Restoring house, garden on West Council Street a work of love for couple

Published 12:05 am Friday, July 22, 2022

SALISBURY — Liz and Scott Bricher moved to Salisbury a year ago, when an older home they’d fallen in love with hit the market.

In fact, Liz says the day the house on West Council Street went up for sale, they put in an offer.

The couple originally lived in Charlotte with their three children, but over time, they began to look for a home with more space and more character in a family neighborhood. In their search, it became clear Salisbury was where they wanted to be.

Salisbury’s historic district and the streets that abut it have some majestic  homes that have been elegantly restored, alongside some older homes with lovely bones but that need a little TLC. The Bricher’s new home on the dead-end block of West Council is one of those that had all the elements of a beautiful house, but over time, it became hidden by lack of ongoing care.

The house is a craftsman style home with a deep front porch and a back yard that slopes steeply away from the house initially, then the bottom of the shaded lot has been leveled, and a fish pond installed.

But over time, English ivy had so overtaken the back yard that Liz said they did not know there was a set of steps leading down to the lower level or that a small fish pond and fountain had once been at the bottom of the yard. All they could see was the top of what looked like an old fountain or some sort of statue, peaking out of the dense ivy.

“We were told by the neighbors that the people who owned the house two owners ago really took good care of the yard and the house,” said Liz. “But this is a lot of yard, and I have no doubt it can get overwhelming if gardening is not your thing.”

Fortunately, for Liz, a stay-at-home mom, working in the yard is something she loves. Husband Scott runs his own business, a mobile bike shop called The Bike Van, which allows him to go wherever his customers are to make repairs or provide tune-ups or other services. He opened the mobile company in 2019, along with a small service shop in a permanent location in Charlotte, both of which he still operates, but it does give him a bit of schedule flexibility.

When they first purchased the home, azaleas lined the edge of the porch and were so large that they extended halfway into the yard, and were so tall that they were mostly limbs and blocked much of the view from the porch. Scott said they dug out eight large azaleas, and in the process of digging and preparing the yard for seeding and for new planting, they uncovered some interesting finds.

“We found all kinds of trash and odds and ends in the dirt, I guess from the last owner, including a full wine bottle,” said Liz. Once the space was cleared, Liz began putting in new plants. In the spring, they went to Lowe’s and bought “everything that was on clearance,” then came home and planted numerous bulbs, without really being sure what would come up. She added pots of flowering plants up and down both sides of the wide front steps, creating a welcoming cascade of blooms leading up to the porch.

And there were more discoveries to be uncovered as they continued to work. A second front door on the left side of the front porch was not functional, but the couple found a beautiful glass-window-topped door in the basement, so they cleaned it up and hung it in place and now there are two entrances to the front of the home.

Inside, Scott said all the original woodwork and many of the original fixtures are still in place and in good shape.

“We just loved the personality of it, and now all the kids have their own rooms,” he said.

Max, 11 and the oldest of the couple’s children, reiterated that fact.

“We do get to have our own rooms now,” he said, grinning. Max and his dad worked together to uncover the fountain and fish pond, and Max was proud to say they found “all kinds of toys under there, and a hatchet,” most of which they kept. Max also made sure to remind his dad that they had plans for a clubhouse of sorts under the garage, a storage space with a dirt floor and receding ceilings.

“We all have plans,” laughed Scott.

The work on the home has not stopped at the yard or the entrance. Scott’s parents, Bill and Joellen Bricher, made the drive to Salisbury from Scottsdale, Arizona, about a month ago and have lent hands to ongoing projects. Thursday afternoon Joellen was on a ladder applying charcoal gray paint to window trims and Bill and Scott were working on painting and continuing to clear parts of the property.

“I thought I’d worked on projects before,” said Bill, “until we got going here and I realized those were nothing.” But he was clearly proud of the home and the work Scott and Liz have put in. The couple chose new paint colors for the front of the house, most of which they have been happy with, but two came out much brighter than they expected. A green paint meant for window trim came out extremely bright, so they are replacing it with the charcoal gray, and a blue ceiling paint for the porch was a bright almost teal blue, and they will replace it with a much softer sky blue. But they said others in the neighborhood have noticed their work, and approved.

“Our neighbors across the street have thanked us several times for the work we are doing, making the house and yard nice again,” Liz said.

There is a narrow and somewhat cracked concrete driveway to the left of the house that the couple also did not realize was there.

“It was buried in about a foot of mud, leaves and debris,” said Liz. They had to remove shovels-full loads of dirt to clear the drive and can now actually park cars in the drive.

Along with Max, the couple has two daughters, Violet, 7, and Beatrice, 1, and the three not only have separate bedrooms, but they share the entire second floor.

Asked if this might be their forever home, both Scott and Liz turned to look up at the house before smiling, nodding, and both saying, “Yes, yes I think so.”