First of all, this photo has not been manipulated. I did nothing to make this living room appear worse than it is. The wallpaper was torn off the wall long before we got our first look at the place, and the same goes for the condition of the carpet. I’m not entirely sure of the source of the stains. Animal? Food? Human? Hard to tell, and my sense of smell is not all that discriminating. It’s nice to know that in life not every question is a struggle: “Hmmm . . . Should we keep this carpet or not?”
Evenly spaced white dots appear on the papered wall and above the window. These are insulation plugs that fill holes left behind by workers who blew into the wall cavities cellulose insulation. It’s fairly uncommon for workers to blow loose insulation into wall cavities from the inside of an old house; usually, this is a job best done from the outside. Workers drill 2-inch holes into the exterior side of a house (better yet, they first remove the necessary rows of clapboards), then blow in the insulation, plug the holes, and reattach the boards. A good insulation job never shows the plugs. I can only imagine the mess created by doing this job from the inside. Maybe that explains the carpet stains and the thick layer of dirt on the ceiling fan blades.
In spite of the mess, one feature about this room convinced me that restoring this house would be worth the time and effort. Beneath this foul carpeting lies an original oak floor, ready to be restored with some sanding and polyurethane. Standard oak floors come in boards that are 2.75-inches wide. These floorboards are 1.5-inches wide, much rarer and, in my opinion, more beautiful.
I’m sure it says somewhere in the Bible, “Thou shalt not judge a house by its carpet. Thou knoweth not what lieth beneath.” Much easier to do that with houses than with humans. I struggle to shake off first impressions of people, especially when those impressions are negative. It takes work to see beneath another person’s exterior especially when our judgments are cemented in. Almost as a reflex response, we create mental montages of others based on color, clothing, nail polish, vocabulary, etc. No doubt, all this sifting and sorting helps us to organize and make sense of our world. But I wonder how often I miss the virtue in people, the godliness in others, the pleasing side of someone’s humanity because I’m just too lazy to lift up a corner of the carpet and peek at what is hidden beneath.
[For previous installments of A House Story go to www.danielplasman.com/blog/ Pull down the CATEGORIES menu and select A House Story]