Many years ago, at a corporate family event, I complimented my boss on his beautiful bald baby boy and to drive the brown-nosing home I turned to my four-year-old daughter and said, “Emelia loves babies too – isn’t this baby SO cute?” She crossed her arms, leaned back to assess the child and said, “I like the ones with hair.”
I’m somewhat that way about homes. I love old ones with original features the most. I’ve owned four houses; the newest was built in 1924.
My first was a 1917 Prairie-style foursquare in St. Charles IL. What had been a wide-open archway between the living room and dining room had been walled up by the previous owner to create a bookshelf. Early one morning, I set aside all the books and began swinging a crowbar at the offending wall. My husband staggered downstairs to find me in a pile of wallboard and shelving. He wisely and silently turned around and went back to bed. I was very pregnant at the time, and that was how I “nested.”
The most substantial old house restoration I ever took on was a 3-story Queen Anne in Field Club. The front porch was gone, and the grand central staircase had been ripped out when the house was converted into apartments. Although we finally hired help to retrofit another Victorian staircase and add a fireplace, my original plan was for my husband and me to do the work ourselves — we aren’t married anymore.
My search for original features was finally fulfilled when I moved into my current home, an original condition 1901 Classical Revival, with a sleeping porch, ice door, pull-chain toilet, and lots of other no-so-mod-cons. Even the kitchen had been untouched since the house was built, but I modernized it by moving in a 1936 range.
What I’m getting at is this: We all have our own idea of what makes the perfect home. The first realtor I worked with crowed, “You’ll love this house – it’s updated within an inch of its life.” She never heard me when I explained what I really wanted. She just kept showing me what she liked. I’m not that realtor. I will listen and ask questions until I can visualize your dream (not my dream) and make that my quest. I’ll also swing my crowbar at any obstacles that stand between you and your life in that home.