I live in a row-home purchased in 1979 that was completed in 1934. It's my first home I purchased along with John and perhaps our last home ... Gives meaning to what a forever home truly is to us. Sure there have been times of pondering what if? What if we purchase an old commercial building and blow out the center for a atrium and loft off all the rooms? That idea we drew renderings for. What if we find a cool mid-century modern, gut it and refigure it into an open space concept home? What if we were to purchase an old Bucks county farmhouse and bring it into today's desired European style and grow lavender and raise Bees? That one almost became a reality, along with purchasing a house in Lambertville, NJ, a Victorian with a big porch right in town. All these ideas were bantered about, some seriously ... Yet we remain in our home choosing to live in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. Dwelling in the same house for nearly 36 years. As I write this post another revamping, update and renovation is occurring in "this old Philly Row-home".
"People usually are the happiest at home."
"Home is the nicest word there is."
~Laura Ingalls Wilder~
One year for my birthday I gifted myself (any other people do this?) Harry Allen's iconic pig bank. The bank can hold up to $10,000 in bills. I named her Mademoiselle Oink. I know silly, but she's become a fun prop that makes appearances throughout our home. I feed Oink a diet of greens as in $5's and $10's! Those greens add up oftentimes to my decorating dollars.
So come on downstairs to our kitchen that's going through an update and I promise I will share the big reveal soon (hopefully next post) inch by every inch you will see it all with many photos. I recently found this vintage Veuve Clicquot champagne bucket from the 60's. John's and my favorite Champagne. We're going through many Cha-Chings with all the changes so I took some green from Mademoiselle Oink, to her it was a only a burp.
"There is nothing like staying home for real comfort"
The bottle of Veuve Clicquot will be opened on Memorial Day with a toast of cheers, for it will our 36th anniversary celebration of living in our row-home and marks many new renovations.
There is more to complete in our kitchen. One being we are waiting on the condenser grill cover for our glass front Sub Zero - because - when ordered we took exact measurements of our existing space of 83.5 high by 32 wide. We were told "no problem". There was a problem ... our home is 90 years old and we are working with existing measurements from are kitchen gut renovation in 1981. Long story short - Sub Zero ships a condenser grate for a 84 inch opening ... It meant us ordering a custom made grate - Cha-Ching not yet delivered. But, we were told the refrigerator has an adjustment of a 1/2 inch to accommodate such measurements ... NOPE doesn't.
The weekend we moved in (1979) I made two purchases for our house. There used to be a delightful boutique store that sold all handmade, lead free, one of a kind pottery pieces. It's name was Rachel's daughter. I own many pieces we still enjoy and display. Moving day Mom, Dad and my Brother Kevin helped us (really didn't have too much to fill this house of 1,886 square feet, (basement not included). John and I had lived in a small duplex with not a whole lot of furniture. Kevin is 10 years younger than I and moving day my Dad would look at John and announce looking at a nuisance box or awkward shaped piece "That's a Kevin item"! Even to this day John and I will still joke with certain purchases saying "That's a Kevin item"!
So moving into our little community, a family pocket of the city we were met with covered dishes, big smiles, introductions and people with a great amount of curiosity. At Rachel's daughter I spotted this pottery bucket that has always served as my utensil holder and it just felt right emotionally for a souvenir of our moving in day. OK, not saying they were nosey neighbors but funny I purchased pronounced noses on the pottery bucket! Memories can hold powerful energy.
Oh, the other purchase was a tiny Palm tree plant from Acme super market when Mom and I ran in to purchase a few items to make sandwiches. The plant was tiny around 4 inches and cost a big 99 cents. Today it lives and thrives in our Dining room and now reaches the ceiling.
"Home is where the heart is."
~Pliny the Elder~
We are still awaiting our much desired 100+ year old barn beams to replace our field seamed beams on our ceiling that we have lived with since 1981. Our current beams need to be removed and we need to repaint the ceiling. I have an absolute passion in combining the old with the new. I embrace the legacy (history) of our home and embrace the blend. I am passionately thrilled and fixated to finally have authentically old rough hewn barn beams to combine the old with the new in our current update.
John was the one who found the source for our beams. Old Wood Limited in Ohio, my very helpful contact there is Leslie. She emailed me the above photo, not our exact beams but you can see the age of these gorgeous beams with the ax marks of a proud life spent in its history. We purchased two 7x7 inch, 10 foot long beams. They will be de-nailed, sprayed for bugs and placed in the dry kiln for 48 hours. We are having the beams trimmed to 5x7 and with the cut they will mounted to the ceiling flat. Source below, ask for Leslie (she now reads my blog). All sources will again be repeated at the end of my photo reveal (hopefully soon, eyes, fingers and toes crossed).
I collect the soulful art created by the creative hands of Doré Callaway of Burlap Luxe. Both a blogger and an etsy store owner. If you follow or read my blog you already know with me its all about tactile feel in harmony with the blend of combining material textures that resonate with my heart. The decayed artwork (papier mâché) of a male angel that says "Listening- Waiting for him to speak" was recently purchased and is displayed on our kitchen vintage mirror window frame that John and I made 20 years ago. I love his reflection in the mirror, his words hold deep meaning to me and the rustic look feeds my soul.
Lots of dust, dirt and debris and constant cleaning lately has filled my everyday. I recently replaced my now just a smidgen of a cube Savon De Marseille French cube soap. It sits on my counter top air drying (it extends the life of the soap). Often referred to as "the ugly soap" I do not agree ... I find rustic beauty in its organic and extremely useful soap.
I love to cook and often use Le Creuset French cookware, but oftentimes stains will appear on the enamel. I find a bit of this wonder soap rubbed onto a sponge and applied to Le Creuset leaves it looking brand new. In case you wonder I'm into the Flame color.
This French wonder soap is now removing stains daily from our clothes are we continue in our renovation of "This old row-home". BTW as an artist I can be messy and it always removes fresh paint from my clothing. I also keep a cube downstairs for laundry.
For the past three weeks Nic and his guys have been working downstairs to artistically blend old plastered walls with new dry wall to preserve the legacy of our home. Come downstairs to our basement area that will soon become my highly anticipated "cool Laundry room". Nic was my son's best friend and with them working together I can only imagine the stories my son shared with Nic about me! Nic teases me with my usage of my word legacy but I can assure you when Nic goes to quote a renovation of an older home he will use my (favorite, OK overused word) and seal the deal. BTW Nic also reads my blog. I am holding out giving his company as a source because we wanna keep him all to ourselves until he's finished here. OK next post I will share the source for this amazing wonderfully talented man with eyes that twinkle. Let me just state he and my son worked on all 6 of the governments local home land security buildings so he is trust worthy and extremely gifted!
I specifically requested (of course more work and time) to save the old plaster curved walls going downstairs to our basement and fill in the repairs with rough plaster to combine the old with the new. I might be driving him crazy, but hey I am a Virgo.
All pipes have been moved to allow for head room, the quirkiness of the old plastered walls have been preserved and the blending of old and new delights us. My plans for my laundry room are unique,fun and totally unexpected. I hope you continue reading my blog to see its transformation which John and I are embarking working on this week.
The long wall in this photo separates our garage which is on the other side of the soon to be laundry room and our Kitchen is above.
So much work occurred in my future laundry room, custom fabricated ductwork for the downdraft for my Wolf gas cooktop run through the garage into the basement onto the small roof above the steps.
The dark area is our staircase which will soon be painted light Grey, the walls will be Snow colored White and it will become a fun Black and White photography gallery display area of a 60's girl in her adventures on laundry day. My Samsung front loader dyer sits and waits patiently for a room to embrace.
A Max update... Our precious cat is holding onto curiosity of what all this work will turn into. Every evening I sit my "Romeo" on my lap and ask him to grace us with another day. Not every day is easy for him but we have promised him we will not allow him to experience pain.
John stole 16 inches from the basement length to add to the garage. Cement work was involved and John over lunch 10 days ago told me he would love a lasting memory of our beloved little man Max. John wanted to take Max down into the garage (before the walls were built) and put his footprints in the corner of the wet cement, I told him you should allow him to choose. We already have dog prints that date back to 1933 when our houses foundation was poured and a dog ran through the cement. We love those prints. We will preserve those prints and I will next post or so share all our pet prints.
Anyway Max listened and on his own went downstairs and in perfect fashion placed his paws in the corner for his lasting legacy, The following day Max spent time biting and cleaning out the remaining cement from his paws. I just want to mention pets quickly learn our language and listen and always aim to please. Max has always enjoyed great curiosity and seems determined to live long enough to see this renovation completed. Just so you know he doesn't seem to be in pain and when he is we will do what we need to do. His reward lately has been cans of organic whipped cream and lots of kisses.
"Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love".
It all comes down to the embrace of home we feel which happens to also be the title of my poetry I leave you with. See you in a couple weeks.
"A house is made with walls and beams. A home is made with love and dreams."
It's called the American Dream ... To prosper and achieve through hard work and commitment your goal in home ownership pride.
For most it's the first of many life events, those made of wishful dreams as a young groom carries in his arms across the threshold his Bride.
It all begins gradually, as you financially start to scrimp and save for a place that over time follows the path of your dreams that you will never quit.
Motivated you feather your nest through decorating and renovating to visualize meaningful dreams that become a reality, bit by precious bit.
First's happen, first anniversary, first baby, first promotion, all holding powerful energy of happiness and sometimes even holding our tears.
Celebrations occur, some private, many small and those larger gatherings of family, friends and neighbors coming together making a toast of cheers.
Truly in time homes become a metaphor in building our emotional time capsule of relevant memories during each passing year.
Literally a dwelling for soulful comfort which graces our lives and protects all its residents inside we love and hold very dear.
But alas, we never really own a house, it's not a possession, it's only a roof with walls that embrace our lives and in the end we either stay, move or crease living.
A house becomes a legacy of time spent in an entity of structure sharing our lives and caring for our homes, as we are its caretakers through maintenance giving.