It’s a crazy idea, moving when you already love the house that you’re currently living in (and I LOVE our house) but the circumstances that led us to this decision are pretty once in a lifetime, so we had to go for it.
You see, my parents decided to move out of the house I grew up in. It’s a beautiful house on an amazing street – perfectly located near friends and family and sitting in the midst of a gorgeous back yard. I lived in the house from the time I was three years old until I moved out for college, and we even moved back into the house when I was pregnant with Edith. We had just come home from our Boston adventure and were house hunting and there was more than enough room for my parents and our then family of four. It’s a house that just invites gathering, lingering, enjoying of life. When we were growing up all of our friends would wander unannounced through the kitchen door. The front door and doorbell were hardly used.
When my parents decided to move I was heartbroken. I couldn’t imagine the house going to anyone else. I LOVE THIS HOUSE. But we had a house and we weren’t looking to move… so it just didn’t seem like there was any way we would end up there. It’s also a big house (much, much bigger than our current place) and we weren’t sure we wanted to take on the extra responsibility of maintaining so much home (and property).
There was also the issue of aesthetics and deferred maintenance. While fluorescent illuminated ceilings and oak cabinetry were all the rage in the 80’s when the house was built, they aren’t exactly the style that Ben and I would have chosen ourselves. There are also a few weird floorplan quirks and the kitchen is quite dark. The walls that form the galley portion are shear walls so they can’t be moved without engaging a structural engineer (at a very high expense). Those two walls prevent the nice light from the living room from entering the kitchen. One of the things that I love very most about our current house is the abundance of natural light in the kitchen (I spend a LOT of time in my kitchen) and we knew we’d need to brighten it up.
But despite everything that needed to be worked on with the house, I just kept coming back to the feeling deep in my gut – the one that said no matter how much work the house might be, it would be worth it. I just couldn’t turn it down. So over the last few months my mom and I have packed up the whole house. All of the knick-knacks and tchotchkes. All of the paintings we made in elementary school and framed family photos. It was surreal to watch the house slowly get stripped down. It felt like we were draining my childhood out of the rooms and I had the urge to stop and document. To capture one last time the way that the house was when we were growing up. When it was my parents’ house. Because as strange as it still is to say it, this is about to become our house.
This house has always been every inch a home, loved and cherished and lived in (really lived in) by everyone in the family. It seemed wrong to empty the house without first taking a minute to remember it as it was. Looking at these photos makes me so fiercely nostalgic that it almost makes me wish we were just leaving the entire house as it was. I can’t bear to think that my childhood home isn’t going to exist in the form that it takes on in my memory.
But at the same time I don’t want to live in someone else’s house, even if that someone else happens to be my parents. I want to surround ourselves with the things that make my own family feel at home. I want to give this house the same loving care and attention that my parents showed it for all these years, and for us that means that it’s going to see a few updates and changes. It’s not that we don’t love the house now. It’s that we do love the house. And we want it to feel like our home.
I was going to include some photos and sketches at the end of this post of the work we are planning on doing to the house, but as usual I got carried away and rambled on maybe a bit too long. I’m going to save the plans for another day, but we are so excited that you can bet there are going to be a lot more posts about the house. I’m also sharing some snapshots on instagram along the way (because I can’t resist the instant gratification of instagram) so you can look for those in my feed with the tag #thehouseprojectshavebegun. I can’t wait to share more of our plans!