Tag Archives: historic homes

The Difference Four Years Made

Dec. 2010
Dec. 2010

Five years ago in December we bought a house to restore and sell. Then we discovered we would soon be grand parents and we needed a bit bigger place. So our fixer-upper became our home. We moved in May 2011. It’s been four years and what a difference right?

Can you spot the differences?

May 2015
May 2015

In these four years, we made the house habitable. It had been sitting partially touching the soil. We built a three car garage with apartment above. (Because of city regulations, we could not put it where the original car port was, we had to move it seventeen feet from the property line. So, yes, it takes up the entire back yard.) We planted a few trees. Our peach tree is conspicuously missing. It was right in front of the house about twelve feet from the curb. (Someone dug it up and took it in the middle of the night last week.) We added a fountain in the front yard, you can’t see it because it’s behind a tree.  The upstairs french doors were removed and windows added instead. The lattice was removed as it served no purpose that we could see. The bottom porch’s curved pieces of wood were removed because they were rotted. Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, the wrap around bit of cedar shingles was replaced with roofing to give a more tailored look.

The house was built in 1910 by an insurance man who lived on LaSalle street. He built the house at about the time he married. The porches have always been the way they are with the Victorian wrap-around with the slim supports and gingerbread on the balcony and the craftsman style supports on the lower porch.

Nell lives a block away. She is 94 years old. She was born in the house she is living in. She used to play on our front porch when she was a little girl because her grandfather and the man who build our house were good friends and would sit and talk and tell stories on our front porch. It’s nice to know someone who has watched our house all these years.

Dad and daughter
Our girl and her father.
The prettiest flower girl, ever.

The other big thing that has changed since we moved in is that our lovely daughter married. Our precious grand girl has a wonderful step-daddy. We are just pleased as the proverbial punch about this.

The Lamp Incident

Two lamps with lampshades.
Image via Wikipedia

The husband decided to replace the temporary paper blinds. I don’t think the paper blinds look so bad. From the outside, in the dark, and if you shut one eye they do look like those expensive pleated blinds. But no, he wanted to put something real up. He went and got some mini-blinds, which are okay in my book but not great. I like the expensive pleated blinds.

He was working on getting those mini-blinds installed. Beneath possibly fifty coats of paint the hundred-year-old window casings are made of petrified wood. At least that was what it seemed like around all the objects dropping and bad language coming from my husband as he tried numerous ways to get the parts and pieces screwed in place.

Different sizes of ladders were called for and produced. Different screw drivers. “Why is my cordless screwdriver never charged?” he asked me.

“We lost the charger three moves ago.” Was the correct answer but I hemmed around that with “I can’t find the charger, use this nifty T-shaped screwdriver I got you for your birthday.”

He cursed the T-shaped screwdriver and used it anyway.

He finally figured it all out and had the study’s blinds installed in a short hour and a half. Two windows down. Four to go.

He did the dining room because that only required moving the baby’s changing table, an old dresser, a lamp and a few dozen miscellaneous breakable things.

Now the living room seemed like it would go the fastest because the only thing to be moved was the couch. It’s a small couch. I left the room and when I came back I found him at the top of the ladder leaning forward with the drill poised to go at it. He had moved a side table, the one with the lamp on it. The lamp that wobbles because the lamp shade is so heavy. The ladder’s legs were straddling both the drill’s cord and the lamp’s cord. The lamp, a tall, rusted iron affair with this old, stained-glass lampshade. The lamp’s cord was stretched tight. This didn’t look like it would turn out well. I turned off the lamp and went to unplug it.

“I need that light.”

I looked up at him on his ladder. “But it will fall,” I said.

“I’m being careful!”

Best not argue. He is after all putting up blinds, which is one less thing for me to worry with if I were to ever get around to finding a way to sneak the expensive pleated ones into the budget. A far, far better thing for me to do was to walk the dog.

Back home, the dog and I walked in on the husband holding a broom and dustpan. “What’s up?” I asked because I hadn’t see the mess on the floor. Yes. It’s true. The nice, stained glass lampshade, bent and broken into unrepairable pieces. “Oh,” was all I could manage.

I didn’t need to say anything else. I could tell he felt bad about it. I found a spare linen lampshade and stuck it on the iron lamp. It was a little crooked, but keeps the light shaded and that’s all a lampshade is for.

The next day I took the glass bits and crooked copper-works across the street to my neighbor, Joan Son. (http://joanson.com/paperart/Welcome.html) She is an origami artist. I asked her if she knew of anyone who could use the old stained glass. She did. I’m glad to recycle old things into new ones.

I thought that was the end of that. I have more things to worry about purchasing than a new lampshade so I didn’t worry about the lamp after that.

Except it was my birthday this past weekend and my husband walks in from work with a sack from Pottery Barn. I love Pottery Barn. And you guessed it – it was a new lampshade. It was a good-looking one. But honestly Pottery Barn isn’t known for their lampshades. And when you buy a lampshade for a room you should buy the exact lampshade for all the matching lamps, right?

He could tell I wasn’t enthused. And I was sorry when my daughter came home from work and my husband asked her her opinion. “It’s pretty,” she said. And then paused. “Wait. Wasn’t that the lamp that you broke? You bought a lampshade for mom’s birthday gift?”

All of which didn’t make him feel any better. I apologize dear husband for how badly you felt about the entire lamp incident. Accidents happen. Let’s forget about it and move on.

I have to admit the mini-blinds do look better than the paper blinds.