An Old Post Office Becomes a Family Home

by hookedonhouses on March 2, 2011

Check out this grand old Colonial Revival-style Post Office in Paintsville, Kentucky, which was transformed into a private family home. Sarah Belhasen, who collects Americana, was searching for “a house with character” ten years ago when she saw that the old bank in her hometown was for sale. She couldn’t resist the challenge of preserving it, so she bought it for $162,000 and went to work.

During the reno, they not only found undelivered mail but secret passageways behind the walls that the postmaster used to keep an eye on his employees without being seen in the days before surveillance videos.

The kitchen is absolutely massive. That ladder is not just for looks!

As tall as these ceilings look, they were originally 16-feet high. They were brought down 2 feet to conceal pipes and conserve energy.

The two-story library was inspired by the one Henry Higgins had in My Fair Lady (love that!):

But my favorite refurbished space has to be the “Garden Room:”

I think it’s great that she rescued this old building and gave it a second life. Not many people would take on a challenge this big, or be willing to live in the middle of a business district. For more photos and information–and the floorplan!–you can read the entire article at This Old House. (Thanks to Jacqueline for telling me about it!)

P.S. You might also like this Barn Turned Into a Guest House or the Chapel Turned Into a House in Notting Hill.

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Kelly @ JAX does design March 2, 2011 at 7:39 am

Oh wow, what an amazing home! I’d love to live in a house with so much character and history. Sarah did an amazing job converting the old building. Love all the gorgeous wood, and the tin ceiling in the kitchen is fantastic!

Maaike Quinn @ Life with FlyLady March 2, 2011 at 8:15 am

I just wrote I don’t like the kitchen, but I do like the ceiling!

Dianne March 2, 2011 at 7:53 am

I LOVE this house…I have always wanted one of those ladders in my house…I’m short and am always dragging a foot stool everywhere I go.

Luciane at March 2, 2011 at 7:55 am

I LOVE this place! It’s so charming, so many gorgeous features and so much history. I really admire people that has the talent to transform a place like this one. She gets my respect.

It must be so nice to live in a place like this, huh?

Have a Blessed Day!!!


Luciane at

Sally March 2, 2011 at 8:08 am

As soon as I saw “old post office” in your tweet, I KNEW I was going to love this one. Incredible!

Maaike Quinn @ Life with FlyLady March 2, 2011 at 8:15 am

Wow, this is great! I’d love to buy a house like this. And what about those secret passageways behind the walls, how awesome is that! I don’t like the kitchen though, it’s way too bombastic for me. But I do want that library! Lovely!

Alison March 2, 2011 at 8:23 am

absolutely gorgeous…i don’t know how much heat they’re conserving with 14′ ceilings though!

thanks for sharing.


stuff and nonsense

Ricki Jill Treleaven March 2, 2011 at 8:27 am

OMGoodness, the library even has a gramophone in it, just like Professor Higgins’!!!! Can you get over that massive butcher block in the kitchen? And I agree….to have a garden room like that? QUIET!!!! Did you just hear the heavenly chorus singing just now? There it goes again…every time I look at the garden room :D

Have a Wonderful Wednesday, Julia!

Ricki Jill

Brandon @ Southgate March 2, 2011 at 8:33 am

I absolutely adore that dormer over the fireplace. I’ve always played with the idea of reinventing such a space as a home…her spaces in the old post office are just incredible.

Christy @ Polite Society Magazine March 2, 2011 at 8:33 am

Wow. I am in love with this post. Not only did they renovate out of an amazing historical structure, but the beauty of how it turned out is breathtaking. I love the library, the tall ceilings, it’s a bit of old style decorating that is modern as well. I love everything about it.

Josanne March 2, 2011 at 8:34 am

Well done! I especially like the kitchen, and it is unique how high some of the cupboards go! Oh-and the ceiling light in the great room!

ClassiclyAmber March 2, 2011 at 8:35 am

Wooooooooooowza! That is beyond awesome. I love the idea of secret passageways. That would be fun for the kids, right? Love the massiveness in the rooms, too.

I would totally live in an old post office! In fact, I’m to the point now where I’d live in almost anything – as long as it was livable and I could make it my own, lovely space~! It’s great to think outside the box.

Mel March 2, 2011 at 8:43 am

Wow! Don’t think I would want to take on a challenge like that but they sure did a beautiful job!

Kwana March 2, 2011 at 8:57 am

Wow! Love it. I wonder if folks come to the door with their mail.

IAMSNWFLAKE March 2, 2011 at 9:06 am

Charming place! Absolutely love it! Great restoration work. The library is my dream come true, the kitchen looks so welcoming (albeit its huge size) with the tall cabinets, long ladder and immense island.

hip hip gin gin March 2, 2011 at 9:18 am

This is absolutely beautiful!!! I love converted spaces, they are always so gorgeous and interesting. That library is out of this world, definitely my favorite room, I would be in there all day every day.
I’ve always thought a converted fire house would be amazing to live in, probably because I think it would be hilarious (and fun!) to slide down the pole into the kitchen for breakfast in the morning.

Cheryl March 2, 2011 at 9:34 am

What a great place, so much character. Love the library but if it were mine people would get annoyed – I would constantly be stuffing my face with chocolates and mumbling “the rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain.” I hope they kept the secret passages in tact, how fun.
The Post Office in our tiny town is about 3000 square feet and loaded with character like this one – huge windows, crown molding, lots of wood work. At one point in time the top two floors were apartments but sadly now only the ground floor is used for the Post Office and the rest of that gorgeous building sits empty.

Melissa Lewis - Midwest Magnolia March 2, 2011 at 9:37 am

That looks amazing! I love the high tin ceilings, especially in the kitchen!

TerritoryMom March 2, 2011 at 9:39 am

I would be very happy living there. Just beautiful!

Stacy@RedDoorHome March 2, 2011 at 9:58 am

This house is incredible. Every space looks like it was created with attention to even the smallest detail. So glad there are still people willing to save and repurpose buildings like these.

The English Organizer March 2, 2011 at 10:01 am

Wow, amazing house. I love the fireplace best.

Caron White March 2, 2011 at 10:02 am

Good Morning Julia! What a great post, can’t decide which room I like the best, they are all fabulous.

Have a great day – Caron

Catherine March 2, 2011 at 11:01 am

I *LOVE* what the owner did with this place (although I would put some wool rugs down). However, I don’t know that I’d want to live where most Post Offices are located. Now, if there were even a little, private yard area, I’d be there!

Erin @ epiCURIOUS ERIN March 2, 2011 at 11:14 am

It does looks amazing! I would kill for that kitchen! I always wanted to do something daring like this…alas, if only I had money. :(

Jane March 2, 2011 at 11:21 am

Wow! That’s amazing. I can only imagine how much work it must have been. Who wouldn’t love to have a library like that?

Rory March 2, 2011 at 11:37 am

I love this. It reminds me of another converted Post Office story that I think was in Country Living a few years ago….

Lisa T. March 2, 2011 at 11:40 am

Amazing job!! Love it all. That kitchen is awe inspiring. For me, I think she kept all the best parts and changed all the things that make it a home. I love the PostMaster sign on her office door. Such fun.

Sarah Guertin March 2, 2011 at 11:47 am

Wow! I’ve never seen a post office turned into a home before. Churches, yes. PO, no. And they did it in such a grand style. I’d love to see what they did with the yard…
Thanks for sharing this!

Debbie Summers March 2, 2011 at 11:47 am


What a way to repurpose! Love it!

Amanda @ Serenity Now March 2, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Oh, to have a library!! And you’re right, the garden room is just fantastic. She must be a patient lady to wait on that reno. Wonder how old the undelivered mail was!!

Lori-Anne March 2, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I would TOTALLY live in an old post office – especially one as amazing as this one! Don’t know about the business district part. There’s a so, so, soooooo cool one, several hundred years old in Tintagel, England, that I would love to get my hands on. I’m not sure if it’s been revisioned or what, but it’s signage still calls it the old post office. Sadly, no post offices around my parts would be quite this scrumptious.

Alycia March 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm

This is so great! I love when people repurpose buildings and turn them into homes with character.

It would be so fun to play in the hidden passages!

Thanks for sharing this!!

deva March 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm

I saw this one in This Old House a few years back. Adore! I remember the bathroom is really cool, too.

cbean March 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Oh boy…I feel like the neighborhood curmudgeon, and, although I do appreciate the fact that they saved this architecturally distinctive building, I find it cold and cavernous. Perhaps (for me) it lacks a personal touch…no warm fabrics, no pleasant ambiance… nothing inviting that says, “please sit and stay awhile”.

Carla March 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm

WOW Julia! Thank you so much for posting this! What an amazing transformation and story. I love old buildings being rescued and this is truly one of a kind! All of those rooms have so much character, I am so jealous! I think I have a new dream for my next house :) I’d love to take on older industrial type building and resurrect it into a home! Very, very cool! Thanks again!

Melinda March 2, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I love it. I’ve always wanted to “repurpose” an existing commercial structure into a home. This renovation gets an A+!

Heather Collins March 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Gasping!!!! Speechless!!! Totally….in….love!

Kelly D March 2, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Oh, wow! I absolutely adore that kitchen! Even if I had to climb a ladder every now and then, it would be totally worth it to live in such a beautiful place like that.

cheryl March 2, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Julia, I am so in love with this home that there are no words to express it. I love, love, love and adore books. I collect all types of books and think a room without books is sad. This home not only has the library of my dreams, but it is a part of history which is also a love of mine along with architecture. So…you have made my day. I could only dream of living in this home.


Holly March 2, 2011 at 3:24 pm

That is so cool! I would love to live in a cool old place like that!

Bre March 2, 2011 at 3:26 pm

This home is gorgeous! What a beautiful renovation! I am in love with the high ceilings, that massive kitchen, and the library is something out of a dream. I love the historical details. It’s funny I’ve always admired the local Post Office building here with it’s dark wood, high ceiling, and slate floors. Here’s hoping it goes up for sale one day!

Nichole@40daysof March 2, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Well, at least somebody got a garden room, even if it wasn’t Mrs. Blandings. :)

I’m not going to show my husband that library. He’ll start shopping for buildings!

Kim March 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Now this is how you renovate a historical building. I love this home. Everything about it is amazing. I love how she modernized certain spaces, but preserved the historical elements. I especially love the library, garden room, and great room. I could definitely see myself living in a place like this.

Thankyou for sharing this with us Julia!

shelly joseph March 2, 2011 at 4:03 pm

down right Loverly… ! I have always had the dream of buying some old church, or fire station and doing something like that.. glad that she jumped on this so we can these wonderful pictures.. love the librabry…

laura @ the shorehouse March 2, 2011 at 4:08 pm

As soon as I saw this on your facebook wall I knew I would love it…and I DO! :-) My apartment (the non-shorehouse, if you will) is in an old bank building. While the developer stripped our most (re: ALL!) of the charm, I love the idea of living in a building with such rich history. And high ceilings, lol.

Thanks for sharing this one! March 2, 2011 at 4:38 pm

How unusual, love it!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy March 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Flipping dreamy! I want it!

justine @ you're so martha March 2, 2011 at 5:05 pm

that. is. amazing. the kitchen! the library! the ceilings! swoon.

Maria March 2, 2011 at 5:21 pm

What a lovely building…

but am I the only one wondering why there is a big glass case in the middle of the island that looks like a hologram of say, Julia Child is trapped in there?

Kristen @ Joyfullythriving March 2, 2011 at 7:26 pm

What a fun house, indeed! So creative! I love the library, too. I’ve always wanted a ladder in my library. Sigh. I don’t think my Cape Cod really needs a library ladder! Maybe someday…

Janell Beals March 3, 2011 at 12:39 am

This is a remarkable space, I am in awe of the height of the cabinetry! Janell

The Little Red Shop March 3, 2011 at 4:39 am

Wonderful! I am a historic preservation fanatic (who has always wanted a two-story library…and secret passageways). What a perfect example of adapted reuse!

: )

Julie M.

Pam March 3, 2011 at 10:42 am

This is one of those rare examples of earthly perfection. What a dream come true to live in the beauty and charm of a library restoration!

Pam March 3, 2011 at 10:47 am

Oops…I was overcome by that library room….I mean, *post office* restoration. :)

Jenny March 3, 2011 at 10:54 am

Oh wow! That is quite a transformation!

Jessica March 3, 2011 at 8:44 pm

I’d live here in a second…they did such a beautiful job restoring it, it’s amazing!
xo J~

karen ho fatt March 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm

This is an incredible find. I have seen a few old buildingd here in town I wish I was able to purchase myself: old churches, and many years ago an old firehall. Never in the right place at the right time plus lack of funds does not help either. The fact that she is in town should not matter, I doubt very much that she can hear the outside noises. The rooms are so large that you can get lost in them, away from the world.

Nathan March 4, 2011 at 9:23 pm

I love the library. I want a closet similar to that. Haha.

Joan March 5, 2011 at 4:30 pm

It’s sad that they demolished the secret passageways. That would have been one of the main things I’d want to preserve!

Nancy Hood March 9, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Love following your blog!!! Gave you another shout out. This Post Office was too good NOT to share :) hope you’ve a grand week.

Renee April 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm

This house is beautiful. I adore it!

Lindsay Ross June 4, 2011 at 10:17 pm


Kentuckian November 12, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I live in Paintsville, and I don’t like how they left up the Post office sign. It is confusing for anyone who is from out of town. Also, there is a working post office drop box right outside the house which adds to the confusion.

Kathy Trammell March 12, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Beautiful!I’ve been searching for old and different buildings to renovate into a home,how do you find them?

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