* I visited the town where I grew up, 900 miles away, not long ago. I went by my old house a couple times, and as I remembered myself leaping off the stoop and doing tumblesaults across the lawn, I also imagined my own children growing up there and how cool that might have been. They have hardly any memories of being inside that house–my mother sold it and moved to Atlanta right after 9/11 ten years ago. We already had our house here, so buying hers was not even a thought, but I know many people who have done so with their parents’ home. These were often well-built, well-cared-for, family-friendly homes, so why not? Well, the whole “sleeping in my parents room” thing is a little weird, of course, and the outdated kitchens and bathrooms aren’t a treat, either, but good bones are good bones. (Pictured is a woman named Deb who is currently renovating her childhood home, which she saved from disrepair.) If your childhood home is a designated historic home, then that even gives you more reasons to save and pamper it.
* If you buy or inherit your parents’ house, give some thought, first of all, to what you love about it and want to keep. Don’t remember? Do what this couple did–they took a stack of old photos and then drove around their childhood cities and took new photos of the exact locations and superimposed the old photos over them. How cool is this? It could remind you how much you liked sitting on those front steps waiting for the mailman to bring letters from your pen pals (oh, wait, that was me who liked that).
* Then, make a no-emotions-attached list of things that simply need updating. Yes, yes, I know it’s hard to even consider painting over your mom’s harvest gold rag-painted dining room walls or replacing dad’s drop-ceiling acoustic tiles in the basement, but it’s time for that to go. No sacred cows here, if they didn’t already make it onto your “what I love and want to keep” list. (Although, you know what? That painting technique is still pretty impressive. Good job, Mom.)
* During renovations, make sure to consider things that may be unsafe, such as lead paint in the soil around the house, especially if you are planning on starting an edible garden. Something like 75% of homes built before 1978 have at least some lead paint, and this lead can apparently cause learning disabilities in children and kidney, fertility, and other problems in adults, so it’s not good. (See more about lead and the older home here.) Also, consider “ages and stages” safety as well–both for aging seniors if your parents are continuing to live there (or visit often) and if you need some baby-proofing. A ramp, hand rails, wider doorways, additional lighting, and other small improvements can make the difference between comfortable and catastrophe when those with impaired mobility share your space. And covering sockets, clearing out breakables, passing on the glass coffee table for now, busting the clutter, and adding child gates at the tops and bottoms of stairs can keep your little ones a lot safer as well. (Have both aging parents and kids in your home? Welcome to the sandwich generation, and see more about what’s called “universal design” for all ages and stages of life here.)
Count on Kudzu to help you find service companies who can restore your childhood home, give it modern updates that matter to you, and keep you and your loved ones safe.