I have a friend who needed a project to work on. Something that she could have control of, do what she liked, something that could be her vision and creative outlet. Most of the rest of us would choose a scrapbook, or redecorating a room, or planting a garden. I even thought I was ambitious in digging my own pond. My friend, though, decided to buy a house.
To put this in perspective, she also has a full-time job and is raising two teenage girls.
The transaction closed last week, and I saw the interior of the house for the first time today. Keep in mind this is not a primary residence … it was purchased mainly as an investment (it was bank-owned) and most likely will be rented or flipped. In the meantime, it will be lovingly painted and polished and restored.
I love old houses. This one is a fairly typical New England Colonial, built around 1800. It has 2200 square feet, 3 bedrooms and one and a half baths, a huge barn and a little over five acres. There are brick bake ovens set into the fireplace and low ceilings with aged dark wooden beams. A large screened porch overlooks the yard – it will be a wonderful place in the summer. There are period details including nice old hardware, maple and wide-pine floors, and gunstock corners. Deer tracks crisscrossed the snowy yard.
There are front and back staircases – I’ve always wanted a house with two staircases! – that are narrow and steep. A large person would have difficulty navigating them. The kitchen is small and will need to be replaced, but it opens onto a nice room that my friend envisions housing a hutch, a small pantry, and a family-friendly table and chairs.
The house has beautiful wainscoting, two nice fireplaces, and 6-over-6 windows. We wandered from room to room admiring each one, commenting on the floorboards or the peeling wallpaper or, in one case, the fact that the ceiling seemed to be crumbling. That might need some attention.
This house cost considerably less than our house did in 1999, and has more square footage and more acreage. Now is the time to buy a house, people. There are some steals out there.
I am just hoping that at some point I will be invited to grab a paintbrush and help restore this Colonial to her former glory. These houses have a simple beauty that cannot be matched by any modern structure. Crooked floors, peeling paint, narrow stairs … it’s all part of the charm, the history of this part of the country that is not duplicated anywhere else. Old houses have a life of their own, and I am happy to assist with the resuscitation.