Thursday, October 20, 2016

What Makes a House Grand Ain't the Roof or the Doors. If There's Love in a House, It's a Palace for Sure

As you might recall, I'm a little obsessed with houses. Not just houses, but decor also. I want my house to be a sanctuary from all of the crap I have to deal with in the outside world. And, like everything else, I'm very opinionated about houses and decor.

When I bought my house, almost 7 years ago, I didn't have a lot of money. There were a handful of houses in my price range, and I needed a house big enough to fit me and my two high school aged daughters. I also wanted it to be close enough to my daughters' school, and close enough to my work that none of us had to drive, since I had one car that was old and getting less and less reliable.

There were bigger homes and newer homes and homes that didn't need as much work as the one I chose, but none of them were in the neighborhood I wanted and none of them had any real character. They were full of carpet and looked about as interesting as a room in a Motel 6.

The house I chose had a problem with termites and no basement (but a crawl space to protect us from tornadoes) and a small shady yard that wouldn't be great for gardening (which is VERY important to me). Those were all things I thought would be be crucial for me, but I wasn't in a financial place to be that picky. Instead, I compromised and figured I could try to deal with some of it in time and just let the other things go. So, here is a list of some of the things I can't stand about certain kinds of houses and decor. I don't judge what others like. I don't really care. I just know what I like in my house. Also some of the things I love, some of the things I've changed and some of the things I hope to change.

If my bathroom has to be tiny, I figure it should also be fun.

Even if I were rich, I would never want to live in a McMansion, in a housing development. It's just not my scene. I wouldn't fit in and most importantly, I don't like people telling me what I can do with my yard and why would I pay extra money just to live in a neighborhood where I would feel like the help. I don't want someone telling me I can't make a garden of my front yard, and if you are my neighbor and want to make a toilet planter in your front yard, I want you to be able to do that too. I'm a child of the 70's, I always want everyone to be free to do their own thing, man...As long as they aren't hurting anyone else. Lucky for me, John feels the same way. I remember when we were talking about him paying in and putting his name onto the mortgage and one of the first things he said was, "I love this house. I'm so glad you didn't buy a McMansion". At least we're on the same page...

So, one of the things I'd like to fix about the house is adding a bathroom. We only have one and it's tiny. It was pretty rough when I first bought the house and myself and my two teenage daughters all had to use the bathroom at the same time to get ready for school and work every morning. It's not quite so bad now that it's just me and John, but when the kids and their boyfriends are all staying the night at Christmas time, or if we have other people staying at our place, it is a huge fuster cluck.

Our idea for when we get rich...You know, say a bag of money drops on our heads or something, is to redo the dormer room upstairs, raising the roof a little and converting the gigantic walk-in closet into a bathroom with a shower, toilet and sink. It will probably still be bigger than our downstairs bathroom.

For now, in the next year or two, we plan to update our current bathroom. I want to repaint it, change the floor tile, put in a low flow toilet and if we can scrape the money together, replace the yellowed, dingy, shower surround with white subway tile. We'll see how and if that goes...

Something I can't stand in a house is carpet. My daughter thinks I'm crazy. One of the redeeming features of our Minimal Traditional home, (I finally looked up the proper name for our style of house) was that it was all tile and carpet, except for one bedroom downstairs and the dormer room upstairs. Coadster thinks hardwood floors are cold and loves carpet, so she wouldn't let me tear it up in her bedroom until after she left for college. We did tear that stained, gross, old, carpet up the minute she moved out, though. Our neighbors helped us sand and refinish the beautiful floors underneath we left the gray'ish purple paint up that Coadster chose for her room. At some point, I'll probably change the color to something a little more neutral, but it's pretty and funky and I don't mind it at all.

The kitchen. OY! The kitchen. The woman who lived here before me really played up the Kountry Kitchen theme here. I loved how big the kitchen was. I think dining rooms are a waste, unless it's big enough and you have the money to buy a nice pool table to put in one, so it didn't bother me that this house didn't have one, but had a very large kitchen where we can all hang-out when I cook or where, more likely, John can work on bikes or wheels while I cook.

When I first checked out the house before I bought it, I was very disappointed with how dingy and dirty the whole house looked, but I knew there were some easy and relatively affordable things I could do to fix it. Of course, those things are taking a while, but at least we got the first phase done a couple of years ago and we hope to finish the 2nd phase this year. Hope, hope, hope...

The first phase was to replace the old faux wood, cigarette burned counter tops with something less heinous. I don't give a crap about granite or marble or quartz counter tops. This is what people like to call a "starter home", but will be more like an "ender home" for me and John and we won't make any money off of high-end anything. The reason I bought this home and probably anyone else would buy this home, is because it is affordable. So, I bought laminate counters and had a friend install them. I kept the old porcelain sink and he switched where the stove and refrigerator were, so we could open one of the cupboard doors more easily. Another friend of mine gave us her old electric oven, which was newer and not nearly as gross as the one that came with the house. John brought his beautiful baking table that we use as more counter space and we put bar stools around to use like a little breakfast nook thingy.

I also painted the old, ratty looking, dirty wood cupboards white, after I cleaned and sanded them and John put the new pulls on them. We also took off and left off the top cupboard doors. We have Fiesta Ware that looks pretty and leaving the doors off make our kitchen look that much bigger. We got rid of the hideous stencils and painted the room a light blue color.

When we do our second wave of remodeling, we are getting rid of the popcorn ceiling (done), re painting the ceiling the same color white as the cupboards, repainting the walls, hopefully a little warmer blue, replacing the dorky looking white ceiling fans with the cow pulls hanging from them, with new black and brushed nickel ceiling fans, and then putting new black and white tile on the floor, as a nod to its 1950 house birth. We don't have money to replace appliances and we won't add a dishwasher any time soon. What we have is fine.

The living room was s decent size, I just thought it needed a little oomph! and warming up and I hate floral prints almost as much as I hate wallpaper, stencils and carpet, so I was glad she didn't leave her furniture here for me.

I chose a camel'ish (it seemed to be pretty popular in 2009) color for the paint on the living room walls. I think it was called twine or rope or hemp or something. Anyway, I wanted something warm and cozy. I liked this whole color scheme, but Jon though the curtains were too long and dark and brought the room down, so now we have shorter, lighter curtains, but the room is still pretty damn cozy.

Originally, the upstairs dormer room had carpet. Stinky lived up there for a couple of years of high school and a year or two after. Like her sister's room, I ripped up the carpet the minute she moved out. I wanted the upstairs space to serve a few different purposes. The space was big, so it could handle it. I wanted it to be a spare bedroom for when people stayed over, a nice reading room and a studio to draw and paint in.

We were very lucky to have John's funky furniture that we had been storing in our garage and attic space, but also some beautiful antiques his mom gave us. All we had to buy was paint, lamps, a futon bed and this funky rug. I painted the walls white and the floors light gray and let all the art and rugs and furniture add the color. I like that, just in case I get in a mood and want to change the color, I wouldn't have to do anything major to do that. Anyway, I don't know if I have a particular style, but if I did, it would be way less ornate and more simple/funky. I would much rather have my home look interesting and cozy, than chic and cold or overly busy with too much fancy crap and contrasting patterns.

I would say we made an excellent spare bedroom and reading room, but there's only one window, so the light isn't great for a painting studio.

As I said earlier, if a big bag of money falls on our heads, I would love to raise the roof of our house a little bit, rip out the drop ceiling, get rid of the fluorescent overhead lights, put some sky lights in, and rip out the back section over the stairs, put a giant window in there too and put in a small bathroom. But if for some reason that doesn't happen, I love the room as it is.

Of course, at some point, we also need to spend money on replacing the siding, re-roofing and reglazing all of the windows. We decided against buying those vinyl windows. They need to be replaced every 20 years, and don't seem very sustainable. So far, we've spent the most money on the crawl space that no one ever sees. Encapsulating that crawl space was the best thing we could have done for the house, and ourselves. There was so much moisture down there, that it was attracting termites and we were living above airborne mold. Super healthy...Or not.

When I call this our "ender home", instead of our "starter home", I mean that we will probably never leave it, unless we move into a care facility or die. It is perfect for that. Except the dormer room, everything is on the same level. There isn't much of a yard, and while I will garden until it becomes impossible for me, there isn't much yard to maintain either. Even if we got hit with the biggest bag of money you can imagine, (and I'm imagining these bags with nice, light $100 dollar bills, rather than life ending bags of nickels) I wouldn't want to move from this house into a big, fancy house somewhere. I wouldn't feel comfortable there. I would keep feeling like I was only there to be the housekeeper. I love that our house meets all of our needs. We can read and watch movies and draw and paint and our kitchen table will always have spare bike parts on it from John tinkering on stuff next to me while I cook, and our cats will rule the roost and I wouldn't want things any other way. While I was on sick leave for 2 and a half weeks after my lumpectomy, I kept wandering from screened -in porch, to big kitchen, to comfy bedroom, to cozy living room and when it was too hot, to the only room in our house with any air conditioning, the funky, beautiful (to me) dormer room and thinking how happy I was in our old, simple sanctuary.

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