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Why I Chose My Historic Home

Happy Monday! We’re kicking off the week with a special tour of bloggers sharing reasons why they chose the home they currently live in. We all have our reasons – maybe it’s an open floor plan or the character of an older home. I think you’ll enjoy everyone’s stories (links are at the end of this post). Here’s my story of why I chose my historic home!

farmhouse, summer porch, summer home tour

I’ve lived in this 140-year old house for over 20 years. I bought it when I was a single mom with three kids. After my divorce, I lived with the kids in an apartment for 6 years. It wasn’t too bad because there were lots of kids there – and a pool! My goal was always to buy a house by myself though – and I did it!

You might think I was a little loopy to buy such an old house without a man to help fix things. I didn’t even think about that though. I just knew that I wanted my own place with historic charm and took a big leap of faith.

One of the first things I loved about my historic home was the decent-sized front porch. When I was married we owned two different houses, and neither had a front porch. I also loved that this house had clapboard siding instead of vinyl or aluminum. Believe it or not, the house was pink when I bought it.

farmhouse entry, summer porch

Another huge selling point for me was the fact that the empty lot to the east of my house was included in the sales price! It’s a separate buildable lot and I thought I could always sell it down the road to help pay for my kids’ college expenses. 

My Historic Yellow Home

Fortunately I didn’t need to sell the lot and we’re in the process of figuring out different garden zones for this space. We recently added the shade garden under the trees.

Do you see that little red house at the end of the road on the left? That’s where our street empties into a gravel path that winds its way to the forest preserve – yet another reason why I love my historic home. It’s located on the corner of the block of a quiet street. All I have to do to enjoy a scenic walk is head down that road and follow the gravel path to the forest preserve.

My Historic Yellow Home

One thing I have to have in any house I live in – is ample windows! I love the double windows in the entryway. And I love the real wood trim that frames them. I can look out this window onto the lot that houses our shade garden and vegetable/flower garden.

Another added bonus of my circa 1875 home is the wide baseboard trim that you’ll find in every room. And the wood trim is real even though it’s painted. I’m not a fan of faux wood.

Welcoming Entryway with Wing Chair and Plant Table

Even the front door has a large window. I don’t like front doors that are solid with no window. I also loved the decorative trim on the inside of the front door, along with the door lock and door knob. It’s all those little details of an historic home that make it so endearing.

Weathered Buffet with Orchids and Plants

When you step inside the front door, you can see all the way from the entry/dining room through the sitting room into the kitchen. All of the doorways have wood trim around them, which I also love. You can see the trim work around the kitchen windows, along with the ceiling beams that were intact when I bought the house.

Sitting Room Looking into the Kitchen

When this house was for sale, it was a featured home in our local newspaper. There was a photo of the trio of windows above the kitchen sink. Those windows piqued my interest but unfortunately, the house was priced out of my budget so I put it out of my mind.

About a month later, I noticed the price dropped on the house and I picked up the phone to call my realtor to see it. And as you can see, the back door also has a large window just like the front door.

Let me just say, I was not a fan of the green tile floor when I saw it. I wondered how I’d be able to afford to replace it since I was a single mom with three school-aged children. As time went on, the floor started to grow on me. I hope to replace the cabinets, counter top, and faucet sometime in the next 12 months. They’re looking a little worn.

Charming Country Kitchen with Green Tile Floor

When I first saw my historic home, I was thrilled to see there was a wide enough window sill to place plants on!

Charming Country Kitchen

Another selling point, is the built-in cabinet on the other end of the room. My kitchen isn’t modern, and I’m okay with that. It reminds me of an era gone by and I find that comforting. The little wooden chair came from a house a block away that belonged to an elderly Swedish women. Sadly, they tore her house down to create a garden. I loved her old home!

Built-in Country Kitchen Cupboard in Historic Home

With three kids, I was happy to see that the built-in cupboard was pretty spacious and would provide lots of storage. And look at the detail of the inside of the cupboard doors, along with the bead board lining the back of the cabinet.

Storage in Built-In Kitchen Cupboard

The door in the kitchen leads to my scary basement. I was going to include photos in this post, but I’ve decided to do a separate fun post about that. The basement has a story all its own! All of the doors in my historic home have paneled doors like this one – yet another reason why I chose this home to live in.

Kitchen Island in Country Kitchen

My family room used to be a bedroom on the first floor. I knew someday when the kids flew the coop that I’d turn this room into a T.V. room. The room has three rather large windows in it – something I have to have. I love natural light.

Country Style Family Room in Gray and Neutral Tones

One thing I’ve always wanted was a two-toned staircase. This stairway was clad in 80’s style rose-colored carpeting when we first moved in. But when I first toured the home, I had pulled up a loose corner of the carpet to see what was underneath. So I knew there were painted floors beneath all the carpet.

Believe it or not, I pulled up all that carpeting by myself and hauled it out to the curb for garbage pick-up. I then painted every floor in the house except the kitchen and downstairs bathroom.

Country Style Console Table and Staircase in Historic Home

The bedrooms in my house are small, which is typical for the era in which it was built. I’m okay with that because I only use my room for sleeping and getting dressed. I’ve never liked having a T.V. or exercise equipment in a bedroom. It seems too distracting – but that’s just me. I do like the angled ceiling; it creates a cozy feeling.

Under-the-Eaves Bedroom in Neutral Tones

The smallest bedroom is decorated in blue and white. I loved this little room when I first saw it and knew it’d be perfect for my son. I think the ceiling is cool and wish the entire second floor had the same ceiling treatment. It looks to me like someone removed the plaster to reveal the lathe underneath. 

Coastal Style Boys Bedroom

The upstairs bathroom was the last room I saw during my first walk-through. It has a claw foot tub with shower (my first floor bathroom also has a claw foot tub), which was another reason why I chose to buy this house. I also fell in love with the little sink and the quirky appeal of this room. I’m pretty sure it was a closet at one time that was turned into a full bath.

Old Fashioned Bathroom in Historic Home

When I remarried, hubby and I talked about buying a new home together. We even looked at several model homes in the area. But we ended up staying put. I guess we both love old and quirky. And since we decided to stay, we added our beautiful garden pond in the backyard.

Aquascape Garden Pond

The house is a good size for two people and we love the location. We’re on a quiet street in a small, but growing town. Chicago is just an hour away – our town is the last stop on rail service to the Second City.

Below are the links to the other bloggers who are sharing the reasons for why their chose their beautiful homes. Come back on Tuesday and Wednesday for links to the rest of the bloggers!

Monday’s Homes

Why I Chose My Home Tour - Monday

Town and Country Living / Designthusiasm / StoneGable

Tuesday’s Homes

Why I Chose My Home Tour - Tuesday

The Happy Housie  /  The Wicker House  /  Sincerely Marie Designs

Why I Chose My Home Tour - Tuesday

It All Started with Paint  /  Maison de Cinq  /  Jennifer Rizzo

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53 Comments

  1. I love every vintage quirky detail of your home. You can’t beat the charm of an old home and I would choose old over new any day. How lucky you are to have that adjoining lot to plot out garden beds. Your addition of the pond and waterfall is delightful and must be so relaxing to sit out there and listen to the soothing sound of the water and watch the birds and wildlife it must attract. Beautiful and welcoming in every way.

    1. Thank you Kathy! It will take a while to get the garden all done, but I’m hoping to create a journey through the space with different zones. I think a butterfly garden is next on the list! πŸ™‚ And yes, the pond is wonderful. Everyone should have one (in my humble opinion).

  2. Hi Jennifer
    Thank you for sharing your lovely home and the reasons you wanted to live there. I am glad that you and your hubby decided to stay. It is a beautiful old home and the gardens are fabulous. There is something about old homes that you can’t find in a new home. I am also not a fan of huge bedrooms. We do not have a TV in our room or exercise equipment. I think they are more cozy when they are small. My bedroom growing up was the size of some people’s walk-in closets but I loved it and it had everything I needed (twin bed, dresser, small shelf and small closet) and it was mine. Love your blog. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Lynda! I always say an old house has soul. I sometimes wonder about the people who built the house and how long they lived in it. Your childhood bedroom sounds charming! Thanks for the nice words about my blog!!

  3. Thank you for sharing a tour of your home, it looks so cozy. There’s nothing quite like the charm of an older home, you chose wisely and I can see why you have stayed for 20 years.

  4. I love your house, Jennifer! I’m with you on windows. It’s a priority for me also to have lots of windows and sunlight in my home. I so enjoyed your tour. Thank you!

  5. What a great idea to feature the “why I fell in love with my home” concept. As a long-time follower of your blog, it allows me to see so much more of your beautiful home than just narrow vignette photos – that while beautiful, tells me nothing about context within the entire space. Your home speaks to me, also an in-between country/city girl, and I’ve cheered you on with every new paint job, upgrade and landscape installation. Your wide angle photos of the outside of your home brings it all together – the style of the entire house, the lawn, the gardens and the trees. It’s all so comfortable and homey and I can understand why you decided to stay. Thanks again for the insight into why you love your amazing historical home.

    1. Thanks, Pat! I do appreciate your support and feel a kinship even though we’ve never met in person! One of these days I’m going to do a post about the layout of the house. I know when I read other blogs, I try to envision what the layout of their home looks like. LOL.

  6. Thank you for that wonderful tour and i love all your reasons why you bought it, cause i certainly would have too, i love your home.

  7. Hi Jennifer. I have always loved your home and I use to reply to you, a lot. I replied as Cyndee Christman and I went through a divorce 2 yers ago, and took back my maiden name, Cyndee Decker. I’m so glad that I found you!
    You have done great work on your home. I love it!!

    1. Cyndee!!! Welcome back! I’m sorry to hear about your divorce and hope you are doing well. That whole process is never easy but I do believe most women end up becoming stronger from it. Stay in touch!

    2. Love your home and certainly admire the woman who raised 3 children by herself while remodeling an older home. Your gardens are a delight and as a fellow gardener know how much work you put into them. Also know how much pleasure a garden brings. Than you for all the sharing and inspiration you bring your readers.

  8. Jennifer, I just love the details of your historic home! Before our new townhouse, we lived in an older home and it was delightful to have the character that comes with such a home. While a new house has some conveniences, it takes a lot to try to add that character that comes with an older home. Yours is just beautiful!!

    1. Thanks Lory! One day when my old bones can’t take the work anymore I’ll probably move to something lower maintenance (hopefully it’s not a nursing home LOL). Thanks for being on the tour this week. Heading over to “your place” now!

  9. Your home is quaint and airy with a long gone touch of class that no longer exists. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Jennifer, I feel the same way you do about historic homes. Yours, and my last 2! Every single sentence in your post……I agree wholeheartedly!
    I’ve always loved your kitchen…..the green tile floor, the old built-in, the white, the windowsills. And your porch and the colors. you’ve chosen. I’m delighted to hear the history of you in your home! Glad you and your new hubby decided to stay, and the extra lot is such a bonus. Beautiful gardens.
    I could go on and on, but every detail you described is delightful and describes the delight I find in old homes.

  11. P.S. I was a single mom too, in an old house. After my daughter would go to bed, I’d start changing things. I, too, ripped up the rose colored carpet on the stairs (and hall, and living room) and did the steps just as you did. Hauled all that carpet out to the curb as well – though I did have some 2 pieces cut and bound to use upstairs in bedrooms, pinching pennies all the way!

  12. Your home has always been one of my favorites Jennifer. I don’t know how I missed it but I never noticed the green tile. Now that I have, I absolutely love it! It has such a pretty sheen and color to it. I’d totally keep it. I think it adds charm and it’s a great pop of color! I love it against the white walls and trim. I’m so glad you did this fun hop. I’ve loved seeing everyone’s homes and just what about it they love.

    1. Aw, thank you Amanda! Any suggestions for kitchen cabinet color? Or wall color? I want to re-paint everything in the kitchen and am struggling to choose something to go with the green tile. LOL. I need to replace the counters, too. πŸ™‚

  13. Oh my goodness, your home is gorgeous! I love all of the period details, the lovely woodwork and built-ins, but especially that green tile floor – so glad you decided to keep it!

    1. Thanks Jean! I’m always surprised by how many people like the green tile floor. πŸ™‚ Maybe I didn’t like it at first because all the trim in the kitchen was painted the same green color and it was too overpowering.

  14. I loved reading about your historic home and you’ve done such a great job making home yours. I don’t blame you at all for staying and how lucky to be on a rail line to the city! Thanks for inviting me to share my home today.

    1. Thanks, Janet! We don’t take the train too often to Chicago, but having the station within walking distance of our house sure does make it convenient!

  15. I love your old yellow farmhouse, the gardens, and yard! . It is reminiscent of an iconic farmhouse in Canton, Ohio., that I have swooned over my entire life.
    See link here: https://www.oldhouses.com/5046
    You are so lucky to live in this beautiful home.

    1. Thank you, Terry! I can see why you love that home in Canton. It’s gorgeous! I especially like the back staircase off the kitchen. Thanks for sharing it with me!

  16. I love your old, historic home, and am so glad you and your husband decided to stay! You did a wonderful job in the house and outside, too! A big plus is that extra lot. I’m sure you and your husband will build some beautiful gardens; just as you did a wonderful job on the pond! Love that it is on a quiet street and has a forest preserve right next door! So many plus’s about this place! You are blessed!

  17. So fun to read all the details about your historic home, Jennifer! I love all the character of it, and your yard is amazing! So great to be living near forest preserve trails, as well. We have that in our home and it’s one of our favourite features! Thank you so much for hosting and sharing your fun home story!

    1. Thanks, Krista. Originally a builder wanted to create a subdivision at the end of our street, but I was happy when the county bought the land instead and turned it into prairie and a path to the preserve!

  18. Jennifer this is such a wonderful post! I love hearing the history of your gorgeous home! I too LOVE old and quirky, with lots of character (and as you saw- mine has none of that, lol!). All your windows are so pretty, and I especially love your kitchen builtins and all the bead board. And one of my absolute favorite things is your garden and pond. Your whold property is gorgeous!

    I didn’t even know you were a single mom at the time you bought it, either! I’m so impressed. What a wonderful model for your kids that you didn’t need a man to buy, maintain or even fix up a house. πŸ™‚

    Thank you again for asking me to be a part of this tour – just loved it!!

    Sheila
    xo

    1. Thank you, Sheila. I should’ve mentioned in the post that my two girls were with me when I toured the house. I took them with me to the realtor’s office to make the offer and write the contract. I thought it’d be a good experience for them. πŸ™‚

  19. Old Homes are the best! I still can’t get over that yours is over 140 years old. That is amazing! I love your home and all of its charm. It was really neat to read more about it and How cool that it came with an extra lot. You have done wonders with it, Your yard is beautiful! Thank you so much for including me in this tour. I really was super excited to be a part of it.

  20. I admire your courage to purchase the home you loved! And I love your home and everything you have done to it, too. It appears that, fortunately, previous owners didn’t try to “modernize” it; which is always a shame. Congratulations on your blog and your home! I love the green tile kitchen floor, too!

  21. I love how you’ve decorated and worked with all the unique and charming characteristics of your home! The woodwork and windows are amazing. You have such a gem!

  22. Hey Jennifer, You’re so lucky to own a such beautiful home. I am not sure how much it may cost. However, I believe that the house is a great place for living.

  23. Your home is absolutely beautiful!! I would have chosen such a home myself!
    Why did I choose the home I have??? Simple, it came with my husband. It’s not perfect and neither is we, but we are happy and our home seems to stretch to accommodate all of the kids, grands and greats!!
    Blessings to you,
    J

  24. This is a great idea for a tour! I always enjoy learning the hows and whys of a house and home. Love your historic home and gardens. Have always adored your kitchen, especially the floor.