Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Life in an Old House

My guest blogger today is my daughter Karly. She is an educator/writer sharing her thoughts on growing up in a century home restoration project. Check out her blogs on my sidebar!
personalized house sign

An old house never sleeps it seems—as long as it has a family to look out for.

We looked at many slumbering houses before we found the Phelps house. Some were snoring so loud I wasn’t allowed to go in them, while others had been rudely awakened into something they were not (one strangely resembled an aquarium. Lots of fish tanks). But this old place squinted at us just the right way, and we packed up and settled on a hill facing west.

176 years take their toll on windows and walls. It sure wasn't much to look at, and we learned to smile cheerfully in the face of bewildered and questioning looks. We would also learn to smile bravely in the face of immovable stones, ravaging stumps, hidden decay, and delay.

On the subject of questioning looks, explaining that one lives in a 176-year-old house can be difficult. Can it
be summed up into 5 years in a tiny cottage while fixing electrical and oodles of other problems, then moving into the big house with a temporary kitchen? That doesn’t quite convey the feel of it, the adventure. My friends from high school and college never quite got it unless they came to see it. I would proudly march them to the real kitchen to show off the lovely pit of dirt that it was for a while (Now I just tell them it used to be a pit of dirt.)

Can I explain the kind of resourcefulness required for fixing up a fixer-upper?
You need to be willing to get dirty, plow through confusion, and make do with what you’ve got. When the stone is 6-feet long and it bends two iron bars? Yeah, build the foundation around it. And the shower in our only bathroom may look a bit Trek-y, but a curved corner shower is all that would fit. It came in 100 pieces—exactly 100. With some help from an extra pair of hands, I put it together from the single, almost picture-less page of directions included. (Well, there were ten other pages, but they were in every language from Mandarin to Portuguese.)

Still, life in an old house is art. It is living alongside your dreams for the future, watching them slowly grow, learning patience. Walking around and seeing what can be beyond what is sitting there with peeling paint or temporary plywood.

Living in an old house is keeping it awake.
Copyright Karly A. Smith


  1. Very well done and I remember the first time we went with you and your folks to see it.

  2. Beautifully said Karly, thank you for sharing a peek into your world.
    Lori Ann

  3. I love the discription of your home project. My favorite phrase......"living in an old house is keeping it awake." What a beautiful sentiment. Thank you for sharing.