With a little imagination and ingenuity, Carla Callahan has turned what could have been an eyesore into a charming center of attention.
Callahan has crafted a tree stump at the corner of her property at 200 W. 21st St. into a gnome house.
The tree was cut down early last spring, and “I just wanted to do something cute,” she said.
Though she had seen gnome houses in Texas, where she lived before moving back to Hays, she didn’t pay much attention to them.
However, her brother, Dave Schmidt, and his wife, Janet, who live in Catharine, “built a little one and it was cute. So I just thought it was a great idea to have the tree stump there. I think it goes with the bungalow, cottage house (style) really well,” Callahan said.
Callahan, who grew up in Catharine, returned to Hays several years ago to help care for her father, Vernie Schmidt.
After house hunting for about a year, she bought the 1922 house, which had been on the market for some time, about six years ago.
“It’s got character, and I love the area — all the trees. There’s a big lot for my dogs. I love it,” she said.
Work on cosmetic updates to the interior and a nearly total redo on the exterior of the house began almost immediately.
Callahan had an image in her mind of what she wanted — a big Barbie Doll house.
“That’s the way I have it decorated," she said.
The city took down one tree along Fort Street when working on the sewer on the east side of the house not long after she bought the property.
Skyview Tree Specialists took the tree down early last spring, leaving the sizable stump.
“I didn’t want to cut it down, but it was kind of looking like it was dying. And look, it’s coming back,” she said pointing to greenery sprouting from the stump. “I’ll just keep it trimmed up.”
The fantasy world of gnomes and the tiny house fits with Callahan’s vision for her home.
The miniature house has turquoise doors that match the shutters on the larger house. It also has a ledge, windows, a ladder and a balcony complete with a princess.
A small mailbox sits outside the gnome house ready to receive tiny correspondence.
Callahan made the mailbox out of one she bought at a garage sale and covered with twigs. She made most of the embellishments.
“See, you can buy all those things, but it just looks better if it’s made,“ she said. “The more old stuff you use to make the house, the cooler it looks.”
A moat of blue marbles kept in place by a split vacuum cleaner hose circles the front of the house.
It’s a work in progress, with a bridge over the moat, back door, window and plants likely additions.
“It’s just something fun for me to do,” Callahan said.
Others enjoy her handiwork, too.
“Lots of people stop and take pictures,“ she said.
One day when she came out to the gnome house, there was a surprise.
"A toad was sitting here with a note on it, and it said, ‘I am so glad you did this, every time I drive by, it makes me smile. It’s just a fairy tale.' ”