Top Things We Miss About Old Houses

12 07 2010

Hey, my house had one of those! (© Steve Lovegrove; Library of Congress)

Hey, I remember that!

For anyone lucky enough to own an old house, quirky features such as a hand-cranked dumbwaiter, gurgling radiator or shutters that actually work may be a part of everyday life. For the rest of us, such details now exist only in memories of visits to Granddad’s. The passion for old houses can start at an early age, as evidenced by all the letters and e-mails that This Old House readers sent in recalling special details from homes they knew as kids. In fact, it makes us wonder what today’s kids will talk about tomorrow — the silence of radiant heat?

Deep front porches

“My grandfather built my childhood home in 1936. Its front porch was 10 feet deep and ran the length of the front facade. It was a great place to play as a child and a great place to gather with the family.”

—Michael Purnell, Springfield, Ill.

Wooden screen doors

“I miss our old wooden screen door and my mother yelling, ‘And don’t slam the’—BANG!—’screen door!'”

—Hank Kennedy, Goffstown, N.H.

Milk-bottle boxes

“The house I grew up in had a metal milk box that held four milk bottles in an exterior wall. It had doors on each side — one was for the milkman to deliver freshly filled bottles and pick up empties, and the other opened into the kitchen.”

—Susan Allen, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Floor registers

“In the floor of my old bedroom there was a heat register. It had an iron grate you could pull out and then peer into the room below you. Mine looked right down into our living room. Perfect for Christmas morning.”

—Kate Craney-Welch, Wauwatosa, Wis

Deep overhangs

“The thing I miss most about old houses is the eaves. Before air conditioning, the eaves extended far out from the roof on all sides to protect the house from the summer sun. Lying in bed at night when it rained, I could hear the water dripping off the roof. It was such a comforting feeling.”

—LaureL Glasco, Newport News, Va.


“Our dumbwaiter took up the space of a chimney, but it sure was useful for moving laundry and trash to the basement and food and dishes to and from the kitchen.”

—Joan Phelps, Hot Springs, Va.

Steam radiators

“When I remember the 100-year-old Minnesota house I grew up in, the thing I recall most fondly is the old-fashioned steam radiators. In winter we used to come home after a freezing-cold day of ice skating, take off our mittens and socks, and drape them over the radiator. I can still smell the damp wool. Radiators make old houses feel so warm and cozy.”

Article By Connie Roth-Ames, Salem, Ore


July Market Report

11 07 2010

This report is brought to you by Keller Williams.

7 Fixes to Boost you Homes Value

7 07 2010

Article By Investopedia

It’s time to tackle home-improvement tasks you put off during the cold winter weather. There are lots of relatively simple and affordable things you can do to give your home a face lift. Your house will look better and your family will feel happier in it. As a bonus, you will also boost your home’s value.

1.  Add the perfect touch with paint

“A fresh coat of light paint on the interior walls can work wonders,” says Kelly O’Ryan of Coldwell Banker in Lexington, Mass. “Paint will always clean up dirty walls and give a room a better image.”

Although dark colors can be stylish, O’Ryan advises going for lighter shades to brighten things up in warmer seasons. Karol Nickell, editor-in-chief of Fresh Home magazine, offers this advice: “Smart color selections can make a small or cramped room appear dramatically larger. In the foyer, make a good first impression with similar tones mixed at different strengths. In the living room, a bold color paired with a white ceiling makes the room seem taller than it really is.”

2. Focus on the flooring

Good, well-maintained flooring can set a positive tone for the entire interior of your home.

“Like paint, flooring can help create an impression of spaciousness and airiness,” Nickell says. “Whether it’s a floating laminate floor, tile or a natural ‘green’ alternative, lighter-tone flooring can make formerly drab areas appear modern and streamlined.”

3. Lighten up the accents

“Spring (or summer) is a great time to change your window treatments and area rugs,” O’Ryan says. “Once again, dark colors are associated with winter months; a lighter, airy curtain will give any room a brighter and more pleasant appearance. If your floors are in great shape, you may want to remove the area rugs and leave the floors bare. Eliminating the rugs will open up the room and make it appear larger.”

4. Update the windows

Old windows aren’t just ugly — they can also let your heat and air conditioning escape, costing you big bucks.

“While window treatments are typically a focus in many home makeovers, the actual windows themselves are often overlooked,” says Victor Gonzales Maertens, an energy efficiency expert with Lennox Industries. “However, upgrading old single-pane windows with new Energy Star-qualified windows can save an average of between $126 and $465 per year on energy bills, and some new windows qualify for the federal tax credit.”

5. Weed out bad landscaping

Neglected bushes and overgrown lawns can kill a home’s curb appeal. Don’t worry – you don’t need a green thumb to spruce up your yard.

“Clean up the site by removing any dead or dying plants, branches and flowers,” suggests Jennifer Hoxsie, landscape designer with Greenhaven Landscapes in Lake Bluff, Ill. “Prune overgrown shrubs along the home’s foundation so they are below the windowsills and off walkways and driveways. Fill empty holes with site-appropriate plants. Have all the planting beds weeded, edged and mulched for a clean, crisp look. Finally, weed and fertilize the lawn and provide supplemental watering if necessary to maintain a lush green carpet.”

6. Add decorative touches to the yard

We’re not talking about plastic pink flamingos or creepy garden gnomes. Taylor Graves of CertainTeed building products says, “Adding benches, steppingstones, fountains or other garden accents could go a long way in making your outdoors a visually appealing and welcoming environment.”

7. A few final exterior touches

While you’re outside, a few other quick moves can make a big difference.

“Add color with paint to outdoor features such as window frames, decorative beams and porches,” says Kurt Gleeson, national vice president of sales for Stick with calm colors that complement the home’s exterior color scheme, avoiding shocking shades and drastic contrasts.

“Clean external brickwork or concrete slabs with a liquid masonry cleaner to make them look new and neat. Power washing can give external stonework, walkways and front stoops a quick makeover.”