I fell in love with this house when we first saw it almost four years ago. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I remember seeing it from the bike path across the small river some twenty, perhaps almost thirty, years ago, and wondering, Why would they have let anyone build that monstrosity in Sunriver? Now, after three years of looking at it, it’s ours and I am amazed by the transformation that occurred within myself as we’ve transformed the house.
The house had been mostly vacant and on the market for the last decade. Built to be a family gathering space, it was empty, outdated, in disrepair, and it felt as sad as it looked. Talking with the former owners, we learned they had built the house with love, making it their own even though some of their interior design and decorating decisions might not have followed the norm. The house was built in three stages, each stage a different style and using different materials than the others. The result is what I like to refer to as eclectic, perhaps even – magical? The couple had raised their family here and it had easily transitioned into the gathering place for their grown children and their children. But after they built a newer, bigger, more “eclectic” house several miles away, this house sat vacant, waiting a decade for new owners. Waiting for us.
We’ve spent the last seven months revitalizing the house, making it our own. Before we’d even signed the papers, we’d named it: Toad Hall, the “finest house on the river”. As we prepared to update and repair the house, it felt right to leave it’s core eclectic, to embrace its uniqueness. So, we themed and named every room. There’s the Patriotic Room, the Aerie, the Honeymoon Suite (with a statue of Venus), and, of course, Winky’s Pub, as well as several others (it’s a big house).
For the last few years my husband and I had been discussing what our next step would be once our last child graduates from high school in two years. Our current home is a big house we built to raise our big family, but its location is not what we wanted for our empty nest years. We had been discussing locations from San Diego to downtown Portland. We were sure about a few things: we wanted to be on the water, fairly close to a majority of our children, and we wanted a dining room big enough for family dinners. One of us also wanted to downsize. When the price of this house dropped, we snatched it up and in doing so, made the decision of what we would do next.
As we work on the house and spend more time in Sunriver than ever before, I have found a new peace. I know what’s next and I like that certainty, but I’ve also found the house, the river, the scenery to be a salve for my soul. Never one to sit still (my leg bounces to keep my body moving, even when I’m sitting down), I have found
I can stand at the window or sit on the deck silent and still without the need to be engaged in any activity or diversion. This is as close as I have ever come to meditation. My shoulders relax, my jaw unclenches and my soul smiles.
Between Christmas and New Years we hosted almost twenty people here. The repairs and revisions we’d made looked beautiful. The furnishings (mostly transfers from our old house here and other thrift store finds) were welcoming and comfortable. There was cozy room for everyone, but also enough space for privacy as needed. We read, we talked, we laughed, we ate and drank, and our house smiled.