Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Resistance of an Old House

Over the past 8 years we've done a lot of home improvement projects in a whopping 5 houses, so by now we're no strangers to demolition, messes, remodel and more mess. Even after all of the different types of houses we've lived in and altered, I'm always impressed with the quality and craftsmanship of this old house we're in now.

This house is roughly 100 years old and is the most solid house we've ever lived in. The wind can blow and blow and not a creek or moan form this old girl. The main reason I'm sure is that she's not been messed with. The kitchen had been remodeled sometime in the 60s and a bathroom had been added (the wonder of indoor plumbing) but much of the house is original. The windows had never been replaced, the siding is original and I'm convinced that the second floor had been closed off for about 40 years. It's was like stepping back in time when we first walked through. Some of the walls upstairs had never even been painted, the floors and woodwork pristine, as if the children who lived here were so well behaved that there was no trace of crayon on the walls, or broken windows that you'd typically find in an old house like this. The pride just oozes out of the floorboards. It's even more evident in the garage and barn where every oil change and field planted are written on the wall along with the phone number of the vet and the local co-op.
Without trying to take away too much of the character of this old house we have done some remodeling. We replaced many of the old single pane windows, repainted the exterior, painted inside, put heat in on the second floor, and the kitchen seems to be an ongoing project nearing completion. So that brings us to yesterday afternoon. My hubby decided that he would install the downdraft unit in our range so that I can finally fry bacon on my stove without setting off the smoke detectors. I now understand why he'd been putting it off for 2 years since we bought our fancy-schmancy Jenn-Air range. It wasn't that he didn't want me to enjoy the benefits of my "you paid what for that?" appliance but it's that our house seems to be resistant to modern conveniences. The same was true when he installed our dishwasher. Our house put up quite a stink about that one too. The floor in our kitchen is a whole 2 1/4 inches thick and the basement wall is 2 feet thick of stone and mortar, so drilling large holes seems to be an issue.

We did win this battle but I'm curious as to what she'll think if we ever decided to replace the old-style television antenna on our roof with a dish, or even add a second bathroom. How far in the future can we take this old house before she loses her composure and tells us where to shove our unnecessary modern conveniences.


kathy said...

I think it's so awesome that you guys appreciate and respect the house like that. And if it does tell you what to do with the modern appliances, the suggestion will be taken with due accord! "Their real names" Ya know I was sure I knew your kids names (at my age doubt creeps in) and I just thought you had bizzare nick nmaes for them!! love to all! k

skyewriter said...

I think it's a work of love to maintain an old home.

I (we) have been renting (grad. students, you know) the second story of a home that was built in the late 1800s. A neighbor once told us it's one of the first houses ever built in our town. It has the original walnut hardwood floors and moldings. And our entryway staircase has the most incredible curved walnut banister.

It sounds like yours is more wind proof and solid. We've got lots of creaks and boy does it get cold in the winter (someone put siding over the original brick exterior without insulating I was told by our landlady).

Oh, what I wouldn't do for a downdraft unit! We only do bacon when we can have the kitchen windows open.