#SOL17: “In a house of this age….”
My husband and I spent about five hours yesterday in the inspection of a 90 year-old house, the house we are hoping to buy to begin the next part of our life adventure. If we heard it once, we heard it a dozen times: “In house of this age…”; “In a house this old….”; “It’s what you would expect in a house…” etc.
The house is yellow stucco, an old Tudor cottage. It sits on a corner lot and is outlined in flower beds of rich soil. Someone loved those gardens. They loved the rose bushes lining the front walk. This city is called the Rose City; I look forward to seeing what colors these are. My father grew roses. At one point he had dozens in his back yard. In this surprising way, the house, new to us, connects me to my past.
We know a little about the sellers; we imagine the rest. The house is being sold as part of an estate; several daughters are managing the sale. The name of the estate is on one of the documents we’ve received so my husband searched and found the owner’s obituary. The same family owned the house for 48 years. The downstairs bathroom has a shower with railings and handles an elderly person would need. We imagine him growing old in the house where he and his wife raised the daughters.
The obituary tells us he was an avid gardner. He was better at gardens than refinishing work, but he must have thought his work in building maintenance qualified him to do home improvements. The upstairs floors belie his confidence; they are pockmarked, streaks of old varnish like acid splashed in the corners and along the edges of the room. The contractor who walked the upstairs with us explained that machines used to strip and refinish floors are touchy. The slightest pause in the process can carve a ditch into the wood. For that reason, refinishing is best left to experts.
It will take a little foundation work to steady this old house. The roof above a bump-out is bad, but the space it covers will make a cosy reading nook. Stucco can be risky, but they did it differently back then. They took their time between coats, letting each one dry thoroughly before they applied the next layer. Let’s not even talk about the ducts.
But the sun. Cool light enters the east-facing windows and spills across the southern exposure as the day proceeds. It drenches the front of the house and floods the living and dining rooms. It lingers through the day. When I walked into the wide front entryway for the first time, the brilliance made me catch my breath. It made me think this would be a house to grow old in, filling our waning days with light. I think it will be a house we will quickly be able to call home.