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After Judy Sabag’s husband passed away, she decided to move from their home in South Dakota to be near their daughter, Tina Hodne, and her family in Fayetteville.


Hodne, a real estate agent, thought Fayetteville’s historic district would be a good place for her mother to live because it would allow Sabag to walk to the library, Walton Arts Center and the Fayetteville Square. However, it was November 2020, the height of the pandemic, and nothing was available in that area. Hodne asked on Facebook if anyone knew of anything and immediately received a reply from the owners of a house two blocks from the square.


Built in 1939, Sabag knew it was the house for her — with a few adjustments. “You can’t find houses in this location anymore,” she said. “They do have their own charm, so you keep the charm, but make it functional for today’s lifestyle. Then you have the best of both worlds.”

After a private sale in April 2021, Sabag went to work remodeling the home to make it functional for her. She lived with her daughter and her family for six months while the work was done.

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“The goal was to make the house livable and energy efficient but keep the original windows,” she said. “The house has 31 windows, which is one of the reasons it sold me because the house is light and bright. I love windows.”


Sabag, recently retired, had been a real estate agent since she was 29. For the house remodel, she became her own general contractor because she couldn’t find one to take on the relatively small job. “I had some experience in that area,” she said. “I’ve built 11 new builds in my life for myself and for others. I had a general contractor’s license 25 years ago, so it wasn’t completely out of my element.”


The remodel consisted of taking down a wall between the kitchen and the back living area and creating a bar for eating between the two rooms. She also created a door into the back room to easily access it from the rest of the home. In taking down the wall, she “found old wiring hooked to new wiring, which is not a good thing,” so the entire house was re-wired. Sabag also had the ceiling raised in the back room to match the 12-foot ceilings on the rest of the main floor. She remodeled all the bathrooms in the home and stripped the original hardwood floors and bleached them white. The rewiring — along with COVID-related supply issues and labor problems — slowed the project down, but Sabag moved in on Labor Day 2021.

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One of her favorite spots in the house is the backyard, which features a great view. “The yard was one of the reasons I was entranced with this place,” she said. “As long as we are having COVID issues, I think outdoor spaces are going to be important. This one had a fabulous deck, dipping pool, firepit and wine shed.”


Sabag enjoys hosting small dinner parties in the wine shed when the weather is nice. It sports a beautiful chandelier and mini fridge, but no heat or air.


Sabag entertains frequently and has made new friends through the Meetup app and a membership at the Springdale Country Club. She met new bridge partners through a newcomer’s club. “And my daughter’s friends are wonderful and have included me in a lot stuff,” she said.

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“I entertain. That’s how you do it. If you want to have friends, you’ve got to put yourself out there and be open to that. And it’s a very friendly, wonderful community. I’m also doing some things I’ve never done before, like hiking. However, I decided I don’t think I can do a mountain bike because of my age.”


Sabag travels about once a month to visit her other daughter in Nashville, Tennessee, or to see friends back home. When she’s gone, she offers the house, which sleeps 10, for rental on Airbnb.


Whether it’s hosting families visiting their children who are students at the University of Arkansas, fans coming in for weekend football games, or a mother/daughter group attending a wedding shower, she enjoys it all. “It’s been a good experience,” Sabag said. “I’ve gotten some of the nicest notes and met the nicest people. It’s fun. I usually leave a note out, and if it’s graduation or a birthday, I leave a bottle of champagne out. I always wanted to have my own little historic restaurant or inn until I realized how much work that was. So, this is kind of like playing at it without it being constant work.”

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Sabag has found several interesting advantages to renting out the house. “It keeps me from getting old woman clutter,” she said. “You have to live very neatly if you’re going to do that, so you think twice about what you’re going to keep or what you’re going to bring home. I give a really thorough cleaning, so I don’t put off my housecleaning like maybe I want to sometimes. So, it’s clean like the queen of England is coming. It’s great exercise for me.”


An added perk to the location is having family close by. Sabag’s granddaughter lives just two blocks away. “I’ve had her and her girlfriends over for dinner and a swimming party, so it’s great to be at this location. I can connect with family.”


Pleased with how the house turned out, Sabag loves the history of living in an older house but enjoys the updates she’s made. “It’s a combination of the old and the new, with a lot of love,” she said.

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Home Pros Used:

Appliances: Metro Appliances & More

Builder: Salty Restorations LLC
Cabinets: Shilo Cabinets & Interiors


Décor/Furnishings: Precious Cargo; Sam’s Furniture Design Gallery
Electrician/Wiring: Shane Hall Electric

Fixtures: Ferguson Plumbing

Flooring: Woody’s Wood Flooring

Granite/Marble/Tile: Gunn Granite Company; Pacific Shore Stones

Landscaping/Lawn Care: Land of Oz Landscaping; White River Nursery

Masonry/Bricks: Evans Construction & Remodeling LLC 

Mirrors: Miller Glass & Mirror

Plumbing/Fixtures: Ferguson Plumbing; NWA C&S Plumbing

Roofing/Gutters: Element Roofing LLC; NWA Gutter Chief

Windows: Tint Works LLC

Additional Vendors: ABS Heating & Air; Arkansas Insulation & Exteriors; Garage Experts of NWA; Junk King


By Nancy Peevy | Photos by Chadwick Turner

Historic Home Combines Old and New, with a Lot of Love

This recent transplant entertains family and new friends in her remodeled home, occasionally hosting it on Airbnb