Yes, the Crooked House and I have been together for a full year now. I’ve seen some bloggers commemorate their anniversaries by listing the most popular posts, but my top two were popular because for the key words “Open Concept Bathrooms” “The next big thing in interior design” and “Minimalist bedroom” that I used sarcastically. No matter how much people like open floor plans I will never understand why anyone would want to the bed and the bathtub in the same room, even if they do put the crapper in its own little box. But maybe I’m just old fashioned.
What I can commemorate is the how much I’ve learned. So let’s revisit what I expected, understood, and discovered along the way, and laugh at just how much I didn’t get. And on top of that, let’s maybe see that I’ve moved in more directions than backwards since then.
February 2013: When I got the place I was weary from the whole hunting process. There was the self doubt about exactly where I would want to live (I’m happy with what I chose!), splitting hairs between different houses and blocks. At least all the houses I looked at had nearly identical layouts; there’s only so much you can do on a 14 foot wide lot. Then once I picked this one there was a small bidding war, negotiations about appliances, and being vetted by the mortgage underwriter. So I started off weary, ready to relax a bit, and pretty unaware of what I’d gotten into.
When I looked at the house, I saw a house in fairly solid condition, with most of the original (or at least older) charm intact. The kitchen and bathroom were nothing special but they were functional. I knew the chimney needed to be lined (badly) and the soil pipe had a crack in it. There was painted over wallpaper on most of the walls, and it was beginning to bubble. I worried that stripping this throughout the whole house would be a big ordeal. And then there was the horrible, wavy floor sanding job, finished with high gloss polyurethane to highlight the flaws as much as possible. People were telling me I should expose a brick wall somewhere in the living room and open up the small arch between the living room and the kitchen. I wasn’t sure if I wanted either of these though. I’m a messy cook, I kind of liked the homey look of the place just as it was, and taking on these projects would like double the amount of work I needed to do before I moved in.
March 2013: I skipped my own birthday to do this.
Yup, at this point I had a project, but I figured I’d still be in sometime around Memorial Day (May 27).
And then, believe it or not, I bought a rug. It’s handmade, and was deeply discounted. This doesn’t mean it was cheap, but it should outlast me so no matter. Needless to say, I wasn’t worried at that time that I could actually run out of money. But it’s pretty. And I brought it right into my living room, still dusty from the exposed brick (I swept with a broom) and dropped this on the floor to make sure I liked it. It was perfect. It matched even. I kept it. Now my mom is using it but for a while it was rolled up in the basement. Here’s a closeup.
And then… out with that kitchen wall. The kitchen is small and the back end of the living room is dark. I realized that although closed floor plans have more merits (and I truly think they do) my house would be better opened up. I can still have a high peninsula to block the dirty dishes in the sink, and losing the wall would solve more problems than it created. I’ve never lived with an open floor plan so I still don’t know if this is true.
Oh look! When the wall came out I realized that the wiring was done. Turns out that modern wiring I saw went up from the basement to light switch boxes and switched to knob and tube everywhere else in the house. My dad and I have done electrical work (in the suburbs where it’s legal) but he couldn’t figure out how to reconnect it. So much for having lights upstairs. I did still have one working outlet in each of the 3 bedrooms. And I’ll admit, the space was better without that wall.
Oh the fun never ends! Next I found out that the plumbing was essentially finished, and that to meet today’s code (and really anything after World War I) I’d need to bring the plumbing stack to the inside of the house. I could go through with a small repair, but it would be throwing good money after bad, and why would I want to worry about plumbing leaks after I move in? I’ll just dig a little deeper into my pockets and get it done right.
And while I’m at it… the upstairs was pretty awkward with a weird, irregular, poorly built bathroom, two almost small, almost unusable bedrooms, and 12 inch deep closets. None of the bedrooms were big enough that I was willing to make them smaller, even the one that was a decent size. Just look at them! And don’t ever complain that your 1950’s closets are small again.
But what if I move the bathroom over 6 feet into one of the mini-bedrooms? This idea was terrifying, but I threw it around a lot, and most people agreed, all in.