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Building's renovation fosters business expansion

Remodel takes effort of entire Gfeller family

Staff writer

When Rachel and Jay Gfeller made the decision to move her massage therapy business to a new building in Peabody, it presented an opportunity for her to expand its services.

The building, on W. 2nd St. near S. Walnut St., gives Rachel room to spread out, as well as set up a space for customers to make their own lotions and creams at Breathe Deep Works.

“It’s something that’s always been near and dear to my heart,” she said.

The project was challenging, Jay said.

“There were a lot of things that needed to be brought up to date,” he said. “We basically did a full remodel of the space she’s in.”

Rachel’s father brought knowledge to the table since he has experience as a handyman, while Jay works in construction like his father.

“It was obviously a fun project to work on,” Jay said. “It’s always fun to do a project yourself, but a lot of the consideration was the cost savings that could be had by providing the labor myself.”

Their children, ages 10 and 6, were encouraged to help out by painting and pulling nails, Rachel said.

“It’s important because I want my kids to know how to do things like that when they get older,” she said. “We took extra time. We could have hurried and gotten it done without the kids, but we did take that extra time.”

The project hit home in a literal sense as well. The first floor was remodeled for Rachel’s business, and the second floor apartment had to be prepared for the family to move into.

Rachel can easily check up on her children now that the family lives upstairs. Staying close to home is especially important since she often works in the evening when customers finish work.

“They don’t want to come during the day,” she said. “For me to be able to live and work at the same place really helps a lot.

“It’s running up and down a flight of stairs to tuck my kids in at bedtime vs. having to drive away.”

In addition to doing the work themselves, Rachel said she was working as a massage therapist up until she moved.

“It was very busy and stressful,” Rachel said. “We also have two young kids, so it’s been a challenge. Luckily we have a really fantastic support system and family around.”

There weren’t many unexpected situations but there were some, like a door frame with rotted wood, which could be expected from a 140-year-old building, Jay said.

“We took everything down, basically to the bare bones and started from the ground up,” he said. “It, of course, led to some surprises but also gave us a great initial point to jump off. It was a solid foundation to work with at that point.”

The Gfellers had to worry about removing several layers of wallpaper and flooring.

However, it also made it easier for her to preserve the building’s history, Rachel said.

“One of my hopes is that I’ll get a good scrapbook,” she said. “I saved different layers of the wallpaper so I could preserve that for the history and prosperity of what was here at one time.”

An open house is planned for April to celebrate the move and remodel, which took less than a year to complete.

Last modified Feb. 27, 2020

 

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