Back in the 80’s, a contractor built a home for his family. While it is a small house with tiny rooms and an even tinier living area, it has loads of character. I grew up in this very community and vividly remember when the house was built. We would drive by and as a child I would think about how cool it would be to live in this darling home one day. You just didn’t see houses built in the 80’s that had this kind of charm.
The builder went so far as to adorn the cute little house with antique light fixtures, reclaimed wood flooring and other older items, that may or may not have qualified as valuable antiques. From what we’ve heard, he was trying to be period correct, to give the appearance of an early 20th century farmhouse. Of course they had to also install modern amenities to make the home functional. The result was a lovely little farmhouse with a combination of what we’ve been told were unique, antique fixtures and others that were clearly purchased in 1988. We are family friends with the 2nd owners of the home, who legitimately sold the house to the 3rd owners. They have told us several stories of the updates they did to the house and tricks to the irrigation system. It’s amazing how in a couple years of the 3rd owners living there, things could so drastically change.
Back in 2008 when we purchased this property I unfortunately didn’t take any pictures of what we started with, mainly because, well, I didn’t have an iPhone. So let me paint you a picture.
We bought the house as a foreclosure, and when the most recent owners left, they stripped out nearly all of the light fixtures and the stove. Because that’s what you do when you lose a home to the bank these days.
They were thoughtful enough to leave us with a few of the fixtures that were clearly specials from 1988 such as this; one of the few we have still not replaced to this day.
Interestingly enough, our loan would not fund if the home had any exposed wires from missing fixtures, so with the help of our real estate agent, we broke in and quickly installed the cheapest light fixtures we could get our hands on and proceeded to paint the majority of the inside while we were at it. These are stories I probably shouldn’t disclose on the internets, but to be real, it was situations just like this that were caused by the crash of the housing market. I have to think that there were others out there buying up cheap houses and breaking in to do quick updates in order to fund their loans. Anyone?
There was, however, one lovely “antique” that was left behind. Let’s call her Gertrude.
Gertrude was clearly not my favorite thing about my new home. I never said “Wow! An antique toilet! Now that tops my list of must haves!” But she also was not on the top of our list of upgrades because 1) she functioned and 2) she was located upstairs in our master bathroom, rarely seen by anyone but Ponch and myself.
Over time, we replaced the gnarly tile counter tops in the kitchen, painted a couple more rooms and bought some fixtures that were more to our liking. We were also forced to do some more practical upgrades like replacing the air conditioning ducts and fixing some old plumbing problems. Then I starting popping out babies, so we unconsciously put the renovations on hold for awhile. Like how I compare the first couple years of having kids back to back to being unconscious? Oh I was upright and breathing most days along with navigating motherhood the best that I could, but that was it. Anything more would have sent me over the edge.
Over the years, I’ve ever so gently prodded Ponch with the fact that we needed to replace Gertrude, but she’s been so faithful and there was always something more pressing that needed fixing. I also had the thought of ‘how do you get rid of an antique toilet’? Do you try to sell it on Craigslist or do you just haul it to the dump? That is until this last week when she took her last gulp and all of parts inside her wall mounted tank essentially imploded on themselves. For some reason, I now have no problem with sending her to the dump. No pun intended. Because now we have this:
And it is glorious. So, great in fact, I don’t even think it needs to be named.
Farewell Gertrude. Thank you for being with us on the first 5 years of home ownership. May you rest in peace.