Our quest to find our unicorn home.
Photo credit - From the movie: The Money Pit, starring Shelley Long and Tom Hanks. A 1986 comedy about a couple who falls in love with a home and inherits all of its problems found during renovations along with the comical, yet sometimes true issues with contractors.
For those who don't follow along on my Instagram, we have been house hunting in our area of New England for an antique home. Our current home went on the market and sold the next day, so we have been scrambling to find our next home and it has proven to be somewhat of a challenge especially when it comes to old homes and antiques.
My husband and I have referred to our search as " Searching for the Unicorn" - our wish list runs long and we believed it might not exist. We were prepared to move into a rental, and there were times I half joke that we may end up in another newer home. Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with new or newer homes; our current home was built in 89, but having grown up in a 1700's home, and then six homes after it, I know what I like. For me and the Mr., even if the new home looked like an antique and was full of character and charm, it would be void of the apparent lineage that comes with an antique home. On a side note, I should mention, my husband would be happy in an old or new home, but as the old saying goes "Happy Wife Happy Life" and he has been a rock star when it comes to house hunting.
Having already lived in an old home that had a hidden room that my father found, along with hidden walls and fireplaces that my mother and I uncovered, I find myself even getting excited at the thought of what could be behind layers of old paint and peeling wallpaper. In the past we have found signatures, dates, and written notes by a previous residents. In one home that I remodeled, a six pack of beer from the 60's was hung from the rafters in a 1' x 1x' space. That space was created for no apparent reason and to this day I have no idea why it was there.
When I walk on an old floor, I'm not only admiring the patina I'm also envisioning who might have been walking there before me. I also love searching for documented tales about the home. These can be found in the home itself, libraries and local historical societies. One such search yielded information from a book found in an old New England home that my husband and I were staying in. That book told stories about the local residents and even mentioned some of our ancestors. It was that book that confirmed and connected our separate family lineage and it was that book that also made us realized we had the same 8th great grandparents. That home and story can be found by following this link.
When I come across an old home in need of repair, I can't help myself... I want it. As if it were an orphan or pound animal, I want to take it in my arms and give it the love and attention it deserves. Some of the homes I have toured have literally made me sad, especially when I hear a the property might be torn down or that it needs to be torn down due to major structural issues or in one case mold took over most of the home.
Years of neglect have made many antique homes money pits or the opposite - years of layered updating and remodeling has created a new set of challenges. Unfortunately, I deleted a lot of the photos I took during our home search, but I did find a few to share.
The names and faces below have been changed to protect the innocent :-).
It was love at first sight ! Still standing proud and from what I could see fairly straight, this home beckoned to me like a sad-eyed puppy in a pound. The problem? it was not even for sale! I drove by this antique home, during a visit to another home and I just had to stop and envision how it must have looked in all of its glory. Even the crooked light over the door beckoned to me to fix it.
Rough and Masculine - I know for some of you these 1960's cabinets are wonderful and you would not change a thing. They were solid and our contractor loved the craftsmanship, but when one (me) is looking for and wants an updated Chefs kitchen, that includes smooth painted doors, this kitchen went on the "would need to remodel" list.
Plumbers and electricians who cut through joists need to go back to school! Seriously... I mean come on! In this case, the pipe could have been installed between the joists. I saw it with my own eyes! There is space in the bathroom. Mr. Plumber.... what were you thinking? Over time this type of installation will cause sagging floors, buckling walls, and in severe cases, roofline issues.
Green with envy... I mean Ivy - The inside of this particular antique home only needed minor updating to fit our vision, but the outside had a couple of things I noted during our visit. Tree roots were going under and lifting the driveway and these roots were visibly reaching towards the foundation (not good for foundations and pipes going in and out of the home). Ivy is pretty right? but this ivy has become invasive. A fixable problem? Sure it is, but I could tell that this particular ivy just laughed at the owners who did their best to control it. Large roots and small buds of green ivy were sprouting all over the back yard and climbing up the surrounding trees and fence.
When old meets new - This home was out of our price search, but I just had to drive by and see it with my own eyes. I loved it, but what did not work for me was the ultra contemporary home to the left. Once again, there is nothing wrong with new homes, it's just that one of the the things on the unicorn wish list was to be surrounded by other historic homes.
Iron Man - Okay, so check out this beauty! I'm serious, I thought it was amazing! I could have had my own steam train engine... errrrrr I mean coal steam boiler in the basement. In its day, it heated the 6,000+ square foot home we looked at, but now it sits dormant with its predecessor, sitting in the next room.
Darn! No storage in the attic for all of my holiday and entertaining boxes. The more I looked at listings that mentioned updated heating and air conditioning, the more I realized it most likely meant I would not have an attic to use.
Keep Driving By! - Okay, in all honesty home was not for sale and on our list, but I just had to snap a picture of this old gal in Vermont. My curiosity was going a mile a minute. I wanted to go inside and I wanted to know what this building was in its former life.
This too is another little building I just had to photograph. I posted it on my Instagram Feed stating that we finally found our home. The comments that followed were absolutely hysterical! "a Dutch door!" "a sky light", "Maybe a couple of throw pillows", "Nothing that a little soap and water won't take care of", and one online friend even asked "is it time for an intervention?". :-).
At this time, with a few adjustments to our wish list, we think we found our unicorn and we are in the process of buying it, but until the closing is over, that home will remain a mythical fantasy.