Thursday, July 3, 2014

the new {old} house

About halfway through my pregnancy with Finn, we suddenly realized that our house was too small.  Well, actually, we'd known that for a long time, but we had made our small space work pretty well for us.  We had about 1,200 square feet with one real bedroom and a loft that was perfect for our three little boys.  We did a lot of renovating in that little house (much of which STILL isn't finished...) and we never felt like we could put it on the market without fixing some things we didn't have time to fix, so we just stayed there. We knew we needed more room, eventually, but it wasn't until we were preparing for the arrival of a fourth child that it really sank in.

So, one cold night towards the end of January, Kevin called me into his study (which was actually more like a glorified closet) points to his computer screen and says "I want this house."
I laughed and waddled my pregnant self over to see what he was talking about.
"There's a fireplace in the master bedroom.  I want this house." he said again.

You'd think after 10+ years of marriage, moments like this wouldn't surprise me, but they still do.
"I didn't know we were in the market for a house" I said jokingly as I took a closer look.  The house was nice, built in 1920 and in a nearby neighborhood that we always admired as we strolled by on evening walks.  And it was HUGE. 5,200 square feet to be exact.  It had almost all of our non-negotiables: a garage and shed for Kevin, old house character for me, a big yard for the kids, fireplaces (3 to be exact), more than one bathroom (5, actually).  It even had some bonus things like a great big walk in closet and a huge master bedroom that you wouldn't expect in an old home.  And the price was very reasonable.
(All pictures are from the original MLS listing)
"I'm going to go look at it tomorrow" Kevin told me.

So he did, and then we all went to look at it a few days later when they had an open house.  And then we put an offer in on it that was immediately accepted. Voila!  Well, that was easy, right?


Everything was done on our end and on the seller's end, but now the bank had to appraise the house...which took FOUR months.  No joke.  We were sitting in packed boxes at our old house waiting and waiting and waiting.  We brought Finn home to a house full of boxes and we were STILL waiting.  My maternity leave ended and we were STILL WAITING. The bank ended up doing 3 separate appraisals and the day after the third one we finally got the go ahead to close.

Part of the problem was that the house had been used for many years as a daycare, and the back bonus room and basement bonus room below it were just were their adjoining bathrooms with two mini toilets and two mini sinks each.  That's right, folks, this house had a total of SEVEN toilets in it.  We went from SEVEN.

The rest of the house was fairly normal.  There was a nice sitting room/sunroom just off the main entrance...

Which led to this dining room with eight foot pocket doors and an AMAZING built in with original craftsman woodwork.

That little door on the right side of the dining room led into a strange passage which led into the (sad, dated, gloomy) kitchen.  I may or may not have had a panic attack one night thinking about this kitchen...
Do you see that brownish "trim" near the ceiling?  That was actually brown plexiglass with florescent lighting behind it.  And then there was this little railing on top of the cabinets at the far end of the room with fake grapevines sticking out of ancient floral foam...this is the stuff nightmares are made of, people.
Then there was this vast empty, purposeless room with more fluorescent lights.  It led into the daycare/bonus room on one side and the garage and living room on the other...
Here's the living room.  More beautiful woodwork, built-ins and a fireplace.  Also, notice the LOVELY fluorescent lighting.

This completed a big loop back to the front door, foyer, and the staircase leading to the second floor. That was when the carpet started...most of it TEAL.
Upstairs there were a total of four bedrooms...however the MLS listing only had pictures of three of them.
The Guest Room
The "Gym Room"
Guest Bath
And then there was the master bedroom. This was the PINKEST master bedroom you've ever seen. Pink wallpaper. Pink carpet. Pink tile. Pink rug. Pink blinds. Pink bedspread.  But, oh, look at that fireplace.
But the pink was quickly forgotten because it was outdone by the most hideous green wallpaper I've ever seen in the master bath.  And it was ON THE CEILING!  Also, the only washer and dryer in the house was located upstairs in the master bath.
BUT there was a walk in closet...a big one, and it was the size of our bedroom at our old house.

We saved all the money we could to start the many renovations we had in mind, and promptly had to spend it ALL on three fairly major plumbing leaks, two of which involved the only working showers, relocating the washer and dryer to the empty room off the kitchen and putting a full bath into the "daycare bathroom" on the main level so we would have a working shower/bathtub.  We also put in a privacy fence to close off the backyard so we could trap contain our littles, and painted the mauve-ish house exterior a light greenish gray.

The third plumbing leak was in the kitchen.  The sink had a leak that just POURED water onto the counter anytime the faucet was on and, judging from the damage to the cabinets and floors it had been there for a LONG time.  Kevin had to rip out everything down to the floor joists...and while he was at it he gutted the kitchen and knocked out two walls.  But that's a long story for another post.

We really didn't get to complete any of the fun renovations we had planned, and now, two years later, we are still making very slow progress on a lot of areas in our home.  But it's worth it to have so much room for our family and we really love our new (old) house.

I'll be posting before and afters of what we have done, and (hopefully) some new work-in-progress posts as well :)