How An Old Farmhouse Changed My Perspective
"I just made the biggest mistake of my life."
Those were my exact thoughts when we first stepped foot into the old farmhouse we currently live in. Both my husband and I had quit our jobs (he got a new one and I chose to stay at home) to make this move. We were filled with excitement for the adventure ahead. I wouldn't have to work a full time shift work job anymore. Brighton would be closer to his family. We'd be living out in the country with my horses in my backyard. The cost of living would be cheaper here than in Colorado. It all sounded so perfect. That is, until I stepped into the farmhouse we were going to rent.
The old farmhouse hadn't been lived in for at least a year. The windows were sealed shut, doors were nailed closed. But with the house being at least a hundred years old, bugs and dirt and grime still managed to work their way through the sealed entrances. The paint in the doorways was chipped and the walls were cracked. Even the kitchen floor no longer lay flat and level. And the stairs creaked incredibly loud whenever you'd climb up or down them.
I fought to hide my dismay and devastation of what I dreamed would be a house from Country Living Magazine. My mother-in-law snapped tons of pictures of our reactions as we came inside, her excitement for us to be living ten minutes down the road from her obvious. I didn't want ruin her excitement or my husband's but I just couldn't come out of the shock.
Unpacking our moving truck passed in a blur of hauling boxes and figuring out which rooms to put them in. But the only thing I could think about the entire time was how big of a mistake I'd made leaving everything behind for this. This old dumpy farmhouse.
For the first few months, I hated our home. I loved our new lifestyle in the country, but I missed the newer and nicer house we had been living in back in Colorado (even though it was more than three times the cost per month!). The old farmhouse never felt clean to me. But over time, the house began to grow on me. As we decorated and got settled, the house began to feel a little more like home. The longer we lived there, the cleaner it became and the abandoned smell and feel of the home dissipated. Our landlords gave us permission to paint and make minor changes inside the home so we did little things to make it more homey for us. And the more care I put into it, the more my attitude toward the house began to change.
However, I still didn't love the old farmhouse. Whenever we visited friends whose houses had flat floors and smooth walls, I'd feel strong pangs of jealousy and wished we had a nice house like theirs. But, within a couple days, I'd like our house again and be content until the next visit to a friend's place.
Then, one weekend Brighton and I had a little weekend getaway in Stillwater, Minnesota. We booked a stay at a little bed and breakfast called Cover Park Manor near the downtown so we could walk to all the shops and explore the gigantic bridge crossing the St. Crouix River. The bed and breakfast was a popular stay and reservations had to be made quite a bit in advance, so I knew we could expect a great experience at this place.
What I didn't expect was for this little bed and breakfast to change my entire perspective about our home and to teach me a lesson in contentment.
But it did.
As soon as we entered the house, I took in the sight before me. It was lovely and quaint and just perfect. The owner/hostess welcomed us with a warm smile and led the way upstairs to our suite. And as we walked up the stairs, a familiar sound met my ears. The stairs creaked!
I began taking a closer look at my surroundings. The walls had cracks in them and some chipped paint. Random floor boards creaked. The house reminded me so much of our own home.
In our room, there was a guest book for people to sign and leave a note telling about their stay. I can't even count how many people raved about the charm and character of that old house. They said it was a great getaway and nice change of pace. A place where they could fully relax and unwind.
From that day on, I've been in love with our old farmhouse. Yes, it's old and it shows. No, it's not the home today's interior magazines will feature in order to sell modern farmhouse decor. But it has the character and charm people will pay money to stay in for a vacation or a weekend getaway. It has the bones and history many of the modern homes of today lack.
We've heard many priceless stories and memories from people who've lived in this house before us. And we've created our own in the few short years we've lived here. These things can't be bought.
This old farmhouse and that little bed and breakfast have taught me a great life lesson. While it's nice to have new things, to drive the fancy car, or to live in a large open floor plan house with bay windows and a wrap around porch, none of those things create happiness and contentment. Happiness and contentment stem from our attitude toward the things we do have. And the people who have all those fancy things, still tend go out of their way to spend a weekend getaway in place with a little less glam but a whole lot of warmth and charm.