The glow of home ownership #736

#736 in a series of true experiences in real estate

When we saw Sahdu at her new house she looked especially pretty. We were visiting, bearing good wishes and curiosity only a few days after her move. We expected to find her in paint clothes but she answered the door wearing a natural color linen tunic — classic, beautiful. Around her face was a wide headband that held her red hair up in a poufy, most attractive way.

Her face, particularly, was lit up. She was smiling, looking content and peaceful, yet excited, generating electricity.

She was glad to see us, glad she could show us what had already been accomplished in the house. Throughout the house, the wood floors, newly sanded and coated, are smooth and tawny, reflect the light. We always thought the house was nice; refinishing the floors has made it better than any of us knew it could be. The three of us go from room to room exclaiming over the floors

The kitchen and breakfast room are the best. These had been covered with dark, tweedy green carpet, the kind with foam backing. Now it is gone and the floor people have sanded the soft fir underneath. There are imperfections in the wood, little gouges and color changes, and we like that. The clean, honey color of the wood binds the two small rooms together and makes both seem larger, still cozier.

The wallpaper still on the walls of the breakfast room is an old pattern, burros with flower-filled side packs and sombreros, in orange, yellow and green. We hated the wallpaper before but now, with the wood floor, it looks good and we’re surprised.

Sahdu has placed a small, light wood table in the room and two wooden stools, one of which was long ago painted the green in the wallpaper. Now the paint is chipped and worn which gives the stool a friendly look.

In the corner is a built-in cabinet, the top half small glass panes, and this door is open, the pattern of the panes and the creamy white painted frames charming laid back against the wall.

There are objects, probably collected over many years, stacked here and there on the floor, on the table, on top of the refrigerator — a large black iron frying pan, baskets, one round, hammered-copper bowl. Every item adds beauty.

Sahdu shows us that the floor people sanded the basement stair treads. This small detail, unpainted fir, invites the way to the basement, urges us to go there, and has visual impact that delights me.

Sahdu is camping in the living room for the moment, as she prepares to paint the bedrooms upstairs. Her bedding lies on the floor, white fabrics, loosely piled, lovely against the wood. Under one living room window she has made a tableaux: a dark wood table and chair to use as a desk. There is a calendar on the wall, a lamp on the table, a wooden box and pencils.

Temporary curtains are hung over the lower parts of these windows, soft, plain white fabric. The covering is just enough for privacy from the street, little light excluded. The rest of the room is bare except for a few small paper dragons, cerise and green, playfully draped over the fireplace grate.

The sun fills the rooms. Sahdu moves quietly in stocking feet. Wherever my eye falls, I enjoy what I see.

She’s been leaving us messages for the last few weeks, since the house became hers, messages to tell us what’s going on.

“It’s so exciting,” she said in her first breathless message. “To have a house that hasn’t been remodeled. That turned me off of so many houses — that they’d been remodeled and I didn’t like what they’d done. But with my house, I get to do it!”

And then, “I don’t know where to begin. All of the workmen you told me about are great! Work has already been done on the chimney. It needs no mortar, not even cleaning, just a damper and rain cap!”

She gave us reports on the wonderful foundation man, the electrician, the man who will move her gas line. Then a big burst — “So, it’s all go!”

“The neighbors are fabulous and very supportive. Oh, and our mailman requested this route because there are so many people who have lived here for 40 years or more. He likes delivering mail here”

Another day: “I got to see a photo of Julia! She’s small. Gray ‘permed’ hair — and a wonderful, full smile.”

Julia, the previous owner, had moved to a nursing home 2 years before she died. Sahdu wanted very much to know about Julia but the niece handling the estate hadn’t known her well. As it turns out, the neighbors were Julia’s good friends, anxious to share their stories, show Julia’s picture, offer Julia’s extra house key back to Sahdu.

“I’ve gotten the dining room windows open,” Sahdu exclaimed on another day. “I used a putty knife, paint stripper, and a special triangular tool that I work through the cracks. It’s slow going. There are layers of old paint and caulking too.”

Pure happiness came through the phone lines with her next statement, “How was I to know that such grueling work would be so thrilling!”

Have we ever had a happier buyer? All through the house-looking, searching for the one that felt right, we enjoyed Sahdu. We like being with her, had a great time working with her, getting to know her.

Now we can see something we didn’t know before, that she is an artist. She has that rare ability to arrange her surrounding beautifully, artfully. And, while she was thoughtful, careful while buying, she is now all-out enjoying every shred of owning.

This entry was posted in Buyer Stories. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

  • Sign up to receive our newspaper columns: