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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The Story Of Our House

A home should tell a story. From the time period to the design, from the layout to the layers of paint. Homes reveal so much. What does your home tell others? What does it tell you? What does it say to those who drive by it? What does it tell your children?

Our home was built in 1984 by people I don’t know. It was not passed down to us through inheritance. It was built in what was a new neighborhood on the outskirts of an older neighborhood that had been built in the 1960’s called Hillbrook. Our neighborhood and Hillbrook had been farm land and peach orchards before. Hillbrook was a large neighborhood and known in our town as the upper middle class area of the 1960’s- 1970’s. I remember wishing we lived in it. The houses were mostly large brick ranches that were popular then and they were bigger than our nice, new split level in 1968.

By the time our current home was built in 1984, I had been married 7 yrs and we had begun building our first home on the farm. The neighborhood was “new” in comparison to Hillbrook, just one block away. Our neighborhood was considered an upper middle class neighborhood in 1984 as Hillbrook was aging. Our houses were built very well and of the best materials in the 1980’s such as Anderson windows, brick, slate floors, etc. Of course, now our neighborhood has aged like Hillbrook but it’s still considered a desirable neighborhood.

The big brick ranches have so much to offer but people seem to prefer buying new rather than updating old. These houses have such good bones and just need to be brought into the new century which is what we did. They have good bones and were well built. When Stan and I looked at homes, I was particularly drawn to them because they have such potential. For a good price, we could get more square footage and then we could remodel it and make it our own. I was right.

We didn’t know the people who built our home but they did a good job designing it and building it. I know they must have been interested in gardening. Our lot is small (1/2 acre) but everything had been landscaped with purpose in mind. For instance, we have a big bay window in our kitchen that has direct morning sun. It gets too hot. But they had planted trees to provide shade in just the right places. There were extensive plantings of bushes. Of course, by the time we bought the house, all the landscape plantings had to be pulled up or cut down because they were getting too old or too big for the lot. For instance, we had to remove the 2 oaks in the front yard. Their root systems were beginning to cause problems with the driveway and foundations. The bushes too were nothing but big trunks with sparse new growth because they were too old and some had grown too big and were out of control. Anyway, despite their careful landscape planning, eventually it all needs to be re-worked and we’ve done that in a way that suits us.

Another way I know they liked gardening was the sunroom. It had skylights and sliding glass doors and fluorescent lights over a large plant shelf. By the time we bought the house in 2005, the skylights had begun to leak, the sliding glass doors no longer slid and we didn’t need a plant shelf because I could kill a cactus. So our remodeling has shaped it to become what we wanted it to be. It’s a place to relax in a swing while reading a book or watching TV with the new patio doors open and the screen doors letting the breeze come in. The plant shelf is used for storage and display and the skylights are gone.

They evidently didn’t use their kitchen much. Fortunately, they made it a nice size and the cabinets were custom made and very well done. They are still in such good shape, that we won’t have to replace them for years to come! But I know they didn’t cook much because the appliances were barely used. We replaced them because of energy efficiency, but the appliances were in perfect, unused condition. And there was no wear and tear on the cabinets or counters. We did replace the laminate countertops with granite and re-arranged the kitchen island. We do use the kitchen heavily. We have a couple, our friends, who love to cook too. So we take turns cooking in our kitchen. They will come over and take over the kitchen and whip us up something. We get a lot of enjoyment with our kitchen.

We think the original owners had, or had planned for, live-in help because there is a tiny room with an attached full bathroom on the kitchen end of the house. It even had a buzzer from the master bedroom to the small bedroom for summoning. We have since taken out the buzzer and we use the tiny bedroom as an office. We have aging parents and felt we needed to create an in-law suite in case they need it. We already had that full bathroom on the kitchen end, so we enclosed the garage and made a great room with kitchen and a bedroom. So we have a whole, independent area of the house if someone in our family needed it. Right now, we use it as our dog’s quarters because it fits our lifestyle but if our parents needed to move in with us, we have a nice suite for them.

We know that the original owners didn’t watch television much. They had no cable wires in the house nor a place for a television in the builtins in the living room. We, on the other hand, love television and my husband has been able to run cables all over so we have a TV in almost every room, even the laundry room.

The original owners made some very practical, smart decisions. For instance, tons of storage in this house. Many closets, a walkup attic, cabinets, builtins, etc to make great use of space. It’s an efficient house, with a good layout. They pretty much provided access to anything that needed access to except for the shower plumbing in all 3 bathrooms. To have been such perfectionists in all other ways, that is one that stumps me. They even put ceiling heating coils in the bathroom ceilings to prevent mildew. And the bathrooms have smooth ceilings (every other ceiling in the house has the popcorn ceiling that was normal for those times) and a shower vent. I have often wondered if they had problems with mold and mildew in bathrooms in their previous home so had carefully planned NOT to have that problem in this house. All the closets had hardwood floors despite most of the rooms being carpeted. The closets had builtin wooden shelving for organization before modern closet organizing had been invented. Very well done, solid. They used real brick floors in the kitchen, laundry room and the help’s room and bathroom. Slate on the patio and porch, pocket doors, etc.

When we bought the house, we replaced all the flooring except the brick floors, stripped old wallpaper and painted everything. We put in granite countertops, new windows, new roof, new HVAC. We were merely updating and modernizing, making it our own.

We have loved in this house; we have argued in this house; we have laughed hysterically and cried painfully. We have prayed and loved God here. We have worked hard on this house and enjoyed relaxation in this house. We have had family and friends over and we have had baby grandnieces and grandnephews toddling along on the floors leaving sticky fingerprints on the windows as they look out the bay window. Our dogs have scampered through the house, wagging tails and barking joyously whenever we come into the room. This house already holds a lot of memories for us and will continue to.

One day, this house will go to someone else, whether inherited or sold. I hope they appreciate the careful planning and efficiency of the original builders. I hope they will also appreciate the things that Stan and I have done to the house to bring it into the 21st century and make it work for us. And that they will update it and make it work for them. A house is not static. It has to be maintained, remodeled, updated, cleaned, fixed and adjusted or it will get run down and I would hate to see this house run down and unloved. We love this house, we love the neighborhood and the convenience. We have made this house just what we wanted with plenty of room. I hope the story of this house will continue.

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