Our house was built in 1978. I was seven when my parents and I moved in and for the past almost forty years I have witnessed the numerous developments that took place in it, from small repairs to larger remodels of whole areas.
From the child that played make believe games in which each room was a whole neighborhood, I have observed the efforts of many in each endeavor that has helped keeping it functioning, looking good and furthermore, developing a unique personality that reflects its endurance in these four decades.
Home improvement is a subject that is more complex than simply hiring professionals to fix, install or replace. It demands a full commitment to the house, to the well-being of all those who live in it, and to beauty itself.
The house I have lived in has gone through some bigger changes, like when an attachment was built five years after the original construction, but the small projects are what have always made a bigger impression on me. The way that small improvements can make a big difference and how the details affect the general atmosphere.
I have chosen to demonstrate here a few of these improvements in order to show that a forty year old house can still be coherent to its age and at the same time not looking like an old grandma’s house.
The Glass Wall
Once a quiet family neighborhood, ours has become a busy one, full with medical centers, commercial buildings and restaurants. Therefore the need for privacy and security increased a lot during the past four decades. The front of the house was wall free until our street became full of cars and people passing by. When the need to build a wall was felt, a glass wall was chosen in order to preserve the connection between the house and the neighborhood, at the same time not hiding the life of the outside world or preventing the people to see the architecture.
The Internal Garden
“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust”. - Gertrude Jekyll
Of all the areas in the house that is able to show continuous growth and progress, the garden is where it is more obvious. The idea was to maintain the original garden, respect its natural growth and replace the least possible amount of the plants. That means continuous work and investment. Plants need to be trimmed, stumps grinded the lawn kept alive. The beautiful mix of tropical plants evolved in forty years, and the birds and butterflies it has increasingly attracted has made all the effort worth it.
“A child's mind is its living room; it's is going to be residing there for the rest of its earthly existence” - Tom Robbins
In the late 70’s and throughout most of the 80’s it was very common the use of carpet in the common areas of the houses. Later on tile floor and laminates entered the show. However, when replacing the original carpet, the owners wanted something more upscale and the choice was granite. Besides the durability and the beauty, this flooring respected the general materials scheme of the house, which consists mostly of concrete and brick masonry.
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning” - Benjamin Franklin
Decorating trends and styles have changed a lot in the past decades. But instead of changing it all at once trying to keep up with the changes, the adaptation was gradual, incorporating new technologies (like the new TVs) and styles to the original furniture. The mix of old and new not only respects the story of the house and the people, but also provides a familiar and comfortable atmosphere. It can also be beautiful. Besides maintaining some of the original furniture, personal touches are indispensable in the formation of the house’s personality. Paintings done by the residents and furniture adaptation are some of the features than can add identity to the house.
Since concrete plays a major role in the house architecture, its maintenance is crucial. Concrete needs constant attention since it can get dirty and look old throughout the years. Besides constant washing and insulation jobs, the owners chose to paint it in a natural concrete color, which has kept it looking clean and new.
The Art Studio
Throughout the years one of the owners has developed her artistic skills up to a point where she felt the need for a place to show it and sell to the public. Since the idea was to work from home, an art studio was added to the front of the house. By hiring an architect, it was possible to integrate it to the initial scheme respecting the original architecture.
Someone said that when people are happy in their homes, they are free to pursue their dream for a brighter future for themselves and their families. If that is true, it should be the reason why we should never give up on our home projects, because they show our deepest commitment to our future and our loved ones.
All images are original and should be credited and sourced to Rodrigo Barata, writer for homeyou.com.