Monday, February 3, 2014

If These Walls Could Talk

I feel pretty certain they spend a lot of time laughing at me. And that's fine and dandy because the joke probably is on me. You see, that is what happens when you fall head over for an old house. Immediately, the joke is on you. You would think that one day I would learn, but honestly I think I'd rather be laughed at by old, cracked, non-square plaster walls any day.

I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to an old house. One look at a solid wood door and my knees buckle. Give me a single-pane, wavy glass window and I fall to pieces. Show me a house with 12 different small little rooms that seem to mimic a maze and I am a goner. The higher the ceilings, the harder I fall. If there is a wide central hall with a staircase, well...let's just say get out the defibrillator. 

I didn't grow up in an old house, so I cannot be sure where my love affair comes from. It is a sickness, and anyone who shares in my passion knows exactly what I am talking about. There is no kind of liking an old house, it is all or nothing. And well, that just about sums up my personality to a tee. My most favorite magazine in the whole wide world is This Old House. I give it to Byron every year for his birthday because I am so generous like that. The second a new one comes in the mail I grab it and turn to the last page. You see, this is where they feature some gem on an old house that is in dire need of repair, love, moving, etc. And the price is always so right. One day, I am going to flip to that page and find one with my name written all over it. And it will be close enough for me to acquire or to even move. To me, that moment is equal to meeting Captain Jack Sparrow himself. Be still my heart.

But, until that day...let me tell you all about the love affair with my most recent. West Clover. I figure if I am jumping back into keeping my blog updated, renovations and projects will be in store. So maybe if I give everyone a good background you wont find me near as crazy as I may seem. Methods to my madness. If I was to ever write a book that would be my title. It really is my motto. That and "I can do that." Which totally explains the predicaments I get myself into.

Before I get too off-kilter, back to if these walls could talk. After they got done laughing at me, I think they would thank me. This house had been a rental property for years and years and years before we bought it. In a college town, that isn't necessarily the best fate for a house. I have met so many people in this town that either lived here, went to a party here, got wasted on the screened porch, had a friend that lived in the garage apartment, etc. It is crazy how well my house is known. Every now and then, I am so "fortunate" to hear stories. And let me just tell you, while I am no square not a prude a total bore sigh, let's face it...not as cool as I used to be, I just don't want to know. One guy started into a story and I had to place my hands over my ears and run and crawl into fetal position in the corner when I heard the words "baby pool, jello, bikinis and the dining room" all in one sentence. Oh my stars. So, let's face it - my rowdy kids are probably a relief for these sweet, old crooked walls. If these walls really could talk, I might have to ask them to hush their mouths. :)

Sit back and let me tell you a love story. On a cold, windy day in November of 2011 I set my eyes on this beauty for the first time (after my real estate agent told me I didn't want to see it, mind you). 

Now, I will be the first to admit - nothing special, right? Honestly, our house doesn't win awards in the curb appeal department. (I must note too this picture is how it looks about a year after we bought here...below is a nice before new roof and digging up bushes photo)

But when I walked in the front door (solid fir, might I add), the first thing I saw was the crystal doorknobs and the old mortise locks. On EVERY door.

Not sure if you know this about me or not, but in a former life I was an old door with a crystal knob. We have a connection that I cannot begin to explain. But from the first doorknob, I was hooked. (PS - I have been stripping all of the doors. These are 2 that have already been stripped. It is very much so a labor of love and with any old house there are 2,831 doors, but worth every minute with my heat gun and sandpaper.)

Clearly, I didn't buy this house for it's amazing air-tight properties. Check out that nice space between door and jamb. At least you never have to step outside to see if it is cold, just go stand by the back door.


This one right here makes me never doubt my sanity when I decided to strip all the doors. WHY would you paint that??

After my heart skipped a few with the doorknobs, I lifted my head to high ceilings and fat moldings holding up plaster walls and ceilings. I may have been holding my breath.

Well, if I wasn't already holding my breath...I certainly did when I stepped around the corner and caught glimpse of the arch. My knees buckled.


To this day, that arch remains my fave part. It is right off the main hallway so thankfully it gets a ton of use. In fact, on this wall right here is something that I believe the walls of this house love maybe more than I do. PS - see how much better those 2 panel doors look stripped?


Here's a closer look. This is where we mark our heights. This is our home. This is where we grow. I cannot hardly stand it. This is life on West Clover.

Through this arch is one of my favorite views in the house. I love to look through it and see the staircase and my fave piece of furniture in the world. PS - this may or may not be the view from the toilet. At least it is a good one, right?

In fact, that view to me is magical, because when the sun starts to set, this is what happens. And it stops me in my tracks every time. It never fails.


While on the subject of the bathroom, I also fell in love with the tile floor. You cannot beat an original black and white tile floor. Not even with a stick. But don't try it here, I am deeply attached to the floor and I may have to hurt you.

 And lastly, if I didn't already know I wanted this house that day, the 3 gargantuan windows across the front of the house sealed the deal. They are single pane, not at ALL energy efficient and covered in years of bad paint jobs - but I heart them. Clearly, so does Lucille.


But, as I said earlier...joke is on me. And I will share. I did NOT fall in love with this house for the beautiful light fixture in the kitchen. I had to paint the cabinets one of my fave shades just so I could have a distraction.

Nor did I fall for the teeny kitchen with an awful layout, 3 doors and a fridge that pokes halfway into the center of it.

Oh but wait...I did fall for those beat up pine floorboards that are breaking apart. I must say, it is nice to be able to peek through the floorboards to make sure the basement light is off. :)

I also did NOT buy this house for the beautiful tub on the main floor. Seriously. I shower in this daily. It is gross. I often wonder if I am even clean when I get out.

 And I cannot forget to mention the next set of beautiful lighting. Try not to be jealous.

And last, but certainly NOT least...we did not, repeat, did NOT buy this house for the water pressure. It is laughable. This is full blast water going on here. You cannot run 2 faucets at once.

Full blast water in scary shower. Did I mention I wondered if I really got clean?

Now that we can laugh about it, I will post one of my fave quotes about an old house. I got it out of This Old House (duh) years back. 

"To love an old house is to know patience, appreciation, hard work, Murphy's law and lunacy."

'Tis so true. I wanted to blog about my dear house because I love it, yes. But, it also has been on my mind a lot lately. We knew buying it that it was a total renovation. That was something else we loved, it hadn't been touched since the day it was built. To me, that is a jackpot! Yes, I love old houses - but I also love function. So, we are on the brink of Phase 3 of West Clover. 1st was the upstairs, 2nd was the back porch and 3rd is a doozy. It includes the kitchen, dining and living room and the removal of one big, ole crooked plaster load-bearing wall. I'd be dishonest if I told you I didn't get sad about losing that wall, but at the same breath - I am ready to see it go. Our architect is coming over tonight to work on plans and I just might tinkle my pants out of excitement. I am so ready for this phase. This will be the biggest transformation West Clover gets (other than exterior paint job) and it will be the most welcomed too. So, before he gets here - I think I have a date on my swing with some afternoon coffee under that beautiful oak tree that also put a hook, line, sinker in me that day in November. Consider this a Valentine's to my house. ;)


1 comment:

kathy said...

ahaha, great post. Love it. I love an old house, too. My Seattle house was kinda like this one, minus the original kitchen. Loved it. Sad to move away. My 70s house is roomy and has a water view and, I am telling you, the novelty of airtight doors does not wear off, but I miss the glass door knobs and the lovely, paned windows.