Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When Home is... a Message from a Previous Owner

Last week, while rushing out the door to pick up kids’ from school Louis – in a way that only a two-year-old can – knocked a photo album out of the bookshelf. It was one I hadn’t looked at in years and it happened to fall open on a page of photos of us renovating our first flat. As I picked up the album I noticed a folded piece of paper shoved behind one of the pictures. ‘A letter for you’ it read on the front in childlike handwriting.

I’d forgotten all about this letter until now. We found it when pulling down a false ceiling in one of the two bedrooms. Our flat was built in the basement of a 1930s building, complete with high ceilings, archways and a lovely sandstone wall in the kitchen. But it had been renovated in the late 70s so down had gone slate floors in the hallway, bedroom and bathroom. And up had gone false pine ceilings in one of the bedrooms and kitchen.

A modern look of its time, I suppose, but we still found it hard to believe they covered up a plaster ceiling complete with a rose and cornices. Anyway, they did and thanks to the letter we also know they built the ceiling themselves, on Wednesday August 1st, 1979.

I don’t remember feeling bad about ripping down their handiwork. After all, it had lasted 20 years. I do remember feeling more connected to the home though. It was nice to think that a family had stood in this room, just as we were, working together to create a space they loved.


Anonymous said...

This story reminds me of a house we lived in where I found a black & white photograph of 2 women, standing in a garden. Looking at their clothes, I would think around the 1920's. It was pushed up between the timber mantelpiece and the cast iron fire surround in one of the bedrooms. When we sold that house I did check to see if it was still there, hope it is still.

Claire said...

I love the idea of leaving a letter to future owners - what a gorgeous find (although not so sure about their ceiling choice..). Are you going to leave something to show why you're extending for future generations..? and if so, what??


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