Recently we renovated our living room and dining room areas in our 120-year-old home. For six years we sneezed through crinkled old carpet, learned to not look up at the dingy drop-down acoustic ceiling tiles, and contemplated painting the soot covered wall paneling—all renovating choices of over a half-century ago.
Floor to ceiling offered challenges. How would the ancient wood floor look beneath the carpet? Peeking above the fragile ceiling tiles we discovered a buckled ceiling, the original old rafters no longer providing the necessary support. The wood paneling would have to stay since we had already learned the mud and horsehair walls crumbled easily with any changes. But the front door, streaked with claw marks from my recently deceased dog, we planned to keep, especially after discovering that the solid old plank weighed close to 250 pounds. We painted it turquoise, preserving my dog’s signature in an outlined heart. It’s a powerful portal to our hearth.
We didn’t love this place at first sight. In fact, we weren’t even interested. It was as if destiny led us into the embrace of this home, and soon after we moved in we felt its welcome, paneling and all. We were HOME. Making changes has been a slow process for us, for financial reasons and probably due to an overall exhaustion of what our lives have been through in the past decade, moving from Colorado to Texas and back to Colorado, living with my parents and learning about compassion in ways we had never before fathomed. After we arrived, exhausted, we did the required electric upgrade, slapped paint on the walls, unpacked, and built a greenhouse so I could get my hands in the soil asap, even during crazy cold winters.
From the get-go, these walls have held us in a warm embrace, the ancient radiators ticking like clocks. Not long after we moved in, the former owner—whose family bought the home in 1952 from the home’s very first owners––stopped by for a visit. Frail and in her eighties, the woman timidly accepted our invitation to walk through the home. I watched as she walked slowly through our house, brushing a hand against the walls, repeating: “This was such a good home.” Can you imagine? I could almost feel the entire home shimmy in response to her caress, and to our hopes, the third owners, for a new life here.