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My stubborn, grumpy, hunched, old man of a house.

When we bought our house, we couldn't inspect the upstairs bathroom.

The owner had lived here since she was a child. The house was a disaster, filthy. The bathroom was filled maybe half way up the walls with stuff. She was a hoarder and we couldn't inspect the bathroom because we couldn't get in.

The day we moved in it was only 55 degrees and we were totally worn out (we were combining lives, and made the mistake of moving both his house and my apartment into our new house that day). Our next surprise, after the bathroom, was that when the aweful move-in day ended, we had no heat. We think the old owner couldn't afford it and just let it run out. We later spoke with her trying to figure out why the heat was "broken" and she told us she ran our of oil three days before.

When our nephew Tommy came to see this house we bought, he walked in and took a whiff and said, "How are you guys going to get rid of the smell?" He was right. Our house was filthy, stinky, and broken in so many ways. It didn't even have a fixture in the dining room. Wire just hung from the ceiling. I always, always, always wanted a fixer, but in the 2 and a half years we have been there, I have cried a few times over this place. With my new relationship, engagement and this house, I bit off more than I could chew and I couldn't control anything.

We are taming the house. I am a huge fan of Kilz primer. It made that smell go away in no time at all and we were able to paint the front room a beautiful shade of butter pretty much as soon as we moved in. We uncovered beautiful hardwoods. The windows are original and have really gorgeous sills. We've been slow to do anything. We have had other things to work on, really. But the slow pace has been a blessing in disguise. The house is revealing itself to us. When you read shelter magazines and designers and savvy homeowners tell you to go slow, they are right.

I love a lot of things that just don't work with this house and I am slowly figuring it out. It's been a challenge to find where you can pop in something modern in a Tudor and where in the house you can get away with a trend (like a zebra cowhide rug... we discovered it gave a lot of humor to a really dark dining room).

The house has been a really stubborn, grumpy, hunched old man of a place, but every now and then it gives me weird gifts, like the day all of Seattle came out of hibernation and took to our neglected yards... I walked into the backyard and realized that while we were sleeping over the winter, ivy crept up the back of my house. Beautiful. And then I noticed peeking through the ivy was our garden spigot. I don't know why I love it, I just do. It's like a secret. For all the trouble, the house gives me a lot of pleasure.

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