Thursday, August 27, 2009

houses and homes

i wish someone had shown me this picture years ago. because then i might have had some inkling of what i was getting myself into. this is my dear husband at the age of 4-5, building his first house. and today, husband still loves doing this, tho' it's not what he does for a living. it does seem to be in his blood.

we built onto our house last year, as you know if you've been reading MPC for some time. we also built (or at least started) no less than six other structures in the garden, one of which is my beloved blue room/studio/writing house/atelier/dacha. you would think that the relief of having that behind us would make us lean back, relax and just enjoy it. if husband really wants to work on something, there is, after all a half-finished sauna to get on with.

however, his little boy builder's heart and mind have moved on. and he now has it in his head that we need to move to a large old farmhouse. one big enough for more than one family so we can share this big place and thereby reduce our environmental impact on the world. i won't go into all of that right now and we are writing about it over here if you want to know a bit more of what we 're thinking. what i will go on about is house-hunting.

in my mind, this dream is a couple of years away (i'm not quite ready to leave the beautiful room we built-on here, nor am i ready yet to leave behind what i see as the perfect kitchen). but i will admit that after we have looked at two available farm properties in the past two days, i'm thinking that i can move things up in my mind. because your house is not who you are and if you are good at making a home, you can make wherever you live into your home. and it would really be quite nice if where we live had a barn for a couple of horses. and was a bit older and more charming than our current house, which was built in 1968.

neither of the two places we looked at are yet THE place, but looking will help us shape what THE place looks like. interestingly, both of them had an air of sadness over them, tho' for different reasons. both were on about 6-7 acres and were from the early part of the last century.

at the first one, the man who owned it showed us around. he was a sweet, smiling and eager person (probably because the house has been on the market for 374 days) and it was clear that he had loved the house and knew it inside and out. he had lived there since 1967, raised his family there and was finding it too large for his needs. we couldn't exactly determine if his wife was still alive but there was a definite woman's touch around the place - antique dolls and a big beautiful old baby buggy - and a woman's leather jacket hanging in the front entry, still, we weren't sure.

the house had a feel of having been loved and taken care of, but the last updates of carpets, floors and the kitchen had happened back in 1967 when they moved in, bringing their grandparents' furniture. husband is normally very able to look past all of that, but the shock of the ancient furnace (clearly predating their moving in by some 25 years) was a bit difficult to look past. it also had that old smell and i don't mean in a good way, like a used book store smells old. it was the smell of paint that hadn't been refreshed in 40 years. and although it was as clean as could be, it was the smell of dust. an old smell, not musty exactly, just the preserved air of 1967. and it left me a bit sad, tho' the owner wasn't a sad person at all - in fact, he was smiling and upbeat and enthusiastic and clearly loved the house.

today's house was a bit more interesting and closer to what we were looking for, tho' they had added on a very strange, cobbled together addition at some point, clearly without the assistance of an architect and quite possibly using bits and pieces they found at the local dump. and that bit happened to contain a rather new kitchen (which, in my view, would completely have to go, as it was awful beyond belief - the absolutely epitome of bad taste in every aspect). there were, however, two 350m2 barns attached that i could picture myself filling with horses quite easily. the air of sadness in that place was because it was clearly the former home of a family that had disintegrated. the wife had taken the kids and moved out and the husband was still living there, half the pictures gone from the walls, rooms half-empty, save two big-screen televisions. you could tell it was just a house now and no longer a home, if indeed it ever had been a home.

i wonder if all of the places we look at will have some air of sadness about them? it will be interesting to the meantime, i wonder if husband can have the sauna finished in time for blog camp 2.0?


iasa said...

Oh my, that is the most adorable picture, and i love that it is black and white.

I imagine most the homes you view will have a touch of melancholy about them. It's so much a part of leaving your memories behind, even if you are happy with the move.

Or maybe i'm just being hormonal. Time for more apple jacks.

paris parfait said...

What a treasure of a photo! As for the house-hunting, you just never know what may turn up. I think your idea of a big place shared with other families is admirable and brave. I couldn't do it; I value privacy too much.

rayfamily said...

I'm sure that all of the places will have a history or story attached. You'll know and feel it when it's right. All histories are bitter sweet, but when we found our 1890's farmhouse, the energy spoke to us and it was family :)

SE'LAH... said...

ok. this shot of hubby is PRICELESS.

lovely post.

p.s. i voted for your photo.

Jelica said...

"Can we fix it? Yes, we can!" Can't help thinking of Bob the Builder when I look at this photo :)

Unknown said...

Nice photo. Really makes me think about what things I was doing when I was just tiny that I'm still doing now... reading I know...but what else? And then I think about the things my kids do, and are doing...and how many of those are just part of who they are, and they'll still be doing them in 20-30 years.

bored.mind said...

nice picture! your husband sure looks busy doing his miniature castle. hehe :)

Polly said...

I think I've said enough times how much I loved your house. I think you should give it more than just a couple of years before you start looking for that farmhouse, the blue room and that magazine-perfect kitchen deserve to be appreciated for much longer.

Wildflower Studio (Michelle Dransart) said...

That picture is fabulous! I found you on Beth's blog! Can't wait to come back when I have more time!
Nice to meet you!

Bee said...

I love, love, love this picture of your husband. Why doesn't he build a treehouse or fort for Sabin (and put off that farm idea for a while).

I wonder if you can eradicate bad house karma? Some houses feel happy, and some definitely do not.