Cory Harris: The House that Saved Me

Cory Harris of Cory Harris Design came highly recommended to us last year as THE stager of all stagers. We promptly jumped at the next opportunity to hire her. We have not looked back as her talent is swoon worthy. As an integral part of the Mo-Minski team it was a no brainer she would be our first choice to stage my families Northtown Woods home. Throughout the process I shared with her my conflicting emotions of letting go of my boys childhood home. Saying goodbye is hard regardless of the circumstances. Cory sent me the following email. I asked her if I could share it with all of you as it speaks to the heart that a home is so much more than four walls.


Dear Shannon,

Last year, I sold my house and was surprised to learn that, in the end, my primary emotion was one of relief. Honestly - relief. I handed the keys of the house, the one that I’d been sure I would grow old in, to a couple who longed for my 110-year-old Foursquare. I’d completely remodeled the lovely, old house. It was and might possibly be the only house that I’ll ever own all by myself.

When I moved in, both the house and I were falling apart. 415 Sixteenth Avenue South was beautiful and pitiful all at the same time. From the street, it had a grand appearance, but upon closer inspection, she needed help. I paid $50,000 in cash, and she was all mine.

We loved each other from the very moment the front door shut behind me. The floors creaked, there was no heat, and the windows were either broken or literally falling out. The wiring was shot, plumbing was garbage, and the crowning glory was the upstairs toilet, which sat raised on a makeshift platform at the end of the hallway. No door, just a toilet. You could see the dining room downstairs through the crack between the upstairs bedroom baseboard and the wall.

I was living in a small town in Idaho. This was a busy street, and the house had been in foreclosure for a long time. I was just beginning a messy, very public divorce. I felt all alone, but I wasn’t.

As I started to take care of and repair the house, it began to take care of and repair me. I was brutal with it, but it was gentle with me. I felt safe within its walls, and very quickly, it became the most beautiful, noble house in town. Strangers started coming by. Many families had lived there before me. One woman who stopped by was the granddaughter of the baker who’d built the house in 1906. Another woman had raised her children and overcome breast cancer in the house. She told me there was a time capsule in the newel post. Neighbors would pause and comment on the gardens, reminisce about how long it had been since the house had seemed happy, and then thank me for restoring the old place. Each time, I’d whisper to the house: “ No, I didn’t restore you, you restored me.”

Every time I’d leave town for work, I’d walk from room to room and say a silent prayer: “Please take care of yourself while I’m away. I’ll miss you.”

I couldn’t keep it. I needed to leave. It was time to move on to a different life. I thought my heart would break. I wanted to bring it with me. Seriously! I even looked into moving it to a lot on Bainbridge! At the time, I was worried something might happen to the house, but now I know that I was really afraid something would happen to me. Maybe I wouldn’t be okay, strong, or safe without it. I was wrong.

The house sold the day it was listed. I had done what I thought I couldn’t do: I sold the house that had saved me.

The day I left the house for good, I opened the newel post for the very first time. Inside, nestled with the items others had left, I added a letter and 2016 Penny. The letter told the stories of the people who had filled me in on the house's history and of course, the story of our restoration.

I hugged the woman who’d bought my savior and backed out of the driveway for the last time. I feel a little melancholy writing this now, but that is only because a love story always makes me cry.

I left Idaho that day. In the car with me were my grandmother's ashes, my mom’s Martin guitar (which I can’t play), and my journals. I felt,... excited! I took a picture of myself in the rearview mirror and have never looked back. I was headed to Washington and a new chapter.

You are headed into a new chapter too. Everything will be ok. I think I was afraid because I know how hard life can be. However, I also know that courage isn’t the absence of fear. Rather, it means we know in our hearts that something else is more important than fear.

Love, Cory


Thank you Cory, for your strength, bravery, and wisdom. Your words helped me more than you will ever know. I am grateful.

Enjoy Cory's photo gallery of her exquisite restoration. After we hope you head over to her website for more eye candy at Cory Harris Design.