January 3, 2012 Richmond, VA 23220, USA

Found in the House

Built in 1912, January 2012 marks the 100 year birthday of our new home. We thought as our own way to celebrate we'd share the relics and mementos we uncovered while moving in after the family/families of people who lived here before us.

The previous owners moved out fairly quickly after the dealings began, so we are assuming the majority of tidbits we unearthed were left in the hurry of packing and moving, though a couple things left us guessing whether or not they may have been intentionally left. Some items we snapped shots of and others we neglected in our own hurry to clean and begin our move in...

1. The first thing we noticed they left before we could even got through the front door during the final walk-through before closing were the 3 bar stools at the kitchen island. While we both agreed beforehand that we'd want different ones in the future anyways, we were beyond thrilled they left the ones there for us to move in with until we find the right ones for us — who knows how long that could take and we're actually finding that the island truly is becoming one of our main living areas (sitting on the far right stool typing with my laptop up on the bar as we speak Tim two stools over on the left...). I neglected to get a before and after shot, but the fabric on each of the 3 stools had seen better days. The previous owners had 2 small children, so it's inevitable there would be stains. What we weren't expecting was how clean they would come with a little elbow grease. I got a few lessons in cleaning from Tim's mother, Carol, who helped me scrub the stool fabric with Bissell Fabric & Upholstery Cleaner, scrub and wipe down the wood components with Murphy Oil Soap, then later spray the fabric parts again with Scotchgard fabric and upholstery protector. The stools now literally look like we just bought them and we couldn't be happier.

** In the spirit of keeping it real here at 17 Apart, you're getting the raw shots of the home with everything sprawled out on the floors and counters as we make our way in. Please excuse the mess!

2. iPod earbuds hanging in the master bedroom which we cleaned up and gave to Tim's son, Brandon who'd been ironically missing his for a while now. Funny how those things work out.

3. As mentioned, the family who lived in this home before us had two little girls — we think their names were Maddie and Lily based on the adorable growth chart pencil markings we came across on the large doorway trim leading out of our kitchen. I was cleaning all the baseboards and trim with a Magic Eraser when I happened upon these little names and was so glad I paused to investigate further (Tim always laughs and teases me about "investigating" things — I like to take my time and take note of all the details). We've decided to leave the names for now and maybe add markings on the other side for our own nieces and nephew. We think they add a little charm to the history and story of the home.

4. Speaking of the little girls — Tim came across the most funny and endearing piece of paper that we are calling the "naughty note." It appears some lessons were being taught by the looks of the list: 1. Hitting & 2. Saying you don't like Mommy.

5. We found a managerie of random tidbits during our initial "house cleaning" including little toys, legos, baby blanket, baby swing, baby crib, ironing board, carpenter's pencil, a large duvet (up in the closet rafters) and keyring full of keys that don't work anywhere in the current home (or we have not found the secret door with the stack of twenties). All of these were items that were either too large for the city trash to pick up or items we think the previous homeowners just left in their hurry. Since we also won't be able to throw them out, we've placed the larger items aside and are planning to include them in a moving sale we hope to have in a few month's time over at our own previous home. If that doesn't happen, we'll have a carful of donations for Goodwill or other local organization coming soon!

6. In the basement we laughed as we tossed out a bikini top hanging from the old furnace. Our "scary" washer and dryer are located down in the basement (more on these later) so we're thinking the old furnace must have been used as an impromptu drying rack from time to time. Also in the basement we happily discovered some well worn metal storage racks that we'll replace in the future but are happy to use while getting going, and several old bottles of wine on a rack. Tim and I thought we'd scored on the wine — what a nice gift from the previous owners we said to ourselves, only to discover the bottles were past their prime and not worth drinking. A good story nonetheless.

7. We also found several old shelves and bookcases left in the garage which are again (with a little elbow grease) nice for immediate use and storage until we find the right fit for our needs.

8. Carol (Tim's mom) and I unearthed this amazing cast iron window sash weight, a relic from the home's past way up on one of the top shelves of the main floor's hall closet. We cleaned it up and think it'd make a nice piece of decor somewhere in the home rather than hidden away once we get more settled.

9. We think the dog who used to live here, named GiGi (GG, GeeGee?) intentionally left a few dog toys behind just for Basil. The first day we were here cleaning, Basil discovered no fewer than a combination of 3 rope toys and various dog bone toys. He was thrilled, but they only lasted a couple days before Basil's rough chewing habits kicked in and destroyed them. We're sure there are more hidden and have no doubt that Basil will find them.

Side note: this photo of Basil makes us think at any moment he will stand up, start pulling the rope out of his mouth only to reveal endless colorful flags... 

10. Planters. The previous owners left planters in the front yard, on the steps, on the back terraces, along the back patio and in the garage. We're thrilled and plan to put them to good use come early spring.

11. String Lights. Various string lights atop the back patio — when lit up in the evening, they are pretty magical and were one of those things we'd secretly hoped they'd leave. We'll probably want to change a few out and make them a little more cohesive in the future, but for now we're just thrilled to have found them still here. The neighbor to the left of us, Alice, already told us over the fence one night that she wants dibs on them if we decide to take them down at any point. That's city living for ya!

 12. Last but not least, while unpacking our OWN home, we came across this untouched 4 pound can of bowling alley wax underneath the sink. It's never been used and the 1950's packaging is pretty phenomenal. We brought it over to the new home to either sit for several more years or who knows — maybe we'll crack it open and use it on our hardwood floors! Just to clear up any questions, neither Tim nor I have ever owned a bowling alley.

That's what we've found so far!

Whether or not any of our findings were left intentionally or simply left in the hurry of the move, we had fun making all of our little discoveries, imagining the lives of those before us in our new-to-us home and we hope there will be more to come!


  1. What fun finds! I agree about Basil and the colorful flag magic trick...so funny!

    We moved into a home in VA that was built in the late 1800's and down in the basement we found canned jars of food that appeared to have been made and sealed in the 50's. Not that we tried them, but it was still cool to find :)

  2. I love those finds in houses giving clues to the past existence and why, under what circumstances were these things bought/made, you can almost hear the echoes of the people there before.

    I wish I had a looking glass to see some snippets of the day to day of people who occupied the same space, especially over 100 years!

  3. Your new kitchen looks just like ours - a few stools and a counter full of cleaning supplies. :D

    The house we got is only 5 years old, so there wasn't anything too exciting, but the previous tenants did leave behind a poker table, way too many of those plug in air fresheners, and a hookah (stashed between the hot water heater and furnace).

  4. Discovering is so much fun. Our current house has the height measurements on the side of a door for the two boys that lived here....they were 14 an 17 when they left. So the chart goes way up the door...lol Looks like you are having fun!

  5. How fun! The life of a house...the naughty note kills me :)
    Best of luck,

  6. @Monica - you sure that food wasn't any good? Jk, haha.

    @Polestar - we would LOVE to know who had the house 100 years ago and learn more about each of the occupants. Who knows - time will tell.

    @Kelly - haha, I think I spotted a bar in the family room too. That hookah may come in handy.

    @Rose - there must have been a lot of marks, wish we had a few more than 1 for each girl!

    @DolceDreams - the naughty note took the cake for us too.

  7. Wow, That is such an amazing home! Love those wood floors! Entirely beautiful! A bit late, but huge congratulations!!

    1. Thanks so much! We also love the floors and appreciate your kind words!

  8. Love the naughty note...I grew up in an old farmhouse, built in the 1700's. It was so awesome. We heated it with a coal stove, oops now I'm showing my age. I can't wait to see what you do with this home.

    1. Thanks so much Terri!

      A 1700's farmhouse sounds like a dream come true. You can keep up with some of the projects we've been doing using this blog tag link: http://www.17apart.com/search/label/Home%20Decor

      Thanks again for stopping by!


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