I have had a lot of people ask me how things are going with the new old house. I have developed a pretty standard response of, “It depends on the day….”.
We closed on the house about 6 weeks ago. Throw in a couple of holidays, some dinner parties, and the actual move – that leaves us with about a month to get settled.
In that time, we have stripped and painted 8 rooms worth of wallpaper, painted kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities, replaced three floors, added a bathtub and sink, changed out 5 light fixtures, swapped countless pieces of furniture from room to room and house to house, built a headboard, and replaced the well. At 7:30 this morning, two dedicated workmen showed up to turn off my heat so they could replace the furnace.
We have had a dead critter in the crawl space, four visits from the furnace repairman, and a fifth after the chimney was inspected. The crack that we were sure was going to kill us turned out to be benign thank goodness, but since we needed a new furnace anyway….. The roughed in plumbing that we thought was going to make the install of my new claw foot tub a breeze turned into two long wet workdays and the need to replace some ceiling tile in the office directly below.
We swing from the simple ecstasy of enough water for a full hot shower to the frustration of an hour long light fixture install turning into a day long project requiring several phone calls to my dad, our electrician friend, and finally the electrician himself.
Old houses are full of surprises for sure. We joke about the house’s strong “opinions” – she has eaten several paint chips, is finicky about making coffee and running the vacuum at the same time, and surprises me on occasion by dropping marbles in strange places.
She seems to thrive on drama – big mirrors, bold colors, and lots of activity. She handles the shouts, stomps, shrieks, and giggles of a busy family with grace, buffering noise like no other house we have ever lived in. We have never had so much company, and love the wide-eyed wonder and fond smiles from those who “have always loved that house”.
What she lacks in heat, she makes up for in warmth. She acts up like a petulant toddler when she isn’t getting enough attention – stomping her foot by refusing to turn on a light, reducing the temperature by 10 degrees, or dropping a pile of plaster at our feet.
But when she is full of family and friends, she shines. Like the rest of us, enough wine and candlelight and the wrinkles of living start to relax. Her cracks and stains aren’t so obvious under the sleeping labs on the wool rug. We stroke her ego, coddle her a bit, and she rewards us tenfold with the good energy of 100 plus years of gatherings and love.