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House Lessons: Renovating a Life

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FROM NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR ERICA BAUERMEISTER COMES A MEMOIR ABOUT THE POWER OF HOME AND THE TRANSFORMATIVE ACT OF RESTORING ONE HOUSE IN PARTICULAR.   “I think anyone who saves an old house has to be a caretaker at heart, a believer in underdogs, someone whose imagination is inspired by limitations, not endless options.”   In this mesmerizing memoir-in-essays, Eri FROM NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR ERICA BAUERMEISTER COMES A MEMOIR ABOUT THE POWER OF HOME AND THE TRANSFORMATIVE ACT OF RESTORING ONE HOUSE IN PARTICULAR.   “I think anyone who saves an old house has to be a caretaker at heart, a believer in underdogs, someone whose imagination is inspired by limitations, not endless options.”   In this mesmerizing memoir-in-essays, Erica Bauermeister renovates a trash-filled house in eccentric Port Townsend, Washington, and in the process takes readers on a journey to discover the ways our spaces subliminally affect us. A personal, accessible, and literary exploration of the psychology of architecture, as well as a loving tribute to the connections we forge with the homes we care for and live in, this book is designed for anyone who’s ever fallen head over heels for a house. It is also a story of a marriage, of family, and of the kind of roots that settle deep into your heart. Discover what happens when a house has its own lessons to teach in this moving and insightful memoir that ultimately shows us how to make our own homes (and lives) better.


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FROM NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR ERICA BAUERMEISTER COMES A MEMOIR ABOUT THE POWER OF HOME AND THE TRANSFORMATIVE ACT OF RESTORING ONE HOUSE IN PARTICULAR.   “I think anyone who saves an old house has to be a caretaker at heart, a believer in underdogs, someone whose imagination is inspired by limitations, not endless options.”   In this mesmerizing memoir-in-essays, Eri FROM NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR ERICA BAUERMEISTER COMES A MEMOIR ABOUT THE POWER OF HOME AND THE TRANSFORMATIVE ACT OF RESTORING ONE HOUSE IN PARTICULAR.   “I think anyone who saves an old house has to be a caretaker at heart, a believer in underdogs, someone whose imagination is inspired by limitations, not endless options.”   In this mesmerizing memoir-in-essays, Erica Bauermeister renovates a trash-filled house in eccentric Port Townsend, Washington, and in the process takes readers on a journey to discover the ways our spaces subliminally affect us. A personal, accessible, and literary exploration of the psychology of architecture, as well as a loving tribute to the connections we forge with the homes we care for and live in, this book is designed for anyone who’s ever fallen head over heels for a house. It is also a story of a marriage, of family, and of the kind of roots that settle deep into your heart. Discover what happens when a house has its own lessons to teach in this moving and insightful memoir that ultimately shows us how to make our own homes (and lives) better.

30 review for House Lessons: Renovating a Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kate Vocke (bookapotamus)

    Do you like to read memoirs? How about home renovation books?⁣ ⁣ You might recognize this authors name. Erica is actually the genius behind one of my favorite books last year, The Scent Keeper. In this memoir - yes, it’s about Erica - but more specifically, one particular point in her life when she purchases and renovates a dilapidated home in Washington.⁣ ⁣ This is ultimately, and uniquely, a memoir about a house.⁣🏠 ⁣ The main “character” is old, and cranky. Stuffed to the gills with trash, it has mo Do you like to read memoirs? How about home renovation books?⁣ ⁣ You might recognize this authors name. Erica is actually the genius behind one of my favorite books last year, The Scent Keeper. In this memoir - yes, it’s about Erica - but more specifically, one particular point in her life when she purchases and renovates a dilapidated home in Washington.⁣ ⁣ This is ultimately, and uniquely, a memoir about a house.⁣🏠 ⁣ The main “character” is old, and cranky. Stuffed to the gills with trash, it has more quirks and eccentricities than one might prefer in a protagonist. And it’s quite dangerous, but not in a thriller-type way. Like actual danger - as in, turn on the water and plan to be electrocuted.⁣⚡️ ⁣ We follow Erica’s journey as her and her family slog through what feels like the longest cleanup and renovation ever, all the while falling in love with this codgey, old house. She beautifully integrates snippets of her life and her own thoughts on identity and foundation, as the house also struggles to find itself. We are taken on a journey of the way a homes can affect us; how a home makes you feel; the connections we form with them; the smell of each ones individual space (yes, of course she talks about the scents!); and tons of unique facts and history, with gorgeous hand drawn illustrations interspersed throughout.⁣ ⁣ I hope you’ll give this one a chance - it’s out today, and is one of the most interesting and beautiful memoirs I’ve ever read.⁣

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    I was really delighted by this book, probably because the only thing I miss about my few years as a Realtor is the opportunity to look at an endless number of houses. The details about architecture and the ideas about how our living spaces shape us were fascinating to me. Thank you to Goodreads Giveaways for the ARC.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Maine Colonial

    I received a free publisher's advance review copy. I’ve always been fascinated by houses, so I snapped this up. You really have to admire this author and her family, because they were not able to get a good look at this derelict property before they bought it. The house had been owned by hoarders and they had to cart away literally dozens of tons of stuff before they could even see what they were dealing with structurally. The house also had a large lot with about a dozen fruit trees, but they we I received a free publisher's advance review copy. I’ve always been fascinated by houses, so I snapped this up. You really have to admire this author and her family, because they were not able to get a good look at this derelict property before they bought it. The house had been owned by hoarders and they had to cart away literally dozens of tons of stuff before they could even see what they were dealing with structurally. The house also had a large lot with about a dozen fruit trees, but they were all completely covered by ivy. Many truckloads of ivy had to be removed before the family could even see what they had in their orchard. The author felt that the house had a living personality—not a good one—when it was derelict and crammed full of stuff, but it began to breathe and transformed itself as it was cleaned out, renovated, and then became a home. It was fascinating to read about that process, the lore of houses, and the lives of the author and her family over the years from the time they first spotted the house to when they moved in and became the caretakers of the house’s history. I’m not one for magical thinking, but I was charmed by the several incidents of coincidence and happenstance that went into the life of the house and this family. I can’t imagine tackling a job as daunting as theirs, but I very much enjoyed reading about their journey.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Torrie

    A thoughtful, meandering memoir about renovating an old house, about the meaning of home and hearth, and about dealing with changes, particularly in the family unit. I picked this up expecting a light, fluffy read about taking on a fixer upper, but I got a lot more than I expected (which was a good thing). This book made me think--perhaps really deeply for the first time, and even more so now that we are house hunting again--about how much the structure and layout of a house affects the way the A thoughtful, meandering memoir about renovating an old house, about the meaning of home and hearth, and about dealing with changes, particularly in the family unit. I picked this up expecting a light, fluffy read about taking on a fixer upper, but I got a lot more than I expected (which was a good thing). This book made me think--perhaps really deeply for the first time, and even more so now that we are house hunting again--about how much the structure and layout of a house affects the way the inhabitants within live and interact with each other, and about how different structures have different feelings about them for that very reason, among others. I really enjoyed this, though I'm not sure how many others would. It's definitely well written and has just enough of a plot (ish) to keep going, but it's meant to provoke introspection more than it's meant to entertain, which I know isn't everyone's thing, especially for summer reading.

  5. 5 out of 5

    James Hallmark

    I loved this book. I described it my wife as “mellow.” Each chapter is a stage in the purchase and renovation of an old, abandoned house she and her husband purchased and renovated along with their young kids (young when the book started....the book covers many years as it is a long time before they finally moved in). The book is purportedly her memoir, although it is really more a memoir of the house and what she learned along the way. Good self-reflection on life, not overly preachy or overwro I loved this book. I described it my wife as “mellow.” Each chapter is a stage in the purchase and renovation of an old, abandoned house she and her husband purchased and renovated along with their young kids (young when the book started....the book covers many years as it is a long time before they finally moved in). The book is purportedly her memoir, although it is really more a memoir of the house and what she learned along the way. Good self-reflection on life, not overly preachy or overwrought or oversharing, is the heart of each chapter and was just the right level for me, not too much nor too little. No whining. No overwrought angst. Just real life thoughts that real life people have. It is beautifully written (she has a Ph.D in literature from the University of Washington and has a few other NYT best sellers so she is not new to writing). The chapter describing when she finally closes the door on their old home literally had me teary-eyed. Good book. (Again, it is mellow. No emotional outbursts, no sex, no car chases, no affairs or drama. Just a real life and a real family and it is beautiful.)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Finished in one day! Loved it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    Novelist Erica Bauermeister has written a memoir called “House Lessons”. Set in the early 2000's, it's the story of the house she and her family bought and gutted in Port Townsend, Washington. And how the redoing of a house brought her family closer together, as such projects usually do. It's taken me a while to write this review; I finished the book a few weeks ago. While I enjoyed the book, it didn't really speak to me. I wish it had, because Bauermeister is a good writer.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nina Meierding

    Absolutely loved this book. A beautiful memoir about creating a home. The author and her family saw potential in a house that many people would have torn down. They removed tons of trash (literally), completely rebuilt the foundation, and designed a welcoming, sun filled, refuge that reflected both the history and original "bones" of the house, as well as new ideas. The author is refreshingly open and honest about the process of such a massive undertaking and the impact of the joys and trials of Absolutely loved this book. A beautiful memoir about creating a home. The author and her family saw potential in a house that many people would have torn down. They removed tons of trash (literally), completely rebuilt the foundation, and designed a welcoming, sun filled, refuge that reflected both the history and original "bones" of the house, as well as new ideas. The author is refreshingly open and honest about the process of such a massive undertaking and the impact of the joys and trials of home renovation on her family. The reader will also learn a lot of practical and psychological information about design, room placement, and how to make their own space more alive. Erica Bauermeister has written many works of fiction (all of which I loved) and I was therefore curious about her transition to non-fiction. Rest assured, her lyrical, flowing writing style in this book echos what you loved in The School of Essential Ingredients and Joy for Beginners. A must read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    William

    Great book. Bauermeister does a fabulous job of blending personal narrative with an academic curiosity about place and home and much more. Read it and you'll be entertained and informed and moved. Highly recommend!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    There are plenty of thoughtful life lessons in Erica Bauermeister's House Lessons as she artfully interweaves the story of renovating a derelict house with reflections on home, motherhood, marriage, and vocation. Those who've followed their intuition and taken a risk despite facts and logic will find themselves validated in these pages. Those considering such a leap will find encouragement in Bauermeister's example. And anyone who has undergone even a minor home remodel will find a friend to com There are plenty of thoughtful life lessons in Erica Bauermeister's House Lessons as she artfully interweaves the story of renovating a derelict house with reflections on home, motherhood, marriage, and vocation. Those who've followed their intuition and taken a risk despite facts and logic will find themselves validated in these pages. Those considering such a leap will find encouragement in Bauermeister's example. And anyone who has undergone even a minor home remodel will find a friend to commiserate with in House Lessons. A beautifully written, heartfelt and entertaining account of everything that can and did go wrong in the process of making things right,

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christine Hemp

    In this smart, witty, and thoughtful memoir, Erica Bauermeister reveals intimate details about her tumultuous, love-at-first-sight relationship with a dilapidated Edwardian house. But House Lessons isn’t about real estate. Through the ups and downs of nearly 20 years of renovation, Baumeister’s story is told through the lens of desire: her dream for her beloved family, her passion as a writer, and her drive to transform herself. She does end up changed, but in ways she did not expect. And her lo In this smart, witty, and thoughtful memoir, Erica Bauermeister reveals intimate details about her tumultuous, love-at-first-sight relationship with a dilapidated Edwardian house. But House Lessons isn’t about real estate. Through the ups and downs of nearly 20 years of renovation, Baumeister’s story is told through the lens of desire: her dream for her beloved family, her passion as a writer, and her drive to transform herself. She does end up changed, but in ways she did not expect. And her love for detail (the history of plaster, superstitions surrounding foundations, the etymological origins of “housewife”) invites the reader into what it means “to dwell.” As she says, “This is the beauty, the power, of architecture—it exists both outside and inside of us, a dance between structure and self.” A true delight!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I turned to this book about a home renovation as a source of lightness amid a ton of serious antiracist reading, but I didn’t suspect how deep it would be. It hit me in the feels. I thought it would be about the physical space, but the way she wove home and family and the feel/spiritual meaning of a house into this book was lovely. I admire the fact that she wrote this about a huge span of time, with the wisdom and life experience of all that time under her belt. I was thrilled to receive this f I turned to this book about a home renovation as a source of lightness amid a ton of serious antiracist reading, but I didn’t suspect how deep it would be. It hit me in the feels. I thought it would be about the physical space, but the way she wove home and family and the feel/spiritual meaning of a house into this book was lovely. I admire the fact that she wrote this about a huge span of time, with the wisdom and life experience of all that time under her belt. I was thrilled to receive this from a Goodreads giveaway, and so pleased that it was so well done. I deeply wished I could see photos of the house, before/during/after, but I will just have to watch some home reno tv to get that fix!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kimberley

    Simply lovely. Told as only Erica Bauermeister can, the story of renovating a house becomes the story of renovating a life. I loved her honesty about herself and her relationships, and I appreciate her wisdom more than I can say. This book came out right when I needed it. Funny thing is, I didn't know I would need it on the day I ordered it, which was before my husband suddenly approached me about buying another house...and selling the one I already love. But I believe, as Bauermeister does, tha Simply lovely. Told as only Erica Bauermeister can, the story of renovating a house becomes the story of renovating a life. I loved her honesty about herself and her relationships, and I appreciate her wisdom more than I can say. This book came out right when I needed it. Funny thing is, I didn't know I would need it on the day I ordered it, which was before my husband suddenly approached me about buying another house...and selling the one I already love. But I believe, as Bauermeister does, that there is something to be said for timing and sometimes things happen for a reason.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Having met Erica on several occasions, I felt while reading as if we were talking over a cup of tea in her kitchen. She is insightful, sensitive, an observer and most of all she is honest. She is honest about her childhood, her marriage and raising two children. What she isn’t is judgemental, negative or carry a grudge. She puts into words feelings I have felt and never thought to say out loud. This book carries so much on each page, although the book is rather small. There is a beauty in this b Having met Erica on several occasions, I felt while reading as if we were talking over a cup of tea in her kitchen. She is insightful, sensitive, an observer and most of all she is honest. She is honest about her childhood, her marriage and raising two children. What she isn’t is judgemental, negative or carry a grudge. She puts into words feelings I have felt and never thought to say out loud. This book carries so much on each page, although the book is rather small. There is a beauty in this book that is not often found in a memoir. I sincerely recommend reading this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

    A beautiful memoir of saving and rehabbing a shambling old hoarder's house in the picturesque Pacific Northwest. Through the lenses of landscape and architecture, history and family, Erica Bauermeister examines what makes a house a home, and how a family survives among wreckage and beauty, duty and love. Usually a writer of lyrical fiction (The School of Essential Ingredients, The Scent Keeper) her beautiful, incisive use of language is pure joy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    House Lessons is a heartwarming story about a delapitated house the author and her family purchased in Port Townsend, Washington. She detailed their adventures with the home. From trying to purchase the home , to the chore of cleaning out the junk, to the pitfalls and delights of renovation. The author correlated the different phases of the house project with other aspects of her life. Finally, they were able to move into the house, years after it was ready. The part I liked was the emotion she House Lessons is a heartwarming story about a delapitated house the author and her family purchased in Port Townsend, Washington. She detailed their adventures with the home. From trying to purchase the home , to the chore of cleaning out the junk, to the pitfalls and delights of renovation. The author correlated the different phases of the house project with other aspects of her life. Finally, they were able to move into the house, years after it was ready. The part I liked was the emotion she injected into the house, bringing it back to life, happy to have a family residing in it once again. Thanks to NetGalley and Sasquatch Books for the advance read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Lindsay

    A meditation of space, home, and what it means to be a mother, a wife, and a writer in this transformative memoir. Can a home be cathartic? I think so. Can a home teach us life lessons? Absolutely! I know we're not supposed to fall in love with a book based on it's cover but O.M.G.! I love both the Kindle blueprint-style cover and also the hardcover skeleton-key-on-a-hook-cover...and then, the title is HOUSE LESSONS: Renovating a Life (Sasquatch Books, March 24 2020)... AND it's a memoir? Sol A meditation of space, home, and what it means to be a mother, a wife, and a writer in this transformative memoir. Can a home be cathartic? I think so. Can a home teach us life lessons? Absolutely! I know we're not supposed to fall in love with a book based on it's cover but O.M.G.! I love both the Kindle blueprint-style cover and also the hardcover skeleton-key-on-a-hook-cover...and then, the title is HOUSE LESSONS: Renovating a Life (Sasquatch Books, March 24 2020)... AND it's a memoir? Sold. Erica Bauermeister is the author of mostly recently THE SCENT KEEPER, but has written other books, too. HOUSE LESSONS is her first memoir. This is a tale of love and family, hope and potential, all arising quite literally from a pile of junk. The 1909 American Four Square sat in eccentric Port Townsend, WA, not even for sale with the author and her husband stumbled upon it and knew it was 'the one.' Previously owned by a hoarder, Bauermeister and her family go about purchasing the home and cleaning it out, rebuilding the foundation, and renovating the interior spaces. It's about finding potential in the physical and metaphorical walls of our homes, about marriage and family, roots. Told in a mesmerizing memoir-in-essays, and braided with practical and psychological information about houses, homes, design, room placement, and more, I thoroughly enjoyed the literary exploration of architecture and interiors. Bauermeister's style is easy, lyical and flow-y, much like her fiction. I loved the connections between myth, folklore, superstitions, history, and construction of a home. Also, the interior art/sketches and quotes were my heart. The fact that Bauermeister was a former Realtor also endeared me to the story. It's hard to critique a memoir--we each bring our own unique experiences to the table when reading, which I believe shape the general narrative and response. What I think I wanted was a little more interiority, a little intimacy, because in some ways, I felt a little distanced, as if I were in the yard of this lovely home in Port Townsend peering through the windows. Instead, I wanted to be right there, in the living room. I found some similarities between HOUSE LESSONS and TENEMENTAL (Vikki Warner) meets Lisa Tognola's AS LONG AS IT'S PERFECT with a touch of FIXER-UPPER (TV show). For all my reviews, including author interviews, please see: www.leslielindsay.com|Always with a Book Special thanks to Sasquatch Books and the author for this review copy. All thoughts are my own.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    This was a delightful read, and a fun memoir of the author and her families renovation of an old home in Port Townsend, Washington. It is full of wonderful imagery, from the trials and tribulations of construction, myths and superstitions surrounding building, to family unity and fun stories about architects . This is a book that spoke to me, I loved it, as I felt I was there with this family throughout this whole process, wondering what I, would do in certain instances. This is a love song to a This was a delightful read, and a fun memoir of the author and her families renovation of an old home in Port Townsend, Washington. It is full of wonderful imagery, from the trials and tribulations of construction, myths and superstitions surrounding building, to family unity and fun stories about architects . This is a book that spoke to me, I loved it, as I felt I was there with this family throughout this whole process, wondering what I, would do in certain instances. This is a love song to a house and it endless possibilities, so fun to watch this family navigate their relationships, strengths, and dreams. I have read novels by this author before and enjoyed them very much. I would like to thank NetGalley and Sasquatch Books for the ARC of this book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I should have read the reviews before reading the book. Books about buying old houses and renovating/restoring them are one of my favorite genres. This book, however, is more about the life lessons the author learned along the way. It also veers off into the history of architecture, how to raise children, living in Italy. It was trying to be too many things, none of which I really wanted. I skimmed through most of it because I am sincerely not interested in anything deep and educational right no I should have read the reviews before reading the book. Books about buying old houses and renovating/restoring them are one of my favorite genres. This book, however, is more about the life lessons the author learned along the way. It also veers off into the history of architecture, how to raise children, living in Italy. It was trying to be too many things, none of which I really wanted. I skimmed through most of it because I am sincerely not interested in anything deep and educational right now. Two stars because the author definitely can write but it was far too navel-gazingish and pretentious.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Candice

    I will read just about anything that Erica Bauermeister writes. Am I interested in renovating an old house? Not in the least. And the book didn't change my mind. But it was a treat of beautiful writing about renovating an old house in Port Townsend, Washington as well as musings on the author's life, life in general, the history of architecture and of homes, and so much more. There is something about this author's writing style that draws me into her books and wants to keep me in there. I'm alwa I will read just about anything that Erica Bauermeister writes. Am I interested in renovating an old house? Not in the least. And the book didn't change my mind. But it was a treat of beautiful writing about renovating an old house in Port Townsend, Washington as well as musings on the author's life, life in general, the history of architecture and of homes, and so much more. There is something about this author's writing style that draws me into her books and wants to keep me in there. I'm always disappointed when the books end. Another gem from a favorite author.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Huether

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A personal account of finding a house and making it your home, with all the changes to make it a perfect place. The author goes in depth of the family and their changes, the children and their new maturity, that this new home brings about. I won this free book form Goodreads First reads. Loved the Book

  22. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    When we first bought our little house, it had been a rental for years. So, although the "bones" were good, it hadn't had much loving care. We lavished a lot of our time on it and a little money (didn't have much then), and I truly feel that the house has appreciated our care. And yes, I talk to my house, too, so I found Erica to be a kindred spirit!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leanne

    The last 1/3 of the book becomes a not uninteresting musing on the nature of many things in life, which is all that kept this from five stars. She makes a lot of good points about life throughout the book while detailing for the first two thirds the struggle of obtaining and renovating a true fixer upper. It's a slim book and easy to just let it carry you through.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jquick99

    Sure wish she’d mention costs. How much was the House? How much to raise the foundation? How much was the architect? For them to even take this “project” on, means that they had to have a huge chunk of funds. So it seems disingenuous each of the many, many times she mentions costs/estimates....and concern over the amount. Reminded me of meeting up with someone who had millions, lived in the most expensive part of Houston (River Oaks), and was complaining about his utility bills. And All Things Ki Sure wish she’d mention costs. How much was the House? How much to raise the foundation? How much was the architect? For them to even take this “project” on, means that they had to have a huge chunk of funds. So it seems disingenuous each of the many, many times she mentions costs/estimates....and concern over the amount. Reminded me of meeting up with someone who had millions, lived in the most expensive part of Houston (River Oaks), and was complaining about his utility bills. And All Things Kids bogged down the story.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anika J.

    Erica Bauermeister's memoir-in-essays is a treasure for anyone who, like me, can't resist the intrigue of an open house sign. House Lessons beckons you inside a trash-filled hoarder house in Port Townsend, WA, where a family is determined to transform it into a beautiful, memory-filled home. The project proves to be an undertaking that is easier dreamt than done, and Bauermeister is transparent about the frustrations inherent to the process. This book is in part an education in architecture, inf Erica Bauermeister's memoir-in-essays is a treasure for anyone who, like me, can't resist the intrigue of an open house sign. House Lessons beckons you inside a trash-filled hoarder house in Port Townsend, WA, where a family is determined to transform it into a beautiful, memory-filled home. The project proves to be an undertaking that is easier dreamt than done, and Bauermeister is transparent about the frustrations inherent to the process. This book is in part an education in architecture, informative as well as interesting, and its structure is strong enough to hold this story, with its cast of eccentric real-life characters and stranger-than-fiction moments. Told with loving language and such respect, this was a most enjoyable read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Tierney

    While I was initially intrigued by the description I quickly discovered that this book is not for me. I love a good memoir, but the explanations of architecture terms combined with a voice touching on materialism and entitlement were a turn off.

  27. 4 out of 5

    wellreadtraveler

    I was introduced to author Erica Bauermeister last year when I read her book The Scent Keeper. Hands down top five books I loved last year. So when my book bestie posted a gorgeous photo of House Lessons I was intrigued, but when I noticed who the author was I knew I had to read it! Anyone who has ever remodeled their home or enjoys watching the HGTV channel will love this story. I was hooked from the beginning when I learned Erica and her family were looking at a home in Port Townsend Washingto I was introduced to author Erica Bauermeister last year when I read her book The Scent Keeper. Hands down top five books I loved last year. So when my book bestie posted a gorgeous photo of House Lessons I was intrigued, but when I noticed who the author was I knew I had to read it! Anyone who has ever remodeled their home or enjoys watching the HGTV channel will love this story. I was hooked from the beginning when I learned Erica and her family were looking at a home in Port Townsend Washington. I went to Washington a few years ago for my birthday trip and I instantly fell head over heels. In all my years of traveling I have never been to a place that made me feel like home more than that trip. I was in Bellevue watching a Christmas parade with my husband and all of a sudden I started crying. It was really weird but I just felt for the first time that this was a place I wanted to end up. I’ve lived in California my entire life and haven’t felt this. A line that resonated with me was; “For me, that first time I saw the Pacific Northwest was like finding a geographical soul mate.” Beautiful House lessons is a memoir of sorts about Erica and her family and the home they rescued. Living in Seattle the family set out to find a lot to build their dream home but instead found something unexpected, a house in shambles with the most beautiful view. The bones were good, well actually they weren’t, but somehow Erica and her husband knew this home needed to be there’s. The story follows the purchase of the home, the cleaning, restoration, and most importantly the house being turned into a home. What I loved most about the book was the stories about how restoring this home parallels so many lives’s lessons. The passion Erica has for redoing this home just leaps off the pages and becomes contagious. Not gonna lie my favorite part of the remodel is when the architect suggests turning an old stairwell into a reading nook. Love this! Erica has a way with words and describing smells and objects so clearly I can picture them in my mind. My only wish is that we could’ve seen before and after photos, but I understand it’s the author’s home so she probably doesn’t want people showing up in Port Townsend and looking for it. The book does have little drawings at the beginning of each chapter, and I loved when you open the cover the pages have the blue prints inside. Pick up your copy and enjoy something a little different yet inspiring. Might make you pick up a hobby, follow a long lost dream, or might even make you decide to go buy a property to rescue from ruin!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Deon Stonehouse

    If you have read any of Bauermeister’s fiction, you will recognize the beautiful sentences, the sensuousness of her carefully chosen words. House Lessons is an intimate look at the heart of an artist as Bauermeister falls in love with a historic wreck of a house in Port Townsend. The foundation is trashed, the house is full of garbage, the windows are shot, the chimney falling down, but oh my, it has the bones to be something wonderful. Houses play a role in defining us. The spaces we inhabit ei If you have read any of Bauermeister’s fiction, you will recognize the beautiful sentences, the sensuousness of her carefully chosen words. House Lessons is an intimate look at the heart of an artist as Bauermeister falls in love with a historic wreck of a house in Port Townsend. The foundation is trashed, the house is full of garbage, the windows are shot, the chimney falling down, but oh my, it has the bones to be something wonderful. Houses play a role in defining us. The spaces we inhabit either give comfort adding to our joy or they are jarring if they clash in ways that do not suit our needs. This house Bauermeister feels could be something special, its Mt. Rainier and Puget Sound views bringing the outside in, the rooms spacious and light. Port Townsend is a lovely city, with blowsy historic homes climbing the hillside from the picturesque little town. Bauermeister’s challenge is to renovate, staying true to the home’s original style, while not going broke in the process. It surely has the potential for being a money pit on a grand scale. Renovations are stressful! Something is always bound to go awry or cost substantially more than expected or run afoul of a governing agency. Even when everything goes right, it still takes a lot of focus. Erica is the point person on the remodel, traveling back and forth from her home in Seattle, while her husband Ben works and takes care of their two children, Kate and Ry. Inevitably this will cause conflict and growth in the relationships of the family. Bauermeister is open about the challenge of letting go, ceding control in the family dynamic, and learning to relax a bit about the bumps along the way. Taking the reader from the initial discovery of the home, through the purchase, inspection, and construction while also focusing on the intimacy of the family. This is a memoir that informs and delights on every page.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Staci

    House Lessons is a memoir about the the experience of Erica Bauermeister and her family on the acquisition, renovation, and eventual settling in to their home in Port Townsend, WA. I don't read much non-fiction but I greatly appreciated this memoir and it's musings on the link between house, home, and life. Reading this book through the lens of the current "stay at home" mandates, gave a fresh focus of what home means to us as humans, a focus that many people across the world have been required House Lessons is a memoir about the the experience of Erica Bauermeister and her family on the acquisition, renovation, and eventual settling in to their home in Port Townsend, WA. I don't read much non-fiction but I greatly appreciated this memoir and it's musings on the link between house, home, and life. Reading this book through the lens of the current "stay at home" mandates, gave a fresh focus of what home means to us as humans, a focus that many people across the world have been required to adjust to. She draws upon the method of Roman engineer Vitruvius (of Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man) that architects follow. The concept that a well designed building has firmitas (stability), utilitas (utility), and venustas (beauty), is woven throughout the narrative. These three assets of a home have both literal and figurative applications to both the physical home and the people living inside of it. Just like the Vitruvian Man depicts ideal body proportions, there are ideal proportions to a house, in addition to links to the human body, such as the hearth being the heart and soul of a home. Our space affects how well we live and interact with others. There is an intimacy to selecting each personal detail of the home, transforming the house, and who the inhabitants are as people and family members. I also loved the telling of Bauermeister's foray into full time writing and the integral role that the house and it's ultimate design and additions played in that endeavor. Home has always had a connotation of safety. As many of us are retreating to our homes for safety, my hope and prayer is for this basic human need be met for all.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Karla

    House Lessons: Renovating a Life is a memoir about house moving, house moving, house renovation, house staying put. We chose our four walls, all the windows and doors, the necessary rooms and the recreation rooms. But as our life evolves, different rooms become obsolete mainly because our families move on to start their own choosing four walls, all the windows and doors, the necessary rooms and the recreation rooms. I marked this book to read on a whim, listened to it on Audible, and found it st House Lessons: Renovating a Life is a memoir about house moving, house moving, house renovation, house staying put. We chose our four walls, all the windows and doors, the necessary rooms and the recreation rooms. But as our life evolves, different rooms become obsolete mainly because our families move on to start their own choosing four walls, all the windows and doors, the necessary rooms and the recreation rooms. I marked this book to read on a whim, listened to it on Audible, and found it striking that yet again, the fates matched up. We are moving after 22 years in the same house and there were so many parallels to what all that entails. The physical moving, the mental decisons, the garage sales ㋛, and the emotionalality of finding a lost photo, or a long forgotten toy. But logic prevails and we fill another box. This book is this rollercoaster. Reading and living it might have been a bit much!

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