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Growing Up in a Fixer-Upper Family

Growing Up in a Fixer-Upper Family

…newly married, with a new baby, living in our first home together….

My husband grew up in a typical suburban neighborhood, where his parents, now, reminisce (with almost all the neighbors) about the days when all their children would be out playing together in the evenings. Our little one is joining the ranks of the neighborhood grandchildren who are more likely to be seen outside playing.

My family, on the other hand, lived in nine places during the years between my birth and my marriage. The longest I have ever lived in one place was five years, out in Colorado, and all but four of those places were fixer-upper houses, some more than others. Even before I was born, Mom and Dad’s first post-college home was a fixer-upper rental (as “fixer-upper” as it gets!).

So, the “Needy-Home” Syndrome is in my blood…. What can I say? For my husband and me, having a fixer-upper is as much necessity as it is desire. To have the land we want, we can’t afford much more house. Works out, though, since we both would much rather have a house we can make our own, from the basement to the attic. For me, it’s merely a continuation of my heritage; for my husband, it’s a natural outgrowth of his strong artistic, creative gifts.

My childhood well prepared me for having a home in an almost constant state of repair and remodel. From painting, which was always a first step (even if it would be done again later) to moving walls, it seems there was always something else to do, whether critical or cosmetic. In those houses were it seemed we were in better shape, as soon as we thought we were done, something else would turn up, ready to be repaired, redone, or replaced. Life was always an adventure.

In one house, we spent years with missing ceiling tiles. It was a dropped ceiling below a bathroom, and the bathroom had issues. Even after the bathroom was redone, we still enjoyed the view of the underside of the tub for quite some time. Never was quite sure why, but I think it had something to do with waiting for the right replacement tiles.

Another house was most memorable for painting. We were discovering the world of faux finishes, and we tried all the most popular finishes–sponging in my bedroom, striping in the living room, and smooshing (not smooching) in the dining room. The clearest memory is of the smooshing. Because red is supposed to stimulate conversation–recommended for areas of the home designed for chatting–Mom decided to go with a red base in the dining room. Whatever picture she had seen just didn’t turn out to be the match for what we got. The goal was something in the marble family, but the result was closer to a butchery. Somehow, the white glaze mixture wasn’t enough of a calming agent for the bright cherry red. As much work as it took, none of us were ready to paint over it all, so we moved in multiple pieces of furniture and got a really big mirror for the wall. With a window on one wall, a double-wide doorway on another, and a single-wide doorway on a third, we ended up breaking the wall into multiple smaller doses of red. Not quite what we expected, but it sure did stimulate conversation!

Remodeling isn’t for everyone. If you are looking for a general contractor in Maryland, contact D.R. Hartman Construction, Inc. Whether you’re planning on adding a second floor in Bethesda, building a free-standing garage in Potomac, or any of a hundred other construction projects, they will help you work through the entire process, from the design stages to the finishing touches.

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