The Art of Exploration · a diary of day trips, natural places, and miscellaneous adventures

About Time

Sunday, May 26th, 2013 in Illinois
About Time

For several years, I’ve been contemplating selling my little 1950’s ranch house in the northern Chicago suburbs and moving somewhere more comfortable, nurturing, and livable. My tiny house served me well for many years. But I’ve lived here for more than a decade now and it’s been a burden for so long it’s hard to recall a time when it brought me peace or joy. And when a house fails to do that—when it no longer encourages a sense of calm and a lightness of spirit—it’s time to leave.

I’ve outgrown this house in terms of both square footage and lifestyle. I’m weary of the unending maintenance and repairs required to keep this old house in tip-top shape. I’m fed-up with fighting the perpetual dirt. Never again will I buy a place near a busy road. A film of black dust covers everything in the house—the debris of tires, pavement, and exhaust fumes spewed from the constant flow of cars and trucks along a nearby busy road. And the bugs. Don’t even get me started about how sick I am of the bugs.

Here you can see the new solid oak floors and new baseboard I had installed throughout much of the house. I also painted the living room, kitchen, and utility area in Linen White to keep things bright and to give a greater sense of space by using the same color throughout most of the house. That ceiling fan too, is new.

It is clear to me that despite my generous investment of time and money in this house, it will never be a warm house, it will never be a spacious house, and it will never be my ideal home. So it’s time to move. This means that things will go silent on my blog while I prepare the house for sale (and sell it). I then have to actually move and I don’t even know where I’ll go yet. I suppose I’ll figure that out along the way. I just know I don’t want to be here anymore.

In the kitchen I removed a lot of clutter and jiggery-pokery left behind by the previous owner. I bought a new Bosch range, upgraded the fridge, and added a dishwasher and disposal (there had previously been none). I replaced counter tops, added under-cabinet lighting, and installed a new sink and faucet. The floor is another upgrade, I had new Italian porcelain tile installed throughout the kitchen and utility area.

I’m already well on my way to getting the house on the market. As you can see from these photos, I’ve spruced the place up for its new owners. I have procured a realtor who seems fit for the task (despite being vaguely duplicitous and mildly condescending). I even hired an exterminator to rid the place of its invertebrate fauna (I begged him to use as few toxins as possible to do the deed).

I sealed the sidewalk, fixed the leaky toilet, repaired some siding boards, unstuck a window, cleaned the oven, and scrubbed all the floors. All this in addition to the ten years of major repairs and upgrades that I invested in the house. The house is bug-free, meticulously repaired, cheerfully decorated, and ready to sell.

Everything in this picture is new. The bathroom was dismantled right down to the studs and rebuilt from scratch. I replaced all fixtures, floors, tiles, walls, electrics, and plumbing. I even added a window that has a built-in blind. This little loo sparkles.

As I look at these pictures, I feel very proud of what I did for this house. It started out as a disheveled dump of a place and I turned it into a charming space. The yard nearly broke my back in the first few years I was here. But now it is a thriving garden that brightens the neighborhood.

In many ways, it is the garden I will miss the most—the river birch my parents bought for me and I planted in the front yard; the northern catalpa I planted in the backyard that I got as a seedling from a nursery that mailed imperfect saplings to anyone who would take them; the burning bushes I nursed back to health after the previous owner had hacked them horribly.

The master bedroom required less work than many other parts of the house. I painted it Filmy Green (a delightful color that looks much better than it sounds) and replaced the exterior door (so it is now draft-proof). That ceiling light fixture (like all the light fixtures throughout the house) is new, as are the solid oak floors.

But it’s not just the yard. I repaired and upgraded so many things in and around the house. I remodeled the bathroom, revamped the kitchen and utility room, upgraded plumbing and flooring, put in a new brick sidewalk and porch; the list is long. This house has been well tended during the past decade and it shows. I hope the future owners will care for it as much as I did.

The office, like the master bedroom, required a fresh coat of paint; I went with Sand Fossil. A new light fixture and solid oak floors finished this room off nicely.

Where will I go after I sell the house? That remains to be determined. Part of me yearns to be west of the 100th meridian, where the air is dry and the sunshine is plentiful. I’d love to live in the mountains or near a canyon; perhaps even in the high desert. Another part of me longs to live on a farm (or if not on a farm, at least near a farm). Perhaps somewhere in Virginia or Wisconsin or Iowa. I don’t know. What I do know is that the first step to living somewhere else is to sell-up here.

The backyard is now an oasis of calm. To get it to this point, I removed hideous piles of yard waste left behind by the previous owner, tamed weeds, and fertilized what was a terribly neglected lawn.

So it’s time for me to say good-bye to my little yellow ranch in the Chicago suburbs. Time to take some photos for memory’s sake, time to bid my northern catalpa and river birch farewell. I shall miss my dear trees and plants the most. But it’s time to move on and find a new home. Wherever it may be.

The garage received as much repair attention as the house. I installed a new garage door and opener, as well as new windows (the old ones were rotting, yikes). I replaced sideboards, added new gutters, and installed all new electrics. That little garage is spotless.

ADDENDUM: OK, so like everywhere in the above post where I said that I did something (like electrics or plumbing or carpentry), what I really meant was that my contractor did those things. I simply paid him for the work and watched as he and his highly-skilled crew transformed this little house into something special, something worth living in. For a while, at least.

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