What I’ve Learned….

By on 7 August, 2015 in Carole King, Historic Midtown with 2 Comments

myhouseWhen I first set foot into what would eventually become my house, I remember, to my horror, that everything, except the floor, was painted a sort of beigey-pink color — ceilings, walls, doors, baseboards, beams-you name it, it was painted the color of human flesh. On the 24th anniversary of the day I moved into my house I have to reflect on the things I’ve learned over the last two decades…

  1. It’s just paint and it can be covered up. Apparently before I came along, other potential buyers had walked away from the sale by being turned off by paint colors on the walls.
  2. In 1912 when my house was constructed, people sometimes used rooms differently.
  3. The everyday needs of the many previous occupants of my house occasionally varied from mine.
  4. Buy low but buy quality (such as a fridge). Purchase quality items to last but save your money for the fun things that will reflect your personality and you will really enjoy.
  5. Old House people throw realllly good parties.
  6. Invest in a good ladder.
  7. Leaking water + old wood = nothing good. Always watch out for “stray” water from unknown sources.
  8. When cleaning closets, chimneys, basements, etc. those forgotten places…it’s always gonna be gross.
  9. Pay attention in different seasons to how your house was laid out…where the sun rises and sets, how the trees shade, what noises you can hear.
  10. Experiment with wallpaper, but don’t go wild with it.
  11. Does anybody really use shutters for what they were originally intended?
  12. When you paint the exterior of your house, really think about what you want to show the world about your personal taste. But even that can eventually be redone.
  13. A pile of sawdust is never a good sign. It could be dry rot, pesky insects in the walls or even in the furniture.
  14. Buying those little test containers of paint is really worth it. And you can save your final choice for touchups.
  15. Always have a burning lamp in a front window at night. It shows somebody lives here!
  16. Other old house lovers won’t laugh at you if you name your house. Think of all the great houses in Montgomery—Morningview, Edgewood, Belvoir. So be creative and let the name reflect your personality or lifestyle.
  17. If you find a roof shingle in your yard, save it. You’ll need it soon.
  18. If you have specialty lumber items made, like window sashes or molding, make sure you have enough. It’s pricey enough so you don’t want to have to repay a setup charge.
  19. A porch is your houses’ greatest asset. Never tear it off or close it in and whenever needed rebuild it.
  20. Testing assorted swatches of paint colors on your walls, interior or exterior, is never a bad idea.
  21. Be nice to any contractors who do work on your house. Share a cool drink, brownies or lunch with them and you’ll always get good work and service.
  22. If somebody helps you out with anything—history, legal work, roofing, landscaping—on your house, write them a thank you note. They’ll always help you out.
  23. Wooden floors are always worth the refinishing job except if you have lots of big dogs, like me.
  24. All old houses look fabulous at Christmas.
  25. Don’t oil the squeak in the screen door. It adds ambiance.
  26. Nothing is perfect in your house. It’s just closer to perfect than in a newer house. Only you will know the flaws.
  27. Your old house needs an old bathroom that works well. You don’t need three sinks, a sauna, marble counters, or a walk-in shower.

Celebrate your anniversaries with your house and appreciate each other, flaws and all.

Carole King (not the singer, just the hummer) enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!

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There Are 2 Brilliant Comments

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  1. All so very, very true, Carole. Requesting permission to reprint as a mailer to new old house owners!

  2. Kris Kendrick says:

    #9 should be #1. Otherwise, I’m there.

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