If you’re familiar with downtown Carthage, chances are the Waddell-Larkin house has caught your eye. First built in 1860 for E. Waddell, the home has undergone scores of changes and is now being lovingly restored by Steve and Emily Yopp, a military couple who bought the home in 2018.
“Through our married life, we bought newer houses; it’s just what you do, find a new home in a new neighborhood,” Emily says. But she found much to be desired in the quality of the 3,600-square-foot “McMansion” in a Spring Lake subdivision. Emily began searching for something different — and found it in Carthage, a town she’d never heard of.
“It was love at first sight,” she says. “It was the porches, it was the beadboard, it was the windows, it was everything. There are places for improvement, and that’s where we’re focusing. But for the most part, I really would like to leave it as intact as possible.”
The home’s double doors open into a foyer with a space-saving staircase, that forms a triangle from above. We’re just a little obsessed.
The walls in the foyer are beadboard, which Emily and Steve are pulling down sheetrock to reveal. With each repair and restoration, the couple unearths more of the home’s treasures, and its quirks — like odd nooks, uneven floors and ceilings of varying height. Some rooms remain unlivable.
“Nothing is perfect, and some things are in really bad shape,” Emily says, going on to describe the critters that always seem to find their way in through home’s uneven exterior. “I think it takes a certain mindset, to just kind of be OK with things as you progress.”
The foyer opens into what would have been the formal parlor and now serves as the living room. For now, it still includes a wallpaper border added a few decades ago by someone with, uh, interesting taste.
“In our old house, the entire house was one, giant open space with a staircase in the middle that went up like 20 feet. The house echoed. When I cooked in the kitchen, you could smell it in the whole house,” she says.
“I like this layout much better. Every room has a purpose. You can snuggle in and spread out from the rest of the family a little bit. I love my kids, but sometimes mom wants to read a book.”
The foyer, parlor and dining room all connect to a hallway with built-in storage, which then leads into what Emily says is everyone’s favorite spot — one adjacent to the kitchen historically known as “the keeping room.” According to at least one source, these spaces are having a moment. The Yopp’s version, below, certainly helps make the case.
In the kitchen, cabinet space was sacrificed to keep this fireplace, which was unearthed during an early project.
“As we tear things down, you can see the eras in room to room. You can see how boards went from being hand-sawn to machined. Square-head nails become more modern nails. The house tells its own history.”
The couple’s bedroom (peep the stained glass) is next to a bathroom, with 1940s-era tile and wall murals hand-painted by Emily herself. She has no artistic training, btw.
Upstairs, you’ll find the kids’ bedrooms, and a peek behind the scenes at the DIY projects that Steve and Emily live with every day.
“I want to use this house as an example to show people that these homes are worth saving,” she says. “They’re made well. They’re meant to be repaired and maintained. These were generational houses, that you passed down to your family. So much care was taken with them, and I really want to show people how to be a good steward.”
Follow Steve and Emily at A Fine Folk House.