Home Sweet Home

This past year has been a big one for us. We are nearing the one-year mark since moving to this lovely home and have put a lot of effort and money into fixing important “behind the scenes” things, improving the landscape and helping restore her to her potential beauty.  I wanted to document the changes we are slowly making around here.

First, a little about the house. If you don’t like history or architecture then skip this paragraph. This home was built in 1924, it is older than my grandmother! The style is of the American Craftsman, a subset of the Arts and Crafts period. This period in architecture followed the Victorian period  which had been the style as industrialization came about. Through innovations in machinery and factories, new and ornate designs for homes were possible, they saw more ornate wood and ironwork and vibrant colors with intricate patterns in their fabrics. Also, the time and detail put into these mass-produced accents made them very expensive.  The Arts and Crafts style is defined by hand-made, quality work with simplistic design. The color palette was muted with earthy tones and less overall patterns and homes were laid out to incorporate a working-class household. In the Victorian era there was a huge disparity between those who worked for a living (and lived poorly) and those who had inherited wealth (and lived very well).  Over time the style of architecture and design changed from the ornate to the simple after years of struggle to have greater equality between people. The Arts and Crafts movement was inspired by the thought that people who were in the middle to upper-middle working class  should  be able to work AND have a higher standard of living.  Changing from the super expensive, store-bought designs to simple, home-made themes made a higher standard of living more accesible to the working class. One instance on how this played out in home design was the kitchen. In the Victorian period, houses were laid out where the main living parts of the home included things like sitting rooms, parlors, dining and bedrooms where the family would spend most of their time. The “working” part of the house like the kitchen, servants quarters and laundry were hidden, separated by small hallways to where the family would not have to see the nannies, cooks and servants working behind the scenes to support the way the house ran. As society changed, the layout of the home changed too.  In the Arts and Crafts period, a home was more integrated. Servants still worked days at some homes but went to their own homes at night. Women were more likely to be doing more of the housekeeping, cooking and watching the children so the kitchen and living spaces became more open so that Mom could watch the kiddies while doing her work. I like how social history played such a big part in shaping design and architecture. This of course is a really shallow synopsis of these periods, there were lots of sub-periods and these changes took place  over almost 100 years between around 1840 – 1930.  Also, each period generally began in Europe so changes to architecture and style was always later here in the US as it took time for the culture to trickle our way.

She (we have decided on a gender but not a name) was originally a farm-house and the family sold their crops out on the road.  She started out with five bedrooms and three bathrooms.  Later, after a piece of land was sold, a cabin that had been sitting on that land was attached to the back of the kitchen. This added another room and bathroom. The limestone that forms the foundation of this home was brought from an area of town that now is a local golf-course. The timber is was also produced from this area back when this town was called “Hogtown” and was just a stop on part of the DeSoto trail.  Right now her windows are the old, wavy, single paned glass and the frames are double hung. (meaning they open up from the bottom and also drop down from the top to allow heat to exit and air to circulate better before A/C). The door knobs are old brass ones with skeleton-key locks (that work!). The baseboards are almost 10 inches tall!  The floor is heartwood pine, old and needing refinishing but even though is is worn it is beautiful on a bright day.  The walls are made of horsehair plaster and lathing and they are VERY hard to nail anything into and they are cracking and needing painted. There used to be two fireplaces, both were capped off years ago but the brick of one is visible in the kitchen and both can be seen going up through the attic. The other was converted to gas and can be used in the living room. Yes, this is probably too much house for just the two of us. We have to text each other to talk when one of us is upstairs and one downstairs! But I like to think we’ve rescued this house in a way.  With all the work it needs now and is going to need, if you have five kids (to fill up the bedrooms) you probably don’t have the time or money (or energy) to put into this place what it will take. I feel a sense of belonging that I have never felt anywhere before and I credit that to this house. People asked me after we moved in if it was “spooky” or “haunted” or if I thought about people who had died here in the past 88 years. If anybody died here, they died happy I’d have to say. The overall feeling of this house happy. It makes me feel full of love and care and….home sweet home.

Daniel and his Dad installed a pantry in a closet handy to the kitchen.
Daniel and his Dad installed a pantry in a closet handy to the kitchen.
Daniel, his parents and I put up a fence.
Daniel, his parents and I put up a fence.
Then somebody drove into it and we had to fix it.
Then somebody drove into it and we had to fix it.
We repainted the kitchen and put in some functional workspace.
We repainted the kitchen and put in some functional workspace.
So now, it not only looks better but works better too!
So now, it not only looks better but works better too!
We bought some old furniture off Craigslist and refinished it.
We bought some old furniture off Craigslist and refinished it.
Our refinished coffee table.
Our refinished coffee table.
I repainted the baseboards and walls in the hallway.
I repainted the baseboards and walls in the hallway.
a new coat of paint does wonders!
a new coat of paint does wonders!
The dining room also needed a change.
The dining room also needed a change.
So now the dining room looks much better!
So now the dining room looks much better!
We even worked outside a little.
We even worked outside a little.
and made our backyard less scary.
and made our backyard less scary.

Besides all this, we had a leak to fix in Daniel’s bathroom, there is still a hole in the wall where the plumber was working. I put in a new doorbell that works most of the time. When it wants to. We built a dog-pen. We have mulched and done a lot of trimming outside. We cut down a dead tree. We’ve re-cemented some of the loose stones on the patio walk.  Daniel completely rebuilt some of the frames for our screens and I re-screened them. We had some of the electrical replaced prior to moving in.  We’ve had a new roof put on. And boy how we’ve cleaned!

It’s good to see how far we’ve come, I am very focused on what is left to do that I forget how much has changed.  Daniel gets on to me about that.  Looking back through these pictures has reminded me just all the things big and small that have been done and I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish this year!

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