If you value the honesty of old houses and the satisfaction of making something broken whole; if you have an appreciation for the simple things in life and “the way things were”; if you too were into re-purposing before it became a thing, then you have a kindred spirit in me. What you will find here are not only those things that inspire me personally – the beauty and architectural intricacy of old houses, the value of preserving that which has integrity and usefulness, and the satisfactions of a simpler lifestyle – but resources to bring those inspirations to life. Welcome. Trudy Estes
For The Love of Old Houses
So frequently today, it has become customary to throw away that which is old – even if it cannot be replaced. The almost thoughtless destruction of wonderful old structures in the name of progress fills me with regret every time I see it happen. The lost potential. The irretrievable architecture. The character. Gone. So, I want to do what I can to share what I know, and what others know, in the hopes of encouraging more awareness of the possibilities for these diminishing architectural resources. To celebrate them in every way we can.
If these things resonate with you, I hope you will visit this site frequently, to share in the conversation and find the resources and inspiration you seek. And to have fun. Please join in the dialogue, contribute your expertise to the site, and share your experiences with restoration and the lifestyle of “old house living”! Sign up here to keep up with new resources and activity on the site, and to get a copy of my free guide: Determining Whether an Old House is Right for You.
Talk to me….
This part is about me. Isn’t everything?
I’m an engineer by training, but a creative at heart. I know. Totally conflicted individual – the poster child for multiple personalities. Which has been handy, given my career path. I like to think of myself as flexible, or multi-talented. You get it. I have an irreverent sense of humor (See “The Outhouse”). Good raffs. Well, I had fun with it. I like to find the funny in things…so expect to see more of that here from time to time. I love Mother Earth News and the Foxfire books; baking bread, and rainy days at home. Trees. Beautiful books. Typography. And horses. Earth muffin house mouse equestrian engineer. That pretty much sums it up.
I’m a contemporary hunter gatherer. I have a fascination with old houses and their quirks (perhaps some self-recognition there – we both need a bit of spackling), and a passion for exploring junk shops for old hardware and “stuff” to display or transform into something useful and personal. Which explains my license plate – “PACK RT” – by the way. I just love a good possibility, and I have quite a collection. Just ask my husband. Oddly enough, he was not amused by my license plate. What can I say? Someone has to do it.
Anyway, it’s not too surprising then that I feel drawn to restoration. And I like to dream big. Must. Fix. All. The old houses. Let’s move them all on to one site and start a new old neighborhood. Let’s restore them to provide housing opportunities for low-income families. That sort of thing. Mission impossible. That’s my middle name. I rarely acknowledge can’t. It just isn’t in my vocabulary.
So, that’s part of what’s going on here. Read on to learn more about my background – or dig into the site. It’s a work in progress, so be sure to sign up to follow developments! Plus get a free guide: Determining Whether an Old House is Right for You.
How did I get here?
B.E. (before engineering) I was a self-taught architectural draftsman, and eventually began doing house plans for others. This led me into real estate appraisal and, later still, I moved on to doing piping design for a major oil company. By this time I was coming to the realization that I was going to keep outgrowing my jobs if I didn’t get a degree, so I returned to school, majoring in Civil Engineering. It was a practical choice, but as it turned out, a good fit for my analytical brain. This was apparently quite a surprise to my father. That I was analytical. And good at math. (Apparently he just signed those report cards without reading them. It did, however, put into perspective his habit of saying “We’re all good at different things.”) I’m sure he was also pleasantly surprised when I finally made the commitment to getting a college education. Such is the importance of finding your inner motivation. Because finishing it was a challenge. And a long road.
The journey to now…
My first two years of college required a daily commute of 50 miles each way. I attended classes every morning, and ate a PB&J in the car on my commute back to the office for the afternoon, then home to feed the family, attend boy scouts and pony club, followed by my own homework after everyone else had gone to bed. Day after day, every day, until I transferred to Colorado State, where I lived on campus and spent four blissful semesters focused primarily on classwork. Except for breaks between semesters. These were not spent in Europe. I was back at work as quickly as I could get there, in order to bank as much as possible before the next semester began. Things were tight. My daughter and I became specialists at eating out for $5 – our once weekly treat. Of course, it helped that some of the servers at the food court also lived in our apartment complex. There might have been a little extra heaped on our shared plate. You never know where kindness will find you. And despite the financial challenges – these were two of the best years of my life.
When I finished my bachelor’s degree, I went to work at a research lab, and continued on to graduate studies in environmental engineering, which defined my evenings and weekends for another four years. I finished my Master’s in 1996 and my Doctorate in 2005. It took a long time to find what I was really meant to do, but A.E. (after engineering), the way I had always thought about things finally made sense. I’m such a “why” person. Engineering offered answers. It was a really good fit for me. Except, there was this other side. A creative side people find unusual in an engineer. I’m interested in painting and typography and other creative things. I love using ordinary things in unusual ways – and I like to put old things to use, rather than just collecting them. Having satisfied many of my professional aspirations, I find myself turning more and more to these things for fulfillment and balance.
So that brings us here, to this website. I hope you’ll join me in crafting this resource by adding your voice to the dialogue, and sharing your restoration experiences or resources that you have found particularly helpful. I like to think of this as our site. Let’s make it so.
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