This place matters!

Oliver helping

There is a home down the street from us that has been under renovation for a few years now and it’s coming along wonderfully. I wish I had before and after photos of how it looked then compared to now. Every year they scrape away at the exterior, paint one side of it or reside it with real wood. It’s been going on since we moved in four years ago and I love to see the slow progression of developing beauty. It parallels to what we’ve been doing in our home. It’s been slow-moving and a every year we do a bit more. We’re actually almost done with our goals that we set before us in order to sell it. I’ve been aware of how much we’ve tried to love this house and make her beautiful since she was so unloved and ugly before. Our neighbors tell us stories of her former treatment. Originally we thought we would just flip the house but we stayed and the long haul has taught us about the slow process of real change.

Everything that was done to this house before we owned it was very slap-dash; just get it covered with white paint or throw up a slab of wood panelling to hide a derelict wall. There was absolutely no craftsmanship or care put into ANYTHING and it’s always been very sad to me as we’ve been tearing down old things that were cheap and poorly done to put up something new.The house was even a rental for a while and you know how that can go…. just cover it with paint and call it good. Paint over light plates or splash primer on a wood floor. No big whoop! I’ve lived in many apartments over the years and have seen how rentals are ‘updated’. We found a joy in taking care of our home so that people feel safe when they come over for a meal and when someone buys our home they see that she has been well loved, not just maintained.

The other day I walked by that old house that someone has been fixing up and there was a sign in the window that said, “This place matters” and I smiled big. I couldn’t agree more. Our homes and how they are taken care of matter. I even found a picture book for the kids a few years back about a family that moves into ‘the hood’ and you see the transformation that happens over the years, perhaps even a few decades. Flowers in the garden, children being born, a community garden in the place of an alleyway.  It was a huge challenge to my ‘hurry up and get ‘er done’ personality. Sometimes beauty takes time to develop. This has truly been the case in our home. Having two kids inside while we work has always been the challenge in getting projects done, that and a husband who works full time. Nap time is short and it’s the only time to work if you don’t want to totally neglect your children. So our home has taken the past four years to make beautiful.

We have both leaned so much about fixing up a home. I can now mud, sand, cut and throw up tile, hang all sorts of bits and bobs and turn a waste land into a flourishing garden. The irony is now that she is where we want her, we’re selling her. My garden that I’ve dug up myself and turned from a rubbish bin, planting food and flowers for our family, it will belong to someone else.  I’ve literally pulled garbage in the form of plastics, toys, bolts, hygiene products and all sorts of goodies from the earth for the past four years and replaced them with seeds and compost that thrive and feed us. My colours and textures will bring rest and refreshment to another family. Children that are not mine will run and chase one another on these beautifully sanded and finished hard wood floors. And others will wake up every morning to a bright and naturally lit kitchen and dining room and they will sit with morning coffee or tea and flow refreshingly into the day. I’m choosing to enjoy these last months or weeks that we have left within these walls, allowing our home to love us back but when we leave I know I will cry. This place does indeed matter mainly because we have cared for her so much. Four years seems like a dot in the scheme of time but it’s what we’ve accomplished in these four years that has taught us so much. Beauty really does matter.

Thursday night dinners

salad from my garden

More food

One of many outdoor fires

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6 thoughts on “This place matters!

  1. I have been thinking of you and especially all your hard work you already did in your garden this year…let alone all your investment in your home of so much beauty and heart. I love that sign! What a fantastic statement! It reminds me of the blogs I read of families who have chosen not to leave Detroit. I am thinking lots of you in all this transition… xo

    • The bit about Detroit made me laugh, even though I’m sure there are folks investing there. For some reason it’s always the butt of some joke but I do get the power behind choosing to stay. Thanks for thinking of us. This is an amazing and intense time for our family.

      • Here is my favourite one of a family in Detroit. http://www.sweet-juniper.com/

        His posts about going into the abandoned schools and taking pictures are breathtakingly poignant. His whole theme is making something that wasn’t beautiful and a home into just that and that it is intensely valuable. He talks a lot about how the rebuilding process leaves an indelible mark on the whole family and he chronicles what it has done for him and his family. He reminds me of you a lot and things you say and how you see things.

        How are you managing all of it? Are you doing okay? I can only imagine how intense it is. Lots of love and prayers from us.

  2. Your house is truly amazing! I remember that non-existent gross kitchen when you guys first got it. You guys have done a lot of work and I’m sure it will be hard to leave that behind. You deserve a very enthusiastic pat on the back!

  3. Pingback: Great site « Tea and Chopsticks

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