Remember that old folk song about a cotton boll weevil looking for a place to call home? We’ve called a lot of places home. With Tim, I count 12 places in three states. That includes the rental we lived in for a few months while a new home was being constructed. Betsy and Ellen called it the “Bat House,” and it was an apt classification. The little room they shared was next door to an attic that was home to some rambunctious squirrels and a thriving bat population, one of which stopped in for a quick visit to welcome the new neighbors. For myself, counting apartments but not dorm rooms, my domiciles add up to additional 10.
I guess that makes us professional nesters. Wherever we are, if we are with loved ones, we are home. But, no matter how humble any of our abodes have been and how limited our resources, I always made them into welcoming homes. They call it DIY now, but for me it was always tapping into a lot of creativity and using what I had on hand.
Do each of us in our family have a favorite? Yes, but it varies from person to person. I’ve liked or not liked each one for different reasons. The years on the farm will always be warmly remembered. But, my affection centers on the barn, and the woods and fields, on the gardens and all the animals – wild and tame. I remember the barn dance and the parties we had.
At the end of this month we will have lived at our present home for two years. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort working on a major reno. We knew it was going to be a project when we bought the house, but it turns out there were many more surprises (big and little) in store for us than we anticipated. We are now that couple that loves to tell you al-l-l-l about our remodeling journey and we aren’t done yet.
We loved our little old Cape Cod that we moved to from the farm, but cozy became cramped once our younger two daughters married and we were gifted with our first grandchild. On our last Christmas there we were stacked up in the living room and squeezed around the dining room table. We had so many beds crammed in the upstairs loft, one of the girls said it looked like we were running an orphanage. We had downsized, only to be faced with the need to upsize.
I’d been creeping on Realtor.com for over a year and reporting my findings to Tim. I composed a list of “have to haves” that included a wood burning fireplace for Tim and a location on a large lot with some wild space for me. We both agreed on two non-negotiable points: no septic tank and no well. Occasionally, when a property with promise went on the market, we’d go for a drive and see what it looked like, and try to imagine ourselves living there. Our kids called it "drive-by real estating." But nothing in our price range really caught our attention. Until the first day of February 2015. It was a Sunday and zero degrees outside. I was in my office scrolling through the online listings and there it was. It was located in our favorite neighborhood, the one we cruised through while using mental telepathy on homeowners to try to make them put their houses on the market. When I hollered at Tim, telling him there was a house on “our” street, he said “Let’s go.”
So we called our agent-friend Chris Ricica, at Switzer Realty, and we went to look at the house. She is very good at what she does. She understands us and she recognizes a house with problems. Plus, she knows her way through the big, scary, ever-changing world of real estate. It can be a long, winding road before the last carload of boxes is hauled from the old place (or, in our case, the last crate of chickens) and the keys to the new place are handed over. But, she explained every in and out as we wended our way to our new home.
This place had guest rooms and bathrooms enough for when the family visited. It had Tim’s fireplace and for me, woods, a little stream, and a hill. Hills are at a premium in our area, you know. It also had leaky windows and a floor that tilted. It was suffering from a bad case of deferred maintenance and needed some serious nest love.
When the three of us returned to our too-small house, Chris snapped some photos, and we promptly put our cute little Cape Cod on the market. We called our contractor friend and asked if he was ready for a new project. He was game. And it has been a project.
Who else moves into a new home only three weeks before their youngest daughter’s wedding? We did, of course. When her future in-laws arrived, we sat on packing boxes and ate pizza together. On the day of the wedding, the upstairs guest bathtub leaked through the kitchen ceiling. We discovered that a light switch downstairs in the living room cut the power to the upstairs bathrooms.
It all worked out, though. We love our newest nest. And as we go along, I’m going to share some of my favorite projects with you. So, stay tuned!
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