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There's no place like home

Our house is a very very very small house/ with two kids in the yard / life used to be not hard / now everything is silly 'cause of them....
*blargh - I really don't like that song*
When we bought our house in the fall of 2000, we always knew it wasn't a place to grow old and retire. It's what one would call a "starter" house. Don't get me wrong - I love being a homeowner. I like our quirky little house, with its multiple levels and challengingly low ceilings. I like what we've done with the place, and we've done a lot. But the more kids we aquire, and the more toys they aquire, the more it becomes evident that we will be back in the home market eventually.

I grew up in an old, bastardized (converted previously to three apparments) Victorian house. My parents have been fixing it up room by room for roughly 25 years now, and it's still a work in progress. By fixing it up, I don't mean a little paint here, a little carpeting there. I'm talking about the plaster from the walls being shoveled out the removed windows. It's been a labor of love and necessity - in the early 80's family finances made "move-in condition" unaffordable.
At any rate, I come by my love of old houses naturally, as well as a can-do attitude (possibly foolishly so) towards home improvement. I'm a sucker for transoms, gingerbread, oddly shaped rooms, high ceilings, tall windows, spacious porches, and 2+ stories. Unfortunately, such houses also come lacking closets, wiring suitable to this electronic age, sensibly located bathrooms, insulation, and dry basements.

Mr. Unreserved, on the other hand, grew up in a post-war ranch on a huge, private, treed lot. While I could have thrown an egg from our kitchen window into the neighbor's (not that I would have), DH couldn't see his neighbor's house when there were leaves on the trees. His mother's house is lovely. It is also the opposite of my mother's house. You may see where this is going.

House browsing in our household is not a smooth process.
"Look - this one has stained glass and original woodwork!"
"Yes, and it's buttass up against the house next to it. What about this one? We wouldn't have to climb up and down the stairs all the time."
"I said no ranches. I like sleeping quarters separate from living quarters. Do you like this one? It's got a fourth bedroom on the third floor..."
"No, it's too skinny. It looks cramped. This one is only 10 yrs old, low maintenance."
"And no character. It looks like a shoebox. Ooh, this one here's a diamond in the rough. Very rough. But it could be done up really cute!"
"The roof is falling in and half the windows are missing."

I enjoy casually looking at what's on the market. I marvel at the asking price for some of the dumpiest houses. Sometimes I look at houses that are 3-4x what we could ever hope to afford, just to see how the other half lives. I look at some run down houses that need love and drywall mud. Then I remember climbing the extension ladder the first summer in this house, paintbrush and bucket in hand, swearing I wouldn't buy another house until I could afford to pay someone else to paint it. (I believe that was the fourth trip around the house - first we had to scrape each and every cedar shake, then prime, then paint, then 2nd coat of paint...) The problem is that to get the square footage we want, we won't be able to pay for "new neutral paint job and berber carpet!" Not to mention that the first thing I'd do in such a house is repaint and tear out the berber carpeting. (Why do people think berber is the best thing since sliced bread? It's got its place, but not where some people place it.)

I feel the way about houses the way some people do about stray animals. I want to take them all in and make them pretty again. I want to give them love, affection, and paint. It pains me to see what some people do to old houses. The homogeneity of newer suburbs bores me. For some reason, I don't like people to be able to look at the outside of my house and be able to tell the exact floorplan. We aren't planning on selling the Casa Unreserved for a long time yet, but I suppose I'd better start looking now. It's going to be a long search.

About me

  • I'm Sarah
  • From Pittsburgh, United States
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