I have a vision of our old farmhouse before we renovated. Gray-silver metal roof shingles streaked with rust. One bathroom with a bathtub and no shower. An unheated upstairs and air-conditioned nowhere at all. A fairly large kitchen despite the old woodstove with a walk-in pantry that was quite spacious. A doorway leading to a stoop that led to a…patio? On the other side of the kitchen, a doorway led to a small back porch holding among other things, a washer and dryer that we feared would freeze every winter and hid a rat snake during the summer.
The old home was quaint and comfortable unless you wanted to be warm in the winter or cool in the summer…or if you wanted to take a shower. In 1995 we decided we would renovate. Not much you understand. We would take off and seven hundred and fifty square feet of kitchen and pantry while adding an upstairs bedroom and bath, with a shower of course, and a new kitchen, dining room, den and a half bath with shower downstairs. Later we would replace the roof and all of the old wavy, paint-streaked, lead glass windows. A total of about two thousand square feet replaced the original seven hundred and fifty…but it hasn’t replaced the memory of the old place and now the thoughts that usually begin “I wish.”
It’s not that Linda and I don’t appreciate being able to take a shower, we do, but we miss the quaintness. We also miss the huge pantry…especially Linda Gail. The huge fireplace in the den is a great conversation piece with its handmade “chainsawed” walnut mantle and huge centerpiece stone but sometimes I miss the original fireplace and wood stove.
There is a little bit of pride that goes with saying, “The flooring and cabinets came from pecan and walnut trees from the property…as did the table and kitchen island.” Even when the table and island warp upward in the winter and downward in the summer.
For some reason, it is just not the same. We lost the upstairs cubby hole with the pitter-patter of little “flying squirrel” feet and the slithering of rat snake non-feet. That is actually a bad thing.
It is both funny and odd what Linda Gail misses and she is going to kill me when she sees this in print. It’s okay Linda Gail, there are still some secrets I will never tell. When we renovated the old bathroom we changed the location of the toilet. Linda can no longer sit and see the birds dining in the feeder from her new “perch.” This is something she reminds me of quite often.
Linda Gail and I aren’t angry. We just wish we had had a crystal ball or maybe enough money for just a little “do-over.” Are there renovation “Mulligans?” I guess not. We thought we were outgrowing our little farmhouse and instead, we found we just overfill whatever space we have. The good news is that we overfill that space with memories too…good ones.
There are other lessons we continue to learn from living in a house that originally dates from 1890 or so. Not the least of which is, “Renovations are never completed.” A new water heater or two to go with replacing the heating system or a leak here or there. It is odd, knock on wood, “Seems as if everything replaced seems to be the first to go, having to be replaced again.” Is that the designed obsolescence I’ve heard so much about?
Excerpt from Through the Front Gate by Don Miller which can be purchased or downloaded at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM
The image is of the old portion of the house, my little piece of heaven.