Baseline / by Scott Newland

This is the first house I've ever owned and, not coincidentally, the first house my wife has ever owned.  We bought it less than a year after we married, over 20 years ago.

This is the "back side".  The street facade has nominal curb appeal but defies all style categories (Is it English Tudor, or some sort of half-timbered Bavarian?  We don't really know, or care.)  On one hand, this house has been our home longer than any we've had before, and the only home our children have ever known.  We've sunk countless thousands into incrementally improving it.  We've literally grown into it.  On the other hand, it's an 84-year-old compromise that wastes energy every year.  The back of the house gives away many of its flaws.  In a list of current best practices in residential architectural design, this house gives the rebuttal for each point.

082111 house back side.jpg

Point: Main floor living spaces should engage with the backyard, with views and intermediate spaces such as a porch or deck to allow inside and outside to interact and enhance each other.
Counterpoint: No, some leaky bay windows are more than enough.  And go around the corner if you want to get in.

Point: East-facing windows need to be carefully sized and protected from direct sun to avoid unwanted heating during the summer months.
Counterpoint: No, they don't.  They're leaky, remember?  They'll let the hot right back out.  I thought you wanted to let the outside in, anyway.

Point: Roofs can effectively collect and help store rainwater through well-designed drain pipes, filters and cisterns so that the collected water can supplement rain gardens to provide effective stormwater management and irrigation.
Counterpoint: Not if you have cheap asphalt shingles that shed colored granules all year.  Besides, doesn't that little rain barrel you felt good about installing assuage your hydro-conscience?  And why do you have that hose and sprinkler snaking around the yard all the time?

Counterpoint: They knew what they were doing 84 years ago.  You bought me.  You upgraded me.  Why don't you want to live in me forever?
Point:  Because it's the 21st century and we've come to know how much better houses can be now.  We've lived with your flaws, we've shivered under your leaky windows, we've coped with your deficiencies, and we are ready to design a custom home that has your charm but also has honesty, social and environmental responsibility, and is tailored to our current lives.
House: But won't you miss me?
Us: We'll miss you for the memories we have, and the good times we've spent in you, but we're not that old yet and would rather look forward than backward. Another family will love you for what you are (and for all the work we put into you).  (We hope).