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If These Walls Could Talk

Put Life in Your Home

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10/01/2010 - When I was a teenager, some of my relatives built a new home. Their children were grown and gone. The home was to house just the husband and wife. Yet rather than scale down, they built large. The house was custom designed--- not to house their lives, but rather, every stick was put together with resale in mind. The huge, well-appointed home had plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms, two kitchens, and very large living and family rooms. It had everything they didn't need and never used. To save on the power bill, they turned the heat down low and huddled in their sweaters.

Their plan was to have a good growing home equity investment and someday retire on its sale proceeds. Unfortunately, in only a few years, both died. Not even their children profited much from the venture because the housing market had bottomed out at the time of the estate sale.

As a young adult, I coveted that house. It had room for everything I intended to do in life. There were bedrooms for my future children, big entertaining areas for all the company I intended to have, and a perfect area to separate off as an apartment for aging in-laws, parents, or an adult child.

Through the years, the home passed through many hands. Every two or three years, it was back on the market. Only childless couples bought it. Each of them viewed it with resale in mind. Each of them added improvements for the future owner. Each of them were splendid caretakers of this mausoleum of future possibilities.

Every time it came on the market, I looked at it again. Every time I looked at it, I felt I should find a way to buy it and fill it with life. For thirty years it was brand new and waiting. Until now.

Something unthinkable has happened. The newest owners are actually living there. They only have one teenage son, but they have several chickens. They're using the rooms to do things in, and the house is rapidly acquiring a slight patina with a few small scuffs and scratches. The house has finally begun its journey as a home.

My best decorating advice for this October is: go out and pick an autumn bouquet, set it on the table and let the leaves drop where they will, fill the kitchen with the smell of baking cookies and simmering apple cider, toss the Our Town Casper magazine on your coffee table and don't straighten it, put life in your home by realizing it is your home, and live in it.

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