Commuter voyeur

lidoNovember 12, 2009

I love this time of year. I get off the train after work at about 5pm and I walk the last mile home. The days are shorter, it's not too dark but the home lights are on.

I live in a town that was pretty much fully settled by 1920 and my walking route is lined with almost all Victorians and Arts/Crafts homes. Queen Annes, Four-Squares and Bungalows abound. So during the one mile walk, I look at the homes at sunset, I check out paint colors in the rooms, I see vintage light fixtures, I see antique lamps and furniture!

I love these evening walks and I love this time of year!

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lido

Before anyone thinks I'm walking up to windows and peering in, let me emphatically say I'm not. I'm just enjoying the views from the sidewalks.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 5:21AM
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calliope

I'm sitting here laughing, because I love to do the same thing. We live in a very old community, one of the first to be established when the Northwest Territory was opened up for settlement. If you are in town, gazing at the windows of these old houses reveals original architecture and woodwork you simply don't see anymore. Oftentimes the exterior of the homes have been long changed, and nobody really thinks much of keeping historical homes intact here. So, it can be pleasantly surprising to see into them and discover it.

We live out in the country, and I am always surprised when I drive into town and get closer to it that there are homes I never even noticed before after decades of driving past them, because light is coming from the windows.

You have to also consider a light in the window on a cold winter's day comforting and inviting. It's only natural to get warm fuzzies. I have burnt indelibly into my brain what it felt like after hunting on a snowy day to get near the old family farmhouse, the smell of woodsmoke and the weak yellow light of the bulbs shining out the windows, knowing full well there'd be a pot of boiled coffee waiting and the three pot-bellied stoves would be roaring. It's one of my most pleasant memories.

Used to carry mail years ago, and was privy to somebody else's life behind each door and window. The smell of frying potatoes at lunchtime (this was when most women were housewives), the voice of each family dog, toys in the yard, and what kind of Christmas tree each house had. It's a good kind of voyeurism. ;-)

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 2:13PM
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antiquesilver

Years ago I worked downtown & would occasionally walk to work (about 1 mile). The details that you notice when walking is nothing short of amazing; you drive past them every day without seeing a thing. Now I work in the 'burbs....sigh.....

I especially like to walk around my neighborhood (antebellum/victorian era) at dusk during the Holidays because everyone's lights are on with drapes thrown open - openly inviting all of the good voyeurs to come & take a peek inside! In many ways, it's better than the annual house tour.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 2:36PM
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kimkitchy

I'll fess up; I do the same when walking around town. This time of year is nice, still warm enough to walk and not trecherous yet. I put an interesting lamp in the front den window of my own home and purposely leave the shade half way up in the evening (all you can see is the bookcase and part of the wall behind it), just because I think it looks nice from the sidewalk.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 6:21PM
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lido

I debated starting this thread, but the 3 of you have proven that I'm not alone! Thank you!. I agree, antique, walking like this can definitely be better as home tours!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 7:17AM
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trailrunnerbiker

I love to walk in our 1890's neighborhood and peek in to see what others are doing as far as colors and lighting etc. My DH always yells" watch the road not the houses" when we are driving so I try to confine my looking to when I am walking or riding my bike. Great thread to start. What part of the country are you in ? We are in Alabama in an Historic District. c

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 8:05PM
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antiquesilver

I'm in Richmond, in the Historic District surrounding St John's ("give me Liberty or give me Death") Church.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 9:56AM
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jaybird

I work downtown, and the historic homes are all around me... I LOVE my drive home every evening, and am prone to taking different streets..........5 nights a week :^)

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 5:49PM
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Marvin Forssander-Baird

I so miss when I used to live in the historic district full of 19th century mansions of local whisky distillers. I always walked up and down and took in every detail. I agree with Kimkitchy. I now leave a tiffany type lamp on in a front window of my 108 year old house. It really warms the view.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2009 at 11:18PM
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thatgirl2478

I do this too! In fact, I've come up with a new term for it - 'house porn'!

I can't help it - the love of old architecture is genetically programmed in me. I was raised in an 1850's Italianate with all original features.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 3:45PM
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alison

I'm totally with you, lido.
I can't make myself exercise for love-nor-money, but at least three times a week I take a 45 minute brisk walk around the neighborhood -- to check out people's gardens, their porch decorations, and -- if I'm walking at dusk -- check out their decor.
I get so many good ideas this way!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 11:29PM
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rosemaryt

House porn - that's great.

I used to ride the Amtrak from Alton, IL to Chicago and there's a section of Springfield that you ride through where you can see so much detail of the old bungalows and foursquares. I always loved that trip because it showed the houses from an angle that you would not otherwise see.

And I have to admit, I do peek in windows (from the public sidewalk) and admire people's gorgeous sweeping staircases and massive fireplaces.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 11:33AM
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blackcats13

I was just thinking while walking to an appointment last night that this was one of the few good things about winter! Also, DH always drives, which means I get to watch out the window =D

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 2:31PM
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mfrog

When we lived in a historic district our motivation for going for an evening walk was to see in people's houses! :) We would be really annoyed at the people who closed their drapes!

I call magazines like Old House Interiors "house porn"

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 7:54PM
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lido

Oh, rosemary....Amtrak rides are often great for peeking. The trains go through older established neighborhoods and old train station buildings are another type of building I drool over.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 5:09AM
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