In the summer of 2001, author Michael Ruhlman and his wife, Donna, decided to buy a century-old home in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. This decision set forth a months-long decision-making,
remodeling, moving, and adjustment process that he details in this fascinating
memoir. Mingled with the sometimes frustrating, sometimes joyful, mostly harrowing construction issues, Ruhlman sets out to discover the history of his neighborhood, the home they have purchased, and the true meaning of home and suburbia.
Michael grew up in Cleveland but spent many years living in other places. He felt himself drawn back to the city by forces he cannot describe. Although his photographer-wife is not thrilled with the idea of living there the rest of her life, she is caught up with him in what he describes as “house lust.” It’s that innate desire to nest, to have a home to call your very own, to put your own stamp on a place. He talks about the buying process, the home inspection, hiring contractors, and dealing with the construction. Ruhlman’s research takes him into the definition of suburbs, their development and downfall, and what home really means to each of us and why.
For anyone who has an interest in home remodeling or has gone through the process themselves, House is a fascinating look into an all-too-familiar series of events. Ruhlman’s transparency about his happiness and misgivings about the project make the book easy to read and like watching a home improvement show on television with an insider’s view. If you’re interested in older homes, remodeling, home improvement, historical research, or memoirs, House delivers on all accounts.