Saturday, February 21, 2015

Perfection and Nightmares



Perfection is in the eye of the beholder, just like love.




Although my home is perfection to me, to others it might not be.

There's 85 year old cabinet doors that don't line up (I wouldn't change them for the world though), chipped paint, leaks that pop up suddenly in the roof, plumbing problems that need to be fixed, electric switches that I can't seem to find the light to..... Oh and windows that need to be replaced, because someone thought it would be a good idea to replace the original ones with newer ones.

Guess which ones still work fine and don't have any problems?

The only four original windows in the house.

Sigh....

It definitely has it's quirks, but I'm working through them.

Honestly though, even with those issues, it's still perfect to me.



I love...

 That I have a kitchen that is small, so that I only have three or four steps to everything.

(By the way, did you know they did studies on kitchens in the 1920s through the 1940s to find out what what the most efficient kitchens would be, so that women would have an easier time cooking in them? You can read about one such study here.)

That it has the original tile and sink in one of the bathrooms, and the original tub in another.

That I can close a door or two and not hear the television in another room.

That it has character, and that no one has a house like I do in my neighborhood.

That when I walk through my door it feels like home... 

like grandma's house

like love.


The problem is, that I keep having this nightmare that one day, when I die (or God Forbid, have to leave for some other reason), someone will come in this home and gut it, just like the last owners of this house were going to do.

They'll take out the original cabinets, built-ins, light fixtures, countertops and sink that I so lovingly restored, and put in stainless steel, granite and dark wood or whatever the latest trend is. 

Worst of all, they'll make it.......

 OPEN CONCEPT.


All the character will be gone and I will have to haunt them forever.

You probably think I'm kidding, but I'm not.

I love my old home.

In fact, I love all old homes. 

Every time I see a house built before or in the 1950s, that's been fitted with the latest trends, instead of restored to it's original character I die a little, and I think the souls of the people that lived there die too.



What I can't wrap my head around is why anyone would do that when there are thousands of new builds that are waiting with 'Open concept, granite and stainless steel' already in them.

Why spend all that money to turn an old home into a new one?

Why destroy the historical integrity, because it's not your taste?

Do you have any idea how hard it is for people that restore old homes to fix all that "remuddling"?

No need to answer those questions.

I'll never understand it anyway.



Please, if you ever buy an old house.....

Love the home and it's past.

Respect it.

And don't destroy the integrity.



Or else....

the previous owner might just haunt you ;)

xo
rue



PS

The pictures came from the children's book "The Little House" by Virginia Lee Burton. It's about a little house that was loved, then forgotten and then saved.

My very dear friend Nikki gave it to me a few years back, because she and I share a love of restoring old homes.



87 comments:

  1. Love this post! I have always loved old homes and while I don't own one, that's definitely what I would purchase if I was in the market for a house. The hubby and I are lovingly remodeling our double wide mobile home as we save cash to do it. We decided we didn't want to go into debt for a house, but if I was going to, it would most definitely be an old one! They have so much character that new homes lack. I have often wondered why people spend the money on an old home, only to gut it and start all over! So sad...:( I love your little home and all the charm it offers!

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    1. Thank you Vicky :) You've made a lovely home and I agree... no one should go into debt for a house.

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  2. Oh man, did this post ever hit home with me, Rue! We painstakingly restored our 1893 Queen Anne, that was listed on the Nat'l historic register, a 6 year project, back to it's original floor plan and removed all the "upgrading" and remodeling CRAP the previous owners had done over the years. Some owner had actually torn off the original wood porch and burned it for firewood!! Luckily, we found our home in a book about historic buildings and there was a picture of the original porch. It was a labor of love building the new one. AND....we had people trying to talk us into using PVC instead of wood. I could go on and on......The original floor plan was wonderful and homey, and I could swear the house thanked us. And yes, we kept the original gorgeous wavy glass windows when everyone said..."you should replace those old things" Can you imagine???? Anyway...we thought we were going to have to move for my hubby's work, the house sold before we ever thought it would, and it was a sad day when we handed over the keys to the new owners. Long story short, we had a death in the family, my husband retired early and we ended up staying in the same town - just minus my beautiful restored home. Now, I get to drive by all the time (small town) and have to look at all those new aluminum (GASP) windows that they put in when they trashed the old beautiful historic ones. UGH......I totally agree with you. People need to LOVE the old homes and appreciate them. If they want a new home...they should purchase just that. K.....stepping down from my soapbox now. :)

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    1. Your wavy glass reminds me of my own story:

      There was a man that came to my door in my old house that wanted me to change out the windows. Before he could finish his speech, I looked him in the eye and asked, "Can you give me the same look with these windows? He said "no." I asked "Can you guarantee that they'll never have to be replaced?" He said "no." Then I asked him "Why would I ruin these perfectly good historic windows that had been here over 100 years with windows that will have to be replaced in 20 years. Windows that are so beautiful that you couldn't even come close to replicating them? Get off my porch and leave these poor old houses alone!" He ran for his life and I never saw him in the neighborhood again LOL

      I'm sorry you have to see the old house all the time. When I leave a home, I always tell everyone not to tell me what they're doing to it. It breaks my heart.

      Oh and feel free to get on that soapbox here! I'll stand right next to you ;)

      xo,
      rue

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  3. I love old homes. We have always lived in one until we adopted our girls and then we needed to move to a different neighborhood to get them in a safer school. We miss old homes. The only thing we ever did was try to restore them to their glory. Strip off layer upon layer of paint to see gorgeous woodwork, rip up carpets to see beautiful wood floors.

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    1. I hope you get to live in an old house again, Pam :)

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  4. Hi Rue! I wish more folks felt like you! It breaks my heart to see an old house falling down and so neglected. I wish they could tell us their stories! I know your little house is so glad you found her!
    be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

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  5. I love the charm and character of older homes. I don't even like granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. I'm sure your house feels very loved with you living there and taking care of it.

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    1. Oh, I didn't mind granite and stainless in new homes until I kept seeing it in every single one. It's like the stepford wife of kitchen decor LOL

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  6. Lovely post, Rue...I've always thought that people should "listen" to their house when decorating. It's what feels right. If people want a different style house, then it's probably the wrong house for them. The Little House is one of my favorite children's books...I read it countless times to my children when they were young...

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    1. I think people should listen to what the house wants no matter what age it is, but that's a whole other subject, Linda ;)

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  7. You are so right, Rue...I cringe when people rip out the authentic pieces that make an old house a home. I still see where home owners need to update...things an be so dysfunctional. But YAY for keeping it true!!

    Jane x

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    1. I agree that some things need to be updated, like the electricity and plumbing. I'm not exactly living with gas lanterns or knob and tube ;)

      xo

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  8. First, I love the book and have a copy up in the attic.

    Second, I absolutely agree - old houses have so much character. We have several windows with the wavy glass original in 1927. Then we have a few windowpanes that were replaced with plexiglass at some point over the 80+ years. I hate those panes.

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    1. It doesn't surprise me that you'd have that book ;)

      Plexiglass?? That's a new one on me.

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  9. The Little House! One of my all-time favorite books. Appreciating the older house in the rush and change of modern life. Your house is so unique and beautiful. Preserving an older house honors the builders and their work. Your house celebrates its time and your creativity. Thanks for sharing your home with us!
    Sarah

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    1. Thank you Sarah and you're welcome :)

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  10. This is a wonderful, heart-felt post, Rue. I would take an older home with charm and character any day over a new home. I have lived in new homes and they're just kind of boring. I love nooks and crannies and charming details in a house. That's part of what makes it special.

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    1. I agree JoAnne :)

      I love all the nooks and crannies in this house.

      No matter what though, everyone should love the home they're in.

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  11. I totally agree with you, Rue. Can ANYONE explain what the great appeal of "open concept" is to practically everyone in the US now, except me? If you're watching tv, and someone else is banging around in the kitchen or running a vacuum or doing anything else that makes noise, doesn't that = annoying as all get out? If you want to read and there's a movie replete with car crashes and explosions, how does that work, exactly? If you have children and they want to drag out toys to play, why would having them across all the visual space in the home, rather than one room be a selling point? I really, really, don't get it. We mo.ved into a house in June built in 1950. In some ways it is a challenge because it has so many doors; otoh, doors! It is possible to plump up the cushions, straighten magazines, turn off lamps at night and come into a tidy living room the next morning because after doing that there was a door to shut when leaving the room. Open concept to me is a huge red flag that translates to more work!

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    1. I lived in a home with open concept and I agree. I couldn't stand it for myself. Not to say that I don't admire anyone that has one and can keep up with the dishes and mess everyday. You really have to or it looks awful!

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  12. My old house built in the 50's in NY I miss so much and the old neighborhood. I live in the Midwest and all the houses are the same, I call it legoland. Small kitchens are more efficient, less steps. Do you visit Brenda's blog, "Cozy Little House" she has made a small kitchen comfy and practical. In Europe you have lots of doors to keep the heat in. During Christmas you were not allowed to see the Christmas tree until Christmas Eve and the door was closed all day.

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    1. Legoland... that's a good one!

      Brenda's one of my good friends from way back and I agree, she does an amazing job with her cozy little home :)

      That's so cute about the Christmas tree. I can't imagine how I would have kept my kids out of there. I'm guessing that a few peek ;)

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  13. Catching up with all things wonderful-Rue and I so agree with your thoughts... by the time we found Daisy Cottage she had been stripped of her original claw-foot tub and kitchen and glass door knobs and light fixtures, etc. I am so thankful for what has remained however. I hope you have a wonderful day sweet friend of mine... my heart is still bursting over your sweet and generous "letter" and will always overflow with love and gratitude for you.

    xo,
    Kim

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    1. I remember you telling me that, Kim. You've made Daisy Cottage shine even without the missing parts.

      I hope you have a wonderful day too, sweet friend and I was just speaking from my heart, but you're welcome :)

      I love you,
      rue

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  14. What a beautiful post, Rue. I love old houses, they whisper stories of the past, just like antiques do. Thank you for visiting my blog and your sweet comment, I am picturing you using the bowls in your "small" and cozy kitchen.

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    1. Hi Lidy :)

      Thank you for visiting me too, my friend.

      xoxo,
      rue

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  15. Sweet post. If I had the money to buy a home it would be a vintage cottage...big enough for me, my cat and visiting Grandchildren!

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  16. I know and love that book! We bought our 1920's fixer in a neighborhood full of them. Many people respect the integrity of the cottages, but some people have ripped out all the charm. Sad. When we bought our house, the "oldness" is what we fell in love with. We are only the third owners and thankfully not much had been replaced. When we added a kitchen everyone told us to rip out the wall and make the house open concept. We didn't. I love my small, separate rooms!

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    1. I'm so glad you didn't rip out the wall, Kim! Part of the charm is the coziness of the rooms, I think. Oh and don't get me started again on ripping out the charm.... This post could have been A LOT longer LOL

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  17. So enjoyed your post, the charm of an old house should be treasured indeed. It seems a shame that so many don't embrace the history and stories these beautiful dwellings have to share.

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  18. So enjoyed this post ..... thank you.

    Home is where the heart is but many homes do seem to have more heart. Older homes are often full of character - for those that live in a more modern home fill it with good moments.In fact fill any home with good moments.

    Home is where the heart is. Love should be all around.

    Take Care and ......

    All the best Jan

    PS Love the use of that 'Little House' book

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    1. Yes, love the home you're in and fill it with good moments!

      You take care too, Jan :)

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  19. Rue,
    I think haunting is a good idea, I really do. I will never understand why "old," is a bad thing. I always thingkof the Velveteen Rabbit in circumstances like these-it takes a very long time to become real and in the process we become quite shabby!
    Warm Hugs,
    Jemma

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    1. I love that quote, Jemma. It's so true :)

      hugs back,
      rue

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  20. You will have to hide a note somewhere warning any future owners that you will be keeping an eye on the house! xx

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  21. It's nice to hear that you appreciate and love your home so much, Rue.

    ~Sheri

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    1. Thank you Sheri :) I think everyone should.

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  22. That is one of my favorite books of all time. I recently found a older copy of it and bought it for my "Grammie Library" here at our home.

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    1. That's wonderful, Debbie! I would live to have an older copy as well :)

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  23. I love this post! I know just what you mean. Our home has most of the original features and I vacillated for almost a decade as to whether or not I should paint the dark wood trim. The baseboards were already painted and somebody touched up the worn stain with brown semi-gloss paint....ugh. I'm one of those people whose mood is severely affected by the amount of light in a space, so in the end I chose to paint the trim. It's still original, but now our home feels happy rather than gloomy during our long gray winters. The original owners haven't haunted me...yet, but their son is the fool who removed a load bearing wall in the basement! I love the book you featured and now I'm on the hunt for one for a good friend who loves to restore old homes.

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    1. Vickie, I understand. If the old owners aren't haunting you then they must have been okay with it. I just couldn't have done it myself LOL

      I'm pretty sure you can find it on Amazon or Alibis.com :)

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  24. I remember this book. I love your home, it is one of the best art deco houses I have seen, and how awesome the details were kept. You know I made mistakes with my old home but I still love her and though my husband doesn't understand he knows I won't bend on my old built in cupboard or an old round window that may leak a bit. Glad your house has you to love it.

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    1. As long as you love her, Betty, it doesn't really matter. We've all made mistakes. Remind me to tell you about the time I thought it would be a good idea to take the paint off a brick fireplace.... not good lol

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  25. I don't know if you remember me Rue, I always went by beddowhouse.

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    1. I do remember you!! So great to hear from you again :)

      xo

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  26. Hi Rue, I agree with you about leaving these wonderful home live on in the design they were meant to have. Loved your story using this special book. My home is Not an open concept and I can close off all the rooms going in any direction. It was build in 1991 so I suppose it will be consider vintage shortly. I did have to upgrade the sink,counters and floors but tried to stay with an older look with wood floors.
    Love that book.
    Have a great week.
    Hugs, CM

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    1. You've done a beautiful job with your home, Celestina :)

      I hope you had a great weekend too, my friend.

      xo

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  27. Our home came with wire shelves in all the closets (classic 1990's). I wanted a grandma closet, and got hubby to remodel it for me with real painted wood. I love it! It even smells like a grandma closet now. One day I want the same thing done to my pantry. I love old houses and agree that it's better to keep the look of the time period they were built in when wanting to remodel.

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    1. lol I just realized how I said I think we should keep the look of the time period houses were built in, and proceeded to say how my 1990's house was being changed to look like an older house. Whoops! Well, the 90's houses are not very cute. Unlike your lovely cottage they are very blah and bland and need help to gain some character!

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    2. HA! I knew what you meant, Kimberly :)

      The closet looks great!

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  28. Rue, I read that little story book when I was in grade school. When I grew up I always had the dream of buying my grandparents old house; the house that Grandpa built (just like in the story) and moving it to a sunny happy spot and living in it myself. I found a copy of the little book and shared my dream with my husband. When my grand daughter was 5, I put her in the car and drove over to the industrial area, where the house stood the last time I saw it. I wanted to show my grand daughter the little house and tell her all about my dream. When we got there the house was gone. I put my hands over my face and cried and cried and my poor little grand daughter just sat there patting my shoulder, not knowing what was wrong. We went to the business next door to the now vacant lot and asked about the old house. We found out it had been a rental and then later torn down to make room to expand the business. The business owner gave me an old tobacco can he'd found in the cellar (may have belonged to my grandfather he said). He also let me dig up as many daffodil bulbs as I could manage with my hands and a stick. The house is gone, the dream is gone, the grand daughter now has children of her own. The daffodils bloom every spring in my yard. The memory lives on. I loved your post. Thank you.
    Sandy

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    1. (((Sandy)))
      Your story broke my heart. I so wish you could have made that dream come true.
      I hope your daffodils bloom forever.

      xoxo,
      rue

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  29. I agree with you about the character of an old home. We bought a 1926 Colorado cottage that was in very bad shape and completed renovated it, doing 95% of the work ourselves, top to bottom. After we sold it we wanted to buy a vintage home again, but the cost and labor to rehab again was just too much for us at our age now. We're trying hard to infuse the character of an old home into our new little cottage. I've seen enough of what you've done in your current home to know you're doing a wonderful job. Blessings. ~ Nancy

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    1. My mom did the same thing. After she restored her 1900 farmhouse and then moved to be closer to my brother, she was done. She lives in a new build now.

      Thank you, Nancy :)

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  30. Great post! Well written, and just what I would have said. Amen, amen and amen!
    Brenda

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  31. Yes! That is exactly how I feel about older homes, too. I think when you're in an "in between" home that isn't new but it isn't turn of the century old, it's tempting to update the "tackiness" out of it. But today's tacky might be tomorrow's treasure...or least that's what I'm hoping. Other than taking out the harvest gold and avocado green carpet and draperies, my 1960s ranch is pretty much "authentic" right down to the Formica counter tops, plastic tile, and most of the light fixtures.

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    1. Mimi, you'll be glad to hear that it is coming back. Have you checked out Retro Renovation (http://retrorenovation.com) They talk about it all the time :)

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  32. We have that book. Unfortunately our home was wrecked inside, but we tried to keep the interior cottage 1940s vibe. On the exterior, it is pre mid-century however, we have corner Haver-esque windows that we just finished restoring. We were also able to replace the roof and get the tile line back on. I told about three roof estimators "no", because they would not put the unique roof back on. I also didn't go with the window replacer who tried to tell me not to save my corner windows. I had to replace the metal ones, because most couldn't open and a person could not fit through them according to code. I saved one in the kitchen where it didn't matter. Your lucky your home still had so many original features. I have a friend with a home with somewhat similar style to yours and his has one of those restored 1950s stove. I hate to see some of the classic homes knocked down in the areas where the land is more expensive. The neighborhood they moved to will no longer have the character they liked when they move to it.

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    1. You have a beautiful home, Su. I'm so happy to hear that you saved what you could :)

      Don't get me started on roofers.... I need to replace mine and everyone of them told me they couldn't do it in the same way. I have no idea what I'll do except keep patching until I find someone.

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  33. I agree! Our house was "updated" in the 80's. You can guess what that has meant for us. And not only that, but it was updated poorly, diy, by people who clearly had no skills. It's a slow expensive process to undo what has been done but it is such a labor of love. I also don't love open concept. I had it in my last brand new house. I find it very hard to enjoy cooking, or read a recipe with the tv and chaos often going on in the family room. Now I have a little separation and I appreciate it very much. I thought I was the only one!

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    1. Oh, I can guess what it looked like, Jen. I remember when you bought it ;)

      You've done a beautiful job with it. And no, you're not the only one.

      xo,
      rue

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  34. I love this post and I share you vision and opinion ... however, there's something to be said for new houses as well: no drafts, insulated walls, creak-less floors, etc.

    Can you tell winter is getting to me, lol!

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    1. LOL I know what you mean, Sue. If I lived where you did, maybe I wouldn't love those things like I do ;)

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  35. We bought a 1948 ranch style home 9 years ago and have made updates to it inside and out and from top to bottom. So glad we did...it's much more energy efficient, not to mention we've increased the value. We gave a very tired looking house a much needed facelift...it's now one of the prettier looking homes on our street.

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    1. As long as you're happy, Janet, that's all that matters.

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  36. Our home was built in the 1950's and the previous owner left it pretty much intact other than replacing half the windows with new. Luckily it was the rear of the house because the original ones have so much character. They are a bit drafty and harder to open but I can live with that to keep them.

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    1. That's great, Patty :)

      Nothing like those old beauties!

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  37. It would be my dream come true to live in a little cottage. My dream, not my husbands unfortunately. So I try to add touches here and there that make it feel cottagey. Our house was new when we bought it 2 1/2 years ago...it took me awhile to fall in love with it. The cottage dream will never die though.

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    1. Stacey, love the home you're in! You can make it anything you want it to be :)

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  38. Rue, I enjoy your posts and your honesty! When I visit my grandmother, I love to bake with her in her tiny kitchen. It just feels we are closer to each other and I love it I wouldn't change a thing! As I am neither for or against open concepts, I feel the appeal is for young mother's to be able to see what is going on in the other room, keeping an eye on their children, more interaction with their guests. Personally I like big kitchen, because I spend more time in the kitchen than any other room of my house, and I like the idea of too many cooks in the kitchen, makes for a fun evening! Hope you are having a wonderful day!

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    1. I'm not against open concepts, Christine! I just don't like them for me and I don't like it when an old home is made to be something it's not supposed to be. I guess I think it's funny that everyone had children in those old homes and never thought about it ;)

      Everyone loves something different and if you love having a big kitchen, that's great! I prefer everyone to get the heck out LOL

      I hope you have a wonderful day too :)

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  39. Preach it soul sistah!! Aw, thanks for sharing the book and my tired ol' blog, lol! I hope no one ever does your home an injustice. I worry about ours as well, esp. after undoing much remuddling.

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    1. I'll help you haunt your house too, if we have to ;)

      xoxo

      Oh and your old blog needs to be written on :p

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  40. Rue, very nice post. It sparked a wonderful discussion between my husband and me about what people like about their homes, what should and shouldn't be changed, and just how people make a house a home. Thanks for your honest opinion and for putting forth a great topic.

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  41. All I have to say is AMEN to that girl.
    Welcome back. I have been slacking off on Tootsie Time as of late..as I started a company, and I just do not have time to post anymore. Hopefully one day I will get a chance to start sharing some things more often.

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    1. Holy smokes! Good to hear from you, Tootsie!!

      Congratulations on your company :)

      xoxo

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  42. My Brooklyn home was a 1930 home and had magnificent oak parquet floors and moldings. and lath and plaster walls. The bathroom and kitchen had been remodeled when we bought it in the 70's and we changed both over the 36 years we lived there to our tastes, but I loved many of the other architectural features from the 30's that remained.

    Our Colorado home is a 1990's home and is very much still that era. in appearance I like it just the way it is and smile when I see younger neighbors trying to "update" everything. Styles change so quickly, that I feel is is better to remain the same--more enduring and genuine.

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  43. You make a valid point about why buy an older home and then 'modernize' it rather than a newer one in the first place. Maybe it's a budget thing though?

    Here's how I see it. Most people don't have imagination and dare I say, good taste. To top it off, they're lazy, and think of their homes as little more than a place to hang their hats. Soooooo.....they go to places like Home Depot (because it's convenient. Remember, they're lazy.) and use builders that were recommended by friends who also decorated and designed THEIR homes in a cookie cutter way and those builders also have no imagination and couldn't care less about doing something differently than the way they're used to. Throw into the mix that it's more expensive to restore an historic home then to renovate/modernize it, well, you know the rest.

    Have you heard of the poem, 'the house with a broken heart'? It's on my blog (do a search. I don't want to leave a link) or Google it. I think you'll like it.

    xxx

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    1. I did see that poem. It's sad but beautiful.

      Oh and I know exactly what you mean, Doreen ;)

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