My parents lived in the same house for over 50 years. They bought the land and built a one-story brick ranch in an undeveloped area of a mid-size southern town. My mother used to talk about how chickens (that did not belong to my parents) would run around untethered. Pat and Irene were newlyweds and buying a 3/4 acre lot, hiring a builder, and moving a new family were all big endeavors. But when you’re young, somehow change seems easier and you are more open to experiments.
The lot they bought was in a capital city that was also home to a state university. So despite the free-range chickens, my parents were urban pioneers who broke ground in an undesirable area.
And when the house was built and the family was moved in, I guess my parents felt like the house was “done.” And I mean “done” because they never made any changes or updates to the house. And I seriously mean no changes. Same pink bathroom. Same green bathroom. Linoleum in the kitchen. A wood-panel den. Exterior doors with hand-crank louver glass panels. A tin roof patio. Two car carport. We never owned a dishwasher. And the kitchen cabinets, countertops and sink were all original.
I was the youngest in the family and by the time I came along my parents had been living in the house they built for almost 20 years. And as I grew older, the house grew older with me.
I remember sitting alone in my bedroom as a teenager, among the hand-me-down furniture that my two older sisters had already used, and I would dream of how my own space would look when I could finally get out of there and make my own decisions. And in my mind it looked NOTHING like that house. I hated the architecture and the furnishings and everything about it.
And now that I’m on my own, living in a loft right on the Atlanta Beltline, do you know what my space looks like?
It looks like my childhood home.
When we emptied my parents’ house, I took every porcelain bird knickknack, ugly lamp, and worn piece of furniture I could haul back to Atlanta. I even took their rotary dial telephone. (It still works. I’m not kidding.)
My parents are gone and my time capsule childhood home is gone. But they live in my memories. And pieces of them live with me. But now I embrace the ugly because it’s what make my own space feel like home.
If you want to see how I’ve integrated my mother’s questionable taste (and I write that with so much love) into an industrial live/work space in Old Fourth Ward (O4W) come by my office in Studioplex for a tour and a cup of coffee from Mom’s percolator. I’d love to help you find a house that makes you feel like you’re truly at home, too.