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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

November 21, 2009
This old house has seen the sunshine
of many different years.
This old house has seen some happiness
This old house has seen some tears.
~ Edna Howard White
Stained Glass Transom

My affair with antique houses started when I was a child. I grew up on the NJ shore in a town consisting of newer neighborhoods circling the original village. Historical homes lined the few streets in the downtown area but like a lot of towns, they were mostly converted into doctor and attorney offices or shops. Why is that? Anyway, every time I passed an old house my heart would skip a beat. I was envious of the people who lived in those homes and thought their lives must be filled with love and traditions as old and strong as the walls that surrounded them.

Corbels Old houses seduce you with architectural details. They lure you with a welcoming front porch, stained glass, transoms, enamel and crystal door knobs, planked hardwood floors, tin ceilings, substantial molding, plaster walls, gingerbread trim, corbels, slate roofs. long windows with original wavy glass, claw foot tubs; to name a few.


If you are anything like me, you automatically consider the history of these houses, the charm, the character, perhaps if it’s in decline, the hidden potential. I never once thought about the age, the deterioration, the out-dated infrastructure, the repairs and certainly not the cost. Thank goodness The Man grew up in an old house and knew exactly what he signed up for.

We were soon moved in and planning renovations and restorations when the Fairfield House started to remind me of her age. I lit a candle in the kitchen and had a blast of cold air blow it out. Was it a g g ghost? No, I should be so lucky. An exorcism costs less than our monthly oil bill. Insulation was unheard of when this house was built. It was so bad that we got in the habit of bringing an ice scraper into the shower. The Man installed the much needed and appreciated insulation and again we focused on a project that would leave our mark on the house. That was postponed the morning we woke up with no heat and had to purchase a brand spanking new furnace. Now back to that project, Where were we? Oh yes, we were …postponing it yet again because the hot water heater missed the original furnace and died of a broken heart a few weeks later. Hot water heater replaced.

Siamese Cat on Radiator
We still haven’t converted the knob and tube electrical system that will prevent the upstairs hall light from winking at each person that passes by or install a new central heating and cooling system. We currently have cast iron radiators–dust magnets, but much loved by our two cats. The Man has to install window unit air conditioners in the summer (talk about antiques!). I scolded the dog for a puddle on the floor. Further investigation revealed a leak in the roof. As recently as two nights ago, a loud bang roused me from my sleep.

Hole in the Ceiling

Did someone fall out of bed or worse, break in (perhaps to steal one of my valuable antique window unit air conditioners)? I found a chunk of plaster on the floor and a gaping hole in the ceiling the next morning. Thank God it happened at night, I could have been knocked unconscious. Each project is a Pandora’s Box.

Am I still inlove with old houses now that I know the good, the bad, the ugly? Hell, yes! Would I do it again? In an instant! Each day I pass by one of the unique Victorian features in our home and think I am one of the lucky people living in one of those old houses.


Linking to:

 LaurieAnna’s Vintage Home 





4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2009 11:25 am

    “It was so bad that we got in the habit of bringing an ice scrapper into the shower.”

    Oh my! I can only imagine!

    But how fortunate you are to live in a house with such character! Beautiful! If you don’t already, years from now when things are all in order you will feel it was every inconvenience!

  2. Steve Telofski permalink
    December 2, 2009 11:06 am

    Deborah, your home is simply spectacular. I am happy to see the house is being lived in like it was intended. You and Thomas have done a phenomenal job on the ongoing restoration. There is nothing more interesting than antique houses.

  3. January 5, 2010 7:39 pm

    I had to laugh when I read through your blog entries especially this one about the plaster. We left home for a few days and came back to the plaster ceiling in the tiny laundry room on the floor. Old houses certainly make life an adventure!!

    Thank you for coming over and saying “hi”. I wish our house had as much character on the outside as yours. At some point in time the owners decided they like stucco!


  4. August 19, 2011 12:42 pm

    I hear ya, my friend!
    All those quirks and deficiencies are the price we pay for living in a house with a soul.

    Your old girl is beautiful!


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