Bruce: "Why are you crying? It hasn't sold yet."
Me: "It has in my heart."
This is a love story. And like most, it begins with a dream, is broken by fate, and rebuilt by hope. This is the tale of my house. It was a long term relationship- so this is a lengthy saga of hard-work, heart ache, pride, joy, and gratitude. If you've ever loved a house, you know what I am talking about.
The house that chose us.
We were stalked. Every time Bruce or I looked up listings, this dated contemporary popped up. It didn't matter if we put in "traditional", "ranch," or smaller square footage-there it was. It became a joke: "Ha-ha, look, that weird house is after us!" Plus the price was out of our budget.
After a long search we found a house we liked and were prepared to make an offer. We took my Mom and Dad to see our very traditional conventional choice. After leaving them, we drove a different route to our then home. There was an Open House sign. "Let's check it out," Bruce asks me. I shrug because I am over seeing houses. We follow the signs, turn a corner, and both gasp, "It's THAT House!" And there it was just like the proverbial on-line dating ad: slightly promising on paper but really bad in person.
Mike Brady must have been the architect. It had bad (as opposed to cool retro) 70's lines.
And the interior design? Possibly the work of post-modern Berlin art students.
It was grey and stark. Heavy woods. Police barricade rails, sharp angles, ugly mismatched floors, and awkward rooms. Of course we wanted it! Lesson One: Love is blind.
Sensing our interest the agent knew how to work us. I really believe the world would run much better if real estate agents were the elected officials. "There were soooo many showings today. It won't last long." She offers us a warm cookie. Wasn't this how Hansel and Gretel got suckered into a house made of dough? We spent an hour placing our imaginary furniture (which we didn't have since our money was imaginary too). She could see us waffling. "And the price is dramatically reduced because the family has already moved to Florida." Hook, line, and sinker.
The outside projects
Every banister in the house
The entry, living and fireplace pit before
Troweling to "Pour some sugar on me."
The Dining, Kitchen, Laundry, Bathroom, and Office. A benefit of working with good builders and designers is you learn a great deal about construction. So when it came time to re-do the small kitchen and dining room, I worked off my own design and blueprints, including removing a wall and adjusting a pantry to fit the refrigerator. And finished all the cabinets myself.
Lesson Two: Love is Patient. After our largest project, Bruce had a surprise surgery. During that same time, I experienced a "pop" in my groin. After several painful months, I also had surgery for a femoral hernia which resulted in a trapped nerve. Well, the last thing you want to do after working on faux all day in pain, is to work on your home. Things came to a standstill for almost a year while I worked hard to heal myself.
The Family Room before.
Ryan Hammond fixed the horrible and dangerous fireplace with his lovely tile job.
Most of the furniture pieces in our home are my "finds" that I've up-cycled
like this chest in the family room.
The Laundry room before
Back Hall Before
The Powder Bath Before
The Lower Level before and after
The bar before and after
The Party Bath before and after
Lesson Three: Love is Kind. While I was piecing myself back together, I had accepted certain things about our home. The fact that people thought my trim was bright blue because the painter's tape was up so long didn't bother me. Having three of the four walls match seemed normal. This house had always been my testing lab and I knew I would have time to get it in order...until I didn't. Bruce's diagnosis changed our situation over-night. Thankfully I was physically ready to finish things up but the task was huge on my own. I have written about this in previous posts but it can not be under emphasized-my home was saved by the generosity of friends and family.
The Coffee Bar
The Master Bath
The Hall Cabinet
The "Blue" Room and Bath
The Zebra Bedroom and Bath
And then it was finished. Probably the hardest part was painting over my spaces. Neutralize sounds an awful lot like Euthanize and in little ways it can feel the same. The challenge of selling a home where you have invested so much time and energy is knowing what to leave and what to take away.
My sister and I packed most of our things and literally shut the door on many of the rooms while we had the house on the market.
The majority of us have lived through selling a home. The frantic straightening up when you get the call. The loading and unloading of children and pets. Praying that the new carpet and fresh paint wont get dirty. The hope that someone will hear the siren call of all your efforts and say this home should be mine.
It happened for us. The family that bought our home loves it. And this house deserves a family. You can tell by how they talk about it-they get it. For them, this will be more then an investment. And I am happy and grateful. Lesson Four: Love is Contagious.
So now I am looking for another home. This will be our last home together. My journey this year has taught me if you care about something deeply, you have to accept the inevitability of loss. Tennyson was right: "I hold it true, whatever befalls; I feel it, when I sorrow most; 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." The bitter always follows the sweet.
Lesson Five: Love is about Letting Go. In a few weeks I will close the door for the last time. Our things will be loaded waiting for the next chapter. The dogs will be excited about a new place to explore. Bruce will have a new yard to enjoy. And me? I will surely find a project (or ten) to start.
And as I drive away for the last time, I will whisper, "You were worth every single moment."
"Every house where love abides and friendship is a guest, is surely home, and home sweet home for there the heart can rest."
Henry Van Dyke