Rekindle the romance: How to fall in love with your house again as fall descends

“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall,” Oscar Wilde wrote, and, indeed, rain and cooler weather has suddenly descended on the Puget Sound region.

And so, after staring at our walls (and bad carpet and dated cabinets) for the past six months, we’re about to spend even more time indoors. We need to figure out how to love again — love our own homes, that is.  

So we reached out to Erica Bauermeister, the Port Townsend-based author of “House Lessons: Renovating a Life,” which came out in March, for her thoughts on rekindling the romance with our spaces. The former Seattleite painstakingly (and sometimes painfully) renovated her house from a dilapidated structure into her family’s dream home, chronicling the lessons she learned about both construction and family in her new book.

Here are some of those lessons, as well as smaller tips for making your dwelling a space of refuge as the weather turns, an election looms and the pandemic drags on.

Q: What does your house mean to you right now?

A: My husband and I were talking the other day about how many things had to happen for us to end up in this house at this time. We had to find a house we weren’t looking for and commit to a huge project we had no time to do. We had to get rid of 7.5 tons of trash, take down chimneys and sledgehammer walls, pull out truckloads of ivy from the garden. 

Erica Bauermeister’s book “House Lessons” is about how she and her family renovated their home — and their lives.
Erica Bauermeister’s book “House Lessons” is about how she and her family renovated their home — and their lives.

Later, we hung on to the house, even when it made no sense to do so. But we did all that because we loved this place from the first moment we saw it; decrepit as it was. We feel so very lucky to be here now, in a house whose very layout encourages us to feel healthy and creative and generous.

Q: You moved from Seattle to Port Townsend. What are the pros and cons of being in a smaller place versus a big city?

A: Prior to this, I’d always lived in a big city, and I wasn’t sure how a small town would feel, but I love it. I love being in a place where one person’s efforts can really make a difference. I love being able to walk to everything, and the connected relationship people here have with nature.

And sure, the saying holds: “If nobody knows the trouble you’ve seen, you’ve never lived in a small town.” But I love knowing my neighbors, and the farmers who grow the produce at our farmer’s market, and the wonderful bookstore and movie theater and restaurant owners. There’s an autonomy to a smaller town that is both exciting and comforting.

Erica Bauermeister is an expert on home connection, spotting and instantly falling in love with a decrepit Port Townsend home and then renovating it to its current state. (Mike Siegal / The Seattle Times)
Erica Bauermeister is an expert on home connection, spotting and instantly falling in love with a decrepit Port Townsend home and then renovating it to its current state. (Mike Siegal / The Seattle
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