What We Do For Love

My childhood was rather tumultuous growing up. After my mother died when I was about 9 years old, we had a couple of housekeepers. One had no interest in making any changes, the other made some limited mediocre changes which frankly, I doubt that my dad even noticed. Then my dad married my stepmother when I was 12. She wanted to revamp everything. I know she wanted to make our house her home, but she had really different taste and not great taste. I tended to look askanse at all the changes. Paint, cheap furniture and I was sort of appalled that she got rid of most of my mother’s good furniture. Of course, my stepmother’s taste was nothing like my mother’s. My stepmother favored a weird combo of cheap Mediterranean and Danish modern and a few pieces from my mother that she deemed salvageable. My mother on the other hand was a died in the wool East coaster so a lot of her stuff was antique or based on antiques. She liked found pieces and old family stuff. She had good taste. Much of my taste was based on what I absorbed from her while growing up. I’d say the biggest problem that I had with all these changes was that I missed my home being as my mother had created it. I think a more astute person would have wanted to move a little more slowly in this process and perhaps enlisted my family’s thoughts on the matter. Unfortunately, my father was in his own misery.

I think my fascination with houses developed from this experience. I have always been enamored of old houses and houses in general. My husband is always surprised that I can remember the floor plans of most houses I have been in. We have owned a lot of houses and I have probably moved about 4 times in my life more than the average person. Each house had it’s own way of life and style, but in truth, I think that I keep wanting to recreate the comfort of my childhood home. What I missed.

It’s really not possible but I keep looking for that sense of permanence that illusive thing I miss. With each house we look at, I imagine what that life will be like in that house. It’s a little like trying on clothes, but on a much bigger scale- life! I fell in love with Interior Design from my mother. The way she put things together, the colors she used, the items she salvaged and repurposed. I am good at design, but never pursued it as a career because I hate sales, ugh. I love restorative work, rebuilding bringing back what was lost.

Now, the house we are in was a “purchase in haste repent at leisure” sort of a deal. After 2008 we had to put our house on the market and frankly, it was really too big for us anyway with our son off at college. It took three years to sell with the market in free fall. Finally, with a buyer in hand, we had to find a house and close escrow in less than 40 days. I picked this house because I knew we could get it cheap because it was a wreck and in a somewhat remote location. I had thought we would have enough money to do all the work necessary in the first couple of years, but that illusion quickly evaporated after a sudden downturn in my husband’s business.

So here’s the repent at leisure part. We have been here 8 years and only managed to get a few things done like that new roof, some painting, built a deck, done some foundation work replaced some of the heating system ( a wall Heater), and replaced the tub surround in my bathroom. We still have to replace all the windows, redo some of the siding, paint the rest of the inside of the house, redo the kitchen, build fences, new water heating system. Oh and did I mention the retaining walls slowly sliding down the hill returning the land to nature. All of this takes time and we both work full time. What keeps me going is that I am trying to do the best I can for my house and my family. It is both a frustrating and lovely journey.

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