Sandusky's own toolbox Diva

SANDUSKY If graphic designer Dawn Sims designed her own ad, it might say "fun, fearless, single
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

If graphic designer Dawn Sims designed her own ad, it might say "fun, fearless, single toolbelt diva."

A single mom, Sims has made a home from a shell of a Craftsman-style bungalow she found on her birthday five years ago.

"I'm not afraid to work," she said.

And work was what Sims' home was.

"When I brought my parents in, they walked in and walked right back out," she said.

"A lot of people made fun of me for it," she said.

There was 1970s deep shag carpeting, lightbulbs hanging from wires, and a kitchen so bad people didn't want to drink water from it, Sims said.

Sims went against her parents' advice, got a loan on her own and bought the property.

The two-bedroom, two-story bungalow was built from plans from Sears in 1910 or earlier.

Sims has researched the house, but doesn't know an exact construction date because the records were destroyed in a records office fire more than 50 years ago.

Sims refinished the hardwood floors and designed many of the projects, like the window seat with storage in her living room.

With the help of a contractor, Sims stripped her kitchen to the studs. Now, crisp white cabinets brighten the west-facing kitchen.

Despite her family's initial reaction, they, too, helped make the house a home.

Sims' mother was a stay-at-home mom who readily adjusted to combining supporting roles of plumber, carpenter and electrician, Sims said.

While her mom wired and hung the lighting in Sims front porch, Sims and her dad were assistants. At one point, Sims' father leaned over to his daughter and jokingly said, "I'm so happy I married an electrician."

Sims credits a lot of her confidence to tackle projects to her mom whose creativity, resourcefulness and can-do attitude saved the family money.

Even grandma helped with the house.

"Being a single girl, I had been living on my own. But to go into Sears and drop thousands on kitchen appliances was unreal," Sims said. "I took my grandma with me because I figured she would know better than anyone."

Not much in the home has been untouched by Sims. She refinished paned windows to look like stained glass in various locations throughout the home.

Even the backyard was redone by Sims.

Sims took stones from a farmhouse's foundation, dug out her backyard, hauled in and shoveled gravel to level the ground, then set every stone in her backyard area. Then she shoveled in small pebbles to fill in the gaps between the stones.

Sims hard work was worth the sweat equity. A recent reappraisal of her home was $30,000 more than the purchase price.

Sims isn't sure what the next indoor project is.

"I believe in living in a home and it will tell you," Sims said.

Sims is working on a plan to enclose the front porch. Then Nathan, her toddler son, could learn how to tricycle in a safe enclosed area.