Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Reclamation-Some Planning of My Own

Not quite this bad...

I am really a child. While of course I will miss having my daughter living with me, and as much as I miss seeing my son regularly, I am getting down ride giddy in my head about planning the possibilities with my house. I know, I know- I have to get the clutter cleared and decide what really needs to stay and what can go.The thought though that I will have my office back, and can turn DD#2's old room, now housing her brothers bed and a mess of other things, into a proper guest room reminds me of the months before we finally closed on our first house. 

I have to paint a visual for you to understand how much I was looking forward to getting in that house, tearing down wallpaper, painting over, and cleaning up the ugly, roughly 650 square foot house. It had a nice big kitchen  decorated with filthy yellow, at least I think they were supposed to be yellow, peel and press linoleum tiles. The walls were adorned with the remnants of what appeared to be an exploded pot of chili. The grey curtains, that were supposed to be white,with little flower buds were soot covered, and smelled of smoke. Moving into the living room, the brown and rust carpet was strewn with balls of dust laying about. You could barely see out the windows, as it had to have been years, probably since the previous owners wife got sick, since they had been washed. The single bedroom had dingy walls, and I won't even discuss the bathroom. The saving grace was the nice big basement, cinder block and dry, and a barely used washer and dryer that was coming with the house. 

Taking possession of the keys, and suddenly I no longer saw the filth and the dirt.  I saw a cute little cottage where we could live for several years cheaper than any apartment in town. I pictured getting  a dog and playing with him in the big yard and making apple pies with the apples from the two trees we were now the proud owners of. 

Our friends thought we were nuts when they saw the overgrown tree's leaning over the roof of the bright pink house. A friend gagged when she walked in, and almost was in tears at the prospect of me living there. Our families were not phased a bit, as both of us came from the world of fixer uppers. Here is where I have to disclose that there was nothing wrong with this house structurally, and the renovations we took on were nothing more than cosmetic. We were 21 and 26 years old, full of energy, and no commitments other than our job and my part time college classes. We had no money, but we were going to build sweat equity.

In our current house we have some major issues going on with a sagging driveway and problems with a wet basement that regularly takes on water. Both are the result of some unfortunate soil composition, making the remediation structural and costly. Same with the deck in the back. We also had some plumbing issues in both bathrooms, so the work we need to do is more than cosmetic. We can't just wield a paint brush and use elbow grease, plus the commitments we have take up a lot of our non-work hours. We'll need some cash and good planning this time. We're also not starting with a blank slate. We had nothing when we bought the first house. Not one lick of furniture, no boxes filled with years of paper work and old clothes; no bulging closets and cupboards. We had three full weeks before our wedding to clean, paint, pull cheap stinky carpet and replace with cheap clean carpet. We bought remnant linoleum that fit almost perfectly in the kitchen and bath, and washed those grey curtains with bleach to save money. My father and father-in-law had a field day taking down the overgrown trees with chain saws and we covered the ghastly pink with fresh white paint, and brown trim around the doors and windows. The little house was empty-cleaning up and fixing up when trying to live life in the space adds another dimension of stress.

Despite the clutter and no blank slate, I can go room by room to purge and move things. As my daughter scrounges low cost furniture, I am looking at my stuff in a new light and trying to visualize where things might look different, better, and fresher, living in a new spot. I figure we have at least seven-eight years in this house, maybe longer, but with it being so empty of people on a daily basis, I want it to be a retreat for the three of us still at home, and a place of welcome for visitors.  Who has tackled major empty nest reclamation? Did you tackle all at once, or have a room by room plan? If you hired contractors, did you balance out the cost of professionals with DIY or go all out?  
Our little white house was not quite this nice-but it was ours.


  1. I am one of those empty nesters. Though Son3 is still in school, he will not come back to Birmingham to live once he graduates so he is officially gone. I have kept his room intact as far as the furnishings go, but did a deep purge of all his "treasures". (He was with me at the time so I did not get rid of personal stuff without agreement) Essentially his room could and has been used as a guest room when we have multi guests. The other son's bedrooms became guest rooms after they left home also. so now I have lots of guest rooms. Our house is much too large for us , but my elderly mom lives just 3 blocks away and as long as she is living there we will stay here.

    1. Moving is pretty expensive as well, so if the house works for you, no need to move. Once I have things how I want them, it will be interesting to see if we feel like we are in too big of a house.

  2. You painted a very good picture. There is always so much t be done.
    We are still in our first house. Every time we thought about moving up, we were hit by some catastrophe. We were told the house was in perfect condition, it was not. We have learned to be DIYers out of need.
    I too, was quite glad when Anna cleared out a lot f her stuff on Christmas. I understand you eyeing rooms to reclaim. We love our kids with all of our hearts and would do anything for them but they have the tendency to bring chaos and junk with them.

    1. I know what you mean. She doesn't want to throw some things, but doesn't want to take things with as it might look too jumbled. Hah.


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