Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Possibly looking for a house...!

If there's one thing I've always dreamed of, it's been my own place! I mean you can have all the great vintage stuff in the world, but what fun is it if you have no place to put it?? Well it looks I may actually be getting a little house! Or at least we're looking into it... I'm saving money on rent by living at home this semester, and instead of renting a storage place (or renting a room for that matter), it's actually cheaper to buy a small house! Yes, I know utilities and taxes are there, but the idea would be to try to find a cheap property in an area with low taxes, and keep the utilities as low as possible. And all this with a budget of around $10,000-ish... Yes, I know that's so very sad, but with this economy there are actually properties out there in this range! Of course I'm looking for a fixer-upper (doesn't need to be liveable), and I also want it to be historic. I want to restore it, doing all the work I can myself. While this blog is mostly for my vintage furniture, I also have a passion for historic architecture. I've always dreamt of rescuing an old victorian from the wrecking ball and restoring her to her former glory! And for those that say "but your furniture isn't victorian", my motto is... "good-is-good!" While most of my furniture and taste in interior design seems to be 30's-60's, I really love and collect vintage furniture from many eras, and love combining them in fun ways! It all comes down to color and scale in my opinion... lots of different things can work together, and having a variety of styles make things so much more interesting and less predictable! In my mind, why just do a "1930's room" when you can do a room that has the best from every era?? Not to insult anyone that has- that's just my personal preference! Plus the streamlined atomic lines and color are such a fun contrast with more victorian or other historic backgrounds...

Anyways, I drove up to visit my amazing friend Wendy in Upstate NY this weekend, and along the way I had to stop at a few properties I've been looking at (most within an hour of Harrisburg, PA)! The brick one is the only I walked through, however.

The first by far needs the most work, and nothing works (needs plumbing, electric, etc), but is detached and has sooo many original details.. the last time someone lived in it was the 60's or 70's, and it's like a time capsule! In the first couple pictures, you can see the outline of where a wrap-around porch used to be, and if you click on the middle picture, you can see some roof damage (on the original slate roof!)... So at least some roof repair is needed towards the middle. However, it seems very solid otherwise. Besides that one part/side of the house where the roof damage is, there's very little water damage. Some windows are broken, which is unfortunate since as water gets in, damage happens! However, I believe they broke recently as water damage around open windows seemed minimal.

All the electric and plumbing was done in the 20's I believe. I LOVE that built-in in the kitchen, along with the 50's Caloric stove you can't see! And those light switches ohhhh! Yes the electric needs to be redone, but I would get reproduction push-button switched and put them in the original aqua/metal enclosures! (which are fantastic). Also note the original built-in by the front door! (which has glass all around- it's boarded up). The place is filthy, and has tons of peeling wallpapers and debris, but has so much potential!

The bathroom is also pretty great, and has some fantastic art deco linoleum! Upon going upstairs, I discovered several rooms filled with mint high victorian furniture as well! In addition to the organ, there were 2 bedroom sets, the original cast iron stove and heater, and numerous chairs and other things!

The second house is just one I happened to come across. It's at the high end of my budget (if not over it), and attached, but also completely original! I love the little courtyard and balcony (which the floor has rotted out of), and the detail of the front door is likewise great... It's so hard to capture the details of this place! It needs paint and a lot of work in general, but it's liveable...still, it may be over my very very sad budget :(.

The last house is ironically one of the cheapest, since it's arguably in the best condition. It needs work, but has a new roof and is liveable. It is on a steep hillside which is fun, but the neighbors didn't seem thaaat great. The original wood siding was covered with vinyl siding, but they thankfully went around the details and trim work. Of course that would have to come off though (vinyl siding is very very bad for historic homes- it doesn't allow them to breathe and causes mildew and rot to the original siding). I would also have to rebuilt what would have been on the front porch. The deal-breaker though was that all the windows had been replaced....you can't beat original windows in my mind- it just takes away so much from the character of an old house! The windows are cheap aluminum ones too. Unless the original windows are in the attic, I'm not sure if I would go for this one...


  1. I say, you're never to young to buy a house and if you find something you like buy it and fix it up! Any particular towns in PA you looking into?

  2. The houses here (in order of appearance) are in Pillow (LOVE the name ha!), Lykens, and Pottsville. I'm trying to stay within 2 1/2 hours-ish of Laurel, MD, but am pretty open otherwise... I've looked for a few properties down here and I get so much more bang for my buck up there! I plan to use it for weekends, storage, and probably a little in the summer. Do you have any parts of PA you do (or don't) recommend?

  3. I don't recommend any place in Lancaster county, York County, Dauphin County...etc any area that is close to Philly or Baltimore. Reason being you won't even find a ratty trailer for 10 grand...so you will be priced out around here.... (I live in Lancaster County) The areas you are looking in probably will be your best bet for price as they are more isolated and in smaller towns. Just be prepared for what you might end up getting for neighbors. Good Luck and if I come across anything interesting, I'll let you know!