February 3, 2004

Wallpaper Memories

In a recent post, Amber reminded me of one of the first things Beth and I did as new homeowners.

About a year and a half ago, we bought our first home. The family who owned it before us was lovely. They'd bought the house when it was brand new and kept it in incredible condition despite the fact that they had two girls. While we encountered the stray crayon mark on the walls, the place was immaculate. They had, however, hung wallpaper in the girls' rooms.

The day we received the keys, we brought over ladders and quickly began scraping the wallpaper off the walls. Only after the rooms were pretty well destroyed later that day did it occur to us - what if the girls hated their new house? What if they couldn't sleep? What if their parents wanted to bring them back to show them their old rooms to make them feel better? For an instant, we considered ourselves to be the worst people to ever walk the face of the earth. Then a couple days passed, there were no random visits from the old inhabitants and we realized that it was kind of silly anyway.

Its that instant in which you realize that - and I know this is going to sound like the mother of all cliches - a home is more than a foundation, walls and a roof. Its a sum total of the experiences, the living, that fill it. And its probably for that reason that we left the blue sky and clouds painted on the ceiling of one of those rooms alone.

Posted by Chris at February 3, 2004 7:25 AM

We did this... The first thing we tore out was the hideous, sculpted carpet that stank of cigarrette smoke. The owner's son came by, and said, "But that carpet... it was only 4 years old." We also removed the wooden chandeliers his father and constructed himself in the workroom... yes, he built them himself, along with all of the interior doors, which weighed roughly 600 lbs apiece and slammed like nobody's business. And since the nice old couple that lived there had smoked for 30 years, there was nicotine on every surface. It ran down the bathroom walls in rivulets whenever we took showers! Six coats of paint still couldn't stop it, so we replastered...

Posted by: Mindy at February 3, 2004 9:24 AM

Oh, and we also tore out the carpet in the bathroom. You read that right: carpet. In the bathroom. Did I mention that the couple who lived there was about 90 years old? And that his reflexes/eyesight/aim was right on target for his age group?

Posted by: Mindy at February 3, 2004 9:26 AM

That is so true. The house we're moving into this sunday is from around 1850. It has so many original details (thank god no previous owner took that out) that you can only try to imagine what kind of life was in it.

Besides, blue sky & clouds ceiling is pretty cool :))

Posted by: Sweety at February 3, 2004 10:31 AM

Lovely! Now I demand a picture of that ceiling. I'm quite surprized you didn't include it already ;)

Posted by: Irma at February 3, 2004 11:28 AM

hey, yes, a pic would be nice--
my favourite feature in any house is
the pencil marks in the door jamb;
you know, with the kids' names?

my son and i have lived in this house
fourteen years,
and will be moving in the next few months...
oh, wait, this is your blog...

Posted by: stacy at February 3, 2004 7:32 PM

When we bought our first house in March, we pretty much did the same thing. We tore down the white paneling in the bedroom and hung drywall. I gutted the attic and made it my office. The previous homeowners were awesome. They took an entire week to clean the house. The place was spotless. I guess they felt inclined, since they moved only 3 houses down the street.

Posted by: whistler at February 4, 2004 9:25 AM