Lately, this house has seemed like a burden. The maintenance and improvement projects are expensive, time-consuming, and never-ending. My initial infatuation with all the charm is starting to fade and I'm coming to the realization that we bought a very old fixer-upper. The roof still leaks, the crawlspace is damp and needs to be sealed, and a piece of plywood has been serving as a kitchen island for the last 6 months. Do I regret buying this house? Well, sorta. Sometimes. With so many projects that were either half-finished or unattainable, James and I needed something to make us feel like we hadn't made a huge mistake. So we focused on one of the smallest rooms in the house: the closet.
When we moved in, the master closet was not a welcoming place. Two of the walls were covered in lead paint, the other two were simply sheets of OSB, the floor was covered in a rough-cut piece of greenish carpeting, and mismatched wire shelving was thrown up half-heartedly. For the past two years we've treated the room like a black hole where things are thrown in, the door is shut, and nothing ever comes out. So, the first step was going through each item and deciding what would end up in the renovated closet. I started out tentatively (see my previous post about how I love collecting...), but then I got ruthless and it felt great. The next day, the local thrift shop ended up with several boxes bursting with clothing and accessories.
With the closet emptied, the fun part began: demolition. The old shelving and carpet was removed and immediately trashed. This closet used to be part of a bathroom so there were some holes in the floor and wall where pipes had once been. James cut new boards and fit them perfectly into the holes. Next, the OSB walls were removed and drywall was put in its place. A couple coats of white paint were put on all the walls and some polyurethane was put on the floor to freshen up the space. It was finally starting to look like a room with purpose. For the shelving, a custom fitted Elfa system from The Container Store held what remained from the great clothing purge.
Now, the closet isn't just a place where old sweatshirts go to die. It's a reminder that somewhat simple changes can have a great impact in my daily routine. We can actually complete a home renovation project. My kitchen utensils are still sitting in a bin in my living room and will be there for a while longer, but my dresses and sweaters are hung in a beautifully finished room. Do I regret buying this house? No. Not right now, at least.
Twelve feet by sixteen feet, leaning slightly to one side, no heat or AC, but it has electricity. Originally, it was built as a shed for hogs to sleep in at night. On one wall there is a cutout large enough for a healthy-sized hog to come through. Along the floorboards and some of the walls are evidence of where the hogs would scratch their backs or paw at the floor. There are still old fence posts and hooks for the barbed wire that encircled their pen. Now I spend my time rooting around, pawing away at projects and slowly realizing my dream of having a home workshop.
When we first moved into our house, the hog hutch was filled with the previous owner’s stuff. A hog hadn’t lived there in about 30 years and the previous owner used the hutch for storage and occasional tasks. A lot had amassed in that shop over those years and the previous owner opted to leave much of the contents behind when he left. If you read our previous post or have ever seen our house, you know we don’t shy away from a collection of stuff that may possibly hold some treasures. Once we took ownership I began the slow process of cleaning out the space. The yard is continually spotted with piles of junk thrown out from the shop as I work my way through all of the various boxes and tins. Each nook and cranny was stuffed with jars of nails, boxes of paints, or old electrical equipment that is in a half-state of repair.
In the past few months I have finally cleared the space enough to start working. I have learned a great deal about working in a small space by maximizing space usage. There is still a lot to be done before this old hog hutch can be a proper workshop, but it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind shop. I hope to use this space not only to help with my never ending home renovation projects, but also for the creation of sculptures and furniture.
Like a goldfish, my husband and I will expand to fill the space we are given. Four years ago, James arrived on a cold January evening to move into my one-bedroom apartment with all of his belongings packed comfortably in the back of his pickup truck. Now that we live in a house with more than three times the amount of space as that apartment and one acre of land around it, we have amassed a surprising amount of things. Maybe it’s our artist mentality. Every little thing, even unidentifiable junk, could potentially be used for a piece of art. Yet, realistically, very little of that junk ever does actually get put to use, unless you count our various piles as pieces of modern assemblage art.
Thank goodness that my husband can build furniture because my worst collecting offense is books. Despite the space saving options of ebooks and audiobooks, I can’t resist the appeal of a printed book. Every few years, James has to build another bookcase to keep up with the never-ending stacks of books that take over the surfaces in our house. Most of these books I’ve already read, but I find it difficult to get rid of a book. Sometimes, when rereading a book at a later time, I find a very different story.
For James, his collecting habit is focused around tools, especially hammers. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of hammers until I met this guy. In his own words, it’s a fundamental tool that has existed since we first discovered tools and has been developed over the years into the plethora of options we have today. They are the purest extensions of a laborer. Each hammer tells its own story with the marks it has collected from the jobs it has done.
Together, we also collect odd and unusual objects that catch our eye. These little pieces are what make our house a home. Recently, a college friend of ours came to visit our house for the first time and said “Yeah, this looks like a place y’all would live.” We are two weird people in a weird house full of weird things.