The inside of the little cottage on Martin Drive is not so easy to describe, as it evolved over the not quite three years that we lived there, and there were plans for bigger changes.
First, there is the way it was when we moved in. Entering from the front yard, a closed in porch was first. The door was in the center, windows wrapped around three walls. The room was maybe 12 feet wide and about six feet deep. It was not heated, so was unusable in the winter. It was dreadfully hot in the summertime. There were a few days, though, in the spring and fall, when we sat there to visit in the evening, or served coffee to friends at the little table and chairs I arranged there. Sometimes it served as a little studio, when I had a craft project going. Most of the time, though, it was our storage and overflow room, too full of old tires and miscellaneous junk to be used for much of anything else. The back wall held a picture window shared with the room inside, and a door that led there.
Inside that door, an L-shaped room was living room and dining room. The ceiling was of off-white square tiles, the walls were in the type of paneling that comes in 4′ x 8′ sheets and is printed to look like wood grain. It was an unremarkable medium brown. My mother- in-law had antiqued the woodwork around windows and doors to resemble wood, too. The floor was hardwood, oak. Bright curtains and comfortable furnishings had made it all seem cozy and warm when my in-laws lived there. When it was my home, it seemed dark and dreary. “All this wood,” I would complain, “I feel like I’m living in a tree!”
Straight ahead, a door on the back wall led to a long bedroom. Not long ago, there had been two doors on that back wall, and two small bedrooms in that space. When Terry got married and moved out, his parents took out a wall and merged the two rooms to make a larger bedroom for their daughter, Dena. It was covered in dark brown paneling.
If, instead of going through that bedroom door, you turned to the right and went through another doorway, you’d find yourself in the kitchen. On the immediate left was the refrigerator, and beyond that a door leading in to the bathroom. Straight ahead was the back door, with steps leading down to the driveway. Looking to the right, there was a narrow corridor kitchen. A bank of metal cabinets was on the left, with a white porcelain sink in the center. Above it, a window looked out to the driveway and the house next door. On the right side, a counter had an opening above it, looking into the living room. Past the counter was the stove. At the end of the corridor, another door led into a small bedroom. That was the extent of the house.
We had changes planned, though. The doorway into the large bedroom would, instead, lead to a hallway, with the remainder of that room off to the left. We’d break through the wall on the right to create a door into the bathroom, so that the bathroom door in the kitchen could be closed off. The end of the hallway would lead to another bedroom – or two – that would be an addition on to the back of the house. That would also allow the basement stairs to be inside. The door to the little bedroom off the kitchen would also be closed off. An door would be cut from the living room, just opposite the door to the bedroom hallway, and that room would eventually be a sewing and craft room. The kitchen would have a better layout, without a door at either end. We’d close off the door from the living room, remove the counter and put a wider doorway where the window opening to the living room was. We’d have swinging saloon type doors there, open above and below. The cupboards could be laid out in an L-shape, the refrigerator moved closer to form a work triangle, and built in benches would flank a dining table on the end where the bathroom door had been. Finally, the paneling in the entire house would be replaced by sheet-rock, to brighten the whole place up. Because almost the entire small back yard would be lost with our planned addition, we envisioned purchasing the long lot behind us, that went all the way to the lake. We’d build steps into the slope, to get down the hill. We’d put in fruit trees for their blossoms and fruit…maybe even having a gazebo down near the water. Oh, we had big dreams!
Once we started buying the house, we began working on the alterations. Unfortunately, our budget didn’t allow for much. We were able to rip out doorways and tear up floors, but we didn’t really have the funds to put anything back together. I don’t remember exactly why or when we started talking about moving, but the fact that I was expecting another baby had a big part in the decision. The house was drafty, the floors were splintery, and – with only one vehicle and often no telephone – I wanted to be closer to town. With all the work we’d put into the house, I figure we’d dropped its value it by thousands of dollars. We managed to sell it with just enough profit to put a security deposit down on a rent-subsidized townhouse in Lapeer. We had moved in to the Lake House when my daughter Jennifer was five months old. We moved out just after Halloween, less than three months shy of her third birthday.