First and utterly paramount to this post, is the understanding that I grew up in a 1960s small ranch home. There was one floor (and a creeptastic basement level that I feared beyond the point of reason), and everything we used daily was on that first floor; the washer and dryer was off the dining room, the kitchen had it's own eating nook, and you could run around the house in a circle (crucial when you were running from a punishment).
I lived in that house until college where I lived in dorms, apartments, and houses...nothing super permanent. In 2008, I met and, later, moved in with my now husband. The house where he lived was built in 1925, had the original hardwood floor, fireplace, plaster walls, and a whole heck of a lot of charm. He bought his house 1 year out of college in a neighborhood that was historic and WELL taken care of. He'd grown up in an historic home his entire life, so the idea of buying and living in one as an adult never phased him. I, on the other hand, had a lot of catching up and readjusting to do.
It's been 6 years of re-learning how to live in, take care of, and appreciate an older home. Their intricacies aren't for the feint of heart, nor are their maintenance bills when something goes wrong. Below is a list of things I either had to re-learn, learn to cope with, or concede completely. These are, of course, my opinion and many people who live in this neighborhood or in an older home love it with no qualms. I, however, am learning to love my space...it's an everyday process.
1. Hardwood vs Carpet: Look, this hardwood (whether real or fake laminate) trend is great. Natural flooring is beautiful, and, in new home cases, easier to take care of (depending on who or what lives with you). But I grew up with wall-to-wall carpeting. Until I was 8 or so, we had carpet in our bathrooms and kitchen (something I DO NOT recommend) so my delicate, prissy feet didn't touch anything that wasn't warm, soft, shaggy, or smushy. To put it succinctly, I had a preference. My hubs place didn't have a LICK of carpet ANYWHERE and he'd loved that so much, he hadn't put rugs down either. I felt naked, exposed. 6 years on, I've never had my house slippers off my feet. Even after showers, I step from the tub, to my house shoes. My love of carpeting had to go the way of the Ford Pinto. The spouse was ADAMANT that no carpet touched his precious hardwoods, so here I am, 6 years later, adjusting to cold floors with 89 year old nails popping up in some places. Blech.
2. Cracks in your wall (plaster): If you're OCD and like things even and flush with everything else, don't live in a period home. Plaster will drive you mad, mad, MAD. Not only are there cracks that have been fixed (over and over) and it has been repainted (over and over), when the sun hits the walls, it looks like an M.C. Escher painting come to life. Hanging pictures is a pain, if not just for the fact that stud finding is difficult, nee impossible. You will have to use anchor screws for the rest of your time in your home if you want things on your wall.
3. Uneven floors: I mentioned this briefly under #1 but it cannot be over stated. Dog toys will roll on their own, food will be dropped and lost in black holes under furniture, vacuums will miss the dips that have formed, and folks will trip on uneven entry ways. The foundation has been inspected and deemed safe, so you'll have to learn to live a slanted life.
4. The way you attack plumping/electrical issues: This one is probably better addressed by my husband since he's had to deal more with this than I have, but it's clear from my perspective that I can never pull the shenanigans my mother pulled with throwing EVERYTHING down toilets and sinks. (Honestly, left over gravy was one of the items I remember her flushing all the time!) A little hairball forms, and we have a massive situation that needs immediate attention. And we used extra strength Drano ONE time...a few years back...and corroded one of the 89 year old pipes beneath the tub. Thus, learning how to deal with these issues in a different way was in order...Angie's List order. I found a reputable one who knew older homes and called him. I know when I'm bested...
5. A love of closet space: My childhood home, the ranch, had theses amazing closets. Me and my grandma (who lived with us) each had our very own walk-in closet with two long poles running the depth of the entire closet. Huge shelves sat at the top. It was glorious. I never really understood HOW glorious until I moved here. There's 4 closets in the entire house. While that sounds fair, and it is, each closet holds half a person's stuff. And my partner, god love him, has more clothes and shoes than I do. So, both closets downstairs that are in our offices are taken up by his wardrobe and shoes. I have the smallest one, which is in our upstairs bedroom. I switch out my seasonal clothes which are housed in totes in the attic. Sigh...I miss my walk-in oh so much.
6. A hatred of galley kitchens: THIS. You must let go of your love of the new, modern kitchen and embrace the galley cook space. Your kitchen will NEVER be something off HGTV unless those bastards pick you for one of their make-over shows. There is no island with work space...hell...there's no work space period. You use your cook top as prep area until you need to turn on your burners. Your sink looks like something out of an abandoned farm house (not in the kitschy way that is chic now days either). You live in a reality that some cutting boards that are made are TOO BIG FOR YOUR COUNTER TOPS and you are going to have to sacrifice aesthetics for functionality in the long run.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of living life in a historical home! Subscribe so you don't miss any content!