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The not-so-fun features of your old house

By: Shannon Lee , Contributing Writer
In: Old Houses, Home Improvement Tips

For an old house enthusiast, it can be easy to go on at length about the beauty of those hardwood floors, the stately look of the fireplace, and the perfectly quaint kitchen. But let's be honest: Those who have lived in an old house for more than a few weeks can name off a long list of things that could drive them nuts, if only they didn't love the house so much.

So, without further ado, here's an honest look at those old house "charms."

You aren't the only one who loves that chimney

That fireplace is gorgeous, so said the squirrel and the racoon and the bird and whatever else used it as a convenient way to get into your house. After all, they love your old house too, and they want to live there. My best advice: Hire a contractor to fix that problem, pronto. In the meantime, get a cuddly cat who turns into a vicious killer the moment he sees something with fur or feathers descend from the chimney.

The windows mock you

Windows in an old house are almost always gorgeous, and might have been a huge selling point when you chose that particular house from all the others on the market. That was definitely true for me -- the light streaming through them enticed me to sign on the dotted line. But after a few months in the place, you will realize that the beauty of the windows is mocking you as you shiver, wrapped up in a heavy coat, seeking to stem all the drafts that come from around the frame. But that light is still gorgeous!

The attic is a built-in sauna

Who says an old house doesn't have modern conveniences? All you have to do is pull down the attic steps and open the hatch. The rush of warm air will immediately make you sweat, and only a few minutes inside this built-in sauna is guaranteed to get all the nasty toxins out of your body. Just be careful what you decide to store up there, because if it can melt, it will.

Let's play the light switch game

There is a light switch on the wall, but it doesn't seem to work. However, the one on the other side of the room does. There is also a light switch inside the closet, and it leads to…what? No one seems to know. Then there is the bank of three light switches -- count 'em, three! -- and they appear to turn on random outlets throughout the house. There is also a weird snapping and sizzling sound when you turn them on. What's up with that?

Your bathroom is a teacup

"Quaint" is code for "small" and "cozy" is code for "this is the smallest place you can possibly imagine and oh man, how did they even get that toilet in there?" The old house bathroom is notorious for being small, but you have no idea just how little it is until you step out of the clawfoot tub, bang your knee on the pedestal sink and almost fall down on the postage-stamp area of tile floor, only to catch yourself with one hand on each wall. But look at the bright side -- heating a room that tiny is going to be a breeze!

Insulation? What's that?

Your old house was built during a time when most people wore heavy down coats throughout the entire winter, even while they were making dinner or sound asleep. What other reason would there be for walls with no insulation besides that layer of ancient newspapers? When you can see your breath and water left in the sink freezes into a solid block of ice, you know you are living in an old house.

Your old house is filled with magic

Here's the big surprise: From the teacup bathroom to the attic sauna, you will love it. You will love those windows even though they are drafty, and you will love that fireplace even when a squirrel is peeking at you from inside it. Somehow you will adore every aspect of it, even when you are freezing in the winter or too hot in the summer. That's the magic of an old house, and once it touches you, believe me -- you're hooked for life.

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