Friday, July 15, 2011

We DID it!!!!

Today we  bought the Pugsley house. I'm so excited, I can't sleep. Up with a pot of warm milk. We closed at 3 this afternoon. It was simple and relatively painless. During the closing we learned that the previous owners bought the house from a family named Long -- that was some 60 years ago. Originally, the house was part of the Ryder Farm, something I don't know much about yet. Exactly how the Pugsleys fit in is yet to be determined.

Tomorrow, early, 8 a.m., we meet the first contractors to do a bit of work on the house. That should be interesting.

But today was sweet, and a long time coming. After the closing, we drove over to the house. It was the first time we'd been in the house alone.  I'll have to dig back and figure out the date we first saw it, but for months, whenever we've seen it, other people have been with us -- always helpful, kind, in fact. But still. I wanted to rattle around in it for a little while without an object, without company.

It's such an amazing house. Built sometime in the early 19th century, a farmhouse with a well beside it. I see climbing roses whenever I see the well, and I have a potted climbing rose, pink, that has survived two winters in a pot -- so it occurred to me a few minutes ago, lying sleepless in bed, that I don't have to wait to move in to plant that rose next to the well. I need to learn more about climbing roses. How to put it in, in such a way that when we have to paint, we don't kill the rose to paint the house ... ?

So, perhaps a tour is in order. The photos can come later -- first a description. It sits on a corner on the outskirts of a small town in Westchester County, north of New York City. The lot is about a third of an acre. The road beside it is a short dead-end. The street running in front of the house is a feeder road, running to a four-lane parkway behind the house maybe 500 yards or more.

The house sits relatively near the front of the lot, and is long and low. There is a porch along the entire front of the house, situated low to the ground, so low that there is no need for a railing. At regular intervals along the porch, there are 6 windows, probably original to the house, single-paned glass, wavy, with old-fashioned wooden storm windows hung from brackets at the top of each window. It's a porch made for a porch swing and rockers or wicker.

Entering the front door from the porch puts you in the dining room, which originally was probably the living room of the house. It's a large, square room with a built-in hutch, a low ceiling, a giant hand-made circular rag rug on the floor, and wallpaper that dates back to the 40's or 50's. A geometrical pattern in gold and green.

To the left of the dining room is a room that was originally the dining room. It has a fireplace. It's a charming room, with windows overlooking the porch and on either side of the fireplace, looking out the southern gable end of the house. This will be my writing studio.

Going back through the dining room and all the way across it, you enter the addition to the house, which seems to be nearly contemporaneous with the house itself. On the first floor, the addition is a single room, the current living room, which runs the entire gable end of the home. Two of its windows overlook the porch. The other two frame another entrance, this one to Pugsley Place, the dead end. The room is large and painted a dark, colonial blue. It has a somewhat modern fireplace and a few built-ins around the fireplace. The doors (to the dining room and to the outdoors) bisect the living room into two equal halves, presenting a design issue that we will have to solve, after we move our couches in.

Just off the living room at the back of the house is a late addition (paperboard, not plaster, walls). A slanting roofed unheated lean-to. This may have been the original summer kitchen. It will be my husband's painting studio, and one of the first things we'll have done to the house is to have two windows put in on the left wall, to open the view out over the backyard and let in more light.

The kitchen entrance is off the dining room, running along the back of the house behind my writing studio. There is a small addition off the kitchen--a fabulous, slightly woody breakfast room, with windows on all three walls overlooking the yard. The kitchen will take some major work sometime in the next five years. The existing cabinets are a charming hodge-podge of original wood upper cabinets, probably from the 1910's or 1920's, and stand-alone lower cabinets added at various points from the 30's to the 70's. The sink is a standalone metal piece, topped with an enamel sink and drainboard, and integrated into the oldest dishwasher I have ever seen -- made in the 60's perhaps? Needless to say, it does not work (though to be precise, we have not actually tried to turn it on). Fearsome things would result, I am sure.

From the kitchen, there are backstairs up to the second floor, which is something of a half floor. The walls of the house are only about shoulder-height here (my shoulder, which is only about 4' tall). The windows are plentiful, but knee height, except on the gable ends, where the windows are a more normal size. From the half-wall, the ceilings follow the roofline for a distance, sloping up until they reach normal height, two or three feet into each room. The overall feel is that of a dusty attic, charming but very light. The light that filters in from the knee windows is incredible. Absolutely impossible to describe the kind of light it creates, something like the depths of a pine wood in mid-summer.

There are four bedrooms upstairs and one bath. We are told that originally (after the addition) there were eight bedrooms, with a very large farmers' family and assorted farmworkers and family members living in the house. At some point, the upper floor was renovated into four bedrooms and a bath. Three of the bedrooms are generously sized. The master bedroom, directly above the living room, runs the entire width of the house, and is the same size as the living room. That room will be our son's room. It is wallpapered in a floral wallpaper from the same era as the dining room. At the other end of the house, there are two smaller bedrooms on either side of the hall, both longer than they are wide. One has the original wide-plank pine floors --as does the living room-- the others have wood floors or floors covered with wall-to-wall carpet and are yet to be discovered. The fourth bedroom is in the middle of the house and will be used for storage.

The bath will need some work. The shower is under the eaves, and I am the only member of the family who will be able to take a shower standing up. Next to the shower is the toilet, in a lovely square space that will make an excellent separate shower. The room is big enough to move the toilet across the room, next to the sink and vanity, once we put in a smaller vanity. That will be some work.

Today, we only got so far as to gingerly peel up the lime green shag carpet in the bathroom, to explore what is underneath. Ninety-year-old linoleum is what seems to be underneath. So old that it has no shine, no waterproofing capability. And it curls up brown and crumbling as an old wavery manuscript next to the bath, where water has seeped down over the years.  I'm hoping there might be wood, underneath that.

So anyway, that was our first day. My new husband carried me over the lintel, after I made a few delicate coughs to remind him that I was still out on the stoop ...

It was a sweet moment.



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