Saturday, August 4, 2018

A place I would not go to

Not our old house

To me, houses are emotional objects.  They are homes, buildings, structures, and places of shelter.  So some of the houses that I have lived in are very personal.

Our first house in Baltimore meant nothing to me when we discovered that it was freezing in the winter, like a kiln in the summer and that it lacked any place to put anything.  It was head over heels charming on the outside, but inside it was a terrible waste of spaces.   So when we moved, I was glad to leave because it was never a home, just a house.

The house in Columbus was also another place that started out just like a house.  It was my first house.  And it was full of problems.  I was only going to keep it for two years, and then flip it.  But before you knew it, I was there almost ten when I left my prior partner and the husband moved in, and it's started feeling like a home.  By the time we were transferred to B-more, we were just shy a full twenty for me at the place.

And we left a gorgeous house behind.  The young couple that bought seemed thrilled with it.  The landscape was something that he was going to have to learn, but that comes with time, I thought.

Because we are still very close friends with our former next-door neighbors, we soon learned that the couple dug in, but in every way harmful to the house. 

First to go were the year-old canvas awnings that provided the house with a wonder filtered light in the summer and kept the upstairs from becoming too hot.  Next were the 100-year old wood windows that we had painstaking restored.  Next, they killed the roses - one of which, a Red Masterpiece, was over 60 years old and produced the most magnificent long-stemmed red roses.  Evidently, the roses were too needy.

They pulled down the original lights, removed the antique drape rods, and stripped the house of every ounce of character we had restored, and then they "West Elm'd" fucking shit out of every room.  Everything was painted with various shades of grey, linen, and charcoal.  Drum lamp shades popped everywhere.  They even removed the cork flooring system from the kitchen that had been featured in a magazine and replaced it with tiles.

In the backyard, they removed all the stonework, the large pine tree, and replaced it with a sand pit that has become the toilet for every free-range cat in the neighborhood.

Then they removed the stucco from the upper half;f and concrete board sided it, making the house a "non-contributing" structure in the historic neighborhood I helped to get listed.

And now, six years later, they are putting it on the market, ready to move into the next house and rape it in the name of "West Elm" and "HGTV".   AND, because real estate right now is tight, they have priced it $100,000 over what they paid us.

Look, Cookie understands that everyone has a different style, and a wants to make their home theirs.  I can't fault them for that.

But when you buy an "Arts and Crafts" era house and try and make it look industrially modern loft - maybe you should have bought the loft in the first place.  When you buy a house with a yard, you know you are going to have to take care of it, not turn it into a litter box.

I really hope they sell the place.  They have been aloof to our old neighbors, who we introduced them to, and have treated their invitations with disdain.  The only couple they have bonded with are, apparently, Frigid and Frigida, the Scandinavian autocrats who used to shove the "Middle of the Street Committee" around.   And they didn't honor the house, instead, they modelled it after a commercial ideal of what they should have bought, to begin with.

So I really want these people to sell and GET OUT.  GET OUT NOW.  Good luck.  Bon voyage, happy home ownership.  B'bye.

I hope the next owners will be kinder and gentler to the place, and nicer to the neighbors.   And not rent to college kids.

I have also asked the old neighbors not to send me links to the listing. I have no intention of wanting to see the full extent of the damage beyond what I know about.

Simply, I want to remember it the way it was - a lovely house, one that was carefully tended and respected for what it was, our home and part of the neighborhood fabric.


  1. these young punks cannot appreciate the elegance of an older home.

    my house was built in 1941. we have not changed the exterior, other than to add a storm door out front and a new garage side door. inside, the HVAC and toilets and kitchen sink/dishwasher/fridge have been replaced.

    if the previous owners came back to check on things, they would see nothing has changed.

  2. I'm so sorry. HGTV has made America a wasteland of Barn doors and open floor plans. Truly the lowest common denominator on the bad taste scale.

  3. Over here, the accumulated vandalism of post-War Modernists, 80s Yuppies and Millennial Hipsters has ripped the guts out of many a sturdy and characterful Victorian or Edwardian house and turned it into something Scandinavian, open-plan and generally unbecoming of its surroundings. We've rented a couple... Jx