This Old House

I’ve always had a crush on old houses and old neighborhoods, so when Matt and I bought our first house 2 and a half years ago, we settled on a little bungalow in a historic section of our city. It’s all quite charming. The neighborhood is pedestrian friendly and in the afternoons everyone is out walking their dogs or pushing strollers. The first Thursday of every month, the main strip shuts down and people peruse little shops and sip complimentary wine. When we were in the process of buying the house, I daydreamed about rolling out of bed (Meg Ryan style in You’ve Got Mail), padding around my cute little house in my slippers and pjs, sipping coffee, and plugging away at my (hopeful) writing career. But alas, daydreams almost always give way to reality, and it is rare that I’ve actually done that-and when I do I usually feel guilty because I’m neglecting something else. First came the dogs, then came the baby, and by the time I sit down to write it’s usually nap time or more often bedtime.  Anyway, I love my little white and gray old house-but there are some quirks, some may say it has character, that I suspect if you live in a century old house and apartment you may identify with.

1. This old house is not cozy.  Even though the movies  would make you think that old houses are cozy, just ask anyone from my family to use one word to describe last Christmas at our house. The word will not be cozy, it will probably be FREEZING. The only person who was cozy was me, but I had a little person insulating me from the inside out. Now that it’s fall again, I think my house is colder than the outside. I can set the thermostat at 70 to make myself feel better, but it makes it to about 62 on an average winter day.

2. This old house has some crazy pipes. Every fall/winter I have to retrain myself to turn the bathroom sink faucet on BEFORE I go to the bathroom-otherwise I will be washing my hands in ice water.  Also, when it dips below freezing we unplug our washer/dryer and drip drip drip it outside of an open window to deter freezing pipes. We’ve become pretty good friends with Russel and LeMay Plumbing over the last 2 years.

3. This old house shakes like crazy. Pier and beam houses are pretty bizarre if you ask me. I’m not sure how they keep us all up in the house but when I pop in a workout video the whole house shakes.

4. The old house’s doors. Every year this house swells and shrinks during the season changes. I’m not really sure about the science behind this. But we will never take for granted easily opening/closing doors again. The first year we lived here, we couldn’t shut any doors in our house. So every time we left the house, we made a barrier in front of the bedrooms so the Beagle and the big dog couldn’t get through.  But after a pretty crazy night of storms and a very distressed big dog kept ending up in our bed, Matt shaved down all the doors and VOILA! they close now. It’s so great (to this day) to open and close our doors. Along those same lines-in the summer the front door swells so much that once I literally had to wake Matt up so he could let me out. Come fall-it magically opens easily again.

5. This old floor.  Our toilet has ALWAYS been wobbly but when we finally had some extra cash to fix it, I literally heard the plumber GASP from the other room when he removed the toilet. When he called me in, I was as shocked as he was to see that the floor was sinking! For about a month before we fixed it, I had nightmares of falling through the floor while on the toilet. These nightmares were very similar to my everyday fear in college that our claw foot tub and I would plummet through the ceiling into the kitchen in our 110 year old house. It’s all fixed now, thanks to Carpenter Larry and his gang. But I still sit down and stand up from the toilet very gingerly. It’s a habit I’ve not broken yet.

6. These old door knobs. At any given time, one of our antique glass door knobs has decided to stop working.  We’ve finally replaced them all, but for about a year partly due to Matt’s crazy schedule and my cheapness, we’d have half a door knob lying around that we would use to open whatever door needed opening. It was especially fun for our guests.

7.  These old walls. Every September a furry friend makes a brief home somewhere in our walls. He stays about a week…long enough to freak me out when I’m having my early morning coffee.  But then he leaves (or hibernates!).  At least I don’t have bats…yet! 🙂

8. These old closets. Closets? What are those? Did you mean under the bed tupperware storage bins?

I’ve always felt like having old stuff builds character. My first car was an old , and I wouldn’t be the person I am without good Ozzie the Oldsmobile (may he rest in peace) stretching me. Nor would I have any good old car stories. And so it is with this old house, which I love (like only a mama could), quirks and all! 

What are some quirks your old house has?


4 thoughts on “This Old House

  1. Kim says:

    My house isn’t as old as yours, but we definitely have the shifting/”is the door going to open easily today?” issue. But I still want an older house than this. Like in Heights. Because they have charm!!! Yes, you pay for the charm, but I love it. Maybe I won’t be saying that once I live in an old house again (we had a brief stay in Ryan Place, remember), but I think I’ll put up with it for house love.

  2. Minne Lusa says:

    I love this article! As an old house afficianado, I have experienced many of the same “features” in my own old house. Even with all of these, I still can’t imagine not living in a old house. Great post!

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