Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Adventures in House Hunting

On Monday, we went and looked at four (count 'em 4) houses.  
I didn't used to think I was picky, but I have changed my mind.  I don't  understand the choices people make when selecting colors, furniture or "stuff" (otherwise known as decor).  Nor do I understand why people with no architectural experience think they know how to arrange spaces to live in.  Maybe what I'm about to write is just venting my frustration.  PLEASE leave comments (whether in agreement or not) and help me "get real."

House on a Hill
This house has almost 2 acres of property, but it was all in the downhill front yard.  Maybe the only level part of the lot was at the top.... At any rate, that's where the house represented by its portrait below was sited.

This home was beautifully decluttered, I'll give it that.  The Realtor said it was occupied by a single woman.  A FASTIDIOUS single woman.  Everything seemed to be a shade of pale ivory, as if the colors were selected from an upscale make up line. 

I looked at this house from right to left... after walking into a marble tiled mini-foyer and living room.  The living room consisted of a massive fireplace, flanked by windows on both sides which faced out onto a hill full of trees. 

To the right were the two "extra" bedrooms, and a laundry/bath area.  I hadn't seen a bathroom with a washer dryer in it before.  From a plumbers standard, it makes sense of course.  But to me there was something strange about having a dryer by the toilet (or vice versa).
The deck was surprisingly large.  Facing west, I imagine it would be pleasantly warm during summer months.  I also think it would be nice to have a chiminea and chilly nights that you would WANT to use.  (In Texas, you didn't need any more heat on a summer evening.)
The master bedroom had a wonderful huge window.  I'm not sure what I would think about having my bedroom facing the street... even though the area was somewhat remote,
The master bath was large for one person, but not particularly convenient for two.  And WHO would share their tub with a plant?  And if it is a tube FOR a plant, why have it in the bathroom?  I would have liked a bigger shower enclosure, with a seat or double shower heads rather than a tub... especially one with a faucet and spigots that could catch your toes (or worse) while you were climbing in.
The formal dining area seemed (again) pale, as if covered by a layer of frost.
The Childhood Home
When we pulled into the drive way of this house, there was a frustrated workman trying to start his lawnmower.  Turns out the Realtor is the workman's wife.  The workman grew up in the house.  His parents had died a few years ago at which time his sister moved in.  (among other things, she had the nerve to fill in a $50,000 in ground swimming pool because she thought it was dangerous for her children.  (The brother thought she should  have kept the pool and kept a better eye on her children.) The barn looked best from a distance. It was definitely in need of repair and renovation... including sanding, sand blasting, painting and patching where something had eaten a hole in the wood.  It had a 30 year old beer keg in it... but I never found out if it had heating or not.  Size wise, it would make a great work shop.
  The workman/son/Realtor's husband was very proud of the renovations he had made.  I agree that the kitchen was very attractive.  Although, who knows what dishwasher or refrigerator he might put in. 
The basement was not a "walk out" basement... which means that it only had light wells rather than actual windows.
This room faced north and would have made an amazing painting studio.  Although dripping paint on the beautiful wood floor might be a tragedy.

It seemed obvious that a man chose the bathroom fixtures.  The "master" bath merely had an en suite style shower.  The sink and mirror were not even IN the bathroom, but seemed to be a cross between a vanity (but tall) and a traditional sink area.  It seemed lost and in the wrong place.

The three season porch had some structural problems with the wood.  (It appeared to have gotten wet and swollen.)  And the floor was not flush with the floor of the rest of the house.  I don't understand why, and wish it had been level. One less thing to trip over.
It was sort of fun that the basement had a brick fireplace.  The remodeler had happy memories of the space as a family room with a pool table.  At sometime, however, there had been flooding.  "Six inches of water in here."  He insisted that he had gotten all of the mold out and fixed the water permeability issues.  It didn't smell moldy... but that effluence line certainly looked suspicious.

The granite steps (below) led up to what used to be the swimming pool.They were extremely substantial!  I think the teeny tiny shed at the back of the property is kind of an ironic destination from those steps.
If only this one had had a basement!

This was my preferred house of the day.  It is on the shoreline road at Canobie Lake.  Not on the lake side, but the hill side... which made it almost affordable!  The owners (with two daughters) had decorated it in a very contemporary manner which was seductive for this midcentury modern fan.  The yard was big with a modest sized in ground pool, nice landscaping, and a large area for out door dining or sitting. 

They had replaced their ovens and re-done the cabinets.  I doubt I would have painted the soffit this trendy green... but it looked trendy, deliberate and cheery.  I also  noticed that people are putting cookbooks (with pretty pictures on the cover) on book racks on the kitchen counters.  What, LOOKING at a cookbook will make you happy in the kitchen?

The master bedroom had a big walk in closet, wasn't on the "front" of the house, and had a nice view of the side yard.  It was robin's egg blue.

This bath which was actually the daughter's bath was extremely trendy.  I teased the Realtor that you'd need several Shamwows to keep the glass basins free of water marks.

This was the master walk in closet.  There was also a long hall closet.  The owner had more baseball hats than I've seen out of a baseball hat store!
The two daughters were definitely being raised "in the pink."
There was was lots of extra space in the garage.  This homeowner apparently didn't like the style of their house portrait any more.  The painting AND the facade of the house is pretty traditional.
This small shed was FULL!.  Mower/snow blower, etc.

That's when we recognized the deal breaker:  NO basement.
It's all down hill from here...
Rumor had it that this house was built in 1992.  It felt at least 20 years older than that.  It had another owner/remodel-er/seller.  (I think it might be good NEVER to step into that sort of conflicted role!)
Apparently the original owner developed MS.  He had a lift from the "under house" garage that would take him upstairs.  He used a wheel chair.  But he suffered several falls and eventually was hospitalized and died.  But not before his daughter's friend's husband did some restoration work on the house.  After the man's death, the daughter sold the home to the restorer-husband.

Again, if you don't have design/decor experience, DON'T get in there with hammer and nails... or even paint.

I have no reason to believe that the re-grading, re-seeding and French drains were done improperly... but....if I were buying a house with SUCH immature plants, I would have liked to picked the colors. The pansies will be pretty, but they clash with the phlox.  And the azaleas REALLY weren't color coordinated with the phlox.  Then there was the chopped up floor plan inside.
The kitchen had chairs at the counter, a small dining (?) area from which I took the photo, and a formal dining room behind where the refrigerator is.  (That the formal table setting was with Christmas linens was a bit creepy to me!). The formal room was also painted in sort oaf a blood red Pomegranate color with deep Brazilian (?) mahogany stained floors.  Obviously, the floors were different colors in different rooms.

To the left of the kitchen was a cantilevered sun room.  I think the remodel-er had appropriately begun to doubt his taste because he was going to wait to put a floor in until there was a buyer.  Seeing MDF or fiberboard flooring 20 feet above ground made me sort of dizzy.
Look how dark the floor is... and I have lightened this quite a bit.  The interior rooms were DARK.  (and small).

This bed seemed to have been slept in.  Why did everything else look abandoned, but this bed have "dents."  Vagrants?  Ghosts? Local lovers who couldn't be bothered with a hotel?
If you have a chance to get help to "stage" your home, TAKE it.  This home was full of un-thought ought furniture that was dinged and distressed.  It was difficult to imagine how you could live in it.

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