If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Reading and Searching for Inspiration

Since before I moved into this house to make my life with Mike we have been making changes to it.  Do other people do that to their homes?  I know I did to my first home.  Almost immediately after we moved in we started making changes - painted a little to have some variation from the beige that the former owner had painted everything - I mean EVERYTHING - walls, woodwork, ceilings... 

Then, several years ago I sold that house and bought a brand new house.  It was so new that everything had not even been finished.  For example, there was no handrail going up the steps to the bonus room.  The cabinets were still dusty from where the floors were sanded.  The paint was barely dry!  Yet, I began changing things.  This time there weren't big changes - just subtle things like hanging artwork and photographs and plates on the wall.  Adding blinds and curtains and rugs on the floor stamped the house and made it mine.

I remember Mike telling me about his first visit to that house.  He said that he was so nevous, anxious, and tied up in knots.  Yet, the minute he stepped in the front door, the house seemed to put him at ease and he could relax.  Truly, that has always been my goal when creating a home - making anyone who comes in the door feel at ease and relaxed.  I'd love for folks to feel like they can simply plop down and put their feet up and set a drink beside them and enjoy the place as well as the company. 

So, when Mike and I decided to join together, we immediately decided to make some changes to this house as well.  This time I wasn't working with a completely blank slate.  This time there were memories, origins, and tastes that were lurking in the corners and shadows.  So, I had to tread lightly, gingerly, carefully as I began to put my stamp on this dwelling to make it my own. 

There were many pros and cons to moving into this house - his house - instead of the two of us adapting my house or selling both our houses and finding a new one that is all our own.  I won't go into all the pros and cons here but one of the pros is that the house was originally built for my in-laws.  (Of course, that could also be considered a con if I really think about it - maybe their ghosts and tastes and memories are some that are lurking!)  They selected some fine attributes to include into the house - like the white oak flooring in all of the rooms
You may remember this photo from another post.

and the big farmhouse kitchen
Here is the working side and...
Here is the dining side.  You may remember this look from another post.

and the double fireplace
The kitchen side and...
and the den side.  (Yes, these pictures are from this Christmas post.)

and the nice crown molding
Seen here in the Den Before and After

and the French doors and large windows... 
Seen here in Fall on the Back Porch.

Plus, I'm lucky enough to have a husband with wonderful taste (so much so that at times I have teased him and called him Martha).  You see, my in-laws lived in the house for fifteen years or so before they sold the farm where it was built.  Then, it was moved to its current location here.  So, when it was set here, Mike had the good taste to add some other wonderful features.  Features like the beadboard in the guest bathroom...
Seen here in Before and After.

and the window seat in the bay window...
also known as a favorite hiding spot.

and the brick on the front porch...  well, I think you get the idea!  This house has really wonderful bones.  Mainly, what we have been doing to it during the past three years is to simply update it, adapt it to our current stage of life, and put a stamp on it that is uniquely our own together. 

Every time I have a break from work - spring, fall, holidays, summer - I try to take on an updating project.  With a tight budget, sometimes the updates have to be cheap small inexpensive and that has certainly been the case from the beginning!  So, from the beginning I have been consulting the experts.  I have kept an idea book for years.  It is simply pictures from magazines that I have clipped and added to a binder.  I keep scraps of fabric from projects there and paint chips and such.  That way I can simply grab this binder when I go on a shopping trip in search of an accessory update and I will know if the color will match or blend or coordinate.  I've also begun keeping idea boards on Pinterest and can pull those up on my iPad or phone - or plan ahead and make a printout if I need a hard copy. 

This summer break hasn't lent itself well to taking on a big set of projects just yet because I have had obligations with work.  Each week has found me planning or facillitating a professional development session for the teachers in our district to help them plan for integrating technology into the curriculum more seamlessly.  So, I have found my down time to be when I am looking for inspiration and dreaming.  I referred to a post by Susan at Between Naps on the Porch where she shared a list of her favorite decorating and design books.  I saw an advertisement for a sale on one of the books and decided to check it out of the local library to see if I wanted to snatch up the half-priced copy for my own library.  That just seemed to start the ball rolling for me to check out more books and do more dreaming! 

This morning as I was finishing my coffee, I was perusing one of the books I've checked out of the library, Creating a New Old House by Russell Versaci, I read a passage that struck a nerve with me and helped me to see what Mike and I really are doing here with this house.  Versaci says,

"Our childhood memories are colored with picture-postcard images of old houses.  Most of us can remember dreamlike visions of the house we grew up in or wish we had.  We recall the pleasures of sultry days at a summerhouse spent idling on the front porch or swinging from the big tree in the backyard...These scenes from the past, which are half-remembered and half-imagined, come to the surface...Creating a new house ought to be like walking down memory lane, gathering these treasured recollections for one of life's most creative endeavors."

What a revelation that was for me.  Not only are we trying to create something that is uniquely our own and fits our lives - updating and revising as we grow and change, but we are also trying to add in our childhood memories and dreamlike visions of the pleasures we recall - scenes from the past that are a walk down memory lane.  Bunny Williams wrote a book called An Affair With a House and that is where I started my search for inspiration.  I guess that was a great place to start since, basically, that is sort of what I am doing as we live and grow here - I'm simply building an affair with this house as I update it and try to put my stamp on it in making it uniquely our own.