I would love/hate to renovate an old house…

I would love/hate to renovate an old house because...
I would love/hate to renovate an old house because…

When Rosslyn Redux comes up in conversation with new acquaintances, I’m reminded again and again that home renovation is a universal theme. Whether folks have firsthand experience renovating an old house or have always dreamed of turning a tumble-down into a work of art, whether they’ve watched a friend’s marriage come unraveled while trying to renovate an old house or simply know viscerally, instinctively that they would never voluntarily undertake a home renovation, everyone has strong feelings on the subject. Everyone!

In fact, I’ve begun to wonder if the inherent value of recounting the Rosslyn Redux adventure might be that it invites others to share their own stories. On Friday I posted the following invitation on Facebook and Twitter:

Complete the phrase: “I would LOVE to (or would NEVER) renovate an old house because…”

The comments I received kept me smiling, laughing and cringing all weekend. On Sunday I gathered all of the responses and randomly drew one comment to win a Rosslyn Redux cap. The winner is John Sherdon who’s sage comment is included in the list of favorites I’ve quoted below. John, shoot me your mailing address and I’ll send you your cap. And thanks to everyone who submitted comments!

“I would love to renovate an old home because I have experience. My family has renovated 2 of our old homes. It can be a financially stressful project. The beauty of the renovation is keeping the character and charm of the original while creating something new. The fear is uncovering more and more to renovate – The worst phrase that often comes out: “Might as well re-do that too.”” ~ John Sherdon

“I would never renovate an old house because my wife would murder me, early in the process.” ~ David Diamantes

“I would love to renovate a house because during the process it tells you their story and when the home is restored to what it once was it is like a story told that remains with you for ever.” ~ Valasie August

“I would NEVER renovate an old house because I like my roofs and I like my marriage! I saw The Money Pit…”Two weeks… two weeks….”” ~ Lorca Damon

“I would LOVE to complete your phrase when we EVER complete the renovation of our old house…” ~ Kimberly Rielly

“Never! Ever! Again. Because I have, and you shouldn’t go broke twice!” ~ North Country & Hudson Valley Rambler

“I actually helped my parents renovate their old home when I was a kid, and had a blast. I also worked in a historic museum, and would love to have the chance to bring back an old home to life.” ~ Sherman Yazu

“I would never renovate a house because I still have the report card that reads “Sharon’s mechanical abilities are fascinating to watch.” Seriously. Do NOT ask me to build anything; it will just be bad.” ~ Sharon Cathcart

“I would renovate a house on a dime! I mean, change is like a holiday :)” ~ Kim Falconer

“I would love to renovate a house because I love to create. Unfortunately, I do not have carpentry skills.” ~ Mia T. Starr

“My parents bought and renovated an old home (built 1820). 45 years later, they’re ALMOST able to say that they’ve completed the process. (Time to start their second renovation?) Although I admire those who do – and definitely enjoy the funny/interesting stories that go along with the undertaking – I would never renovate an old home … which is precisely why I built a new one.” ~ Jane Hooper

“I would LOVE to renovate an old house because I grew up with a father who did exactly that. And when he would finish, we’d move so he could start over and do it again. It was amazing to see the transformations, and very rewarding to help make it happen.” ~ Kristy Ullman

“We already renovated an old house – time-consuming, money-draining, effort-taking… but so worth it!! Had some spooky goings-on as well…” ~ Mandy Cowley

“As an architect, my brother, chose twenty years ago to restore a run down mansion in Bernardsville, NJ. It’s been a long and never ending project and has also been financially taxing. I would never renovate an old house because I do not have the patience, determination, dedication and cash to devote to such a project.” ~ Rosamond Lincoln-Day

“I would LOVE to renovate an old house, because peeling back the layers is like revisiting periods of time… It’s amazing what you can find out about the people who lived there before.” ~ Rose Wall

“Hiya! My husband and I renovated an older house and I have to say, with time and financial constraints, it was a pain. We plan to do it again, minus the limitations. Creating that transformation and bringing a forgotten house back to life is AMAZING.” ~ Sarah Ballance

“I would love to renovate an old house because what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger; )~ I speak from personal experience having renovated a mid century mess into a beautiful house that I adore and that now feels like me…and Yes, I’d do it again in a heartbeat:)” ~Michelle Shell Rummel

What about you? Would you LOVE to renovate an old house? Or would you NEVER renovate an old house?

About virtualDavis

A writer, storyteller and unabashed flâneur, George Davis (aka virtualDavis or G.G. Davis, Jr.) is the author of Rosslyn Redux: Reawakening a home, a dream and ourselves, a transmedia chronicle about rehabilitating an historic property in the Adirondacks with his bride. He blogs about storytelling, poetry, doodling, marginalia, flânerie, publishing, and other creativity-inspired esoterica at virtualDavis.com; posts sometimes exhilarating, often unnerving, occasionally euphoric, and always pollyanna "midlife mashups" at 40x41.com; chronicles his sailing adventures (and misadventures) at Sailing Errant; and delves into matters of parenting, babylandia, and childfreedom at Why No Kids? George formerly taught and coached at Santa Fe Preparatory School and The American School of Paris, and he co-founded and launched Maison Margaux: "Paris à la parisienne" in Faubourg Saint-Germain. He currently owns and operates Adobe Oasis in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his bride. George meanders on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube and Flickr.
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9 Responses to I would love/hate to renovate an old house…

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  3. mollynorton says:

    Funny. Glad we bought (almost new), though we did debate. How did you create the very nifty “quote cloud” at the top of the article?

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  7. Victoria Noe says:

    Well, I’ve never attempted what you’ve done. Our house is 103 years old; we’re the third owners. In 15 years we’ve replaced the siding, roof, windows, air conditioner, furnace; ripped up the 1970s shag carpeting to reveal solid (though not first-rate) hard-wood floors in the bedrooms and on the stairs; replaced frozen pipes in the basement, sealed that floor twice. This year we’re replacing the back porch, as well as wrought iron on the front porch, and having the outlets checked.

    The thing is, as Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, “It’s always something.” You’re never done. Ever. And I don’t mean the cosmetic changes. I hold my breath every time a repairman comes out. I grew up in a house older than this one, so I’m used to the concept. But the price tags…luckily our next-door neighbor is a contractor, our plumber’s son went to school with our daughter, and our HVAC guy grew up with my husband. We get “family” discounts.

    Owning an older house is not for everyone. But I can’t imagine living in anything “new”.


    • virtualDavis says:

      “It’s always something.” I’m thinking that should be the subtitle for this blog! And even when it’s not something [big], there’s always the ongoing repainting, slate repair, tree surgery, flood damage…

      We’ve come to realize that we are stewards and caretakers for Rosslyn, not homeowners. Sometimes this gets the best of us, prompts us to gripe and grumble and scheme about dumping the whole lousy mess on somebody else. But then the sun comes out and the flowers bloom and the wind blows across Lake Champlain and we know we’d be heartbroken to say goodbye to this amazing place. We’re fortunate beyond our wildest dreams to live, love and work here. Even though we lose sight of that some time.

      Viki, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I wonder what it would take to wrangle one of those “family discounts”…

Your thoughts?