If These Old Walls Could Speak…

Jun 1, 2010 | French Farmhouse Design, Full Time Family | 22 comments

I love old houses.
The older the better.
Once while Joel and I were driving with some friends I commented on an rather ugly block of giant McMansions and our friend teased that if I could (financially) I would take one of them in a heartbeat… 
I begged to differ, NO I WOULD NOT!  
It’s not out of necessity that we have chosen to live in an old house, though we could never afford the big new homes so prominent in the Chicago suburbs, if I could afford one of those I would use the money for an older, bigger, crustier home… with more land of course.  Not that some of those homes are gorgeous and full of room, like my friends, holy goodness, does she have space… I would just feel out of place in one.
Perfect imperfections.  
That is what an old home offers.
And I love them.  
Creaky floors and old windows.  Lead paint and uneven foundations.
Many of our windows have wavy glass, they have pulleys… our floors… well, when you move from a house… it’s the sounds of the house you remember.
We are the fourth family to live in this house which was built sometime between 1840 and 1870 (the historical society lady said she would have to come down and look at our basement rafters to know for sure.?????)  Speaking of rafters, someone carved their initials into ours long ago…
It’s upside down but it says “J.W.” This house is known as “The Walsh House.”
This photo, taken, I imagine by the style of dress, just before the turn of the century shows our home before the addition of the second floor and additional garage space off the back. Check out that cool front path, the foundation problem on the right… you can still see the repair when you push aside my hostas today, and look at my beautiful pine tree, still standing by the Grace of God over on the left…
We find many of their treasures these days especially in the Potager.  I dug our potager almost three feet deep in some places and it’s not uncommon to find chunks of coal, broken dishes, shotgun shells and even an old, old, old lipstick or makeup compact.
I spent my childhood dreaming of living in my Gramma’s farmhouse someday, just knowing that my Grampa was born in the room just outside the downstairs bathroom makes me smile every time I am there.  I think of my Mom scampering about as a child, all the meals my Gramma lovingly cooked, the laughter, the tears.  I don’t know what God has planned for our life but I do feel that I even with that childhood dream and the longing we have had for land for our children to roam and our vegetables to grow I am so grateful for our house.  It really is, “the perfect house.”  Bedrooms big and small, fun details like french doors, a front porch, a good size kitchen, a charming linen closet built into the hallway… and that hallway, I love it, so wide and bright.  Two our our three children have been born upstairs in this home and God willing, the forth will be welcomed into the world here too.  
My imagination runs wild, my spirit it is ever-creating and thus ever-desiring but I find this a wonderful place on earth to wait and see what else is in store!


  1. Pamela

    I could not agree more! I love old homes they have a soul. Our last home was brand spanking new that we built and i never felt at home in it. Right now we are living in a very old beautiful character home and i feel at peace in it!
    Pamela from French Buttons

  2. DustyLu

    I agree with you! There is so much history behind an old home which makes it that much more special! Great post! ~lulu

  3. Anne Marie

    that was awesome Angela!

    I’ve been worried sick about you today for some reason –

    please call

  4. Ann at eightacresofeden

    I share these sentiments Ange! You might enjoy my latest post – it is called ‘The Character of a Home’. We also have houses here we call Mc Mansions, mainly to be found in cities such as Sydney – row upon row of them. They are typically two story and have fake Georgian columns either side of the door. And no gardens – just courtyards and they are usually empty during the day as both partners need to work to afford to pay the mortgage.

  5. Jennifer Rizzo

    I love history to a home! I wish we had more in ours! I love yours! 🙂 Jen

  6. myletterstoemily

    i would take a farmhouse with character
    over a mansion any day. we live on the
    same property my husband’s grandparents,
    parents, and he grew up on. we’re the only
    other owners.

    such fun history here!

  7. Lorilee

    I love old homes too! I don’t have an old home, but I have it filled with old things. Vitex may not be able to withstand the cold of zone 5. It freezes back here in South Texas.

  8. Cathy M~(checkitoff)

    such awesome history & your love for this home is incredible! what a lovely place to live!!

  9. Le Chateau des fleurs

    WOW c’est vraiment cool!
    Yes i always wonder too….I love old houses….It’s the 1st again and i have my french Obsession Party…Would love if you link anything French. I have a great give away too.
    Gros bisous ma belle.

  10. Lou Cinda

    Your home is beautiful!! I too, love old homes and drive by them all the time!! I wonder who lived there and what happened to them. For some strange reason I always want to know what happened to people! Crazy I know!

    Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving me such a kind comment. I want to glaze the cabinets but am unsure what to use and what to seal them with. Do you have a suggestion??

    Thank you!

    Lou Cinda 🙂

    I am a follower 🙂

  11. Anne - Fiona and Twig

    I absolutely, 100% agree!
    And I am so longing for my own old farmhouse, too.

    Your home is just beautiful, you’re a lucky girl!


  12. bv

    oh my ~ you said it….it has nothing to do with ‘afford’..it has all to do with ‘feeling right’. i am so lucky to live on a little ranch that ‘feels’ so good. love your blog!

  13. Tamra

    You are so right mon soeur!

    I often work in McMansions. While beautiful they rarely if ever have any soul.

    I recently visited a friend who just built a small “McMansion”. While very lovely it looked exactly as I expected. Nothing surprising, very “pottery barn” if you will for lack of better words. I promptly came home and hugged my husband, (he’s the one who takes all the old objects and my crazy ideas and makes them come to life) and told him how much I loved our old barn. I wouldn’t trade it for our friends new place for anything!! Our home makes you want to put your feet up and relax. I can see yours does too.

    Your home is lovely. I just read the post on your daughters room. To die for! The old glass door looking into the changing room…precious!

    Give me an old home ANY day!

  14. Amy

    the only way I would ever live in a new home is if someone gave me one. & then even then I would probably sell the damn thing! I am with you on old homes…this brought a tear to my eyes. the history is oh so beautiful!

  15. Mrs. Bee

    Old homes have charcter, there is a comfortable, cozy feeling to them and the smaller the better for me! We raised three children in this house of 850 sq. ft. (ONE BATHROOM!!)..now that the children are all on their own, it really is too big for the two of us 😉
    You have quite a bleesing knowing the history of your house…I get a chuckle when I write a check and the clerk asks is that my current address….yups, for the past 26 years…not many folks can say that anymore.

  16. SK

    I love old houses, for all of the same reasons! 🙂

  17. Privet and Holly

    What a wonderful story about your sweet home. Our first house was an old Victorian in the suburb of Chicago called LaGrange. I went to the historical society and found that the same family lived there from 1890, when the home was built, until sometime in the 1960’s! That house had so much character. I have moved a lot in my life {until now…. been here NINE years, holy moley}and you are so right about the sounds of houses staying with you. Your children are so very lucky to live in this house!
    xx Suzanne
    PS: Thanks for your comments on my last post ~ so heartfelt.

  18. Old Centennial Farmhouse

    I love your old house, too…didn’t drive in from the front to see the face of it, and what a lovely face she has! I’m with you….I’ll take old, any old day over new. EVEN THOUGH I know what old means!

    Thank you for this post: I’d love to do one sometime that tells what the “global warming” legislation would do to our old historical beauties…I don’t think people are even aware of how awful this legislation is!

  19. Jen Chandler

    Your home is beautiful!

    I LOVE old homes! My husband and I agree that the only new house we want to ever own is one we build ourselves, and even then we’ll build it to look old!

    For now, we live in a 200 year old building that’s been converted into lofts. Lots of creaking floors and drafty windows. We love it! It’s got soul.

    Happy weekend,

  20. annie

    Your home is so beautiful — inside and out. This old building is fortunate to have such loving people within it’s crooked (just a little, I’m sure–ours are…)walls.
    AND I think creaky floors are wonderful!
    I love your home. It’s an enchanting jewel box!

  21. Diva

    Hi what a beautiful blog!

    How ever do people find time to create such prettys websides! (sigh)

    Just out of curiosity – do you actually live in France ?

  22. Joy

    Oh, lovely old photo! It makes me love your blog, decorating and lifestyle even more! I didn’t know you were living in your grandparent’s home.(I know they don’t live there now.) You are correct about the old house sounds, I remember the sounds of going up the stairs in my Aunt’s house, which originally was my grandparent’s house. The sound of a door shutting, or even a doorknob–you wonder how many people have turned that knob. A house holds a life.


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