OHJ October 2019

Old House Journal October 2019

Editors' Letter: A wee bit of renovation

The thistles have taken over my yard, which is what they do if you turn your back. Beautiful from a distance, dangerous with sharp prickles on leaves and stem, the tough plants are eight feet tall! In 1904 this house was named Tanglemoor, a hint about its site: Atlantic low scrub with wild blueberries, briars, beach roses, and bramble. Over the decades, people dug out and planted trees and grew lawns. I myself did a big overhaul 20 years ago, adding a shady rock garden, flower gardens, and groundcover. Nature is aggressive, however, and reclaimed much of the backyard while I spent my available energies on the public front.

Pushing back the thistles, the honeysuckle, and the rugosa bushes (none of them invited) is one project on my newly minted Renovation List, which keeps getting longer. The side porch has rotted eaves, the trim needs painting, the kitchen floor has failed utterly, and the no-longer-state-of-the-art heating system is developing strange hiccups. I guess it’s time.

The residents are seeing changes, too. The house has adapted all along: when teenage parties superseded cribs and Legos, when the master suite became my editorial office, when guests stay for the summer, and, in recent years, when three generations were living under one roof. My sons have moved away, and it’s time their grandma got a suite instead of a room.

Still, this time I’m not facing a major restoration. What a relief. The biggest challenge will be the HVAC system, which requires a series of decisions as tangled as the moorland. (Radiant heat runs under the failed floor. Should I add air conditioning? Must I consider solar or wind when I probably won’t see a payback? Does point-of-use hot water make more sense than the current pumped loop?)

I am, nevertheless, feeling glimmers of that old renovation anticipation. Clean it, chuck it, move things around! It’s been a long time since I picked paint colors or chose new curtains. 

~ Patricia Poore, Editorial Director of Old House Journal

Look below to see stories from this issue.

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