On Old House Charm: I See Character, He Sees Cracks and Faults
Editor Scott Omelianuk on old house charm
The editor, contemplating how the allure of an old house eludes his young son.
The way my son sees it, we'll never exactly win a home-improvement contest.
Our house is too old, he'll say. Our house is broken, he'll say. Or he'll say it's all…icky.
Four-year-olds are tough that way.
He'll frown as he watches his marbles roll across the sloping dining room floor. He'll make an exaggerated point, on his way into the house, of stepping over the hairline cracks in the brownstone stoop—just so I know he knows they're there.
And he won't give up harping on the ancient roof-tar repair to the 150-year-old glass in the skylight over our curling, creaking interior staircase, either. In its early days that skylight provided the only illumination against a spiraling tumble, but now my sky-is-falling boy continually warns, "It's gonna leak if we don't do a project!"
He prefers the new construction in our neighborhood of 19th-century brownstones, just as he prefers whatever is the newest Lego set—no matter how much he liked, or even if he's finished with, the last one.
Unlike the Legos, much of the new construction in our neighborhood disappoints me—century-old homes whose ornately plastered and parqueted rooms are entirely gutted, poured into a dumpster, and replaced with full-floor boxes devoid of any detail but a repeating line of halogen spotlights and the same Euro kitchen that'll be as dated as an avocado Amana fridge before the next calendar comes.
To be honest, and as much as my little boy might like the bright shiny newness, those places won't win any home-improvement contests, either—at least not one like our annual Search for America's Best Remodel, which we're kicking off in this issue.
Yup, it's time to show us what home-improvement triumphs you've had. A powder room? A kitchen? A whole house from top to bottom? Uploading photos and a bit of description to thisoldhouse.com/yourTOH could win you as much as $10,000, courtesy of our sponsor, Delta Faucet. Runners-up will get a prize package worth $1,000 from Delta. And many more of you will be rewarded with the knowledge that your projects, tips, advice, and money-saving ways were savvy enough to be included in October's special Reader-Created Issue of This Old House and on thisoldhouse.com.
And don't worry—we won't let the kid have a say in the vote. I mean, how seriously can you take a guy who wears Batman underpants and whose only experience with building consists of multicolored snap-together blocks?