From the Ground Up: Turning my Childhood Home into my Dream Home

I was a weird kid.

I spent plenty of time playing with dolls and pretending make-believe but my favorite pass-time was envisioning my dream home. I’d beg my parents to buy me graphing paper and Home Architect CD-Rom. Hours upon hours were spent designing different home concepts, and planning the interior design. I always wanted to be a homemaker.

I’d try to convince my father to buy a new house that I could decorate, or allow me to plan the renovations on our current home. It’s a beautiful place. Old; but in a charming, they-don’t-make-them-like-this-anymore kind of way. But we just had very different ideas as to what makes a house a home. He was more than content with our ancient furniture that no doubt was purchased well before my grandparents bought this home in the 50’s. The house was furnished with tacky garage sale finds, only updated with super budget repairs.

His issue was money. He didn’t want to spend. As  a recovering shop-a-holic, I can appreciate the need for budgeting; but I appreciate creating a comforting and inspiring atmosphere even more.

Even when I was actively traveling, I could never kick my nesting instinct.

I could always spare enough room in my overstuffed backpack for a tapestry, incense, and a few trinkets so I could always feel like I was home.

When my father passed away, he left the house to us. Luckily the mortgage had been paid, we just had to pay the taxes and maintain the home. I was living in Providence, RI at the time, and my sister was back in New Jersey, where our house resides. She made the decision to attend Grad School in LA, so we decided to sell the house. Due to the neglect over the years and refusal from my father to invest in structural repairs, the house wouldn’t sell. Tara had to leave and I could not take on that responsibility at the time, so she rented it out to some “friends.”

Without publicly shaming them too viciously, they treated my home like a frat house.

There were rooms just filled with broken, dirty crap. Cabinets were crusted with filth, stuffed to the brim with plastic bags and random trash. The landscaping was overgrown and dying, something they’d promised to take care of. I found pounds of cigarettes butts, bottle caps, and dime bags abundantly throughout the property and home. I honestly wish I had sent a submission to hoarders, surely they would have taken me on.

Broke and broken, I collected astronomical estimates on home repairs that I couldn’t afford. Something had to give. So I decided that slowly but surely, I would teach myself the skills to do it on my own. It has been a long and dreary process just clearing out the clutter throughout the house and getting it clean. That alone took me nearly two months to complete. Granted this house has 4 floors, 7 bedrooms, and they were all just full of STUFF.

Now, I’m finally at a point where I can breathe a little bit. My home office is mostly set up, as well as my bedroom. I have tenants moving in, working on the house for reduced rent. Soon, one of my smaller bedrooms will be refinished and on the market for Airbnb.

Ultimately, my goal is to rent out all of the rooms on Airbnb and turn it into a travelers paradise.

Growing up, there was always extended family and friends of the family living here. This house is meant to be filled with life, and people and action. And being so close to NYC, it’s pretty ideal.

It is a bit of a bummer having to be so grounded after years of living free.

I am stuck for a while, but still I am optimistic. This is a whole new adventure. A huge project for sure, but a labor of love. I’m a sucker for sentiment, and I love this home and the connection it gives me to my deceased family. I can feel their energy, and it motivates me to keep going. I know that some people doubt my abilities and think I’ll end up having to sell the house. Well, I can’t control extenuating circumstances and perhaps that will be a reality one day. But for now, that’s not an option. I have an opportunity to finally bring my visions to life.

Coming home has always been a bit suffocating for me. It felt like a trap. But this time was different. When I entered the threshold, after years of not living here, it was finally to do with as I wish. It feels like a new kind of freedom.

***Updates pertaining to renovations and revisions will be included in future posts. Stay tuned 🙂

 

 

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