December 9, 2012

house

{my thoughts on it}

































We've lived here six years. My feelings for this house consist of a deep love, the self-inflicted misconception that it's ours, and constant wishes of big, dreamy, self-tackled renovations. I've made a few superficial attempts already: de-carpeting and painting the stairs, tiling the kitchen, wallpapering the hallways -- but I've stopped there. This house isn't ours even though it's ours. That's an odd feeling that so many of us easily-attached people have to live with when our feeling of ownership surpass what we own.

I want to know what this house is made of. I want to see it's insides -- even though that makes me sound like a creepy-ass serial house-murderer, that statement is well intentioned. This building itself is sheathed in total mystery. It's outer face is hidden by vinyl siding, the walls have been thoroughly covered beneath drywall, and floors have been redone in oak or masked with carpet and a layer of plywood hiding whatever lays beneath. Even the white marble fireplace is cloaked in no less than nine layers of paint, I've counted. Everything is covered. I'm constantly knocking on walls and ceilings and listening for signs of beams, scuffing my feet over floors and wondering, trying to crack off a little corner of the outside vinyl to peek beneath. This house is like a girl with too much makeup on her beautiful face. Remove what's hiding her and she will certainly glow brighter. X-ray vision would be helpful right about now because then I wouldn't have to utterly destroy everything to get my way. Alas.

We go on long walks every night, and our talk recently has consisted of what exciting thing we'd want to fix up around the house if anything was on the menu. Hypothetical renovation discussions that get the blood flowing and make you want to work, hard. So far our first things would be de-carpeting the carpet that's left, building new counter tops in the kitchen, knocking out a wall in the bedroom, moving an irritatingly placed closet and switching the placement of a certain problematically placed door. All things we'd love to do with our own four hands. Oh, and the roof needs to be re-roofed. Not fun, but we're even willing to do this ourselves ---  that's how much we freaking love this freaking house.

I have pondered the damn carpet-in-the-bedroom dilemma for years. Years dammit! And I still haven't done it. Ugh. I'm literally petrified to remove it out of concern that it would upset the landlord -- a very lovely man -- when he inevitably sees it. It will look five-million times better without it, yes, yes we all know this, but... still. That, coupled with the fact that it doesn't bother the ol' boyfriendy nearly as much as it bothers me {in that he does not pine for it's immediate removal and subsequent burning and refuses to look at the floor whenever we're in the bedroom, as do I}. This is an utter pickle, a pickle I have certainly contemplated many times before. Does one invest time, money, feelings {and risk feelings}, just to make something prettier to live with for whatever time one might continue to live there? Harumph.

What does one do, people. WHAT DOES ONE DO!

23 comments:

  1. Remove the carpet! What is underneath?

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  2. If you were in a position to buy, would the landlord consider selling?

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  3. That photo is so beautiful. What style!

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  4. my husband and i have only been renters as well, and i'm a total nester so i immediately go in and do what i can to make it our own--so i am definitely familiar with the dilemma of "where to draw the line when you ultimately don't own the space." we don't really have the money to do much beyond superficial projects here and there---no wall-tear downs or kitchen remodels for us--but i will say its fun to experiment with what we like/don't like for the possibility that we may just own something one day...love this shot of your space though, seems like you've definitely been able to make it your own, in your own way! (sorry for such a long post...eek)

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  5. ugh, i feel the same way about my place--so easily attached!--though it doesn't need renovations, exactly. just a lamp, a couple of small chairs, a rug. i do want to paint the bathroom radiator, though. cobalt blue. snazz that shit up! i say ask about the carpet. feel it out with the landlord, see what he says?

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  6. As an architecture student, I know the feeling! For me (us?) buildings got soul, walls tell stories and oh, the countless possibilities to improve a place when you can see the possibilities a space offers! I want to shape things and shake things up! Reading your stories makes me want to put tiles in the kitchen too but event if I scraped the carpet of my bedroom (for basic vinyl tiles provided by my landlord... but still, that's less dust and dirt) I think it's a big line I'm not sure I'm ready to cross.
    I guess there's not a unique line to cross or not to cross. Go with your feelings and your guts!
    (But if it can helps, I think it's easier to do something for health reason than aesthetic ones and gosh they're so many dirty things you breath everyday locked in that carpet)

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  7. Was the carpet new when you moved in? If not, it's the years before you plus your 6 years. If you were to move he would have to replace the carpet because of age - at least by California renters rules. Pull up the carpet. If you don't like what is underneath then get a large rug or carpet renmant to recover the floor. As to paint - paint what you want. The worst that can happen is you would have to repaint before you move to get your security deposit back. Moving walls and doors - now that is a different story.

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  8. has your ladlord seen any of the changes you've already made? what does he say about those?

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  9. um. picture of house is AMAZING.

    that is all.

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  10. Old carpets mean foul germs you breathe in while asleep, i say, get the landord's permission and then remove the hell out of it...

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  11. this post reminds me of when we are had our windows replaced in our old tenement flat in Glasgow (Landlords paying thankfully!) and we found sheets of old newspapers from the 1940's scrunched up and stuffed around the window area which had been used as insulation! (no wonder we were cold) It was sad to see the beautiful old windows go but an honour to find out a little history beneath the paintwork in my wee home.

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  12. You're an artist, a creator! You're not 'happy' unless you're physically, manually DOING something. I think your home[studio] is awesome and where you've made improvements...it's soooo you! I think you know where/what & how-much you can do. Sincere best wishes!

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  13. I have been through this so often, even left a rented and newly polished house back in Nz a couple of years ago. the garden, we've changed it from empty to heaven. sometimes it hurts to think about this, but most of the time, I smiling about what I have left. to renovate has always brightened up the places I have lived in, be it only for a short period. unmasking pretty girls from too much make-up, leaves them happier. I like the idea of leaving them like this, rather than not changing a thing.

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  14. Hey, this is exactly my idea of what my dining area should look like. Great inspiration, thank you for sharing!!!

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  15. Depending on how much your security deposit is, and on how convincible your sweet landlord is that your aesthetic will make the apartment easier to lease in the future, why not risk it and go for it?

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  16. It isn't just a matter of security deposit though, Sarah, it is a matter of manners which thankfully Ariele is concerned with.

    Ariele, have you tried asking him? Let him see some of your work, and then ask him. Considering how long you've lived there, I think it is likely that he would let you.

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  17. Everything we own or rent is ultimately returned in the end; nothing tangible is ours to keep. That being said, pffffhhhhhht.... a little MORE ownership is what you need right now, my dear. You're having very strong creative nesting instincts, and need a place to root, before your roots start growing roots. So for now, tear up that carpet -- invite the landlord to tea, and give a little show & tell. It's just a quick fix though because what you really want in the long run is to get dirty, get your fingers in there, start sniffing around and dig deep in the dirt. Just sayin'..... renting won't suffice but another few years. You're getting the itch to renovate & create your OWN Private Idaho

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  18. offer to renovate and improve the value of the place in exchange for a reduction in rent! in the past i have had owner even reimburse me for materials, so long as you keep it all neutral and simple

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  19. oh lady, we have so much to talk about, and we haven't even yet met! gosh. honestly, what people do is they move out of the city. even the once diehard "i'll never leave nyc let alone the 'insert neighborhood here'" folks eventually crave what every human being is entitled to - space to move around in, a sense of privacy should they want it, a genuine dislike for the feeling of a never-ending rat race that oftentimes encapsulates nyc seemingly to no end. we're in this teeny, tiny apartment that we've been in now going on year two, and i used to be a regular move-once-a-year kinda gal, but we've done so much work on this apartment that i stir up abandonment issues when i even think about leaving. that said, there's still so much we want to do to this place! i mean, it's never been either of our dreams to own the little white picket fence house or anything like that, but to be able to have the freedom to do anything and everything you want to something so tangible as the space in which we live in (or better yet, build it from the ground up!) is such an exciting idea to us and gets our blood and mind going - fast.

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  20. You say he's a nice man, so maybe just talk about it?
    If you say "hey, the carpet's been with us for nine years and who knows how much longer it's been there, it could stand replacing… but what we'd like to do instead is just remove it, we think the room would look grand sans carpet. What do you think? We'd even do the work ourselves!" I don't see why he wouldn't at least consider it.

    And since you work with wood, have drywalled your studio, made the interior of a whole restaurant, why not tell him about all this and then propose the moving of the closet as well, in exchange for materials? You'd actually raise the worth of the place. He can't say anything worse than no.

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  21. I love this post! When my boyfriend and I started remodeling my home, we tore layers of floor out of one of the bathrooms. Turns out there used to be a step down to ever the room. That's how many layers of floor where hiding in there. 7. one was gold leaved tin- as a floor. You never know what you'll find!

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Thank you dearly for your comments! They always make my day.