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When I first bought the house--4 and a half years ago--it had been vacant for 2 and a half years. It was a HUD home--reposessed by FHA--and when the previous owners lost it, they took everything and I do mean EVERYTHING out of the house EXCEPT the circa 1970's harvest gold refrigerator! (I didn't even open it...just pushed it out to the curb!) They took the AC unit, the pool pump, the hot water heater, all of the kitchen appliances except the fridge, the closet shelving and poles, the ceiling fans, the faucets out of the kitchen and bathrooms, the lighbulbs out of the fixtures and even one of the drawers out of the hall bath vanity! I guess it was easier to just transport it that way than to pack the contents into a box. In addition to the missing items, three windows were broken--one of them missing entirely because someone had thrown a can of dark green paint throgh it--thus totalling the carpeting in the family room. Anything they did not want was thrown into the bottom of the pool--old sneakers, broken toys, cheap or broken patio furniture, etc. It took me a month of working 6 days a week, 12-15 hours a day to get the house livable again. I painted every room, replaced ceiling fans and light fixtures, replaced the pool pump and cleaned the pool (BIG YUCK!) replaced the missing window and it's companion in the family room, installed a new AC and furnace, replaced the hot water tank, bought all new appliances and replaced all the faucets. I wasn't working then so I spent every moment I could either shopping for new things for the house or working on it. I was under the gun because I had given my 30 day notice to my landlord and plus I had to find a job! The ink wasn't dry on my divorce papers yet so I didn't have a lot of help--no "handyman" boyfriend looking to score brownie points by helping me out.
When I met Tom, the house was in livable condition but still not anything that Homes and Gardens would want to do a photo layout on. When he moved in, he started doing "projects" while I was at work. I'd come home and there would be a new porch railing or the beginings of a new pantry or some new screening on the pool enclosure (in Florida, most pools are screened so that you can actually go out and enjoy them instead of spending yoru time scooping bugs out of the water!) He warned me ahead of time that he didn't know how long this "handy" side of him would last because he'd never been that way before. But a year and a half later, he's still at it.
When I look at it now, I see a home where once a house sat. I see the love and hard work that has gone into making it someplace that reflects not only our own styles, but our love and commitment to each other and our family In each little project or freshly tiled room, I see a reflection of the growth that I have been through in recent years. I went from a woman who was scared out of her mind because she had never lived on her own before but determined to make it work to a mature, independant woman who knows that she will survive no matter what the future holds. From someone who was so unsure and spent many nights crying because it just wasn't working the way I'd thought it would to someone who only sheds tears of joy now. I see a lot of love and although it still needs some work and it will probably never be ready for that photo layout, it's comfortable and warm and a really great place to live.
If I were to pick any one spot that I could say was my favorite, it would have to be the master bedroom. Not for the obvious reasons but because when I was looking for my house, I used to tell people that the thing I was most excited about was not having to ask anyone's permission to do something to it. My ex was very controlling and I always had to run things by him for his approval before I could do anything. I used to tell people "It will be MINE! If I want to paint my bedroom PURPLE I can do it!" Purple just seemed to me to be the most outrageous color for a room to be painted! I said it so often, that by the time I found the house, I was DETERMINED to paint the master bedroom purple! So...I did! It remains that color to this day and to me it is a symbol of my independance and ability to overcome whatever adversities life hands me. Recently, I've began thinking about painting it again..something a little more sophisticated and romantic. After all, it's no longer a celebration of me...it's a celebration of US!