Our new-to-us old house — the 100-year-old home we bought and renovated — wasn’t ready when we sold the modern house we were living in before. During the interim, we rented a rental house built in 1929. It was our first time living in an old home, and we didn’t like it.
But we learned a lot about what we wanted for our in-progress home. We wanted modern amenities like wall outlets and lighting!
The rental was an old Tudor that was remodeled at incredible expense. But the owners stayed very true to the original design. They rebuilt all of the existing woodwork, adding even more intricate wood detailing than the original house contained.
Maybe we’re just not Tudor kind of people, but the huge foyer and living room with its dark, dark, gothic style wood were creepy. The family who owned the house held fabulous parties for diplomats in these huge rooms, so the style made sense for them.
We like to hang out in the kitchen and family room. Both of these were really small, relative to the rest of the space. In the 1920s, only the staff spent time in the kitchen!
Beyond Creepy: Squeaky and Creaky, Too!
We also took issue with the narrow hallways and the back stair steps — so shallow that we had to walk down them with our feet splayed to the side. And the hardwood floors in the master bedroom and hallway made so much noise that we had to strategically walk around the bed in an arc to avoid a symphony of creaks. And the squeaks in the hallway were nearly impossible to avoid. If we left the door to our bedroom open at night, the kids almost always woke me up when they went to bed (Our older children go to bed later than we do).
And the lighting! The bedroom hallway didn’t have a single outlet. At night, with no natural light, the hallway was complete darkness! Most of the rooms don’t have can lighting — they have sconces and, at best, one ceiling light. At worst, none.
But there was an upside to this experience. When the electrician for the new house asked if we wanted to preserve the look and feel of the existing lighting, we said a loud “NO!” And, if you look at our amazing lights, I think you’ll agree we made the right decision. We like bright. We like to see where we’re going!
And, if the hardwood floors hadn’t made such a racket in the rental house, I would never have realized that simply refinishing the wood could lead to unbearably squeaky floors. At the new house, the plan had originally been to lay the new flooring over the old (the original flooring had no life left). The subcontractor — thank you! — recommended that we remove the old flooring first to avoid creaks. Avoid creaks? Yes, rip out that floor!
We bought an old house. But we enjoy modern living and lighting. No, we didn’t preserve the entire look and feel of it. But we did preserve our comfort level. Yay to light and nay to creaks — we did the right thing.
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