Monday, April 20, 2015

A Little House with Louisa May Alcott Wallpaper
It's hard to believe that this July will mark 21 years since we first walked into our house. I loved it immediately, despite the fact that there was a list, even back then, of projects we wanted to tackle. The dining room wallpaper that looked as though it had been selected when Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women. The pumpkin kitchen (orange and green) that was a throwback to the 1970s. The heating system that did not include central air conditioning. But these were little things compared to finding a house we could afford that met the three criteria most prized in real estate: location, location, location.

When we first moved into the house, I tackled a new project (or two) every summer. I had the whole summer off and was only working on freelance magazine pieces, so giving up a week to repaint a room or strip wallpaper (even when it turned out that the Louisa May Alcott wallpaper was only the top layer of three, each uglier than the one that had replaced it) didn't seem like a big sacrifice.

Then my daughter was born, and finding the time for household renovations that could be done during nap time or without endangering a curious toddler became more challenging. We'd already replaced the heating system and repainted much of the house by then anyway. Replacing the roof, enclosing the side porch and gutting the kitchen were projects beyond our skill set, so those came next. When she was a little older, we re-did the downstairs bedroom (my former office/clutter catching room became her playroom) and eventually added on to the house and re-did the downstairs bathroom.
It's been a busy twenty years. And we are slowing down.

Along the way, we considered finding a bigger house -- one that came with all of those renovations already taken care of -- but after one disappointing foray into the housing market that resulted in my declaration that once we took that sign out of the front yard, we were never putting another one up again -- we settled in, and went back to chipping away at turning our little house into our dream home.

We still have house envy from time to time, especially since the days when I looked forward to summer home projects are behind me. These days, giving up summer writing and/or leisure time to paint and strip wallpaper seems less exciting, and, thanks to equal parts waning youth and waning enthusiasm, it takes much longer to complete the projects I used to knock out in a couple of days.

But lately, I've been feeling a resurgence of those old decorating pangs. It still requires more motivation than I can muster up to paint a room, but I'm having fun freshening things up in smaller ways. A closet makeover that makes switching out clothes from one season to another a bit easier. A re-envisioning of cluttered space that makes it less so. Re-lining drawers and reorganizing their contents.

It feels a lot like nesting.

Maybe it will lead to a renewed desire to put the finishing touches on those painting projects begun over previous summers. But maybe it won't.  For now, it's breathing a little bit of life back into the house that, over two decades, has become our home.

Messy and imperfect. But home.

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