Today, June 24, 2014, is the first anniversary of our home purchase! Sometimes I still can’t believe that we’re homeowners. …And then something breaks, and I’m all too mindful of reality. 😉 It’s been a year of excitement, and sometimes frustration, and a LOT of learning. This is how we came to own our home….
Shaun and I moved into our house in November 2012. It was the only rental in the area that we could find which would allow us to have two cats and a dog. When we viewed the property, I must say that it was a bit dingy—the white siding was dirty, the lawn had been left to its own devices, the gardens were overgrown and there were bits trash all over the place. It was the eyesore of the neighborhood—or at least that’s how we felt as we moved in. The inside was long-suffering, as well: there were nail-holes in the walls, a big ugly patch next to the staircase, the windows were drafty, and the decoration scheme in the kitchen…well…
But…we could see the potential. The house has character. It was built about 130 years ago, in the 1880s, and it has some old-fashioned charms in its favor. The ceilings downstairs are high, and the windows are large—when the sun deigns to visit New York state, the house is filled with its warm glow. There are a few original doorknobs that just need a little brass-o to restore their shine. The floors are original hardwood, complemented by wood trim throughout the house. And, did I mention, it’s a duplex—split evenly down the middle top-to-bottom. So if someday we tire of renting the other side, we can open it up and have six bedrooms and four bathrooms. More than enough space for the family we would like to have someday.
The outside, too, has many points in its favor. The eaves of the roof are accented with some lovely wood roof brackets. The house has a large backyard that backs up to a little woodsy area between streets. The garage—or “the barn” as we call it—is actually a 3-story “carriage house” (doesn’t that sound posh?) which is the size of a small house by itself. There are two apple trees next to the barn and a row of lilac bushes—my favorite flowers—between our driveway and the house next-door.
Almost from the day we moved in we would talk wistfully about the house. What it really needs is a live-in-owner, we said. It’s such a nice house, it just needs someone to love it and give it the care it deserves. Maybe someday we could buy it. Someday, someday….
And then in March 2013, just six months after we moved in, we got a notice in the mail. The house was being put up for sale.
At first we panicked a little. What if the new owner didn’t want our little menagerie of pets? What if he had ideas that didn’t include renting the house? And then we realized….
What if we were the owners?
So after much prayer and advice-seeking, we made an offer an the house. And, much more quickly than we expected, we were homeowners.
There really is something about owning as opposed to renting–about having a little corner of the earth that’s all your own. Once we knew we would be buying the house, we rolled up our sleeves and went to work. We spent most of the summer getting the outside of the house into order. We picked up trash, ripped out the rag-tag corn-patch, mowed and trimmed the lawn into submission, dug out and re-planted the front garden, power-washed the siding, and started painting the unfinished porches. When cold weather started coming in, we had three of the worst windows replaced, cleared half a century of junk forgotten possessions out of the attic and re-arranged the neglected insulation. Needless to say, the house looks and feels much better. But this is only the beginning, and that’s exciting.
We hope to be in this house for a long time. While major renovations are not yet within our means, we have been coming up with a list of smaller things to do when the weather gets warm: add more insulation, replace more windows, finish painting the porches, dig out and plant more gardens. I have spent the winter getting the inside of the house better arranged and saving up for improvements: putting up curtain rods in our bedroom, replacing the terrible light fixture in the kitchen, creating an icon corner in the under-stairs closet, painting and putting up shelves in the nook in my studio…there are so many small projects I can look forward to.
It’s going to be quite the adventure.
Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home!
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek thro’ the world, is ne’er met elsewhere.
Sweet, sweet home!
There’s no place like home,
There’s no place like home!
~Home, Sweet Home
John Howard Payne