The Shabby House

It used to be a rather shabby house with an overgrown yard, paint peeling and various spiders as tenants. But several months ago, after almost a year of being for sale, someone purchased that shabby little house and began to transform it.

Each day I would walk to the post and pass the house and each day I would notice a slight change in it. One day curtains were up, the next day a new door was put in, the next day new lights went up. After a month of changes, that shabby little house was becoming rather charming.

So I left a note.

I wrote on a small piece of paper, ‘I love watching you transform this house into a home. You’re doing a beautiful job,’ and slipped it unnoticed into their mailbox.

Over the next couple of months, more and more changes were made. Lately, they’ve been putting in a yard; yesterday the grass went in, and today it was roses.

Of course, I had to stop and smell them.

When I did so, a woman probably several years older than I popped out from a bush and said hullo. Startled, I said a hullo back and asked her about the garden she was putting in. We shared tips and ideas and then I told her I had been watching her transform the house.

That’s when she asked me if I was the person who had left the note months ago. I told her I was.

Her eyes started to well up and she hugged me.

“You must understand something,” she began. “I have never had a house. I grew up in one project after another. I was shuffled between family and friends, lived out of a suitcase. I remember my grandmother once telling me that success is having a home. I’ve been trying my whole life to find a way to get one. For 8 years, I have worked two, sometimes three jobs to save money for a house and then I found this one. I thought I could bring it back to life, we could transform together. After living in it for awhile, I wondered if it was a home. I didn’t know because I hadn’t had one. It didn’t have fancy furniture or a china cabinet, and I thought all homes had to have that. I didn’t know if I was doing it right, if I was crazy to buy a house without having a family or kids. I was afraid I had been wrong. After worrying all morning, I went and checked my mail and there was your note. And then I knew. I knew that this was my home because I was pouring love into it. I realised that’s what makes a home and boy do I have one.”

I was amazed by this and hugged her back. I thanked her for sharing her story with me and then headed on my way home, smiling with the thought of how writing one simple note made a difference.

alex at hygge house
alex at hygge house

Online since 1995, Alex was one of the first bloggers and has consistently been creating content, sites and communities to share stories that matter. In 2004 she created Hygge House to embrace her Danish heritage by sharing thoughts and inspiration on living well and simply. In 2001 Alex Immigrated to America and currently resides in a 1900’s converted barn on a ranch in the Santa Barbara California mountains.


  1. April 2, 2008 / 4:56 PM

    I love this post.

  2. August 29, 2013 / 3:55 AM

    Oh this so reminded me of when I bought my first, and only, house. There was just me and it was a real dump but as soon as I walked through the door I could see the potential in it and set to work scraping and painting and sanding and cleaning. Now I live abroad but that house still belongs to me. I do miss it! Great little story and inspirational!

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