Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Facing Our Home's Imperfections

I love our home. It's our first. We went from separate apartments to, for a short time, one apartment, to this starter fixer-upper. It's the place we became a family and learned how best to live together. Where we brought in one cat after another until, one day, we cautiously - anxiously - carried in a newborn in a carseat.

Sarah Beck Photography
and our pretty darn cool kitchen.

This is where he first smiled...gloriously rolled over on his protruding belly...danced like Fred Astaire (sort of)...tippy-toe walked...slept a full night...said anything resembling a real English word...got scolded for pulling one of those patient cats' tails. This is his place. This is ours, and we love it.

But, we've always known it wasn't our forever home. We've yet to find even a forever town or village. It has been a challenge - perhaps because we've been watching far too many Andy Hardy movies lately. There is no Carvel anymore. No white picket fences. No absolute security.

So, while we search and hunt and constantly adjust our mindsets, we take the bull by the horns (says the stubborn Taurus) and decide to take control of the factors that we do have control over. Namely, getting our current abode sellable.

Walk-through day picture of the can't-wait-to-paint-it dining room...

Ugh. When I say "I love my home", I might want to attach a disclosure - I love it as a home, but as a house, it ain't perfect. Hence our not staying here forever.

It is by far a different house from the one we purchased. Then, it was in pre-foreclose, so its pipes had burst and it was quite outdated. Some of our current, hopefully fixable quirks are thanks to those irresponsible owners. Paint - smeared on woodwork and a horrific red dining room - is my latest bane, but there are a dozen (that's actually a conservative number) tiny issues from previous owners floating around.

What our bathroom project USED to look like...

Then there's the age factor. Funny thing is, I've always been the sicko who'd love living in a 200-year-old house. Yes, I know the cost of upkeep is high. Yes, I realize that the issues are greater than a newer build. But, much as with adopting a shelter animal, there's a sense of selfless pride that comes from saving a house from poorly executed modernization, or worse. The fact that you're that house's steward vs. owner is pretty rad. Bring on the crooked ceilings.

That said, ours is a 1925 build. Love that era. Post-WWI, pre-Depression. Lots of great details. (One set of built-ins clinched the deal for me; for Dave, it was the "front room" aka sun room.) Of course, it's small - around 1,000 square feet. Closets are pretty small, too.

We do have a crooked factor. It's darn near impossible to hang a shelf straight (although we've done pretty well a couple of times). We're working to get our doors to close and shut. (It's not being a mom that gives me zero privacy in the bathroom - it's Winston + non-shutting doors.)

Paint is piled, so I'm going to be busting out my sander to take down some of the build-up on our kitchen cabinets before painting them (inside and out, God help me).

From our walk-through. These aren't nearly as grody.
The handle hardware is changed and it's all been cleaned, but it needs a once-over again and, as mentioned, paint.

Then there are just those "lived here so long it's hard to look at it with a fresh eye" things. Like, the aforementioned front room. It's a bright, calming room full of windows and we can't figure out how to best play it up. I think I may have an idea or two, but it's not 100%. A few rooms have me stumped. Pinterest, here I come.

But, when we do leave, any of those quirks will fly out of my heart. All that will be left is the happiness that we've shared as a family here, along with those memories that happened in such fleeting moments. I know I'll be quite practical about our pricing (our neighborhood is very working class), but will know that, no matter what we accept, it won't be enough. That I'll mostly be concerned that a nice family moves in - for the sake of our wonderful neighbors as well as the house, itself. That they'll be able to appreciate it as much as we loved (and, some days, were frustrated by) it.

Wow. Okay, NOW I see how he was over ten pounds. My "see how fat I get" pregnancy pictures were taken in the hallway outside of our door, near my beloved built-ins.
And, yes, my eyes are BUGGIN'.

Where Dave learned to be a daddy...

As we roll along, I'll make a wishlist for you of what we'd like in our new home. We like to think we're not one of those high-maintenance HGTV couples (hopefully our realtor doesn't think so!), and it sometimes bugs me when I'm reading what other bloggers want in a home -- like, seriously, raise your hand if a multimedia entertainment room AND separate man cave are a must (not sure if it's good or bad that you won't be seeing much of your hubby...maybe good? Who knows) amidst two dozen other "absolute must-haves". Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

These guys get me. Thank yooooouuu, Buzzfeeeeeed!

Oh, and we also live in the Stone Age in our part of the country/state. We weren't too affected by the housing bubble and its subsequent burst. That said, housing is supa dupa low in our county (like, a good house for under $100,000 - I kid you not). However, that brings up the idea of what type of area we want to raise our family. We're not in the ghetto...but there are car break-ins all the time and drug crimes that were unheard of maybe 10 years ago. Not to mention, a recent article doesn't paint our town in the best light (at the bottom...that little place you probably haven't heard of...that's where we live).

So, it's tough to wrap one's head around moving out of a relatively inexpensive (relative to, say, the 1800s...yeah, that's our competition in the housing market) county for a nearby one (again, while my brain is in "get a good deal" mode) while paying up to 60% more for the house. I mean, as I mention to Dave quite regularly -- some of these crimes are totally random and can happen anywhere and at any time, so who's to say we move and will be completely untouchable?

It's a good thing we have those guard cats...

Conversation to be continued, but any thoughts are (as always) welcome below!


  1. We hope to move out of our house someday as well which makes conversations about what we'd like to change tough . . is it worth it to spend the money on a house we don't plan to live in forever? Will we get a return on that investment? But housing prices in our area show our house as worth less than what we paid for it so we may be here longer than expected.

    1. Ahh, that sucks that it's worth less than what you paid for it. That seems to be happening all over the country. :-( What a bummer. We're lucky in that respect. Since we got our house at a good (foreclosure-pricing! Everything must go!) deal, we'll pretty much definitely going to make at least what we paid back. Helps with any down-payments, but I'm still not sure exactly how much we'll have to work with.

  2. First off, I LOVE your kitchen floors. So cool. I totally know where you're coming from concerning buying a vintage home. Ours was built in 1900 and I totally dig the creaky wood floors, detailed windows, and intricate woodwork. However, the heating and upkeep is going to be our biggest financial investment. We definitely have a few things we need to flip and make not so dreadful (Hello 80s pink bathroom, blergh! Or the plastic countertops in my art studio that are falling apart). I'm not sure I really care so much about expecting a return, we really do see this as a forever home, just as long as the Navy doesn't decide they have other plans for the husband in the next two years (highly unlikey).

    1. Thanks so much (and for your comment)! Our heating isn't tooooo bad, especially since our house clocks in at just under 1,000 sq. ft. -- which is also why this can't be our forever home (too small). It's good that you can at least take your time on fixing up what you need to. Sending hopes that your husband's plans stay stable and close in the next couple of years!!