The proper way to part with an old house

By: Shannon Lee , Contributing Writer
In: Old House Musings

There are few things more exciting than the day you move into that 'new to you' old house--and there are few things more bittersweet than the day you say goodbye to it. Even though you are moving on to another home that is sure to host some great memories, leaving the old one can be tough. Make the process a bit easier by truly honoring your old house. Here are four things you can do:

1. Leave your old house better than you found it

As a good steward of an older home, your time there should have improved the place. That's one of the goals of preservation, after all -- to make sure the home retains its former glory while trying to find ways to make it even better than it was before. Do everything you can to protect, enhance and restore the property while you are there. To help ensure that it stays as close to the vision the original construction intended, consider having your home added to the National Register of Historic Places.

2. Leave your mark

Perhaps you already left your mark in the careful restoration or renovation. Maybe you created something in the home that will stay with it when you're gone. But you should also leave a very literal mark, one that is known only to you. Perhaps write your name in permanent ink on the back of a stair riser, on one of the attic rafters, or even on the interior of a kitchen cabinet. You could even carefully remove a piece of trim and write a sentimental message on the back of it before replacing it. No one else will know it's there, but you will know, and that's what matters.

3. Throw a goodbye party

Every fine home deserves an appropriate send-off, so invite friends and family over for one last hurrah within those cherished walls. Now is the time to pull out the photographs, the contractor bills, and the stories of restoration victories--and yes, the awful moments should be shared too, because they were part of the journey. Serve foods that would have been featured during the home's hey-day, and offer a small framed picture of you standing in front of the house as a parting gift for your guests.

4. Have a private walk-through

When that final day arrives, take your time. No matter how rushed or chaotic the move might seem, carve out time at the very end for just you and the house. Wander through each room and think back on the good memories that were made there. Take photographs to remember the great work you did to restore or renovate the place.

And perhaps most importantly: Say thank you. Your home sheltered you, taught you things, and gave you plenty to talk about over the years. Perhaps walls can't talk, but they can certainly hear, and the thanks you give before you leave may soothe your soul and make parting a little bit easier. It might seem sappy and sentimental, but trust me: You will be very glad you took the time.