Over the weekend, I moved into my new house in Wyoming, Michigan (nowhere near the state of Wyoming, just like the college town where I went for my Ph.D. coursework, Indiana, Pennsylvania, is nowhere near the state of Indiana). My previous house, in Virginia, was a modular on a slab, built in 2005, so while it was almost maintenance-free, it wasn’t a home with which I would associate the word “character” (though, to give the previous homeowners credit, they had added a really cool tile floor in the kitchen and some lovely landscaping outside). But my new home was built in the 1940s and has a basement and a little Cape Cod-style upstairs level, so it’s full of character, quirk, and whatever else you want to call it. I have always loved houses with funny little alcoves and cupboard doors in unexpected places, and my new house has plenty of these. Plus, the previous homeowner left a number of built-ins (such as corner knick-knack shelves) and a few non-built-ins (such as an old but functional metal desk in the basement) around the house, so I’ve been having fun running around the house thinking of ways to use these little surprises, even the ones that aren’t terribly functional. Here are some of my favorite features:
- The ultimate hiding place. In the upper level, there are two recesses in the sloped ceiling/wall, one of which contains a bar on which I’ve hung clothes. There’s one spot where the recess goes back deeper than the opening, so if I push the clothes aside, I have a perfect hiding spot. But it gets better: You can only get to the upper story through the bathroom, and when the door is shut, it just looks like a closet. Hey, wait, I shouldn’t be telling you this, in case we play hide and seek in my house someday (a likely scenario). I think I mentioned in a previous post that I enjoyed hiding in the sloped closets of the Cape Cod house where we lived when I was a little kid, and apparently I have not lost that joy.
- The wonky antique cabinet. In the basement, there’s a large old wooden cabinet that isn’t built-in but appears to be very heavy and unwieldy, and the basement stairs are not conducive to carrying furniture, so it’s functionally part of the house now. (I would love to know the story of how it got down there in the first place–or maybe it was built down there.) The doors don’t quite shut right, and it badly needs to be cleaned out (it’s full of random home improvement stuff, including some paint cans that may come in handy) but as my antiques-minded sister pointed out, if I ever felt ambitious, I could paint it and put new doors on and have a lovely showpiece. Or it could just remain a quirky conversation piece.
- All the basement shelving I could ever want. This one isn’t quite as exciting as the others, but because I’m going to be using the laundry primarily for laundry and storage (there’s also a guest bedroom down there, which is slightly larger than my “master” bedroom), and also because I’m kind of a hoarder, the amount of shelving down there is a dream come true. In addition to the built-in shelves and table, the previous homeowner left a large metal portable unit that’s going to be perfect for hanging just-washed clothes. And there’s even a sink next to the washing machine, which I appreciate for its novelty as well as its utility. (I guess it’s not that unusual to have a sink next to the washing machine, but I’ve never had one before, so it’s fun.)
I could go on: There are lyrics to John Lennon’s “Imagine” painted on the inside of the door frame of the room I’m going to use as a library/reading room (not a design choice I would have chosen, but I can think of worse songs she could have picked); there’s a grapevine Christmas wreath up in the eaves of the shed, so I’ll have to get my ladder and see if I can dig it out, and there are TWO lazy susans in the kitchen cabinets. There are mirrors and coat hooks in convenient places–that’s less money I’ll have to spend at Lowe’s–and I even like the colorful cabinet hardware and light switch plates in the kitchen. I live in a fun house, and I can’t wait to get all my stuff unpacked and make it truly my own (oh, and to decorate it for Christmas!).
Tess, we’re so happy that you are here!! I can’t wait to see your quirky, full-of-character home. Have fun unpacking and decorating. You are a blessing!
I love the sound of it! I love quirky homes. If you ever get a chance, you should research the history of your house. I did ours. I discovered in the 1920s, it was a detective agency. I also discovered the basement used to have different tenants than the upstairs. We bought the house over ten years ago, and I had always wondered why the basement was almost identical to the main floor except there is a kitchen on the main floor and a laundry room downstairs. Now I know. Your house sounds like so much fun! Congratulations!