House Lessons: Renovating a Life

House Lessons: Renovating a Life

by Erica Bauermeister
House Lessons: Renovating a Life

House Lessons: Renovating a Life

by Erica Bauermeister

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A Real Simple Best Book of the Year

A deeply moving story of an epic home renovation in the Pacific Northwest—from New York Times–bestselling author of The Scent Keeper

In this mesmerizing memoir-in-essays, Erica Bauermeister renovates a trash-filled house in eccentric Port Townsend, Washington, and in the process takes readers on a journey to discover the ways our spaces subliminally affect us.
A personal, accessible, and literary exploration of the psychology of architecture, as well as a loving tribute to the connections we forge with the homes we care for and live in, this book is designed for anyone who’s ever fallen head over heels for a house. It is also a story of a marriage, of family, and of the kind of roots that settle deep into your heart.
Discover what happens when a house has its own lessons to teach in this moving and insightful memoir that ultimately shows us how to make our own homes (and lives) better.

“ . . . for anyone who has wondered where home is and how to find it, fix it, love it, and leave it for later as well.” —Laurie Frankel, New York Times–bestselling author of This Is How It Always Is

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632172457
Publisher: Sasquatch Books
Publication date: 03/24/2020
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: eBook
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 618,683
File size: 9 MB

About the Author

About The Author
ERICA BAUERMEISTER is the bestselling author of four novels: The School of Essential IngredientsJoy for BeginnersThe Lost Art of Mixing, and The Scent Keeper. She is also the coauthor of 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader's Guide and Let's Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. She has a PhD in literature from the University of Washington, and has taught there and at Antioch University. With the exception of two years in Italy, Bauermeister has lived in the Pacific Northwest for nearly four decades, and her children proudly say rainwater runs in their veins. She is a founding member of the Seattle7Writers and currently lives in Port Townsend, Washington, in the house she renovated with her family.

Read an Excerpt

The house stood at the top of a hill, ensnarled in vegetation, looking out over the Victorian roofs of Port Townsend and beyond, to water and islands and clouds. It seemed to lean toward the view as if enchanted, although we later learned that had far more to do with neglect than magic. The once-elegant slopes of its hipped roof rolled and curled, green with moss. The tall, straight walls of its Foursquare design were camouflaged in salmon-pink asbestos shingles, the windows covered in grimy curtains or cardboard. Three discarded furnaces, four neon yellow oil drums, an ancient camper shell, and a pair of rusted wheelbarrows lay scattered at odd angles across the overgrown grass as if caught in a game of large-appliance freeze tag. The yard was Darwinian in its landscaping—an agglomeration of plants and trees, stuck in the ground and left to survive. Below the house, I could just see the tips of a possible orchard poking up through a roiling sea of ivy. In front, two weather-stunted palm trees flanked the walkway like a pair of tropical lawn jockeys gone lost, while a feral camellia bush had covered the porch and was heading for the second story. Someone had hacked away a rough opening for the front stairs, down which an assortment of rusted rakes and car mufflers and bags of fertilizer sprawled in lazy abandon. In their midst, seemingly oblivious to its setting, sat a rotting fruit basket, gift card still attached. "That one," my husband, Ben, said as he pointed to the house. "It's not for sale," I noted. “I know. But it should be, don’t you think?” Our son and daughter, ten and thirteen, stared out the car windows slack-jawed. “You’re kidding, right?” the kids asked. But I think they already knew the question was rhetorical.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xiii

Prologue xv

Part I Discovery 1

Falling in Love 3

Spirit of Place 13

Maintenance 23

The Four Rs 39

Part II Digging Out 51

Trash 53

Architects and Builders 69

Plaster and Lath 83

The Hearth 93

Part III Digging In 107

Foundation 109

Design 121

Roots 133

The Kitchen 147

Details 157

The Roof 167

Part IV Domus 179

The Empty Nest 181

Leaving Home 193

The Writing Shed 203

The Dinner 213

Acknowledgments 218

Bibliography 220

Mouse Lessons: A Reader's Guide 225

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