I have some big news and you are the first to find out.  I haven’t even broken it to Mike, the boys, or the CVC.  They’re all going to be so surprised.

I’m moving to Laurel, Mississippi.  I know, it’s going to be quite a culture shock.  I’ve really spent no time at all in the deep South unless you count beach time in Florida in February.  But I do like the idea of temperate winters and how hard can it be to get used to large bugs, poisonous snakes, and extreme heat and humidity?

Why the state of Mississippi, much less Laurel?  Friends, I am an addict of Home Town, a series on HGTV.  I write this in the middle of a massive binge and can barely make the time to focus on my column when clearly, I must pay attention to the color they’re staining the floor.

Home Town features Erin, a designer, and Ben, her husband and master woodworker and craftsman, and their quest to transform their small Southern town, one house at a time.

My attachment to Home Town is just a symptom of my overall fascination with homes, home decorating and home renovation.  For as long as I can remember, I have been captivated by both interiors and exteriors of houses.  When I used to babysit, I loved seeing the insides of the families’ houses.  When I walked home from school, I would wonder what the rooms were like beyond the curtains in my neighborhood’s homes.  This voyeurism had nothing to do with the inhabitants or their lives, I just wanted to know if they used wallpaper, what color they painted the walls, or what the kitchen cabinets were like.

The older I got, the more interested I became in design, color, architecture, and even landscaping.  The good news is that I have never been delusional enough to think I wanted to make a career out of any of the above.  Oh, no. Of course, I have excellent taste, but there’s no need to foist that taste on others.  And what if they make some really ugly choices on my watch? No way.  Plus, it’s too stressful to put someone else’s house together.

I was a reno addict before HGTV ever came on the scene but when it did appear, I was all in. Unlike many of the uninspired buyers on House Hunters, I can walk into a house and see if there’s potential beneath the shag carpet, the avocado countertops, or the dark galley kitchen.  When we bought our Craftsman on Thurmond, we were filled with ideas.  The bones of the 1920s house were incredible – high ceilings, gorgeous window and door moldings, beautiful pine and fir floors.  Unfortunately, they were almost all hidden under blue shag carpet, curtains, overgrown junipers, and indoor/outdoor carpet in the kitchen.  It took us time, vision, patience, and lots of lessons learned but ten years later, she was transformed. The only room we didn’t touch was the den in the back and who wanted to mess with knotty pine paneling?

Unfortunately, no matter how much we loved our Thurmond house, as Mike said, it was perfect for a family whose hobbies were biking or something equally low on accessories.  Since the Albrechts have everything needed for rodeo, hunting, and fishing activities (including the trailers and livestock), we outgrew all storage places (including off-street parking) fairly quickly in town.

When we moved to our Coffeen home, I had to let a lot of dreams go.  I traded in bones for pasture. Moldings for views. A new kitchen and bathrooms for, uhm, not new. And it’s a split level home.  I am not a fan of the split level. I feel like all I do is go upstairs or downstairs all the time.

So here’s what we did.  We’ve made as many inexpensive changes as we could in the nearly eight years we’ve lived here.  Pulled the carpet up, updated the bathroom, painted the cabinets and reconfigured the kitchen’s layout, opened the wall between the dining room and the living room, and painted all the dark paneling.  We put on a deck that’s like having another room in the summer and created rock walls that add character and definition to the yard.

My dream, however, is to knock the whole sucker down and build a farmhouse style ranch. That’s going to probably cost half a million in today’s Sheridan County building dollars.  Thus the big move to Laurel.  A historic house that’s going to run me about $150,000 for 1500 square feet and more bones than I can stand. Maybe even a screened porch!

I’m sure there will be plenty of room for the horses, guns, and poles. And it’s not the heat that kills you, it’s the humidity, so as long as the central air works, I’ll be fine.  I’m sure the water moccasins will be very welcoming. Come on over, y’all!