Sunday, July 26, 2009

Have You Ever?


Just out of curiosity...have any of you ever been given the chance to take a walk through a house that you used to live in?

Did you enjoy it?

Or was it agony?

Are you happy that you did it?

Or do you regret it?


Here is why I ask...

On Tuesday we're flying down to AZ to spend the week with great friends!
(We're so excited, we can hardly stand it!)

Back in June of 2004 we packed up our things and moved from the rainy, Pacific Northwest to scorching hot, Avondale, Arizona and called this house "home" for the next 2 and 1/2 years...


We bought it while it was in the process of being built, which made the anticipation and excitement to move in, that much greater!



I could not wait to get my hands on it!


The day we moved in, it was a blank slate and a sea of white!
We transformed every square inch of that house and I loved every moment of it!



Rooms were decorated and redecorated. Painted and repainted.
In June of 2006, I repainted the living room and dining room with this cool, refreshing blue. Finally, I had it just how I wanted it.

Not quite four months later, Will got the call that would potentially move us back to WA.

Exactly one month after that, in November of 2006, we were loading up the moving van and saying goodbye to our home...





The boys shared a room (not because they had to, but because they wanted to...and we wanted them to, as well!) and, naturally, it was decorated with a nod to aviation...


Ellison's nursery had turned out just how I had imagined it...


...but the playroom was the favorite, for sure! The boys, still to this day, talk about that playroom and ask if I can paint it all over again here!

(you'll have to excuse the mess...the boys played hard in that room - as you can see by the sleepyheads on the floor!)


I miss this house more than I can express. It was mine. All mine.
I loved the layout and the way that it functioned for our family. I loved the way the sun flooded the back of the house in the morning and in the evening flooded the entryway with gorgeous pink light. I loved the three windows in the front of the house that looked so great with wreaths hanging from wide, red ribbon at Christmas. I loved that we could host a party and have more than enough room to fit everyone. I loved the 10 foot ceilings through the entire house, the skylight in the playroom, the archway that connected our master bedroom and bathroom, the plant ledges in the kids' rooms and the guest bedroom, the window bench that we built in the kitchen, the way the cool tile felt on our feet, and how the floors never creaked because of the concrete below...

But most of all, I love the moments that we had in that house.
Memories that I will cherish for a lifetime.


I have found a way to get in touch with the current owners. Would they think I'm a lunatic if I emailed and asked to see the house?

Probably.

Right?

I just keep wondering how I would feel if I got an email like that?

yikes...

I'm not sure what I would say.


My husband keeps telling me that I would regret walking through the house. That it would erase the memories that I have and replace them with a new memory, that has nothing to do with us.

I suppose I agree with that, except that I am not one of those people that thinks my house will remain the same after I have moved out. You know, like on the show Moving Up on TLC when the old owners are so disgusted that the new owners would want to change it! I don't expect to walk in and see any of what I had done still there. I want to see what they have done - their take on our house!


So I ask...would you want to walk through a house that you once called home?

I'm thinking I'll see how I feel when we get there.

The owners might just be getting a knock on the door...




42 comments:

Haley said...

I regularly have dreams of sneaking around the house that I grew up in. My parents sold it a few years ago to downsize. I'd love to go back and walk through.

My husband and I have owned our house for almost five years and this summer we got a knock on the door--it was the children who grew up in the house. They wanted to see what it looked like now. The college-aged kids talked about sledding down the stairs, what their room looked like before...

I was glad to hear their approval of what we had done to their house.

I'm with you--you'll always wonder if you don't give it a shot.

Aura said...

I would LOVE to see the house I grew up in. I dream about raising my own kids in it, one day. I can see your husband's side, but I don't think all the memories you have will be erased but a different color paint and someone else's furniture in the rooms. Get in touch with them!

vintage at heart said...

Your Home was lovely!!! an amazing job of decorating and the colors.. so soothing!!!
Have a wonderful trip down memory lane!

Anonymous said...

We also lived in Arizona....for 11 years. We go back regularly to visit our son at ASU and all of our friends. Phoenix will always be home to us. We recently stayed with a friend who lives around the corner from our old house. My daughter went to see the house but I couldn't do it. I knew it would be too sad. We have too many wonderful memories and I knew I wouldn't be happy with the new owners belongings in it. Obviously, I'm emotionally attached to the house!
Good luck with your decision!
BTW.....I love your blog!

june@craftyniche said...

Your other home is beautiful! I have only been in two homes, the one I grew up in and my current one that my husband and I bought before we were married. I haven't been back to my childhood home because of some bittersweet memories, but I hope one day I will be able to. I do know that the current owners did a big remodel there. I am currently working on decorating/home improvement projects and I can't wait until my touch is throughout my home. I love the EAT sign that was in your kitchen. I will have to copy, if you don't mind. :)

duchess said...

If you get the nerve to do it see if you can sneak a camera in with you - we'd love to see as well.

Funky Junk Interiors said...

If you wish to cling to the wonderful memories of what you had, it's best not to venture there.

The reason I say this is because you have the ultimate touch to transform an ordinary space into something extraordinary. That is a gift that many don't have.

My prior house was my dreamhome. On 5 acres, in the country with a mountain out back, 1800's floor plan 12 year old home, wrap around veranda on all 4 (FOUR) sides. It was heaven. We even ripped out a front horsefield and bought a triple deck drive lawnmower and created an amazing front entry that resembled a golf course.

After my divorce and ultimate move, I drove by one day and broke into tears. The farmers that bought the place ripped out all the ancient trees, beautiful rustic fencing that wrapped on both sides of a long curved driveway, and leaft heaps of piled dirt and broken boards apparently for MONTHS. The place resembled tornado alley.

Today apparently they've planted all blueberries. And it looks like crap.

I'll never drive by again, nevermind venturing indoors!

Same thing happened to my parent's farm. I live 10 min from it. I drive by and shake my head at the complete lack of maintenance and love for a home.

Don't do it if you enjoy the memories you have now. However if you're still pining for the old place, by all means.. you won't pine after you see it. :)

Donna

Chris said...

I don't think I would want to see what someone else has done , I think it may mess with your memories , who knows maybe not , I would have to say no to a house I loved but to see my childhood house that would be neat , I am happy with drive bys of my last house as it looks EXACTLY how I left it , it actually looks like we still live there , that is neat.
Chris

Susan @ Not the Good Scissors! said...

OMG. When I saw the front of the home I couldn't believe it. It is almost identical to mine. The kitchen layout, except for the placement of the fridge is identical. Where the built in seating is in the nook is where my sliding glass door is. You gave me some great ideas for my house (if I can ever find the time though, aghh). I am so sorry you had to leave that house. We pour our hearts and souls into our homes don't we?
Take care, Susan

Gena said...

I think you should get in touch with the new owners. If I lived where someone had grown up, or used to live, I would like to hear the stories they had of my house.

But... as many of the others have said, it can be really hard. I knew when we sold a couple of our homes that it would be different if I went back. Boy, was I right! One, in particular, was pretty ugly on the outside, as in, AWFUL, and the other had the strangest idea of interior decorating I had ever seen.

That being said, I still think it is fun to see the house you used to call "home". It is also very bittersweet, especially when you have great memories of that place.

P.S. Your home was beautiful (and still is)! I would love to know what color blue you used. I am still trying to find the perfect blue for my master bedroom. Thanks!

Lori E said...

This is probably a bad idea. It isn't "your" house anymore. It has changed and you probably won't like the changes. It may be damaged, it may be poorly kept and it may just have a really bad vibe about it now. Your family took their "vibe" with them but what if it isn't a happy home any more?
Keep your memories.

Your cool friend Cheryl said...

While it would break my heart to see what other people have done to "my" house, I'll admit I would be curious. It's the same fascination I had with other girls' dorm rooms-I liked seeing how they decorated the exact same room.

I don't think seeing it again would change any memories, either. I'd regret not seeing when I had the chance more. You know it'll eat you up if you don't go!

marty39 said...

It just seems that going back always erases good memories and just creates some bad ones. You may walk through and then never be able to remember the wonderful home you created. Your home is where you live now and the memories you are creating now. I'd just keep my memories and hold on to them. Hugs, Marty

Mary Frances said...

I wouldn't go back to see the house now...our first home was our perfect home, and three years to the week after we moved in we moved out. The lovely family that bought it had two boys, and were gracious enough to let us close after our new house in Houston was ready for move in...but asked to measure for new wallpaper in the kitchen two weeks before. That was one of the projects we had put off, and it was sad someone else would get to re-do the walls before I did. We drove by a year later when my husband was on a business trip back to Ponca City, OK and I could see they added a pergola to the back patio like I told them we were going to...I've never gone back...I keep it in my heart and my memory, and try to love my present house the same, but it never can hold the same warmth as our first...maybe I will feel this way for our last home...when we do decide that will be!

Mary Frances

Kim said...

I sold my house when I got married and moved 12 hours away! It took me a couple of years to drive by my old home when we were visiting with friends. I had mixed emotions and I didn't want to go by for a long time.

However, when we did drive by I was excited to see that the new neighbors were taking great care of my "home"! I didn't stop or ask to go inside, but it was sure nice to see the outside.

McNew Family said...

Looks like you did such a gorgeous job of decorating that house in AZ. You'll have to let us know if you visit or not!

Anonymous said...

Don't do it! We sold our 1940's bungalow that we redid from floor to ceiling. It was mine, with my colors, my kitchen, my landscaping.

We did a drive-by a few years after we sold it and it was heart-wrenching to see the difference. I thought I'd be sad and heartsick to see my house belonging to someone else, but when I saw it, all I felt was disappointment. Disappointment in that they didn't appreciate it the way I did! The yard was overgrown and in desperate need of pruning, and all I could think was... all my work.

I never want to see it again. It's a closed chapter and I have the memories of the way everything was when we were there. My interior memories are unspoiled since I didn't go in.

Just keep your house the way it is in your mind. Don't see what they've done to it.

rachel said...

This summer I visited my childhood home. It was a mixed bag. Some of the changes were changes I had always wished we had made. The house is not kept in the same fashion my parents did because a bachelor now owns it. The visit brought back memories of my childhood but also reminded me that WE, the people that inhabit the houses,that create the traditions, are the nucleus of those memories--not so much the house-the pretty backdrop! Go satisfy the curiosity!=)

Miss Mouthy said...

My situation is a little different. My grandparent's house was like my second home growing up. A few years after they passed away it was again up for sale. We walked though during an open house. Honestly, it broke my heart. There were only minor changes that actually updated the place, but it was so sad that it was different in any way.

If you had your house exactly the way you liked it, you can almost guarantee it will be different and not in a good way.

Just my two cents...

Sarah @ Thrifty Decor Chick said...

I would LOVE to go to the house I grew up in (for a few years -- it was one of many but was my favorite). I actually have considered taking a road trip up there many times and knocking on the door.
OUR home though, I don't think I could bare going through if we ever left it. I know it would mess with my head and my memories. :)

Karli @ RockyBella said...

What great rooms! You have a gorgeous house. I love that hutch in the dining room.

~Allie~ said...

GO GO GO!!!!!! I WANT YOU TO SNAPS PICS FOR US! ok, totally kidding.. can you imagine having someone come in and take pics!? hilarious! Our old neighbor has been in our first home we owned and said the new owners smoke in it and are completely nasty and it hurts so bad. We loved everything about that house and took pride in decorating it just perfect. ugh. I can respect people changing decor but don't cut my roses and smoke in the house! hahah

Astrid said...

I can understand why you'd miss that home. You certainly did an amazing job decorating and painting it! (but your current home is gorgeous too!)

I'm actually in a similar dilemma. We're heading up to Alaska (home state) in a few weeks. I'm so nervous about seeing our old house. My dad built that house and we moved in when I was just a few months old. Many happy and some extremely sad events happened while living there. My husband and I took over the house but we had to leave AK and sell the house. Truly painful. Now we'll be heading up there for a visit and I'm not sure I can handle seeing it. And from where it sits it'll be hard not to see it!

*sigh*

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

I don't think I'd want to go in. As amazing as your home looks in the photos, there are some people with weirdo tastes out there, and they may have painted your kitchen purple and traffic cone orange. I'd be upset over my hard work being worked over. I think I'd want to remember my house the way I left it, but that's just me. :)

If you have a chance to stop by, my 200th post Giveaway went up yesterday (Sunday) with my Thrifty Treasures post. :)

Snowbonkers said...

I agree with Will, I wouldn't want to know what it looks like now, or see how it has changed. Its like the old house we lived in growing up, it is still weird to drive by that place and see the odd things they have done to it, almost like I still have some ownership of it.

Angie said...

I have such mixed feelings about this one!! We moved almost 2 years ago but we only moved a couple miles away from our old home. I had such a connection with that home- everyone in my life thought it was the strangest thing to be that attached to a house. I actually cried for about 3 weeks after we moved and the funny part is we moved "up" bigger home better neighborhood. It didn't matter- it took me about a year before I started to love our new home. Anyhow- I still drive by the old house and would love to go inside but I think it's better I don't. Not because they might have changed something but because I think I would get drawn back into that aching feeling of missing such a special place. It was our first home, both our children came "home" there, and we remodeled every inch of that place. Good luck making up your mind on visiting or not!

Christy said...

Don't do it!!! My grandmother passed away last Nov. and when my sister and I arrived in her town for the funeral we of course drove by her old house - the same house she'd lived in for almost 60 yrs, and the house that my mom grew up in, and that I was brought home from the hospital to, since my mom was living there while my dad was in Vietnam. We squealed when we saw the for sale sign, and quickly called the realtor, told her about our beloved grandmother's passing, and the realtor agreed to meet us to show the house to us. It was HORRIBLE! Nothing smelled like her anymore, there was a big, ugly oak bar in her den where we used to sit on the floor and play Canasta. Ugh, I won't go on, but it was horrible. I only want to remember it the way it is in my memories, not the way some total strangers messed with it.

Colleen said...

I have never gone back to a home that I actually lived in but I did return to my parents home after they had both passed away and the home was sold. It was not a good experience for me at all. The house felt void, lonely and sad. I will never return.

Lorie said...

Don't do it!!! Drive by and wave...tell the kids, "There is our old house" but don't go through the house. I can't imagine anything coming from it that would be good. You will either HATE what they have done with it, or if you love it it will just make you miss the house!

But have a fun time while you are here in AZ!

Becca said...

Don't make that mistake!

Tara said...

looks like you are already getting a lot of advice...but i wouldn't go, and the reason why is I am a terribly emotional person and if I went and things were damaged, and so different then when I left, I would be heart broken...and the memories I had there would be tainted...and I would be sad, wishing I wouldn't have gone...but then again that is me, I know my boundaries!
Can't wait to see what you decide, and that pic of your boys asleep in the playroom made my heart melt, so sweet! Gorgeous house by the way...love all the detail.

kathi said...

I sold my little bungalow in Florida just over a year ago. I put my heart and soul into that house. I haven't been back since but I know I would not be happy to see it again. At least not yet. I heard from my son that the new owners painted the exterior. After all of the months I struggled to decide on that color! He said it looks nice but I'm sure I wouldn't like it. I'm curious, but not curious enough to go there!

J. Paige said...

I guess I'm with Donna- If the people loved the house and took care of it as you did I think it would be fun for you- but if they are, well, house slobs, it might break your heart. You obviously put your whole heart into your home and it shows in every beautiful picture- so pretty! Good luck deciding!

Heather said...

There's an old saying .. you can't step into the same river twice. It's true of our former homes - as women we put a lot of ourselves in our homes and attach sentiment to special places. I think you would feel it very keenly to see how things have changed, so unless you can determine in your heart to be glad for the folks who live there now, and accept the changes they have made as their own way of taking ownership and building their happy memories, I wouldn't go in. A drive by perhaps, but not a tour!
I keep reminding myself about how we need to be careful to hold our possessions loosely and realize that it is just stuff and it doesn't have any eternal value or lasting significance. My father once watched with a family as their home, build entirely by their own labor, burned to the ground. They were not at fault - it was a malfunctioning sump pump that caused the blaze, but I'll never forget their reaction. They stood as the fire crew worked with tears in their eyes and said with a smile 'The Lord gives and the Lord take away, blessed be the name of the Lord.'

Linda said...

I think if you have a burning desire to see it...then you should. If you have the chance you should definitely take it. I used to dream about my childhood home...it tormented me. One thing that helped me IMMENSELY was I bought one of those paper mache houses at Hobby Lobby and painted it and added pictures to it from that house. I put the same street number on it. Then I made a small booklet to stick inside that has the floorplan drawn and things that I remembered about that house. I glued a street map to the bottom of the house. It was greatly theraputic.

TheOldPostRoad said...

You are very brave. I don't know if I would do that!

I live in a 150 year old home and dread the day we sell and new owners come in with a huge dumpster and tear out everything historic (which I have watched with surrounding older homes).

Joy said...

I went through our old home shortly after the new people had moved in. They had painted all the rooms and replaced all of the flooring. It was such an odd experience to be in a home that was familiar and yet no longer felt familiar. I walked away knowing that the house had served my family well but it now belonged to another family and would be theirs to love and make memories.

Amy {The Red Chair Blog} said...

What an interesting question, and what interesting comments! Years ago, I went back to see my childhood home (with new owners living in it).

My experience was kind of unique in that the buyers had purchased a lot of my parents' furniture (they loved the way that my mom had decorated and knew that their furniture wouldn't fit into the house as well as hers did), so in some ways, it looked a lot like my old house...only the scale of everything seemed smaller given my new "grown up" height!

I will say that once you visit an old house, you end up with a kind of "layered" memory of the space--your house with someone else's house superimposed on it. If you treasure your memories but can't bear the curiosity about how your house looks now, how about asking the new owners if they'd be willing to email you a few photos? That would be a "safer" option emotionally.

zoanna said...

Your memories of the old house are sweet and beautiful. It was the representation of the life you creatd there. Leave it in your mind in the "before" stage. Revisiting it in the "after" stage is always disappointing. I have driven by three old places(2 from adulthood, one childhood) and never ever thought their "improvements" were better than the home in my memories.

The Bargainista said...

I acutally agree with your husband...what if you walked into a room you worked really hard on to get the perfect color and they painted it black or something? your going to be so mad!! lol I dont think you want to have those feeling towards your home, remember it the way you had it love it for the memories that you have. :)

AnneYarbs79 said...

My girlfriend sent me over to you- said we were alot a like- even living in AZ for minute... And to answer your question: NO- Don't do it! We rented our home here in Dallas while we were in AZ (long story) and when we returned I just about had a heart attack at the things the renters had changed. It actually made me so upset, we had most of the house remodeled to get it back (and better) to its old self! As a homemaker, your house is just too personal! Resist, resist!!

Future Envy of the PTA said...

I just ran across your blog thanks to the blurp on you in the "Southern Hospitality" blog. I loooove your site. You have the same asthetic that I DREAM I have. I have very little coordination when it comes to decorating, but I take pride in my little accomplishments. I read this entry and could not pass up posting to you on the subject. I am in the same position. My husband and I met in college and stuck around afterward, got married, and started a family. We bought a BEAUTIFUL house cut into the side of the mountain, in the best neighborhood you could possibly imagine. It was everything I wanted. I got to choose the colors (a beautiful vivid orange), pick out new furniture, and decorate the nursery any way I wanted. We were only there for 2 years when my husband lost his job and we had to relocate several hours away so he could start a new job. I was devastated. The only thing that made me feel better about it was knowing that the people buying our house treasured the little things that made our house extrordinary. They loved my orange paint, they loved my scenic and quiet porch, they loved my un-finished basement that spanned the entire length of the house. They were only going to change the basement (which I looked forward to someone doing something AWESOME with). I came back 2 months later and they have chopped down my beautiful cherry tree in the front yard and changed so much outside. I originally went there hoping they weren't home so I could be a peeping Tom and look in the windows, but I couldn't bring myself to do it after I saw the changes they made to the yard. My advise... don't do it! I have had dreams and nightmares about the house and it's owners ever since. It's devastating. Hold onto those beautiful memories and relish in the fact that the house could never be more beautiful than the way YOU had it! Thanks for such a great blog!!

-blondeeDM@yahoo.com