Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Two Houses. Two Types. Are You a Maker, or Buyer? Trailblazer, or Follower?

I adore the area I live in. Riverside, Jacksonville is an eclectic mix. There are 2,120 historic buildings, parks, independent businesses galore, underground scenes and frequent art gallery openings. It's a bohemian shangri-la and I never get tired of exploring the area. I'm especially drawn to the different houses, with diverse architecture and styles spanning decades.


And I stop the photograph many of them, I'd stop to photograph every single one if I had the time. Each one with character, life, and unique quirks. The ones that drawn me in the most are the unfinished ones. The shabby, old ones with cracks, boarded windows, and graffiti. Each perceived "flaw" a story, each odd exterior embellishment a unique imprint telling us about its heydey in history. If I have time I stop my ride or walk and take pictures. And dream.

I imagine excitedly buying the property and first going through and scrubbing from top to bottom, accessing any damage that needs to be fixed post haste and assigning it to the correct contractor, installing a vibrant garden, painting, and turning the property into something new. Back to its former glory, with my personal kitsch-touch. If I had my way and unlimited disposable income, I'd take every sad home, lot or space I could and transform it into something new. I'm a maker. I see potential in the old, neglected, rusted, thrifted, discarded, and unwanted. I think their tales are more fascinating than focus-group curated conventional retail shops filled with object made by sweatshop labor overseas.


Every time I see one of these houses I think there are two types of people in the world. I have a dickish, snobbish, arbitrary way of diving the population, obviously. The people who see the potential with me, that see the junk piles as an opportunity are fellow makers, often trailblazers. They work hard to find their own path. They see the beauty in the ugly. The others who see an old house as a pile of crap are the buyers. They support the Gucci luxury retail stores of the world, they believe the $1,200 purse crap-carrier, is the sum of its parts. They may live in those condominiums that are located in or directly next to shopping centers that are clean and cookiecutter. Blander than saltine crackers (hold the salt).

If you're here, you may have found me from a google search about crafting, reselling, or thrifting. If you've been here long enough you're likely creative and you see the potential in the rubble. So what are you waiting for, if you're not already blazing your own trail?


Do what you want for a living, buy where you want, live where you want, shop where you want, but don't do it based on a preconceived notion of what you "have" to do. Of course, buy Gucci if you want, there's nothing wrong with it. Buy the big new house if it makes you happy. But I often encounter people working on a proverbial life checklist (new car, nice clothes, new house, family, kids, degrees, debt) that doesn't make them happy at all. They work job they hates to satisfy the list, they work on the list because it's what they're 'told' to do. Why do it if it doesn't satisfy you? "New" isn't the only way.

I believe everyone is creative and yearns for expression. Express. Make. Paint. Write. Be you, do you. Don't hold back. If the office life isn't for you, skip it.

You only have one life. Are you the maker or the buyer? The trailblazer or the follower? Do you see a beautiful historic home with potential here, or a pile of junk? Yes, this is what crosses my mind nearly every time I pass a gorgeous, neglected home and engage in fixer-up fantasies. Thanks for listening to me sharing it; even if it's judgy, hypocritical and dickish. (Because after all, I do buy new things too.) This is just something that's been swirling around in my head lately as I explore my dizzyingly beautiful old neighborhood these days.

By the by, I'm actively working behind the scenes on the blog. Making a new archive system, changing subpages (about is evolving) and forcing myself to let loose more with posts. I have a strict, stifling system. I'm working at it. Expect to see little changes pop up in the next couple of days.
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16 comments:

  1. What a pretty house, I love buildings (and people) with a bit of character!

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  2. Love that line, "Are you the maker or the buyer? The trailblazer or the follower?" and this post :)

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    1. Thanks Kimberly! I feel mean revealing some judgy thought but I'm passing these houses on my bike all the time and it keeps popping up in my mind...

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  3. Dickish? No. I feel the same way. I have rehabbed aprox. 100 homes. We have taken the ugliest, stinking places and turned them into beautiful homes again where people are proud to raise their families.

    I have no use for new constructions. I find them cold and unwelcoming. Older homes seem to wrap their arms around you and make you feel comfortable.

    Not to mention that rehabbing old homes is much better for our environment. I'm originally from the country, so I get irritated when I see fields destroyed and woods cut down to make way for new buildings knowing darn well that there is plenty of older homes that already exist to accommodate these folks and businesses.

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    1. So jealous that you've rehabbed 100 homes, I've dreamed of it, but it's not realistic for me at this time or maybe even ever. I'm piling on too many dreams, haha. Agreed with old homes being better for the environment and so amazingly welcoming.

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    2. How did you get started remodeling homes btw? :O that's amazing

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  4. Hell to the yeah! I love the direction of this post.

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  5. I started off liking this post and was going to suggest rainbow colored houses, but then it took a shitty, judgy turn. There's nothing wrong with anyone who wants to buy an expensive purse for whatever reason. I don't really think it's your place to tell people to have a reason behind what they do either. I wished this post just wrapped up with more dreaming and planning instead of judgment.

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    1. I knew I'd get some kick-back on this post so I did make sure to point out more than once within the post that I'm being judgy and dickish. I also did explicitly say:

      "Do what you want for a living, buy where you want, live where you want, shop where you want, but don't do it based on a preconceived notion of what you "have" to do."

      Normally I'd have made sure to wrap up with something more inspiring or I'd have spelled it out better but I'm trying to be less trite and obvious in posts these days, that's what I always do, but in real life, I do have opinions. And I personally don't like expensive conventional name brand purses. My best friends buy expensive name brand shoes and purses and I never utter or feel judgement from them. If -I- had the money and desire I'd spend my $1,200 on a purse that supports and artisan or something but that is my opinion.

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    2. I added after that line to explain my intended point better:

      Of course, buy Gucci if you want, there's nothing wrong with it. Buy the big new house if it makes you happy. But I often encounter people working on a proverbial life checklist (new car, nice clothes, new house, family, kids, degrees, debt) that doesn't make them happy at all. They work job they hates to satisfy the list, they work on the list because it's what they're 'told' to do. Why do it if it doesn't satisfy you?

      Of course, thanks, as always, for your honest opinions.

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  6. My husband buys and rehabs distressed properties. We have sold a few and some are rented, mostly in less-desirable neighborhoods. He just finished a project in a different city in a nicer neighborhood that was worthy of finding a few vintage details to finish it off right. The latest house is a real gem, and I'm excited for the person/people who end up buying it. Some of the rented houses he has rehabbed, he bought new cookie-cutter cabinets and fixtures, as most of our renters tend not to take care of things, and even break things like cabinet doors and light fixtures. Neglected properties for rehab in the southern US are more likely to have termite/rotting foundation problem which could be a very costly fix. That isn't as much of a problem in the northern states. I think if you got a repair estimate before buying, it would give you a negotiating point on the price. I like the house you photographed. Also, we don't consider our houses to be "flips" - that implies just a few cosmetic cover-ups and then make money off the improved appearance. He has done fire-damaged homes and made them better than before. His projects take much longer and repairs are all done up-to-code.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that story. I love that people like your husband are out buying and rehabbing beautiful old homes. It's a lot of work.

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  7. I liked this post. I didn't feel you were being judgemental. It is your opinion. I love older things. I'd rather have a $2 vintage carpet purse anyday over a $1200 Gucci but that is my choice. My sister lives in a new cookie cutter house at the end of a cul de sac. Used to be farmland years back. Now there are all these identical homes. I live in an older home and none of the other houses look like mine. Yes, it does need a lot of work but at least my house has character... and a ghost but that is a story for another time.

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    1. Jealous of your older home :) One day when I have money I shall have one. For now, the idea of traveling in a large old RV situation is really appealing. Thanks for sharing your story. I love living in a diverse neighborhood of old homes, when I visit my cookie cutter house childhood neighborhood it seems so odd, small and cultureless now.

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