There are numerous perks to renting a 100-year-old house, chief among them guessing which paint layer belongs to which decade and just how much lead is in the chips you keep plucking off the carpet.
But there is a special kind of thrill in renting a 100-year-old house that has not been maintained whatsoever, and whose owner has in fact stated numerous times that she does not desire to spend so much as a dime fixing it. Benefits to this approach to property management include being able to live in a two-bedroom house two blocks from downtown and paying a little less than the average going rate for that privilege.
And yet, issues! Our house has them.
I love this house, don’t get me wrong. There is something I’ve always liked about older houses. Older houses have charm, as they say. Personality. Then again, maybe that’s just something the inhabitants of old houses have fabricated in order to make themselves feel better about the fact that anything could break apart at any minute.
Quirky. We’ll call it quirky.
Let us count the ways.
Like the fact that the floor sags so dramatically at either end of the house that to open the windows in one room you have to pull down hard, and in the other room you have to push up hard.
And how the permanently-beer-stained-mud-brown-relic-of-party-house carpet that hasn’t been replaced since the 1990s reminds us never to sit on the floor ever and maybe learn how to levitate so we don’t have to touch it ewwwww.
And — well, let me just show you the rest of the wonderful
quirks perks. Let’s have a tour, shall we? Take my arm, friend.
Here we have a nice board over our inoperable fireplace, which provides a pristine canvas to practice our art skills.
Are you tired of pesky doors that freely open all the way? Me too! In this age of mindless modern conveniences, I enjoy a physical challenge. Just suck in your gut, dear, and try to edge around it.
Whoops, don’t mind the hole in the ceiling. Nothing’s come out of it in a while, except that bat, that one time. Kidding! It was actually a raccoon. Kidding! It was actually a river of blood. Don’t worry, we’ve had the place exorcised since then. I think.
Yes, that window is closed. No, it doesn’t close any more than that. It’s okay, though. The ones next to it don’t open, so at least we have, you know, one option for escape.
And here we have our adorable “breakfast nook” area, rendered completely useless by narrow benches you can barely keep one buttcheek on, not to mention the fact that the benches are too close together to fit a normal table between. If There Was A Problem, Yo, I’ll Solve It: we “fixed” this area by hanging a curtain in front of the benches, installing shelving, and turning it into a closet.
Now, walls, there’s something that’s boring, right? I mean, they’re just flat! And white! What a snoozefest. But then I found the perfect design solution: CRACKS.
All that texture adds visual interest. You don’t even need to hang pictures, really. No, I mean really, don’t even try. Most of them just fall back out of the wall, anyway.
If you’re lucky and brush your hand against a door jamb in the right manner, you’ll get shards of paint embedded under your fingernails. Just like splinters, but with more lead poisoning! This has never happened to me, except for the half-dozen times it happened to me.
I… I don’t even know what’s going on here.
Take care not to step on the heater grate. That thing will melt your shoes if it’s running. My favorite day of the year is the Great Heater Burnoff Day, which occurs at the first wintery chill of the season. We celebrate by throwing open all the windows and doors and letting the angry flames incinerate all of the debris and particulates that have fallen in during the months it’s lain dormant, as we huddle in the back bedroom, coughing.
PS, I was not kidding about the pre-stained carpet. Three steam cleanings and it still looks like that.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I sure do enjoy fumbling around in a creepy cupboard in the pitch dark after I foolishly dared to run the washer, microwave, and TV at the same time. Which unlabeled fuse blew this time? Let’s unscrew all of them until we find out!
That? Oh, that’s a portal to another dimension, conveniently located over our dryer.
(Here’s how you get up there. That old tried-and-true chair-on-dryer-machine method.)
COME ON UP AND HAVE A LOOK-SEE.
Don’t be afraid. There’s really nothing up here that can hurt you. Except these rusty roofing nails sticking straight through the wood that will snag your clothes and give you tetanus.
Okay, sidebar! Turns out I was lying a little bit about there being “nothing” in the attic crawlspace. Turns out we found a LOT up there last week, when the beau attempted to clean it out in preparation for the move. Among the things he found, most of which never belonged to us:
- A neon Kirin beer sign
- An old 2-foot corked novelty bottle of Seagram’s (sadly empty)
- Hockey equipment
- A mostly-deflated oversized birthday balloon (???)
- A hardhat
- A black round lamp base from the 70s that we’re keeping now, thank you very much
- Giant speakers
- Christmas ribbons and bows strewn haphazardly everywhere
We’re thinking about just leaving it all up there for the next residents to find and wonder at. “Sweeeeeeet, a beer sign! That’s going over the fireplace, bro!”
Anyway, that’s it. Thanks for coming on my tour. Now you see why I’m chronically embarrassed to have people over.
Everyone’s home has quirks. Tell me what bugs you most about yours?