When we purchased our house about 14 years ago we went from one antique home to another.
Our home was built in 1906 and was a guest house on this farm property. When we moved in our neighbors were happy to share the history of our home. Fun fact: Walt Disney, Jane Mansfield and Betty Davis all stayed in our home. The early owner of Holiday Farm (the main house ) had strong friendships with his Hollywood friends and when they would visit him they would stay in our home - the guest house. Back then it was a standard Cape style home. When you entered the front door you would immediately see the good morning staircase. The first floor was a basic four room lay out, like a square and at the top of the stairs there was one room to the left and one to the right.
As antique homes go, there were renovations that happened previous to us moving in; a sunroom and a kitchen addition. We also moved forward with more renovations as our family grew. We added bedrooms, a real garage and of course kitchen and bath reno’s. Because we are “old house people” the integrity of preserving the past was always important to us but having an updated kitchen was also important and realistic.
Deciding what to keep, paint over and update was pretty easy. The kitchen island, bathroom cabinets and that weird laundry closet built into the staircase space needed to go. The charming antique bedroom doors, vintage hardware and height chart drawn on the inside of the dining room door frame had to stay.
Wait . .. what? The height chart that wasn’t even related to anyone in our house was staying? Yep.
The dining room walls, paneling around the fireplace and all the trim was getting a refresh. While painting the door the painter asked “should I just paint over this?” I had to pause for a minute. Not our kids and not even people I knew but something didn’t feel right about painting over that history. Years of measuring and the excitement of walking up to the door and seeing that you’ve grown an inch over your brothers height from when he was 12? The feeling of erasing that history didn’t seem appropriate. On top of that, this was a small piece of the home that no-one would ever see. It was personal.
“No, don’t paint over it.” was my response.
This began our tradition of measuring our childrens' height on the dining room door. Not every year and not on a set date. Just when we remember to do it. The kids stand back against the door, we mark a line with a pencil, get out the measuring tape and the name and date goes on the door to join all the other names and dates. Some written over each other and some surprisingly holding their own space on the door.
Our family history now joins the house that has been a home to many.