Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Romeo & Juliet Meet This Old House Act I

Two households, both alike in taste,
In fair Chicago where we lay our scene,
Found this old house waiting in waste,
Just begging to be renovated, and made clean....

We really had looked at almost 100 houses. We both were hoping for that bolt of lightning that would strike us and we would just know that this was supposed to be our house. I wanted lots of light and a big yard for a garden, Jamie wanted brick (no wood or stucco!) and a garage. One out of four isn't bad. Something about this house just spoke to us. ( Looking back now, I think it was the house screaming at us..."knock me down- start over!") We closed on the 15th of August 2003 on our sweet little fixer-upper, a 1911 'Sears' House (ordered from a catalog!) and haven't looked back since.

Well, that isn't exactly true. Looking back at these pictures, we both agree- what were we thinking? Star-crossed lovers indeed. We were young and excited to have our very own piece of the American Pie. (And a really big back yard.) That is us on our first day of ownership. Proud and ambitious and oblivious. I can't believe we could even see our house through those bushes! I don't think I need to tell you that they were the very first thing to go.

I had to bribe our very nice garbage men with ice cold cokes to not leave me as I kept hauling "stuff" from the back yard, front yard, inside, front porch, back porch- just about every room in our house. Doors, mailbox, fixtures, carpet, (at least that is what we are pretty sure it once was) odds & ends left over by the previous owners- you name it. I am still on a first name basis with our garbage guys.

After those scary bushes were pulled out, (which incidentally took 4 men, a tow truck, 2 chain saws & a lot of swearing & sweet lemonade) painting & window replacement was at the top of our list. It took over a month just to get the 20+ layers of paint (that really is not an exaggeration) off the front porch. I think our new neighbors loved us, and hated us.

Luckily for us, we have our families! That is my mom & Jay's mom on the front porch for one of the MANY paint "parties" they have participated in. I love our family. (They have helped paint inside too... hi mom, hi Rene' thank you!) Notice the brace on the far left hand side of the front porch? One of our helpers was leaning on it & it was so rotten, it cracked in half. All of them had to be replaced. Oh well. Ooooh, and if you follow the ladder on top of the porch all of the way up...hello, that is me! Somebody has got to do it. ( If I didn't love my mother-in-law, I might have asked her to do it, but I do, so I didn't- and I don't mind heights.)

After a couple of months & many volunteers- this was the semi-finished product. Scary ugly 1970's bushes have been replaced with hydrangeas. (Annabell) They are now larger than the front porch. New braces were installed so that the porch roof wouldn't fall in. Jamie made me flower boxes for our bedroom windows. It is a bright cheery yellow that welcomes us home to our home.

The porch (and back deck) got a coat of green paint to match the trim. New spindles and hand -rails were added the following summer. We have also ripped up the front yard, laid a new side-walk, sodded and added a small front garden in the springs and summers that have followed since our first here at this old house. (I will show those pictures another day.) It might not be brick, and really can be dark at times, and it still is waiting for a garage (amongst many many other things, but that list is too large to share now...) but it really has come a long way from the day we first saw it- and saw what it could be.

A pretty peace this morning with it brings;
The sun for grey skies will not show his head
Go hence, to have more talk of these re-done things,
Some shall be pardoned, others undone shall be punish-ed:
For never was a story of more still to go
Than of this old house, Juliet and her Romeo.

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