How to Have a House

Living with and understanding a home.

Moving walls.

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I need to be fair about something.  Sometimes I get pretty ticked off about things.  I see something I don’t agree with and I get cranked up.  I guess I could be relaxed and just not worry about things, but I’m not like that.  I’d rather jump up and doing something. Almost anything.  Just feeling like I’m getting it out of my system is good.  I think a lot of people are this way.  Stand up comedians are the epitome of this.  They basically get to laughingly get it all off their chest.  Three nights a week, free drinks.  What a job.
     In the last several years I’ve watch home improvement shows gut first floors of homes and install the “new open floor plan concept”.  You’ve seen this. They go into a home, sell an upgrade or home renovation and remove most of the walls on the first floor.  They install beams to carry loads, blend all the ceilings into one big plane and floor the place front door to back smooth and uninterrupted.  I get this.  The simplicity of one big room is why a lot of people live in lofts.  The ease of movement in an open floor plan is unquestionable and quite freeing.  Only one TV is needed. It can be seen from virtually the whole floor, it’s 70″ across and over the fireplace if there is one.  When company walks in the front door they can see all the way to the back yard.  I think they could simplify things and just say “open floor”.  It’s not really new, warehouses have done it for centuries, there not much of a plan, the bathroom is always enclosed, other than that, it’s open.
     So buy a loft.  Get a ranch.  Move into an open mid century modern.  But think about keeping that antique house original. Welcoming others into an entryway means you have the luxury of privacy from the rest of the floor.  The cold winter air slows down and settles in a little while the other rooms are kept away and warm.  Guests move into the dining room to have dinner anticipating the room’s decoration, the seasonal ambiance and reminded this is a place where food will be.  Living rooms with no TV are general use areas ranging from quiet chats to board games on a coffee table and uncle so and so asleep on the window seat.  There’s almost always another room on the first floor where the kids, tv and dogs are tearing things up.  And of course there’s the kitchen, often considered cramped by today’s standards.  This is where too many people always pile in. Usually after dinner.  Shy people love small kitchens, they gather there.  Like fragile birds, happy to have a safe place to snack and share drinks.  There are inside corners all over the first floor.  Because there are walls.  Big pocket doors separate areas.  These doors are historic crafted slabs of wood, glass and metal.  Cast iron radiators quietly warm the house during cold weather.  With the right furniture a half dozen conversations can be going on, somewhat privately.
     I worry about all the old trim being pulled out and possibly sent to the land fill.  Same for the radiators.  The doors and lock sets might be saved in the basement.  The little windows inside entryway closets get forgotten and walled over. The wood floors, almost a hundred years old by now are hauled out, sometimes re-used, but none-the-less gone and forgotten.  I loose sleep thinking about the second floor and it’s new beam and load transfer.  I hope the old place doesn’t settle hard, or loose it’s integrity if the engineering isn’t just right.  I know, in 200 years most of these houses may not even be here.  That’s fine, I’m happy to worry about them right now.
      I settled when the laws of statistics clicked in my head.  Lucky for me, only a small percentage of the these homes are being shelled out.  When it gets right down to it, not that many antique houses are being heavily modified.  I can sleep at night knowing the trend could come and go pretty quickly.  I’m glad.  I like how antique houses are laid out.  Once I got it into my head, that almost all my customers would never dream of gutting the first floor of their antique house, I relaxed.  In fact one of my customers has been talking about moving from her amazing two and a half story antique home to a loft.  She’s already said she wants me to do the bulk of the work.  I can’t wait.  I’m hoping we’ll be building a new open floor plan concept.

Author: Jonas

Working on private homes since 2000 has inspired me to share the experiences and challenges customers face. Homeowners and non-homeowners alike are encouraged to make choices reflecting their hearts and minds. Acting on these choices and the realities of time, money and lifestyle add confidence and peace to the lives of those living in these homes.

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