Tuesday, January 22, 2013

You Ain't Goin' Nowhere

Perhaps I should say, "we."

After much thought and discussion, we have decided NOT to move after all.

We took the lists of wants and needs that were guiding our search for another house and applied them to this place. What we discovered was that we were looking for this exact same house in terms of the interior spaces and porches, albeit with a back yard. I did some research and learned that having the concrete parking lot behind the house removed is not as costly as I had imagined.  We decided that instead of moving, we will completely make over the outdoor space so that we have a back yard, so that I have a real garden to play in, so that we have privacy, and so that Sadie has room to run off leash.  So bring on the fencing, arbors, trees, shrubs, and lots of cottage-y flowers!

 In honor of our decision to stay and to celebrate my falling (again) in love with the virtues of this old house, here are some pictures taken at various times in the past year.  The one above was taken before we even moved in.  I have since painted the porch and done some foundation planting, but realized today that I have not taken any photos of those improvements.

Deciding not to move is a lot like deciding to salvage a rocky marriage.  You have to look deeply into your heart and be honest about the things that attracted you to the house in the first place, the things you fell in love with.  You have to assess its strengths and attributes, along with its limitations.
However, while it is indeed possible to change a house to suit your wants and needs, we cannot possibly change another human being in any way, even if we might want to.  The only thing to change in that case is one's perspective or to move on.

I still adore this pantry.  It holds an abundance of food and kitchen wares while being accessible and easy to keep organized.

One of the things most difficult in hunting for another house was finding one with ceilings tall enough to accomodate our campaign bed from Restoration Hardware.  The bed is almost 9' tall!
 This room has 10' ceilings, so there is no problem.  I also appreciate the architectural interest of three-sided bay.  This would be hard to find in another house as well.

The proportions of the living and dining rooms, along with the tall windows, provide light and airy spaces for living.  The rooms flow well into one another.  The house has never felt dark or cramped.

Most of the planned changes involve the out door areas, however, I am determined to replace the interior window and door trim so that it matches the original trim boards that I found in the basement.  In the 1970's, when the house was being used as a doctor's office, the original trim was taken down and ranch style trim was put in its place.  By painting walls and moldings the same color, I have been able to minimize the visibility of this fact, but it is something that bothers me about the house.

So, I am feeling like the weight of indecision and disappointment has been lifted.  I am starting to reconnect with my house emotionally and to turn my thoughts to planning upcoming projects.  Visions of climbing roses are dancing in my head!

Stay tuned for my next big adventure.  Thank you for your on-going support and friendship through the many adventures I have had thus far.  I appreciate every one of you who take the time to stop by and visit.

Until next time...


P.S.  Apologies to Bob Dylan for borrowing the title for this post.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

House hunting and the art of compromise

Adventures in home-buying...

This is the photo from the real estate listing of the house my husband (still getting used to saying that :-) and I have contracted to purchase.  It is a fixer-upper loaded with charm, space, and potential.  The house is a couple of miles south of the local university, not far from the city limits.  
The yard is huge and completely private.  The house has many features I like, as you may have seen from a previous post; but it has features that need to be modified, like bathrooms with showers under the eaves where there is no headroom; and a shoddy job of insulating through the siding, leaving unsightly holes that need to either be plugged properly, or the siding needs to be replaced entirely.  And it currently has a nonfunctional heating system.  This house is not without its problems, but we were willing to address those issues due to its location and its character. 

On December 20, as we were driving to Austin, Texas for our wedding/honeymoon, the sellers failed to sign an extension of the closing date, and breached the contract to buy/sell this property.  Almost one month later, no remedy for the breach has been presented to us.  We still have not closed, nor have we been given a date for that to happen-- the sale remains in limbo.  So, after months of stress and uncertainty, we are looking beyond this house to other possibilities.  

I am obsessed with finding another house.

Just like the buyers on HGTV's Househunters, we have our list of attributes for the new house.  

1.  a good yard with mature trees
2.  a light, spacious-feeling interior
3.  2 bedrooms and an office
4.  charm
5.  curb-appeal
6.  a safe neighborhood

Those are the bare necessities.  

The ideal property would have these features also:

1.  located outside the city limits with small acreage
2.  three bedrooms
3.  no street lights nearby
4.  lots of trees, possibly woods on the property
5.  a good view

My search led us to look at this charmer the other day.

This house has everything on the first list except a separate space for an office.  At just under 1,000 square feet, this house in town is quite diminutive.  Our current house is around 2,200 square feet, and there are rooms we seldom go into, so we could easily down-size somewhat.  The house has 10' ceilings and original features, such as pine floors, a claw-foot tub, and trim.  It has been well-maintained.  The neighborhood, however, is an eclectic one, where student rentals sit next to owner-occupied houses.  I find this house to be quite charming and could see myself living here, although I do not know if it will accomodate a family of pets and 2 adults.  We would have to give up our guest room to make space for my husband's office.  That would be a big sacrifice.  And I am not sure about the neighborhood.

Another option:

Later this week, we will view this brick ranch.  It is larger than the vintage bungalow and has also been very well-maintained.  It hosts the original oak floors but everything else has been upgraded.  From the pictures on-line, it appears to be very clean.  This house sits in a neighborhood that is populated by professors and professional staff who work for the university, which is within walking distance.  This house is really not my favorite style.  I have never been especially partial to ranch houses.  However, it is sensible and solidly built.  There are mature trees and a screen of evergreens along the backside of the lot.  With a fence, it would be private and large enough for our energetic puppy.  

Every house purchase requires a large dose of reality.  Our house dreams do not always match our budgets or the current properties on the market.  Many of the older homes in my area were torn down in the 1960's to build apartment buildings for students.  A lot of the older farmhouses were also torn down due to neglect.  Finding an decent old house in this area, in the safe neighborhood, is exceedingly difficult.  Right now the available houses on the market are probably more limited than in the coming months.  We have been told that more properties come available in spring.  With our crazy puppy, in desperate need of a yard, waiting is almost unbearable.

I am willing to compromise in terms of style and space in order to get into some place comfortable, bright, quiet, surrounded by a bit of earth to garden in.

How have you had to compromise when it came to purchasing your house?  Any thoughts or input for me to consider?

Until next time...


P.S.  Thanks for the sweet comments about my recent wedding!  I appreciate you taking the time to respond to that post.  It was such a joyous occasion for me, I felt compelled to share it with you.


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