There’s No Place Like Home

Today I had the opportunity to return to my childhood home and relive some great memories. We moved to 840 S. Weller in the summer of 1976 when I was 10 years old. I remember the move well as it was a hot summer and I had chosen the bedroom facing West. With no central air, I relied heavily on my box fan to keep me cool. We lived in that house 11 years, longer than any home during my childhood, so I think of it as my “childhood home.”

From the outside, the house looks about the same. The three windows over the porch were my bedroom windows (more on the changes there later) and provided me with a great view of the neighbor’s house, home of my first serious boyfriend. When we lived there, the porch was red and my mom stripped the paint off the front door and stained it. The roof was grey.

The most noticeable thing when I walked in the front door was the lack of gold shag carpeting. We always knew there were hardwood floors underneath, but we never got around to ripping out the carpet and refinishing them, even though my dad owned all the equipment to do that. The living room spans the front of the house and has a fireplace on the left side and a living area on the right which is where we always put the Christmas tree. Sadly, the brick on the fireplace has been painted white and someone removed the doors to the book shelves. And don’t get me started on that viney crap over the mantle.

Still, the living room, with it’s deep wood floors, looked fresh and clean (and smaller than I remember). Here’s a pic of the other side. My upright piano used to be against the wall and we’d put the Christmas tree in the window where this baby grand piano is now.

I know we had curtains there (gold, I think) because we always ended up tying the Christmas tree to the curtain rod so it would stand straight. It might not have been pretty but it worked. All I cared about as a kid was what was under the tree, not how straight it was.

The dining room and den were uneventful. Both rooms were painted neutral colors and looked about the same. The kitchen has changed somewhat, but I was surprised to see the same cabinets and hardware we had when we lived there. The only difference was they had been painted. The kitchen floor was carpeted – a very chic thing to do in the 70s – but that was fortunately gone. I’m not sure I love the tile, but it isn’t horrible. The other thing that had changed was the removal of the back porch to extend the kitchen. It made the room larger and more inviting.

You can’t see it in the picture, but the cork tile my mom installed to the left of the stove is still on the wall. Crack me up! On to the guest bath. This bathroom was the only bathroom in the house when we lived there. It only had a tub, no shower, and it was also carpeted. The tub remains but shower hardware has been installed. The cabinet and sink were removed and replaced with a pedestal sink. I don’t agree with the wallpaper, but I’m not a wallpaper person to begin with. I once had to climb into that window when we got locked out of the house. It’s smaller than it looks.

Let’s go upstairs to the rooms where my sister and I lived. The stairway carpet has been replaced by wood and tile but the landings are still there. Some of you may remember bunking parties where we’d climb up onto the landing with our sleeping bags and pillows and spend the night. The iron railing has been removed, but it looks about the same.

At the top of the stairs used to be a door leading into the attic, but it has been walled over. You used to walk into a large room (we called it the playroom) and our bedrooms were off of that room. Mine facing West and Ralph’s facing North. Now, it’s one large rectangular room. What used to be the playroom closet door is now a door leading into a huge cedar closet. And my room? Well, my room is the cedar closet.

It is the most ridiculous closet I’ve ever seen. I’m sure I’m saying that just because it used to be my bedroom and I can’t believe it’s now a closet, but it is a bit much. I’m thinking somewhere along the way, an owner figured if they were going to turn the attic into a master bath they’d need to make space somewhere. But I have the last laugh. A unicorn sticker I placed on the window sometime in the 70s is still there!

Bwahahah! You can’t get rid of me that easily! Although I have to say that turning my bedroom into a place that holds clothing and shoes is actually fitting considering the size of my own wardrobe! Here’s a look at the master bath which used to be the attic:

Boring, boring, boring. Actually all the updates are boring. Mom commented that the personality was lacking in the house and I agree. While I’m not opposed to improvements (central air being one of the good ones) I do think the house lacks life and vivaciousness. Maybe that’s what the new owner will add.

The last place we toured was the basement. Gone was the huge mid-century furnace that took up most of the space, but I will say not much has been done. Actually, the basement is pretty scary. I’d say a good coat of light-colored paint and some furniture would do it a world of good.

The only reason I hated the basement as a kid is because the dogs would poop on the floor and I always had to go down there to do laundry, a hated chore.

So while it was fun to go back home, I’m glad I live where I do now. At one time I thought I’d want to buy 840 and live there, but I’m content with the memories I have of my childhood and all the fun we had in that house. I hope the next person who owns it enjoys it as much as I did. And I hope they never remove the unicorn sticker on the window.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “There’s No Place Like Home

  1. Loved reading your thoughts on 840. I wrote my post before I read yours but we obviously had many of the same thoughts – and photos! Thanks for touring with me and letting me see it through your eyes.

  2. Suz

    Most of the changes were cosmetic – still saw the nuances from when you lived there 🙂
    The upstairs modifications, though? Liked the old floorplan better.

    Like so many older house I have looked at over the past couple years when we were shopping, they did the same thing – tried to do a dramatic “improvement” that just took away from the soul of the original home.

    (Basement needs a good powerwashing and fresh coat of paint – can’t believe they left it like that in this market!)

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