Couple Go Viral Turning Old Hardware Store Into Luxury Home

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  • Paul and Cheryl Saunders are two 50-year-olds who had never used TikTok before. 
  • When they decided to post about their renovation of an old hardware store, it went viral. 
  • The couple said they think they’ve inspired people to try new things and have fun as they get older.

Paul and Cheryl Saunders had never used TikTok until they decided to make a post on February 7, 2022, about how they turned an old hardware store in Pennsylvania into a luxury home. It went viral with 13 million views. 

The high-school sweethearts, both aged 50, explained in their TikTok video how they transformed the 1906 building through DIY renovation. 

Paul and Cheryl bought the two-story building for $325,000 in the small Pennsylvania town of Ligonier, which has a population of 6,000 people, according to the United States Census Bureau. After posting their first TikTok video, they now have a following of 180,000 people, despite being originally unfamiliar with the app. 

“Our daughter kept telling us we should post about our renovation. We were never even on TikTok before, so now that we posted we’re shocked that so many people are so encouraging and so nice about our house,” the couple said. 

The pair said they’ve spent around $50,000 on renovations to turn the largely empty old store into a home with a hot tub, rooftop deck, and modern furniture. 

A picture of Paul and Cheryl with their arms around each other.

Paul and Cheryl met in high school.

Paul and Cheryl Saunders

The couple fell in love with the history of the building, but have given it a modern touch 

Paul and Cheryl were looking to move out of Elizabeth Township, Pennsylvania, after their two daughters graduated from college and moved out of their old home. They found the hardware store online, saying it stood out to them because “the history and the character of the building were just so unique and charming.”  

So far, they said they’ve put in over 2,000 hours of work between them to transform the building, only enlisting a bit of extra help for the flooring from a private contractor. Paul used to own a construction company and used his experience to teach Cheryl how to work with paint and cement. 

A picture of the rooftop deck. It has woodern flooring, an outdoor sofa, string lights and a hot tub

The rooftop deck has outdoor furniture and a hot tub.

Paul and Cheryl Saunders

The couple decided to keep certain historical elements of the building intact, like an elaborate tin ceiling and antique heart pine flooring. The original cash register station is also still there, and the couple has decided to turn it into a bar for their living room. 

Among the many adjustments the couple has made to the house, they said their favorite parts are the rooftop deck which they’ve built above the second floor with a hot tub and outdoor furniture, as well as the living room, where the walls are exposed brick from the original building.

Before and after pictures of the living room. The 'After' picture has a big sofa and modern decorations like a world map on the wall and Christmas wreaths on the windows.

The living room.

Paul and Cheryl Saunders

Paul and Cheryl think they found TikTok success with their renovation because it inspires other people to be creative, regardless of their age

The couple said they were shocked to find out they had become overnight “TikTok stars” because of their renovation videos. 

They said the main demographic of people who follow them are women ranging from their 20s to their 50s, and many are parents, judging by the comments Paul and Cheryl receive.

Before and after photos of the bedroom. The before picture is a bare room. The after picture has a pencil poster bed, modern lighting, and the walls have been painted white.

The living room before and after the renovation.

Paul and Cheryl Saunders.

“I think our content is inspirational to people because they can see it’s possible to do fun things after your kids grow up,” said Cheryl. Paul added, “Hopefully it helps them to see that they can do something other than travel or play golf when they get older.” 

As a filmmaker, Paul said posting on TikTok has allowed him to be creative and experiment with new video formats, particularly as TikTok videos are vertical and mobile-friendly. 

The couple is also still renovating and plans to turn the downstairs section of the house into an Airbnb so their relatives can stay over, especially since one of their daughters is currently pregnant. Paul and Cheryl said they plan to continue posting videos about the house transformation and become “TikTok grandparents.” 

For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider’s Digital Culture team here. 

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