The only clue that the neglected house was back there behind rows of overgrown shrubs was a bit of roofline. Glaring fluorescent signs from the City, plastered across the front porch, confirmed obvious code violations.

 

 

There it was: their dream house.

 

 

Laura Ainsworth and Pat Reeder aren’t your average home buyers. Actually, they aren’t your average anything.

 

 

“One thing you have to understand about us is that we’re both lost in the ’20s,” laughs Ainsworth. “Pat has silent movie posters all over the walls of his office. Even when he was 10 years old, he would send off for copies of the films, which he would run on an old movie projector.

 

 

“And I always liked all the old rooty-tooty ragtime kind of music.” She gazes around the room. “It’s like we sort of stopped time in here.”

 

 

Walking through the 1910 Mill Creek Craftsman home, it’s hard to believe it was practically a ruin just a few months back. Bravely tackling most of the work themselves, the couple have turned back the clock, which, after all, is one of their favorite things to do.

 

 

In addition to blithely living in a time warp, there’s the couple’s job — make that jobs. First of all, they co-write “The Comedy Wire,” which is faxed 4:30 a.m. each day to radio stations around the world, providing deejays with punch lines about current events. (How many of you can claim that your Bush/Gore jokes have been translated into Turkish?) Reeder is also a music expert and writer; with George Gimarc, he co-authored the book “Hollywood Hi-Fi,” which lampoons celebrity recordings. Ainsworth acts, consults on period interiors, writes a magazine column called “Welcome to the Birdhouse,” and paints pet bird portraits.

 

 

Now, about the birds.

 

 

There are paintings of birds throughout the home, some by Ainsworth and some by various artists. There are bird figurines, bird sofa cushions, bird baskets, bird hardware. The most surprising thing? Looks absolutely great — not repetitious, not eccentric (well, maybe a little). Great. It even takes awhile to realize you’re walking through a virtual aviary … and to realize that some of the feathery adornments are talking.

 

 

Ainsworth and Reeder take in special needs tame birds. Scrappy Ernie the parrot is recovering from zinc poisoning while pint-size Katy, who lost her feet in an accident, bobs up and down on her water bed and sings merrily. (Katy is a true charmer; the person who could spend five minutes with her and then go drive through KFC is someone you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.) Eleven plumed patients — some now well, others in various stages of recovery — embellish perches and cages throughout the house, and seem to like nothing better than to entertain visitors with car alarm imitations and rounds of “Shave and a Haircut.”

 

 

The perches seem strangely at home in an interior that is at once  warm and light. Hand-stenciled curtains grace each window with more period designs painstakingly outlined on the original coffered ceilings. Ainsworth became a student of this period of interior design 10 years ago as she and Reeder prepared to restore their former home in Waxahachie — one of the city’s trademark gingerbread Victorians. She is particularly fond of reproducing patterns established by turn-of-the-century art nouveau designers Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Walter Crane.

 

 

Their Craftsman-style home is of a slightly later period than a Victorian, says Ainsworth, and is a variation on the classic four-square. Most of the houses in Munger Place follow this style and, speaking of Munger Place, she comments on the perception that the area has been completely reclaimed architecturally. Not so, she says and invites other intrepid urban pioneers to continue the effort.

 

 

“Some people seem to think that the restoration in this area is over,” says Ainsworth. “They drive through Munger Place and see that all the houses are done and think ‘oh well, there aren’t any more restoration opportunities.’

 

 

“But just keep driving through the Mill Creek area. There are houses.”

 

 

And interesting neighbors.

 

 

 

 

 

Captions:

 

 

 

 

 

The Mill Creek house before the homeowners rolled up their sleeves.

 

 

 

 

 

Originally an outside entrance, the downstairs powder room is decorated with vintage framed corset ads, pictures of the homeowner’s grandmothers and a reproduction Victorian bird cage.

 

 

 

 

 

The stairwell is anchored with a large oil by ’30s artist Jesse Botke, who was the first female animator for Disney. Although the homeowners chose to re-paint the stairwell, they stripped away some of the old paint to reveal details in the millwork.

 

 

 

 

 

Mill Creek homeowners Laura Ainsworth and Pat Reeder.

 

 

 

 

 

(living room)

 

 

Reeder and Ainsworth are restoring the 1910 Craftsman home themselves. Color and designs are derivative of turn-of-the-century art nouveau designers Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Walter Crane. The 1845 couch belonged to Ainsworth’s great-great-grandmother. The bird portrait over the fireplace was painted by Ainsworth and is of a Major Mitchells cockatoo.

 

 

 

 

 

Ainsworth’s dining room set belonged to her great-grandmother who gave the china to Ainsworth’s grandmother on her wedding day. The Mackintosh-style light fixture casts a colorful glow on a signed picture of Mary Pickford to the right of the china cabinet found at an antiques store in Hillsboro. All the other paintings in the room depict women in everyday setting with their pet birds.

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Miss Katy, a cockateel, is one of the special needs birds that the homeowners have taken in; she is fond of the song “Dixie.”

 

 

 

 

 

An upstairs master bedroom is dominated by the Victorian-style black metal bed with vintage linens.