I grew up in Southern California, and for much of my adult life I had always considered the best houses to be new houses. Sure, I knew there was an argument for "bones" and "character" but when you live in a part of the world where everything is new, and newer, you don't fully appreciate just how beautiful old can be. Well, I can tell you that I have certainly changed my tune now, and my idea of the perfect house is one that is barely standing, and is chocked full of original elements like floors, hardware, and doors.
I now find myself wandering the streets of Cambridge (virtually and on foot) peeking into old homes and dreaming of how I would update them. This time last year I was obsessed with renovating an old home in my neighborhood but instead I took on a few projects that involved bringing life back to homes that were in need of a little TLC. Right now I'm in the middle of a renovation of a picturesque home in neighboring Weston, and if there was ever an old house with good bones, you can bet this is it. We are updating all the bathrooms (there are 6!) and putting in a new kitchen, but the remainder of the home will stay true to how it was originally built, and I’m loving every second of this renovation. Almost all of the design decisions have been made and the house will be the perfect mix of old and new, and one that is full of charm. This project has become one of those homes that they just don't build anymore, making it truly one of a kind.
The thing a lot of people don't realize is just how expensive and time consuming it is to rehab an old home (and no, I'm not talking about a renovation in a Fixer Upper kind of way, where you rip everything out and replace the entire house with new and cheaper finishes). Rather, I'm talking about the amount of money and sweat equity that it takes to modernize and restore an old home, essentially bringing it back to its former glory. (This house immediately comes to mind). It can be a true labor of love and over the past few years I'm finding that it's one that I really, really, really love.
Given how much money is involved in this type of home rehab, for most people buying an old home is simply prohibited by the cost of buying the actual home. I will often see a home in my neighborhood for sale that is truly uninhabitable, only to discover that the purchase price is millions of dollars. In desirable neighborhoods developers are always driving the price of the "land" and while I love the idea of fixing up an old estate, finding one in our neighborhood seems pretty unattainable.
I was talking about this the other night with a good friend of mine and she told me that I HAD to start following the Instagram account Cheap Old Houses, and immediately I did. For the past two weeks I have spent countless hours scrolling though this feed and pretty much every day I declare, "that's it... I'm moving to Alabama! or Ohio! or South Carolina!" The other day there was even a Frank Lloyd Wright for sale for $175,000 in Chicago. Say WHAT?????? The homes featured on this account have such amazing "bones" and imagining what I would do with these homes has become my new favorite hobby. For those of you who love old houses, this one is for you and I promise I won't be mad at you if you immediately scoop one up and start to renovate one of my new favorite "dream homes." Please just promise you will invite me for a visit! Xx