Is it fair to expect our new house, or any house, to live up to our former “camelot?”
When we went shopping for our next house, we had a smaller budget and didn’t want the large yard or need the two-car garage (though that would’ve been really nice). Instead, location, price and a house we could work with and feel comfortable in, were the most important factors.
We toured a lot of houses. Some were over our budget, some I just wanted to see for fun or because I thought they were pretty or unique. Others were under budget but were bigger fixer-uppers than we wanted. In the end, we found a 100-year-old house in town that was within our budget and spent its last thirty years as a rental. It needed a lot of cosmetic updates, but it was mostly cared for and in decent shape. It had adequate space–four floors that included a basement and an attic. It also had a low-maintenance small yard, off-street parking, and, most importantly, we had good feelings when we walked through it the first time.
This old girl checked off many of our boxes, and we knew our fixes would make her shine. She deserved a permanent family who would bring her back to life.
And a new life is exactly what we gave her. We cleaned and painted. We polished the beautiful hardwood floors. We updated plumbing and electric. We completely gutted the worn and dated kitchen and the one full bath. We added a half bath and laundry space on the first floor. It took months and a lot of sweat, labor and money, but it was worth it. Next up will be the exterior.
We made this house ours by creating our new kitchen and bathrooms. We chose fun colors. We picked what we wanted for cabinets, vanities and flooring. We did different things to this house than we did to our EC house, but we made both houses what we wanted. And these two houses are very different. Instead of our rancher, we now have a four-level house. We have a smaller yard, no garage and we live in town, rather than a country-like, quiet neighborhood.
We have friendly neighbors, walking distance to stores and restaurants and a much lower mortgage. And, of course, we are close to family, which is the point of our move to western Pennsylvania.
We’ve been living in PA for ten months, and we’ve been living in “old girl” for almost four months. The hard truth is the difficulty of not only moving to a new area, but settling into a house that we want to feel like home.
It’s not fair to this old girl to live up to our former home. She can’t. No house could. Even if we bought another stone rancher, it wouldn’t have been our EC home. No house will ever compete with that one, and that’s the way it should be.
I’m sure most people know and understand that any house, apartment, cottage, boat, any place you reside, can become home. But you have to let it. You have to create that special place and treat it as your own. You have to love it for what it is–a space that you feel safe in, a space you give yourself to. And every home you have is special in its own way, and it doesn’t matter how long or how short a time you live there. You own that space and it becomes a part of you.
Our new home, two hundred miles from our former home, is feeling more perfect every day. Knowing we gave her new life not only with our renovations, but our time and love, makes me already feel like I don’t want to leave. Again, I’ve become attached, and there’s nothing I can change about that. It’s who I am. I struggled leaving my EC home. And, even though, the new owner destroyed everything we did and loved about it, (read about that here), I will always hold a spot in my heart for the home we drove away from last June.
Home is what you create and love. The structure doesn’t matter. The location doesn’t matter. If you can’t feel at home where you live, something is wrong. And maybe that something is how you feel about yourself and your life. Maybe it’s who you share your home with. I guess I’m blessed that I always share my home with my husband. Together, we didn’t live in just some condo or stone rancher. And we don’t just live in this 100-year-old house. We’ve always lived in what we created–our home.
One day when we sell this house, I will cry and miss “old girl.” I don’t want to know who buys her or what they do to her. I will always remember her and hold her in my heart as our home. And, until then, I will enjoy living here and be grateful for another beautiful home.
So, tell me, where do you live? Does it feel like home?
***If anyone is interested in learning more about “old girl’s” transformation, let me know. I was thinking about writing more about it here or including a separate page about it. What do you think?