We first saw the inside of our 1861 farmhouse on a bleak mid-winter day. The dirt road leading up the hill to it was icy in parts, and the driveway to the house itself was a challenge to maneuver without slipping and skidding all over the place. Our broker led us to a side door, the window pane to which was broken. The storms had fallen off a few windows, and screens hung askew off others. It was not a promising start, and I could see that our broker was puzzled about why we would want to see even see this house, given that she had just shown us one that was “all done and move in ready”.
The farmhouse had been unoccupied for some time, and we could see our breath in the pale sunlight that filtered through the windows as we went from room to room. At some point, I think it was when I stepped onto the front porch and saw the view of the Black Creek Valley, I stopped listening to the litany of wrongs that our broker was pointing out at every turn. By the time we’d toured the barns and walked around the property as best we could, I knew that this was home. And that this home would require a lot of work.
That work began in earnest this year, my first of living at the farm full time. Bit by bit, we are addressing that “litany of wrongs” I had found listening to so aggravating and beside the point that first day. You love a house for inexplicable reasons, especially if it is an old house which speaks to you. Our broker, lovely person though she was, seemed not to understand this.
The biggest project, we knew, was the kitchen. Having renovated a kitchen once before, I know what we are in for: weeks of camp style life, untidiness, chaos. But a part of me looked forward to making new discoveries about the history of the house – which part was added when, and perhaps what this part of the house looked like when originally constructed all those years ago. And, I have not been disappointed.
For instance, the house was built with a back porch which was later enclosed to enlarge the kitchen, here’s the original clapboard:
and the many wall paper iterations of the kitchen that followed:
and the way the original wood stove was taken out to make way for a range:
Slowly, in my minds eye, I am getting closer to envisioning what this house looked like before it became my home. I feel closer to understanding its soul.