Thursday, March 3, 2011

Should you take it with you?

Not too long ago I wrote about seven simple ways to add vintage charm to your house.

After writing this post, I couldn’t help but think about where all these salvage items came from. (As you know I have many vintage items, like the display cabinet shown below, in my house.)

Women's Day Budget Decorating / Photographer - Michael Partenio
Stylist - Donna Talley, Regional Editor and Producer for Meredith Publications

One would hope these vintage treasures are from houses and buildings which have been torn down because they no longer could be saved. This however is probably not always the case.

I am guessing many of these items have been purposely removed. As someone who loves older houses with all their original details, this saddens me greatly. It is these details which are one of the main attractions of older homes.

Although I live in a new house now, I was fortunate to live in an older home many years ago.

I loved this house more for what it could be rather than what it truly was – the epitome of a money pit. Although structurally sound, nothing had been updated for many, many years. (My family thought we were crazy when they saw the house we bought.)

One of my favorite items in the house was the mirror above the fireplace.

It is hard to tell from the above (very bad) picture, but this mirror was huge, gorgeous and the real deal. I was so excited to see it still hanging in the house the day we moved in. (I later found out the mirror had been purchased by the original owner and had been installed when the house was built.)

Of course Mr. RDH and I had visions of restoring this house to its original grandeur, but as fate would have it, we ended up living there only six months. When it was time to move we faced a dilemma many people struggle with who live in older houses – should we take the mirror with us?

The answer for Mr. RDH was easy – no. I think his decision was based on many factors - the mirror was huge (where would it ever fit in our next house?), very old and fragile (no way the movers would ever get it off the wall in one piece), and much fancier than anything else we owned (just not our style). The main reason for his answer, however, is his belief in keeping as many original features in a house as possible.

My perspective, on the other hand, took a little longer to figure out. At first, my thinking went like this: “When would I ever have the chance to own something like this again? Even if I didn’t have room for it now, I might have room later. It really was not a permanent fixture. There had been other things already removed from the house. No one would know we took it.” In the end, however, we agreed the best thing to do was to leave the mirror in its place.

Am I sad we left it there? To be honest, I still think about that mirror and how much I would love to have it in my house now. Do I regret not taking it with me? Sometimes but I also feel like I did the right thing. Given the chance today, would I take it with me knowing what I know now? I really don’t know.

So what would you do if you lived in an old house and were going to move? Would you take anything with you? Should you take anything with you? I am looking forward to hearing your opinion!


Angela said...

I would have an overwhelming temptation to take it, for sure! My thought was, "What if the new owner's just throw it out!??" We lived in an old house in PA for a few years and I absolutely adored all the details. Now I live in IN, where alll the houses are newly built and will just have to settle and add my own details. :( I'm a sucker for moldings!


Suzie said...

You so did the right thing. We live in an older home. One of three built right in a row in 1925 and 1926. We have the only one that the leaded glass windows are still intact and we so respect the wisdom and kindness of the previous owners.

ChRiS said...

i wanted to take all my oak bannisters my deep window sills, i have been gone from my old home for almost 30 yrs and i still miss those deep window sills

Anonymous said...

The mirror is to die for

Joy@aVintageGreen said...

Very hard to resist, but you are right, a very large ornate, mirror no matter how lovely is hard to place in a new home. Glad you have a photo of the mirror.

AntiqueChase said...

Interesting post as I have never lived in an older home. But when I moved, I did not take 2 chandeliers that I should have. I contacted my buyer a few months later and told her that if she ever decided to change the fixtures to let me know and I would buy them back... she said "sure" and sold them back to me because she wanted something else.

I know that doesn't help your longing about the mirror sure was beautiful.

ARK said...

great post! We lived in an old home when we were first married and had many of the same questions. There was a light fixture that was beautiful, but not our style. We ended up replacing it, but leaving it with the house. If I loved something though, I'd be watching like a hawk the first few weeks to make sure the new owners didn't throw it out! :)

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

Stacy, I would have been tempted to take that gorgeous mirror too! In the end I am sure I would have felt too guilty to remove it. My son renovates historic homes and I am always amazed at the architectural things that have been removed or stolen. It is such a shame to see these beautiful old homes stripped. Luckily our area has some wonderful architectual salvage shops where some items can be replaced or reproduced.
Thanks for your kind birthday wishes!

sheerserendipity said...

I am such a sucker for mirrors, I would have probably convinced myself into taking the mirror. Nowadays so many homes have been stripped of their beautiful details, I think you did the right thing! However, if that card was in my hand, I don't know…


CarolAnne - camdesign said...

I too think you did the right thing, taking it down might have destroyed the mirror... that would have been so sad. Look back at it and in your heart know you did what was right, sometimes the right thing is the hardest thing to do. It really did look good just as is...glad you have a picture.
Great post, thought provoking for sure...

{darlene} said...

since you have peace, you did the right thing! end of story!
as for me... I would have taken that baby with me if there was a way ;)

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