By Chelsea Royer
Walking past what is now Montesano’s Hubble Event House, my family and I were intrigued when the run-down corner house took on a new owner. Denise Dromensk, intent on keeping the centennial home true-to-history, had begun the ten-year remodeling process.
Dromensk purchased the home in year 2000 while still teaching at an elementary school in California. Every handful of weeks, she’d drive thirteen hours to spend the weekend designing or inspecting what her workers had done before driving back home again to start her job again on Monday.
The carriage house, sitting separate from the large three-story home, was one of her last projects to complete. The small building was in such bad shape, Dromensk insisted you could stand on the second floor and move the entire building. Apparently, the carriage house was home to an early 1900’s horse-drawn carriage. When Dromensk moved in, neighbors wanted to know what had happened to the antique. Unfortunately, the location of the Hubble family carriage remains a mystery, much to Dromensk’s disappointment.
The carriage house was “just fun,” says Dromensk, because the historical restrictions of the Hubble house didn’t apply to the building that would become her home. Her original idea was to make the carriage house look like a small version of the larger home. Due to a construction misunderstanding, Dromensk arrived to check on her project to find it done incorrectly. But if there is one thing Dromensk excels at, it is working with what she has and making it beautiful. A few adjustments – including a street-side balcony – and Dromensk had the home she wanted.
As the Hubble house took most of her budget, the carriage home was designed out of leftovers harvested from the larger remodel. After attaching the carriage house to the main house, Dromensk took the extra trim, tongue and groove walls, pipes, and other miscellaneous pieces she had harvested and put them together to create a truly unique living space. Dromensk explains that remodeling is like a puzzle – you are confined to certain walls and half the fun is the challenge of that.
Dromensk insists that all she’s ever really done is remodel. Her mom loved interior decorating (and was a teacher), her dad was a construction worker and most of her extended family are contractors and teachers. “I’ve re-done all kinds of houses – flipping them, remodeling them. The Hubble house is the biggest project I’ve ever completed. I had to stay true to the history with that one but the carriage house was just fun. I got to play and do whatever I wanted,” she comments.
Because Dromensk lived in two houses at once, her decor between the Hubble house and the carriage house is a stark contrast. “The carriage house is more beachy and the other house more antique. I get to express two aspects of my personality at once,” she describes. Dromensk explains she never stays true to any one style of decorating – she tweaks the style and tries something different. Her response to the question of why she decorates the way she does is almost always, “Just because I like it…That’s what I want.”
Over the entire house are photos of people, places, and memories. Downstairs, many of the frames contain photos of National Parks she’s visited. Dromensk says a psychiatrist once told her that photos of places you’ve been are “miniature vacations” and by looking at them, they will mentally take you back to that place for a few moments. Photos of people you know and places you’ve been can have a very calming affect.
Dromensk has intentions to travel many more places. Her plan is hopping from one place to the next until she is physically unable. After being at the Hubble house 14 years, she is ready to move on. “I have ADD. Once I’ve got it, I want something new again.”
Her hope is to move to Kentucky where her family has started remodeling a 10,000 square foot, brick schoolhouse. “10,000 feet to play with? Heck, its great! I just feel like I need to be stimulated. You figure at 64 I have 20-25 years left? Hopefully. What do I want to do? Do I want to just sit back and dust this place (the Hubble house)? Or do I want to go and create something again? It keeps me going. You don’t want to retire – its not good for your health. You gotta keep moving.”
Though Dromensk has flipped or remodeled between 15 and 20 homes in her lifetime, her excitement over a new project is animated and contagious. “You never know what’s behind the walls – whether it be good or bad or if it will change your plans,” she says in answer to the question about why she loves to remodel. Dromensk has sat for hours contemplating how she would harvest wood or molding or how she would make her plans fit into the pre-existing walls. “It is a real challenge every day – but that’s creativity and that’s what’s fun about it.”
Dromensk doesn’t know how much longer she’ll be with the Hubble house, but until she moves, it is open for touring and events. Via appointment, you can view the artistry and hard work of a truly remarkable person.