Owning a house is stressful. Owning a large, elderly house just adds fuel to that fire. Today, I have been reflecting on our plight with our family home.
We bought our house almost 5 years ago, on Quentin’s birthday. It was the first house we walked through, and we were instantly pulled in. The giant white house, built somewhere between 1918 and 1920 needed a ton of work. But, we dreamed of the potential it could hold. And, boy, have we dealt with our fair share of surprises since we made that decision…
Our house’s previous owner was an elderly woman on her way to a nursing home. As you can probably imagine, there was very little upkeep done on the house during the woman’s debilitation so it was clear from the get-go that there would be some serious concerns to address before we moved in. We were on a tight schedule, as Jesse was to begin pre-k. Also, Kayden was only 5 months old so it was a challenge to juggle him with the repairs that needed completed.
First and foremost was the issue of carpeting. The house had random carpet pieces everywhere, most of which were not attached to the floor. Oddly enough, two of the areas that were fully covered in carpet were the kitchen and bathroom. We knew that that carpeting had to go, and linoleum had to be installed. The other rooms would need to be fully carpeted as well. My dad and Quentin removed the existing carpet and put down linoleum, and Lowe’s installed new carpeting where it was needed.
There were other oddities to our new home, such as the washer in the kitchen and the dryer in the dining room. We created a space in the playroom for our washer and dryer so that it would be in one area and put linoleum under that area as well. The baseboard heat in the kitchen actually went in front of the sliding glass door so that needed to be cut to fit. We moved things around in the kitchen and bought a dishwasher, which was a necessity with the amount that I cook.
There was a ton of junk to be removed. A decrepit flag pole stood in the middle of the yard, which my dad was able to literally break out of the ground. There was a light post decoration standing outside, and an old bell phone in the hallway. Let me tell you about that bell phone: This may have been the very first of many creepy instances in our new house. Quentin and I were upstairs and were the only ones home at the time. He had just torn the old phone out of the downstairs hallway, and our landline had not yet been hooked up. Low and behold, we both heard that bell phone ringing downstairs (where it no longer existed). Quentin and I stopped what we were doing and just stared. There have been many other instances since moving in: The boys have talked about hearing whispers in their bedrooms; lights have turned on; music has played; and we have heard people talking when no one else is there. The boys’ toys go off constantly, when there is no one near them. There has never been a threatening feeling to our home, but the underlying understanding is that we did not move into an empty house!
Jesse chose the room that he wanted, and we decorated it for him. We went with light blue walls and a SpongeBob theme. Kayden went into a smaller room that already had flower wallpaper, as he was still a baby at the time. Since then, he has moved into the SpongeBob room. We have switched our original bedroom with Jesse so that he could now decorate his room in a Mario theme. As our room had a small closet and old doors, Quentin built a new closet in there.
The previous owner had actually left some furniture when we moved in, but we have since replaced the dining room table and kitchen table. We have, of course, added many other new furniture pieces as well. We also replaced the chandelier in the dining room. Speaking of which, many of the rooms did not have ceiling lights so we made do with floor lamps. A ceiling light was added to our living room, when it was completely remodeled last year.
A couple years after moving in, we realized that the roof was beginning to leak so that would need replaced. Instead of the old green color that we originally had, we chose an uplifting blue. Of course, the shutters had to match so we tore those off next. My dad painted them from the old green to blue, and they match the roof perfectly.
We were blessed to have a 3 bay garage to go with the house, but there were no doors on the bays. This was a birthday present to Quentin one year, and he and my dad happily installed them. There is a run-down side door that has been out of use, but we just found a steel door at a rummage sale that will be installed in its place this year (along with steps so that we can actually go in and out that way).
Our porch was covered in dark green, indoor/outdoor carpeting when we bought the house. The rails were wrought iron and rusty, and the paint was peeling. We tore up the carpeting and rails to make do temporarily, but I soon realized the porch would need replaced when my heel went through it! And so, the porch was fully remodeled as well as the deck. We have added a pool as well, which was a present from the Easter Bunny.
With mostly wooded land, we have met a number of bears and other wild creatures that live alongside us. However, with the addition of flower beds, a decorative fence, the boys’ play sets, and a new fire pit, our outdoor area fits us perfectly. Though we try our best to separate ourselves from the wildlife around us, we are constantly reminded that they live here too. A couple of weeks ago, we had the experience of a bird pecking through our ceiling and entering our kitchen light. Quentin and I released the bird and let it out the sliding door without incident, but we learned through the experience of removing that light that the kitchen ceiling had actually been lowered so it was a false ceiling that we were looking at. It’s funny how one thing leads to another in home repairs—either a whole new repair or newfound knowledge of the house.
Our latest occurrence was last week: The carbon monoxide alarm set off upstairs, while I was the only one home. Quentin came home from work early and realized that the cause was the hot water tank failing to run properly. And so, we ended up ordering a new hot water tank. We were lucky enough to have my dad come over to help install it, and now we have a much bigger tank than before.
There is still much to be accomplished with this house. The tasks seem to never end, and we are always busy improving. But, when I look at the home we are developing…I am proud to have made the decision to live here. It is the chaos of this old home that has stolen our hearts.