DIY: A couple pour their hearts — and considerable skills — into a highly personal and frugal remodel

Woodworker Stan Hain and ceramist Carol Gouthro are true working artists, and their Highland Park home is a testament to their talents.

“LABOR OF LOVE” is an interesting little idiom: nicely alliterative, sure, but perhaps a tad clichéd and sometimes, you sense, possibly not exactly literal.

But when Carol Gouthro tosses that out to describe the tremendously involved (and inspiring) remodel she and her husband, Stan Hain, have pulled off on their 1910s bungalow in Highland Park — suddenly there are no better-suited words in the world.

Carol, a ceramic artist/instructor, and Stan, a woodworker/cabinet- and furniture-maker, paid $84,000 for the 800-square-foot home in 1991. It was, both agree, a funky little fixer-upper: falling plaster, bouncy floors, fractured ceilings.


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“We thought from the beginning we’d do something, but we couldn’t afford it,” Stan says. They started 15 years later, having weeded out “a whole bunch of bad ideas.”

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They aren’t completely finished yet, but they already have majorly transformed their home by adding 700 square feet of space (by bumping out 12 feet and up another story), and expending an amazing amount of labor, together.

“We did the actual physical work,” Carol says. “Stan did all the architectural drawings for the new addition. He made all the cabinets in the house. We drywalled, replastered, painted, mixed our own colors. I made the kitchen tiles. Stan made the bathroom vanity, laid all the floors, did the wiring and framing, and designed and built the maple ceiling in the upstairs bedroom.”

That’s a partial/modest summary. They also installed…

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