We’ve lived in this house for more than two years now, the latest in a long line of residents who have called this place home over the past hundred years or so.
(One hundred years! I never thought I’d ever live in a place of that age, and sometimes wish the house could share its stories of all of those who came before. What an interesting conversation that would be!)
From the outside, our house doesn’t have much in the way of curb appeal. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not ramshackle or neglected. It’s a solid, sturdy house, well kept and in good condition for its age, but with a face of grey block only the builder could have loved.
Inside, though, it’s a slightly different story.
Our house retains its original character in the hardwood floors, high ceilings and beautifully-carved wooden banister, while some high-efficiency upgrades, an updated bathroom, and a beautifully finished attic let us know that it’s been lovingly tended throughout the years by its previous denizens.
Our house is by no means perfect. The walls have very little insulation, which means that there are times in winter when the heater is going full-blast in order to provide enough warmth… and, because the attic was originally meant to be used for storage and not as a bedroom, the oppressive summer heat occasionally drives us downstairs in search of the refreshing air-conditioned coolness of the main floors.
The stove and cooktop, while functional, are from another decade entirely, as are the kitchen’s painted wooden cupboards. The “second bathroom” is a shower at one end of the basement, a washbasin that’s actually part of the laundry area, and a toilet on the far wall, separated from the rest of the basement by a light wooden fabric-covered frame. The stairs are creaky, there’s a leak in the garage wall, and the upstairs carpet needs to be replaced.
Yet far more than either of our previous homes, we have fallen in love with this house.
Perhaps it’s because, though we’re on a narrow city lot and therefore extremely close to the houses on either side, for the very first time all four walls are ours, completely detached from those of our neighbours.
It could be that it’s purely practical: we can see ahead to a time in our lives when it will be fully paid for.
Maybe it’s the character, the heritage, the lives that were lived within these walls that make us feel like a special part of history.
Or maybe it’s because living here is teaching us that something can be imperfect, yet still be very, very good.
One day, a couple of months after we arrived in our new city, we returned from an evening out and, as we drove up our street, for the first time since we moved here I felt a little thrill as I saw our house and realized, “We’re home!”
What makes a house a home to you?
(Updated from original post in February, 2012.)