We’re gaining on it.

pleasant valley wreathIt’s like a badge of honor, living in an old house — a “fixer upper. Glamorized by the rise of Martha (even after that brief fall — she was railroaded, people), This Old House, HGTV, DIY, Cottage Living, Coastal Living, Southern Living, and on and on — all full of eager, determined souls earnestly going on about “good bones” and “seeing the potential” and “doing it ourselves” and “adding a splash of color” to “make it pop.” Inevitably, these transformations seem to take either an industrious 24 hours or 7 years of hard labor.

I, on the other hand, came to fixer-upperhood reluctantly. We needed a house, the location was great, the house really does have good bones (or it did before osteoporosis set in), we could afford it, I wanted to be with Mike. How bad could it be? After all, I grew up in a house built in 1900 that had (and still has) the original ’40s kitchen and one bathroom for all 9 of us (plus the “Pittsburgh toilet” in the cellar — kind of a half powder room for those of you not familiar). And precisely two electrical outlets per bedroom, right next to the door. Well, yes, for the last 14 years I had lived in new or almost-new construction — does that matter?  

Oh, you bet it does. I’m all about pretty — choosing colors, decorating, accessorizing, adding that splash and pop. That’s what newer houses are great for. I’m not about knocking down crumbling plaster walls or picking 7 layers of paint out of staircase molding with a dental tool. That would be my sister — she’s taken on a number of abodes of a genre we in the family now refer to simply as “Kathleen houses.” 

Yet, here I am, 2-1/2 years later, still in the thick of fixer-upperhood. We have remodeled the bathroom, added a sink in the dressing room off our bedroom, painted the dining room, living room, bathroom, upstairs and downstairs halls, our bedroom & dressing room, updated the electrical, reinsulated the attic, re-landscaped much of the yard, front & back, and spent the last 6 months remodeling the kitchen, still a work in progress. Oh, and when I say “painting” that means days of scraping, patching, caulking, priming, THEN painting, all the while cursing the previous owners who painted latex over oil, among other atrocities.

With many more projects to go (including our current “outside” projects, also in the works as winter approaches), the house is still winning. But — dare I say it? — we just might be gaining on it. 

Who will prevail? Stop back — it could still go either way.

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
                                           ~Friedrich Nietzsche