Becoming Part of an Old House

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: Old Houses, Old House Construction, Old House Musings, In The News, Old House History

I’m starting to get excited; a couple of tools I’ve been waiting on arrived today, and I’m anticipating a very productive weekend spent working on my exterior paint prep. Hopefully, I’ll soon be ready to start painting one side of my old house in earnest. I tried the tools for a few minutes today to make sure they were operable, and I imagine they’ll get quite a workout over the next few days. Porter Cable has a compact belt sander that I’ve read good things about; supposedly it’s light enough to easily use on a ladder; I’ll let you know if that’s true. I also wanted to try a Milwaukee orbital sander to give my Porter Cable sander a break, and I now have that to play with, too.  I feel like a kid on Christmas morning!

Almost Like Christmas Morning

Almost Like Christmas Morning

I’m also excited because I’m already planning this winter’s old house project; an open floor plan of my first level. The area currently consists of an enclosed uninsulated and unfinished front porch, living and dining rooms, and a kitchen. I’m going to remove the walls separating the porch, living, and dining rooms, although I may leave knee walls for some book shelf space. I can already picture how the project is going to completely transform my first floor. At least two of the walls being removed are bearing walls, and I suspect the third is as well, so there will need to be some headers installed. There’s also going to be a lot of work involved to make the porch fit in, but when finished, the changes will fit my personality and lifestyle.

Pretty in Pink

Pretty in Pink

Character, Personality, and Old Houses

There are a lot of reasons I enjoy living in an old house, but if I had to name the number one reason it would probably be that my sweat and hard work become a part of the character, personality, and history of the home–and in a way, the old house becomes a part of who I am. It’s not just my address or an investment, and when I read that home values continue to fall, it doesn’t really bother me: I don’t plan to go anywhere.

An old house allows you paint your cabinets green with white trim if that’s what you want. Evidently the family that lives in a 1902 Victorian did, and now the room reflects their personality. If you happen to like a dark green leather look, then express yourself by using that color on your kitchen walls.   As you become a part of your old house, you can even paint your living room red if you feel the color suits you, the room, and your home. I kind of like the red and may have to try it myself.


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  1. 6 Responses  to “Becoming Part of an Old House”

  2. Aug 29, 2011
    Conrad: I am very disappointed with your response to Andy's comment. You are obviously not well informed about the dangers of lead and as a result may be putting your readers at huge risk. A little bit of lead left behind after the last guy sanded your home is enough to poison you, your neighbors and, the biggest concern due to their age, children under 6 yrs old (living in your home, visiting, or living next door). I hope you will do research and then better inform your readers of the dangers. I offer my website as a source of information. You can search for information about the new Lead RRP rule, dangers of lead and safe ways to do the work by using the tags. Please, find out more before you disturb any paint on a pre-1978 home.
  3. Aug 29, 2011
    Hi Dan, the nice thing about most home remodeling projects is that you can fit them in when you have time and money. I've lived in my old house for 20 years and wish I had done most of the projects I'm working on now many years ago, but there always seemed to be other priorities for the little available free time I had. I still enjoyed my home though, and now that I have a little more time I'm gradually getting to some of those long put off projects.
  4. Dan
    Aug 29, 2011
    Although my house is approaching 20 years old it has been a bonding experience. After breaking away from having someone else do every little upgrade, I am more settled and enjoy adding my personality. Just recently we painted the renovated bedroom garnet and added furniture that reflected our taste of nostalgia. I only wish I had done it sooner.
  5. Frank
    Aug 29, 2011
    I now live in a new house, but have lived in many old houses as well. I like living in old houses because no matter how imperfect by repairs were, they were always better than than what I started with. My new house is too perfect, and I often feel unqualified to complete work on it!
  6. Aug 29, 2011
    Hi Andy, I wasn't aware of those new guidelines; thanks for letting everyone know. I'll do a little research on it and address the guidelines in an upcoming post. I'm not too concerned on my home as the previous owner got most of the old paint off in the mid 80s before repainting. What I'm taking off is definitely a very cheap latex.
  7. Andy Ault, CLC
    Aug 29, 2011
    Conrad, Are you at all aware of the new RRP Lead Paint guidelines implemented by the EPA this past April. They make the use of power sanders on paint on pre-1978 homes a federal violation unless either A) The paint has been tested and certified lead free or B) the sanders are hooked up to a HEPA filtration and capture system with appropriate ground cover and vertical wind cover as outlined in the Safe Work Practices guidelines. Most homeowners and many contractors aren't aware of these yet and are taking big health risk for themselves as well as their kids and their neighbors. I searched this site to see if anything had been written about it, and I don't see anything. It's a major new rule that completely changes how residential remodeling and painting should legally be handled.