My House Needs Work But I’m Keeping It

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I was staring into our hall closet (where all the things I can’t find go to hide) when I realized I wanted to move and leave everything in it as an incentive for the next owner. I’ve also been glaring at the purple sink in our bathroom, which must have been cool in 1960, but now barely even drains. On the plus side, it matches the gold tile and purple gas heater.

My house is old. Not historic. Old.

I mention this to my husband, who surprises me by saying “I’ve been thinking the same thing.” He’s a pretty stable guy, so if he’s leaning in a direction of change I know things have become dire. In our defense, we have two young kids, jobs, activities, and a general lack of motivation to upgrade. It’s not that we don’t care that the kitchen cabinets could use re-painting or the front door jamb has water damage. We care. Just not enough to sacrifice the precious few hours of downtime we get on the weekend.

I’ll be the first to admit that the pieced together look isn’t working for me. I’m pretty organized by nature, yet my home is full of cluttered spaces. Although we have plenty of large closets, that doesn’t equate to efficient. The hall closet I mentioned is full of gift bags, decorations, and storage, fit together Tetris style and (shamefully) rarely used. There’s definite overflow, and even more wear and tear.

This neighborhood is great, though. It’s quiet and safe, we know our neighbors, everything we need or want is a short drive. Around us, houses of similar age and style have been torn down to take advantage of the huge lots. Massive houses with almost no lawn are taking their place. I’d hate to see that happen here.

But did I mention the overflow? And the wear and tear? Did I mention that our bathroom sink is purple? I should clarify it’s not Mardi Gras purple. It’s lavender. We have a lavender sink and a stall shower in our master bath. Never mind they are ugly, they barely work.

The House Hunt Begins

We set our criteria. What would House B need to make us give up House A? School districts and drive times were a factor. Walking to the parades is not something we are willing to give up. We love our large backyard for play and parties. My husband, the cook, needs a comfy kitchen.

For weeks, Zillow was our best friend. We’d find a list of houses that might work and either drive past and eliminate them on sight or take a tour and imagine ourselves living there. We found a reason to reject everything. Nothing was right. Finally we accepted that, despite its flaws, we loved our home.

So we created a new list: what would we have to renovate to make us stay? Some items weren’t fun but were necessary: replace the fence, improve energy efficiency. Some weren’t necessary but were fun: update the master bath. Some were both: replace the broken tile in our small sunroom with something cool and functional like bamboo.

It sounded expensive, messy and time-consuming. Then again, so did packing and moving. Space wasn’t our issue, stuff was. And wear and tear. And too much purple lavender.

Our House Has History

The floor in my daughter’s room creeks because I would walk in circles with her for hours when she was colicky, soothing her to sleep. The kitchen wall is faded because my son practiced writing his name in marker. The living area carpet is shabby from too many spilled meals during family movie night. Did I really want to leave that for shiny new walls and updated appliances? Couldn’t I reduce, re-organize, and live more comfortably?

Realistically, we can’t afford to renovate the entire house. Every year we can choose a few small projects and, gradually, cycle through them in between necessary maintenance. We don’t need to sacrifice a comfortable tomorrow for “more” house today. With a few modifications, we can remain in the house that is kind of worn but very well loved. Every now and again Zillow makes its siren call. Sometimes I browse, just for fun, but not for long. Because, at the end of the day, I’m perfectly content in my imperfect home.

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Jen re-located from Dallas to New Orleans in 2007, after a brief Christmas visit with her (then fiancée) Dave made her realize she’d found her soul city. When she’s not volunteering at her two little bug’s school (one boy, one girl), she enjoys being active and adventurous. In addition to completing Tough Mudders, Jen can be found walking at the park, taking HIIT classes, swinging Kettlebells and boxing around the city. She loves chats at coffee shops with a good friend and insists on having a family fun day at home once a week. Those days are for couch time, completing puzzles or playing Nintendo while her Beagle mix Maddie snoozes on her lap and her fat cat Cinco hangs nearby. Jen feels that the big city of New Orleans is more like a small town and loves chatting with strangers, especially at Mardi Gras. In addition to her blog contributions, you can find her collection of short stories to share with friends at www.jenlassalle.com.

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