Pardon Our Dust

our dated dream house

Month: February 2018

Anniversary Post

Exactly one year ago today, during a record-breaking stretch of a few 70 degree days in February, this house became ours. I’ll never forget it for a couple of reasons – because I never (ever) thought we would own it, and probably more likely, because it also happened to be my birthday. Next door is the sister house to ours, almost identical in many ways. Recently the Berwyn Historical Society presented our neighbors with a plaque to signify it being a dwelling of significance and I was lucky enough to get a copy of the nomination which gives quite a bit of insight into the history of our own house. Primarily I was taken by the following passage outlining why people are so taken with George F Barber houses:

The surviving Barber designed homes still captivate the public in a way that current architects could only hope for. When asked why this is so, most Barber house homeowners struggle to explain it, but in many cases people describe it as “being drawn to them”. For reasons that they most likely don’t understand, present day homeowners often speak of their houses as being full of life and character, as being unique and special, and for simply being, what they feel a home should be. Without really knowing it, what they are really saying is that they feel their house is harmonious in form and proportion. That it contains the appropriate amount of ornamentation to go with the functionality they seek. And that they feel it was somehow designed just for them, even though it was actually designed for someone completely different, from a distant walk of life. 

This past Christmas, we got a bit of snow and the first taste of having to clear an entire corner’s worth of sidewalk. I wasn’t sure if our neighbors were home so we went ahead and cleared theirs as well, and soon after, they rang our doorbell with a very sweet gift. It was a book of Barber’s homes and I quickly got lost in the pages of houses from all over the country sharing the same architect as ours (Mike even did as well – I find that he’s more concerned with getting us the “Ferrari of air conditioners” and insulating the basement rim joists or something like that). On page 217 I was surprised to see a picture of our house. 217. My birthday is 2/17, we bought the house on 2/17, and the picture of our house is on page 217. And…..George F Barber died on 2/17/1915. That’s all I really need to know this house is ours for a reason. And maybe “ours” is a relative term, as we once heard that buying an old home is not so much a transaction as it is a changing of the guard. We are simply the caregivers of a place that has, and will, live far beyond our years.

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Living & Dining Room – Before and After

Finally, some measurable progress. I have come to peace with the process of painting – cutting in, endless rolling – it’s almost cathartic at this point, but one day while Mike was in the in the shower, I started to investigate an odd little wrinkle in the wall and ended up ripping down an entire room of wallpaper and the 17 layers on paint on top of it. I was left with this (x’s four walls). So a simple painting project turned into a full-on undertaking.IMG_0736

Little did I know, to repair the cracks required hours and hours of applying joint compound and sanding – an enormous time commitment compared to taking the wallpaper down. So I did all that, and took down the tulip wallpaper border in both rooms (which also took an eternity) scraped that pink radiator after we removed the cover, and spray painted it black. Then we painted both rooms where I was reacquainted with Mike’s ability to find every single painting mistake I have made. I rehung all the curtains above the windows instead of where they were on the wood molding. Finally, we rearranged some furniture and hung art. Since we moved in, we hadn’t use the living room and while it seems kind of redundant to have two tv’s downstairs, we like spending time in both rooms now. There is still SO much to do, but at least this is a pretty good start.

This is what the dining room looked like when we first saw the house (and pretty much what it looked like when we bought the house because the previous owner left us a lot of crap to dispose of). I can’t get over how small it looks. Not that you typically see an enormous sofa and 6 person dining set in the same room, but the space feels a lot larger now.

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This is where we are now.

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Picasso is taking a break from securing the premises to pose.

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This is the living room before (not pictured is splattered food on the wall, I have no idea). we inherited that sofa, as well as another even more hideous one and they lived on our lawn for about a week which really classed up the yard.

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And this is where we are currently binge watching The Crown.

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Next up, these stairs – some sort of transformation is already underway and isn’t going as planned – go figure. More to come. I will tempt you with the fact we discovered decades-old cat vomit under the runner when we took it up.

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