Wednesday, April 26, 2017

This (Big) Old (Crazy-Ass) House

A lot has been going on during the Great Slimbo-Doldrums. Let’s catch up.

As a kid, I was obsessed with that show, This Old House, the old-school prototype of the modern home renovation show, in which they documented the step-by-step rehabilitation of some venerable antique home. I loved all the particularities of the transformation as the old structure took on new life. Little did I know, several decades later, we would be undertaking exactly such a grand renovation, living our own real-world version of the show. The house:

In its "before" state (exactly as it had looked all my life)

Points of note:
  • It was my grandparents’. They moved there in the 50s. My father spent the latter part of his childhood there. (My aunt and uncle, his older siblings, continued to live on there as adults.)
  • It was the New Orleans home of my childhood, where I visited every summer and many Christmases. 
  • After my grandparents died, my aunt Annou continued to live on one side, renting out the other.
  • When she passed away, it came to me.
  • It’s big.
  • It’s crazy. Well, it was crazy. Now it’s on its way to being slightly less crazy. More like eclectic-in-a-good-way. (The crazy will take some explaining and will require a separate follow-on post in which we perform a proper architectural psychoanalysis.)
Upon inheriting it, we spent a long time figuring out what to do. Renovate it and keep it? Sell it as is? On the one hand, it was a quirky cool majestic old beast. On the other hand, as I said, it was crazy: a bizarro rambling Frankenhouse maze of awkward untenable rooms, the result of a century-and-a-half of idiosyncratic evolution. To turn it into a viable home would be a massive undertaking.

But after a lengthy spell of deer-in-headlights indecision, mulling our options and culling its contents,1 the inevitable decision made itself clear: make this big old crazy-ass house our big old crazy-ass house, bring it some much needed sanity, and make it a home for the next generations.

And so started our lengthy saga in earnest. And it continues on today. A lot has happened, the bulk of the work, though there’s still plenty more to do. And it’s occupying a big chunk of my Slimbo-brain-space, so let’s give it some Slimbo-blog space. Stay tuned for some proper serialized reporting of the rehab fun, thus far and furthermore.

Next up: The Origin Story. How did that house get so damn crazy?

1 Oh yeah, that’s the other thing. Adding to its crazy-vibe (and amplifying our deer-in-headlights-ness), the house was stuffed to the gills (metaphorically; houses don’t actually have gills) with old stuff — amazing stuff, total crap, and everything in between. But that’s its own other whole post’s worth of pondering, so we’ll save that for later too.