Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Where We Live: Restored ‘babe cave’ with a floating bed in downtown Wilmington

The home at 1804 Market Street was built in 1912 and has recently been restored by its crafty owner.

WILMINGTON—After over 100 years on Market Street, this historic home has been given some affection.

Its owner calls it the “babe cave.”

The two-story, 1,854 square-foot historic home now hosts a floating bed, a penny shower, and salvaged external plumbing.

Casey Roman did not take the easy way out for her first home.

She pillaged abandoned buildings and sought out historic businesses close to demolition. She worked non-stop to save the character of her 106-year-old project. 

“Putting this house back together was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Roman said. “Most people don’t want to work on old houses.”

With the guidance of historic preservationist Delinda Harrelson, Roman put her eye for design to work. She slept on a blow-up mattress in the dining room of the 1912 historic home for months as each room was given attention.

A lot of Roman’s design inspiration derived from problems she ran into working with an old house. For instance, in the master bedroom, the floors were uneven from over 100 years of settling.

“There’s nothing I could do about it, it’s 110 years of settling,” she said. “So the options were, rip up the original hardwoods, which I’m not going to do, or cut furniture so that was level with the slope, which I’m also not going to do.”

Instead, she enlisted in the help of Coastal Bed Swing Company to repurpose a door into a floating bed frame.

“As old as it is, it’s built with really heavy, thick wood so I just trusted the beams a whole lot more than anything else,” she said. “Now that I have a floating bed I don’t think ill be able to sleep on anything else.”

In the living room, the hardwoods had been sanded one too many times. Typically, historic preservationists aim to save every last inch of historic hardwood. Roman decided to distress paint hers to avoid having to sand off yet another layer.

Bathroom reincarnated

Roman reincarnated the master bathroom. She unearthed the brick that lines the two-story furnace that had been hidden beneath sheet rock for years. The prefabricated step-in shower piece was torn out and replaced with a shower lined with subway tiles and pennies.

“The pennies were a solution to a lack of funding,” Roman said.

The sink is made from an old, copper, candy-mixing bowl.

“The handles for the bowl, which is what you would hold onto if you were mixing caramel, are just convenient towel holders,” Roman said. “It wouldn’t have made sense to put a brand new looking faucet in there so I didn’t.”

She chose to leave the plumbing exposed to mirror the style of the home’s original likeness.

“I put a lot of time into thinking about what it would look like in 1912 and I think they did have a lot of exposed plumbing,” she said. 

While turning this historic home around was a “nightmare” at times, Roman has just started to get her hands dirty. “I can’t wait to do another one,” she said.

For more information on Roman’s restorations, check out her blog.

Johanna Ferebee can be reached at or @j__ferebee on Twitter

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