We have owned an amazing number of houses, (6 in the almost 18 years we have been married), and then there were the 2 Townhouses we rented (1 for the 1st year of marriage and the 2nd we lived in for a couple of years in Pendleton, SC between house #1 and #2). Ah, and lest we forget, there was the apartment in Hartsville, SC that we rented for more than a year. So that puts us averaging about 2 years per house. Astounding! I am sure we never expected to leave any of them as soon as we did. Looking back I often wish we had just rented and not invested so much into each.
The investment into each house amounts to so much more than dollars and cents. There is the investment of blood, sweat and tears to make each place more than a building but a home. In the 1st home there was the gorgeous full wall mural that we had painted, (by a wonderful friend and neighbor who is an amazing artist – Gloria Turner), for our daughter’s nursery...I was so sad when I heard that the new owners promptly painted over it.
Then, of course, we can’t forget House #2...I designed it; and spent months seeing to every detail. It was my first real opportunity to exercise my design skills and training on a large scale. All of my previous design work was in small projects and consultation type things. My husband was out of town during much of the construction, so my life practically revolved around seeing it through. I do believe being your own designer/contractor contact person was harder than having someone else be that go between. We were having House #2 built during a very tumultuous time in our lives and by the time it was complete, I think we had almost lost the desire for it. I loved how it turned out, but the victory felt hollow when we moved in. There weren’t many good times in that house. I was glad to see it sell.
It was House #3 that actually stole my heart. Never have I mourned a property after the sale, as I have this house. It was a lovely old house (really more a cottage at only 1960 sq. feet!) in an old part of Columbus, GA. I have always loved old homes and old neighborhoods even more.
The little house in Columbus finally provided me with what I had always wanted....character and gardens. The house sat under seven large Live Oaks and had azaleas 6 feet tall (when we moved it), and giant mounds of liriope. All this was placed against a back drop of brick fencing (though you couldn’t see it when we bought the place for all the ivy and poison oak!). There were little brick pathways and a porch that ran the length of the house in back (perfect for my swing). The backyard came complete with a tiny 2-room/1-bath cottage made of the same brick as the house.
The house had a varied history; it had originally been a “country cabin” 100 years prior when Downtown Columbus was much further away. We also had an addition that was 70 years old and the newest part was a young 50 years! At some point in its history a local Columbus Design Diva owned it and gave it a consistent look by having the interiors plastered so that seams between old and new were hard to find (she also added the cottage for her son, who (rumor has it) had gone off to the big city to live a "non-traditional" lifestyle!). I gave up my 2 car attached garage but I don’t think I ever even considered it a loss!
When we arrived at the house, with the realtor – just 6 hours after it came on the market – my husband looked at me and we knew it was the ONE. I believe that if it had contained dirt floors we would still have bought it! We immediately snatched it up because we knew enough about the area to know that houses like that located in that neighborhood didn’t stay on the market long, if they ever reached the market. I had heard stories of people actually approaching families at funerals and making offers as the owners of homes in that area passed away.
We bought the house from a family that had lived there for about 15 years. Apparently, they did little more than maintain it and we had lots of work to do. It was in decent structural and system shape (though, I am sure our dear friend John, who did some electrical work on it, would disagree!). There was character to refresh and face lifting to be done. My husband traveled a great deal with work and so I learned a lot about doing”homework”. Our budget didn’t allow for hiring contractors to come in and do the work so it was up to us. I knew the employees at Lowes & Home Depot intimately and learned to carry wood through the sun-roof of my car (not that I would recommend it!). It was here that I learned a little about wiring, tiling, grouting, painting, squirrel removal and a lot about the amazing uses and versatility of Great Stuff http://greatstuff.dow.com/greatstuff/cons/gaps.htm!
I was sad when it was time to leave this house, my home, and Columbus. I spent some of my happiest time in Columbus. The home there sold 12 hours after it came on the market for the asking price less $500. I still mourn this house and occasionally, if we make it back to Columbus to visit, I have to drive by. Sadly the current owners haven’t “kept it up”.
I am a house person...a homebody, my soul intertwines with my abode.
It has been several years since we have owned House #3 and my husband and I find ourselves working on House #6 and making it our own.