The original Valhalla was a house I built in the 90s when I was living in Colorado. I developed a 40-acre parcel of land in Redstone Canyon outside of Fort Collins. The development included running power, drilling a well, and building a custom-designed three-story home of my dreams.
A friend gave me a carved slate sign from England with the name Valhalla on it. He was into Norse mythology and Valhalla is their name for a large hall in Asgard where the Vikings went and partied after they died. How cool is that! So that stuck and I carried the sign (unfortunately not the house) here with me to Florida.
Cocoa Beach is a mess when it comes to homes. The original development occurred in South Cocoa Beach at Snug Harbor. A1A – the route south through Cocoa Beach was built at some point as two separate roadways a block apart – one for northbound traffic the other for those going south. Around these two roads (Orlando to the East and Atlantic to the West) were the first ‘communities’ in Cocoa Beach.
These homes as well as those in the older neighborhoods around the downtown area generally suffered as the newer homes were built on the finger canals. Later, many of the wetlands as well as the beachfront properties were developed into large condominiums. Newer McMansions are going up on the older beachfront and canal homes. Meanwhile, the housing off A1A has lagged.
I was lucky to find a run-down and somewhat neglected house with potential and an amazing lot near my old stomping grounds at the Elementary School. It is near Ramp Road park (where Mom and Dad played tennis when we were young) and 4th Street Beach Access where we went all the time on Sundays for sandy hamburgers on the beach!
The house was in pretty bad repair but had a few bright spots like a new kitchen. The asphalt driveway was falling apart and it sported a plumbing upgrade that insurance companies would not underwrite. I set about having a new roof and plumping work done followed by replacing the driveway with pavers. I replaced the cast-iron windows in the living room that were rusted shut! I worked on the house and backyard for the next 3 years while I worked and finally finished up the major repairs after I retired.
I mostly love this place now. The plumbing is a bit troublesome and it’s a bitch living on the only road through town. The southbound cars back up at the lights downtown and then race by my house on the 35 MPH highway south. I hear every fucking motorcycle that goes through town! As a bonus several years after I moved in I saw a dead body lying in the middle of the road – a guy drunk walking home got hit and as far as I know, the driver was never caught.
All of that aside – I have transformed the house into a piece of Eddie art with a great workshop in the backyard and a great garden with my hot tub.
The inside is one big mancave with the main rooms and three rooms full of drums. I remodeled the Jack and Jill bathroom into a separate 1/2 bath off the hall and a master bath for the bedroom. I built a very detailed walnut and hickory vanity for the 1/2 bath and rebuilt the vanity in the master bath with a custom medicine cabinet.
In 2021 after we returned from 2021 Excellent Adventure, I remodeled the living room to make room for a White Aspen log table that I bought in Montana. I also added rows of shelves for my collection of travel memories. I updated the room again after 2022 Excellent Adventure and reworked my underwater photos – a project I have been wanting to do for years now.
In 2022 I finished the room between the dining and living room adding paneling and a small shelf out of Cherry and Walnut. I also replaced all the kitchen doors with a combination of Hickory, Cherry, Bubinga, and Padauk. A new Mango wood lamp from Etsy by way of Greece was added to the Dining Room in early 2023, along with a ceiling tray to add a finish and allow me to center the light 🤣.
When I bought the house some weird earthworks had been done in the back that essentially created a lake when it rained hard. I first built a deck for the hot tub then added a paver patio. I eventually brought a dump truck of fill and leveled out the back. I started a garden area and have developed that into a very nice space with a fountain and statuary.
In 2020 I brought in a 12 x 20 shed and built it out as my woodshop. I planted a Mango in the remaining large space in the back. The small retaining wall and fence between my house and the mess that is my neighbor’s house have been reinforced. I added to protection so his rickety old fence doesn’t destroy my garden completely when we get a bad storm. Jake loves his backyard and keeps the local kitty population on their toes when they invade his space 🐶!
The back of the property looks at a 3-story very large condominium complex which helps protect the house from storms coming from the East. Fortunately, I have several very large stands of bamboo and some really big Travelers Palms that block the view.
I have completely reworked the front yard. It has been xeriscaped and I added some paver blocks to expand the driveway to accommodate all my toys. I planted two palms – one a beautiful Silver Bismarkia – and with the existing red Ixora, hedge looks stunning from the road. I built two pieces for the front yard – a custom mailbox and a stand holding a brass sundial I got from Europe. I extensively reworked the outside and inside of the garage and can now park my prized M Coupe under a roof again.
South Cocoa Beach has exploded since I moved here. Many of the properties have undergone extensive renovations and are now rentals fueled by the Air BnB phenomenon. The house next door just sold for double what I paid for my house. It is a bit bigger and more traditionally renovated but was built at the same time as mine in the late 1950s and has way less character than Valhalla!