Today, dear reader, I would like to invite you to visit my cottage Maplebrook. It is actually not a cottage but more like a bungalow. I just call it a cottage because Maplebrook Cottage sounds so much more romantic than Maplebrook Bungalow. I remember house hunting very well. And I doubt that my husband will ever forget it either. We looked at dozens of houses on the internet.
“This one looks nice. We should go look at it. Its got two bedrooms. Do you like it?” My beloved would ask holding his phone over so I could see the picture.
“No, I don’t like it. There is no beadboard, clapboard, or gingerbread trim. It doesn’t have anything on my list!”
Newly remodeled houses are nice, just not for me. Modern kitchens, neat little hedges around the outside, and freshly painted walls. No, no, no! For two years we lived in my parent’s basement while I drove my beloved crazy trying to find a house that I imagined existed somewhere. My list was unyielding. I wouldn’t budge from a single item.
My idea of the perfect house:
- Antique Beadboard
- Gingerbread Trim
- Crown Molding
- Antique Hardwood Floors
- French Doors
- Original Windows (with wavy glass and sash cords)
- Large Front Porch
- Window Seat
- Glass Doorknobs
My ideas of the NOT so perfect house:
- Ranch houses, because they look like a square cracker box.
- Open concept. I expect walls in my house, I don’t want to live in a big open warehouse.
- If there was no porch, I wouldn’t even look at the listing.
- An attached garage in front of the house. When I pull in my drive, I expect to see the front of my home and not car storage.
- No housing developments because I expect each house on my street to have its own unique design. No cookie cutter houses.
My grandmother says my love of houses began early. As a child she used to drive me around town. When I was learning to talk, I told her I wanted to see the houses with the shapes. She claims I didn’t like the cookie cutter shaped houses in developments, and that I pointed out different shapes in historic districts.
I will never forget my first look at Maplebrook, on the real estate website. The listing photo was a brick house with battleship gray siding. The huge front porch went all the way across but it was completely covered in a dark shadow. Such an uninviting photo, the dark brick battleship. Had my husband not driven me by the house, I would never have given it a second thought.
The inside wasn’t much better either. Our real estate agent described it as living on the set of Three’s Company. There was different colored shag carpeting in every room. One fireplace was bricked over. The other fireplace was painted the same color as the wall with a bed pushed in front, as if to hide it. There was gorgeous craftsman style molding in every room, all painted the same color as the walls. The bathroom decor was very 70s. What I assume to be Celotex ceiling tile squares covered each ceiling. The top kitchen cabinets were painted yellow, and the bottom cabinets were brown. My husband promised me that everything on my list was here, just waiting to be discovered underneath the decor. My insides began to churn and I felt sick. As I looked around the house, I wondered what if there was anything historic left underneath the past fifty years of renovations?
Maplebrook was built in 1930, and located on a street of historical houses. I thought it was the ugliest house I’d ever seen. My husband told me since there was only a little siding and we could change colors easily. He also promised there was bead board, just waiting to be uncovered. A little paint and some plaster and we would have my dream home in 6 months to a year at the most.
I can’t believe it has been two years since we bought our house on that rainy January morning and the restoration still isn’t complete. My husband and I have done all the work ourselves without any help from a contractor. In upcoming blog posts, I’m going to share some before and after photos of our projects. If you love old houses, you’ll enjoy getting to know Maplebrook.