Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Come on-a my house

I'm of two minds concerning my debut post. I'm torn between jumping right in where I'm at, harping about all the gruesome details of our next impending project, and going back to the beginning, at least as far back as my pics will allow.

Hmmm...I guess some background is in order (feels like I'm heading in the direction of the latter choice).

We bought our house 8 years ago when My Girl was 3 1/2. I hated the house on sight, but The Viking loved it. He took one look at the fabulous yard and fell in love. It's about half an acre (nothing short of miraculous in these mega-suburbs of South Jersey) and is situated on the outskirts of town on a quiet street across from protected woods that are part of the town's Green Acres program. We love the woods across the street. We love marking the changing seasons by them: the slow spread of green and the crazy tree frogs in the spring, the lush green and whirring locusts in the summer, the brilliant colors and carpet of fallen leaves in the autumn, and the still, stark beauty, and snowy wonders of the winter. We take walks in those woods, throwing pebbles and sailing leaf "fairy boats" in the creek, gathering leaves, interesting sticks and even logs for the outside fireplace, tracking the different animals' footprints in the snow. And we love that those woods are protected, so we don't have to worry about a Starbucks being built right across the street.

The house also has six huge white oak trees that drape over it like a canopy. There used to be a hickory tree, too, but that rotted and fell over a few years ago. Those trees are amazing. Last year we had a guy come in and trim some branches and some of the pieces were over two feet in diameter! And those were just BRANCHES! I'm convinced those trees are one of the reasons it costs so little to heat and cool this house. But the leaves and acorns in the fall are unbelievable.

It wasn't just the yard The Viking loved. The house had potential, too, but only he could see it. It was ugly, having last been decorated in the '60's or '70's, and had only two bedrooms (neither with doors, explain that one to me), but it was solidly built and sound. Foundation, roof, windows and plumbing were all good. And the price was right so we put an offer on it the very day we walked through it. Turns out the house had only been up for sale for a day and we were the first ones to see it. That old lady sold her house in less than a week for exactly what she asked for it.

After living in the house for a while, I began to see The Viking's vision for the place and then I began to see things of my own. The house is at least 120 years old. It's technically considered a Folk Victorian, but most of the grand Victorian elements are missing as it was built as staff housing for the paint factory the town was built around. The second story was carved out of what was originally just a walk-up attic where the men slept in bunks along the walls, but because of that all the rooms upstairs are under the eaves, nice and cozy-like. The fireplace which once stood in the living room was removed long ago (much to my great chagrin, but more on that later), but the original parts of the house have hard-wood floors under the many layers of garbage stapled on top. The windows are nice and long and low and the rooms downstairs are all large. As I began to see the good things about the house, our plan began to take shape, a plan we're still trying to follow through with today.

I would say at this point we've accomplished most of the large-scale changes we wanted to make. There are millions of little things we'd like to do that will probably never be completed if we live here 50 years. But that's partly due to the nature of my husband. He loves projects, especially building projects, and home improvement building projects most of all. I swear he will die in his spackle-speckled jeans with a cordless drill and a level in his hands.

Our project du jour is our most daunting to date: the kitchen, We've put this off until now because we know it's going to be a bitch. The kitchen is by far the worst room in the house and I really don't know how we've lived this long with it. It seriously needs to be gutted and started again from scratch but we have neither the budget, time, energy or patience for that. So we're matching my creative mind up with The Viking's optimism and know-how and hoping for a kitchen that won't suck the joy out of us every second we have to be in it. Demo starts two days after Christmas so I'm in the throes of trying to find a few more of the necessary items, like, a range, a sink and possibly a dishwasher. But more on that later.

For now, I think that's probably ample introduction. But don't worry, if I've left anything out, you can be sure I'll be back to add it!

Gotta go, I gotta go see a lady about a 1930's Chambers stove!

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