece of property on the water” just a few miles up the road.
“It was days away from hitting the market, but we were given the opportunity to buy it before that happened,” Mrs. Smith said. “We decided to go for it, and this was our chance to build that dream home on our dream piece of property. We were able to take the money we made from fixing up the foreclosure home and invest it back into building our ‘new old’ home.”
Mrs. Smith, who attended the building site almost every day, said: “I began by searching for a house plan that was similar to the historic homes I grew up in. The house I chose to build is a gable front, hall-and-parlor style. It looks like it has been added on to over the course of time. This was a very intentional decision, as that was a very common occurrence in older homes; people would add on to their homes as wealth allowed.”
The exterior of the Smiths’ “new old” home is reminiscent of early 20th-century houses from the area, and every decision, from exterior to interior, was carefully made. Starting outside, the couple chose 3-inch tongue and groove boards for the porch flooring, atypical by today’s standards, and tailored the window sizing, trim boards, siding, and drip caps for “historical accuracy.”
The front door once belonged to the very first pharmacy in a small town in North Carolina, and 100-year-old white oak flooring was chosen for an entrance hall that’s lined with reclaimed bead board. “When I think of those old humble homes I grew up in, this wall covering gives me a sense of nostalgia that’s so comforting,” Mrs. Smith said.
Some decisions had to be made prioritizing lifestyle over aesthetics, and the kitchen was one such choice. Hutch-style cabinetry and older features with a weathered character, such as the doors, flooring, wall coverings, drainboard sinks, and light fixtures, provide “a nod to those historic kitchens,” but the room still functions as the couple needs.
The biggest hurdle in the build was “convincing contractors that there was a vision beyond what they typically build,” said Mrs. Smith, who ended up so pleased with the collaboration that she uses the same contractors today.
After 16 months of building, the home turned out exactly as she had always imagined. The family moved in on Sept. 18, 2018.
“I remember the exact day because it was like a literal dream; a sweet and innocent promise that my now-husband made so many years ago was a reality now,” said Mrs. Smith, reflecting, “To this day, I feel undeserving of such love. To have someone that sees the deepest desires of your heart and puts so much effort into making it come to fruition is the most sincere and selfless form of love I can think of.”
Mrs. Smith has a lot of favorite spaces in the finished home, but the best spaces of all are those in which her family comes together.
“The breakfast nook is pretty special,” she said. “It has a beautiful view of the lake outside, and it’s where we gather every day for meals. The dining room, as well; my dad made our dining table from my papa’s barn wood after he passed several years ago. The interior shutters were also made by my dad.
“I think no matter where you live, whether you get to build your dream home one day or not, what’s most important is the people you share it with and the love you show to them. The things of this world are fun, but temporary. We all are very temporary. What matters most is the people.”