Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Musings on a House vs. a Home

The other night I was deep asleep when something woke me out of my dream. I don't know what it was, perhaps some odd noise made by my old house, but as I laid there still in that haze between waking and sleep I thought for a moment I was in my old apartment, the one I had before I met my husband. That happens sometimes; I've even dreamt that I am back in my childhood home. It is funny how places leave a mark on you.

When my parents first married they lived in an apartment. Then shortly after I came along, they built their first house together where we lived until I was 5. I vaguely remember the house - just a few brief flashes of certain rooms and the yard. I remember certain events and certain things about the house, like the sandbox my father built me, but not a lot. At that point my folks built a new house out in the country. Well, it isn't country anymore, but back then it was considered "out in the sticks." My bedroom was at the far end of the hall, and sometimes now when I start to wake up and I hear muffled morning noises, I am transported back and for a brief moment can easily believe that the noises I hear are the sounds of my dad making breakfast on the weekends or mom getting ready to wake my sister and I up for school on the weekdays.

When I was 19 I moved out of the house for a brief time, but then moved back to finish college. After college I found a good job, and after saving up for awhile, I moved out again; this time to my first apartment on my own. I lived there a year, but when my lease was up I went looking for a little bigger place. I found it, a fabulous two bedroom apartment that was the entire upstairs of an old house. I loved that apartment, in fact, I still miss it...

It is right around the corner from where I live now, and I admit, there are times I wish I could go back. There were a lot of memories in that apartment. It was a good place for me. I lived there for 7 years. I even found one of my best friends there. (We met because they lived in one of the first floor apartments.) I am sure the rent is now a lot more expensive than it was then!

I was living there when I met my now ex-husband. We dated for quite awhile, then moved in together for a year. It was then that we bought the house that I am in now and my cabin. I don't really ever dream of the cabin, or when I am at the cabin, I don't dream of home. But I do dream of my childhood house and that one apartment - both places where I grew up. If you figure I lived in the house with my parents from approximately 5-22 and the apartment from 23-30, you can see how those were formative years.

All this makes think a lot about the house I am living in now. Will I dream of it someday? Will it become a part of me the way the other places did? I am certainly putting more blood, sweat, tears and money in to this home than any other place I've hung my hat. It might depend on how long I end up living here. I have to wait for the market to turn around for sure, so I am guessing 2-3 years at least. Will that be enough to burn it into my memory banks? I wonder.

I think about some of these things because as I am fixing it up and remodeling. it is sometimes hard to tell if I am doing it for myself or for the next person who owns it. My painter, my mother and one of my close friends all asked me what color I was going to have the house painted. Oddly enough, it struck me as a strange question. The house is blue. I told the painter to paint it blue. It isn't that I am not creative, but it just never occurred to me to change it. Later I justified it by saying that the color scheme - light blue with dark blue, red, and white trim (It looks gray there in the photo under "About Me" on the right, but it is very blue.) was colorful enough to fit with the other Victorians in the neighborhood, but sedate enough that future buyers wouldn't be frightened off. There is, after all, a screaming orange house with purple trim and a bright aqua house on my block. Really though, no matter what reason I give for not changing the color, it was actually because it didn't occur to me to do otherwise.

This may seem like vague post for a blog about finance, but these things matter. How long I am going to stay in the house effects what home improvement projects I do. Do I replace the expensive but ugly (to me) lighting sconces, or deal with them? Do I chose neutral paint colors? Do I buy perennials for the garden?

Honestly, I just don't know.

Photo by: orvaratli


Fit Wallet said...

We've been thinking many of the same things--not because we don't love our house (we do), but because the bad neighbors make me want to move many days. It really does affect how I think about my home, how long I want to stay in it, which repairs/improvements we should make, and so on. Since we're refinancing and the market is so messed up, we have pretty much committed to another 5 years.

Frugalchick said...

Do you have a Habitat Homestore in your area? For the projects you're ambivalent about (like those sconces) you might check Habitat, craiglist, etc and find something you like that's also a bit cheaper in price. Maybe you wouldn't mind investing in "new" ones at that point.

Dawn said...

Fit Wallet - exactly! I'm pretty much taking it day by day. I won't re-landscape the whole yard, but I'll pick up a perennial if it is on a good sale - that kind of thing. But it not knowing how long you are going to stay somewhere really does effect the kinds of decisions you make about it. Its a conundrum.

Frugalchick - We kind of do, the place where I take my home improvement classes has quite a store of donated items, however, you have to be under a certain income to shop there, and I make too much. I have been idly shopping eBay and have twice been close to purchasing something that way. I would also be willing to fix up some that I might find at a garage sale or whatever. I agree though, if I do replace them, that is the way I will do it.