Does anyone else feel like they're swimming against the current most of the time? I feel like my ideas about priorities and lifestyle are correct, they just aren't shared by the majority of the population. So much of our culture is about newer, faster, better, more.... When I mention wood siding, vintage appliances, or recycling, people look at me like I'm nuts!
I've always loved history and been interested in the way life used to be, even as a kid. I used to read the Laura Ingalls books and dream about living in the woods in a log cabin. While the other little girls were playing dolls, I was making bows and arrows and climbing trees. Seriously. As I got older, it chanelled itself into a love of old buildings and antiques. They are pieces of history that have survived; clues about the past. My love of the outdoors has given me a deep respect for the earth and a desire to preserve it. As a result, I like the restoration for the satisfaction it brings to both of my interests. I'm preserving a piece of history, plus reusing materials that might otherwise end up in a landfill. Also, by living more simply, I can lessen my own impact on the planet.
Does living in an old home just change you??
All of the homes I've ever lived in have been more than 40 years old. My mom has a '50s ranch, my apartment was built in 1902, our rental hovel was from the '30s. And now the Prairie Box, built somewhere between 1915 and 1925.
Not many people seem to understand the allure of living in an old home. All they think of is old windows, creaky stairs, and cold wood floors. Wavy, cracked plaster? A bedroom the size of a "modern" bathroom? Layers on layers of wallpaper and paneling? No thanks.
But does a new kitchen the size of the main floor of my old home equal happiness? Will a water-guzzling multi-headed shower make me cleaner? Will a new walk-in closet the size of my current bedroom really help me to be more organized?
The obvious answer is "no". I've been inside multiple houses 3 times the size of mine that were dirty, cluttered, and in disarray. And I've been in many more that look like they came out of a magazine shoot: not homey, just perfect. What I see is waste. These huge (to me) new homes have eat-in kitchens, formal dining rooms, formal living rooms, family rooms, dens, and rec rooms. Do 4 people need that much space? What's the purpose of having rooms you don't use?
My house may be small by today's standards, but every little bit of is is used (or will be when we've finished the renovations). I cook in my kitchen, eat in my dining room, sit in my living room. All of it flows together, and there's no place on the main floor that's isolated from the rest. It has a personality, and even without our "stuff" in it, it would still be beautiful and charming. Four generations of people have lived where we live. It's a home, not a house. It will share its story with those who care to look under the shag carpeting and paneling. I feel honored to be a part of its story and to help bring it back to what it was meant to be. Even when I wake up in the middle of the night feeling like I'll never realize my dreams for the house, it's reassuring to know that my house has seen it all before. This house has given me a vision of how my life should be, of an ideal to strive towards. What new house can do that?