Houses are more than just buildings. They are our homes, and they are filled with our memories. They are the place our children take their first steps, and where they pack up all their prized possessions when they move out. (Except, of course, for the ones they want us storage for free for 20-30 years.) They are often the place where we have buried much-loved family pets in the yard.
But they are still buildings, like any other. They get drafty. The roof leaks. Things wear out. Styles and tastes change, and what was once beautiful to us is now ugly.
The Good, The Bad, and the Just Plain Annoying
I have always been an avid fan of history, I suppose, so I could not resist older houses. The first house my husband and I ever bought was built in the 1940’s in the Maryland countryside. The second house we purchased was a 1906 city house on an in town lot, with a huge front porch that I especially loved.
The 1906 home was a complete disaster that we flipped, but both homes had their own charms to go along with the major problems. Our 1940’s house had wonderful acreage, but it was a lot of land to mow. My 1906 house didn’t have very good plumbing, or central heat and air, and it had holes all through the kitchen floor and back rooms. Yet, I still remember this house fondly because living there enabled us financially for me to stay home with my children and homeschool them for some time. Those are some good memories.
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In spite of my fond memories, eventually I just got fed up with holey floors, construction projects, cold mornings, etc. When we moved to Coastal North Carolina, I chose a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, brick home in an attempt to keep things as simple as possible. This, our current house, has hit its 25 year anniversary, along with our wedding anniversary.
Moving into a new house is a lot of work on many levels in addition to the expense. If you are tired of your house or just need a change, here are some simple things that really can help you love your home again.
Tips to get rid of those Old House Blues!
- This one is my go-to fix when I am feeling down. Buy or sew yourself a new tablecloth or place mats for your kitchen. It sounds so simple, and yet it will brighten your kitchen and your mood up instantly.
- Paint the room you spend the most time in. Whether you are on a tight budget or not, a little paint and ingenuity can really make you feel better and for just the cost of a gallon of paint. Sometimes you can just go into the garage and touch up with some paint you already have on hand. I did a very low budget bathroom makeover at my lil’ homestead and it instantly lifted my spirits!
- If you aren’t terribly picky about the color, you can buy several gallons of paint from the “oops” section of a home improvement store and mix them together in a five gallon bucket. You will get a true one-of-a-kind color at a fraction of the cost. But there are definitely no returns when you buy this kind of paint.
- Reupholster and/or paint your dining room chairs and table, or another piece of furniture. A long time ago, we redid our dining room. It was simply “This End Up Furniture” my Mom had owned for years. Well, yep, we still own it, but it doesn’t look like “This End Up Furniture” anymore!
- Sweep and rearrange your front and/or back porch furniture. Clean off any items you don’t want in that area and possibly purchase some new throw pillows or carpets at your local thrift store. Place some attractive plants on your porch…and don’t underestimate the value of growing living things in a space it adds life and vibrancy!
- Buy some plants. Better yet, do a garden re-do out front! The transformation of adding a few flowers to the garden you are fed up with is amazing, and you don’t have to break the bank. I had a friend recently who redid her front garden she used 1 bale of pine straw and 3 or 4 flowers. The difference was remarkable! It looked fresh and welcoming!
- Set up a library or book nook in your old house. See if you can carve out a corner and place some bookshelves. In my case, we added bookcases to an entire wall. (Make sure the wall is load-bearing if you do that – bookcases can be extremely heavy, especially when you group a large number of them together.) I’m kind of a book addict but you don’t have to go so large scale.
- For a book nook, put a comfy chair you already own next to a nice window or in another cozy spot. Better yet, buy a new one at a yard sale. Then curl up in your favorite new book area with you favorite beverage. In my case, I love some fresh coffee while I am reading!
- Add new kitchen canisters on your counter. I store lots of food in various jars and other containers but on my kitchen counter. I recently found the nicest set of canisters at an estate sale that I just had to have. They really do make a difference.
- Get rid of the clutter! Probably the most affordable tip but the one most of us don’t want to do. I don’t know about you but I love to procrastinate on this one and yet after I declutter it feels so good and the house instantly looks better.
- Smell is huge in how you feel about your house. Now that we have Pinterest, there are so many wonderful ways to create homemade healthier air fresheners. Place one by your front door.
- Keep your front entry area sparkling clean. Make it an area where you feel confident to receive guests and feel good about them seeing your space. Have that area reflect your family’s personality. Last summer, I painted ours a mint green (very calming), placed an antique sewing machine at the entry to hold a candle and mail, and created a new arrangement of our family photos, which had been scattered all over the wall. I took all the frames down, painted them black, and rehung them closer together. I received so many compliments from this little project that cost me only a gallon of paint and a can of spray paint.
I have lived in a lot of old houses. As a matter of fact, my current house is the newest old house I have ever owned. I hope I have inspired you to shake off those Old House Blues and enjoy your space. It’s yours – make it your own and a space you are proud of!
Whether you are in an apartment, townhouse, a huge old house, or a tiny little house, we all have different challenges. No matter what budget you are on or how much time you have, you can manage it, if you have to work on it a little at a time.
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