Maybe it began with This Old House. I remember when I was a kid, watching the show with my dad. Norm and crew would take you step by painfully slow step through a kitchen renovation of an old house in New England, with the process often running to several episodes. Later, I discovered a love/hate relationship with HGTV, where entire homes are magically transformed in two days or less.
Last year, I discovered the website Houseblogs. I was fascinated. I wanted a house blog! I didn’t even have a house yet, but I started a generic house blog on Blogger, ready to document each step of the progress on our hypothetical house. (I know others who have also fallen prey to putting the blog before the house.) My husband and I finally bought an old bungalow, and as we began work on it, I got to work on the blog, personalizing it and even registering our own domain name. My husband was pretty good-natured about it, except when I would snap photos of him climbing a ladder and temporarily blind him with the flash.
Originally, I planned the blog as a way for friends and family to keep up with our progress, but what I gradually discovered is that a) your friends and family don’t always care that you’ve just spent four weeks painting the trim on your house in original Craftsman colors, and b) a lot of strangers do seem to care, interestingly enough. Wondering how to strip paint from your dining room molding? A Google search will turn up at least one houseblog where someone has already done the hard work and figured out the best way. We’ve even gotten several emails and comments from readers all over the country, sharing their experiences with us.
Here are a few of my favorite houseblogs (including a local one):
If you like the idea of reading someone else’s experiences transforming a house into a home, but aren’t into blogs, here are a few great books:
All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling Down House by David Giffels
The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah
Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett
Renovations : a Father and Son Rebuild a House and Rediscover Each Other by John Marchese
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayer
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle