Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The way I always dreamed it

When I was younger, my dreams of being a writer always included a quaint little old house, which I would share with my cats. Picturesque, isn't it? Well, evidently I'm no longer destined to be single, so my dream of being the eccentric, talented writer living alone with her eleventeen cats is not to be. However, the house part is... Michael and I have bought the house of my dreams!

Isn't it beautiful? It's a frame bungalow that was built in 1920. The best thing is that we are the third owners of the house. The house remained in the same family who built it until the 1970's, when it was sold to the second owners after the death of a family member. Although it has been used as a rental over the years, it has been beautifully maintained; in fact, that was the deciding factor for us. So many of the old houses we looked at had been poorly maintained or had cheesy updates!

Michael and I are both alike in this regard: we like old things, particularly old houses. We both think new houses - and newer updates to old houses - can be hideous. So, this house is nothing less than perfect for us! The important stuff has been updated: all of the electrical has been rewired with modern copper wiring, and all of the plumbing has been updated, as well. (No lead pipes to worry about!) The furnace and water heater have also been replaced within the last 10 years. There is no cooling system, but we will probably put in air conditioning. The appliances - refrigerator, stove, washer, and dryer - are older, but they are all there. (We will probably be replacing the washer and dryer right away, however - they are ancient and don't have the delicate cycles I need. Women's clothing manufacturers - don't get me started!) There is a thick layer of modern insulation in the attic, and the full basement is partially finished. The brand new pedastal sink in the bathroom is also a nice touch.

Although these features are all updated, the important things have been maintained in original condition. Almost all of the interior trim - baseboards, door trim, window frames - is original. Almost all of the window glass is original, too - and the windows are so pretty! The frames haven't warped, either, so they still seal (and lock!) tightly. The original clawfoot bathtub is every woman's dream - I can't wait to take a bath in it! The doors also still have the original lockboxes in them - you know, with the old keyholes that you could see straight through, the ones that took skeleton keys - and I've already found a set of beautiful old glass knobs to replace the modern Home Depot reproductions that they have now. The kitchen cabinets appear to be original - solid wood, and pretty heavy wood, too, by the looks of it - although the counter seems to have been replaced (in the fifties, judging by the style!). The siding is all original - when the second owners bought the house in the seventies, they stripped and sanded all of the boards, and then repainted the exterior. In other words, the original siding is in excellent condition. Best yet, the original hardwood floors are underneath the carpet and something called "pergo" - I don't know if I have it spelled right, but it's imitation hardwood sheets that lay down over the original flooring. Anyway, we pulled up a few corners of the carpet, and the original hardwood is simply beautiful - it's either pine or fir, the inspector said, and it has a beautiful reddish-gold color to it.

The layout of the house is pretty typical of the era. It's built on a square - you enter into the living room, with a door to the eat-in kitchen at the back of the room, and a door to the front bedroom to your left. In the back wall of the kitchen is a pantry and a door to the mudroom - at some time during the house's younger years, the back porch was enclosed and turned into a mud room and an interior entrance to the basement (probably a cellar, once upon a time). Facing the back wall of the kitchen, the door to the rear bedroom is on your left. The bathroom is between the two bedrooms, with a door on each side, making it a walk-through bathroom; the closet is a walk-through, as well.

The house is small, but exactly what we wanted. For now, the important thing is that there is all the room we need: room for my antiques, a second bedroom to use as our offices, and the unfinished side of the basement for Michael's weights and exercise equipment. There is also growing room, too - the side of the basement that is partially finished can be made into a third bedroom, eventually. The lot that the house is on is also quite large, providing plenty of room to build a garage.

Ooh, I almost forgot to describe the outside of the house! In the rear right corner of the lot is an old garden shed. It doesn't look as old from the outside, but from the inside you can really tell its age. The giveaway is the door - siding covers it on the outside, but on the inside you can see that it is styled in the old way. There is also a parking area back there that can be accessed from the alley (where the garage would go). The yard (as you can see in the picture) is well cared for. At first, I didn't like it, and it took me a while to realize why: there are no big trees on our lot! It's really a blessing, though, as we won't have to worry about tree roots causing problems with the pipes. The owners just planted a pair of trees in the front - we think they are Japanese maples, but they couldn't remember for sure. In any case, they are sure to be beautiful as they grow.

Of course, we have plans for the house. The first thing we intend to do is paint the walls some color other than white. We picked out colors for each room: ivory for the living room and two walls of the kitchen, a soft grey for the bedroom, and a dusky reddish-brown (not too dark) for the office. We're leaving the bathroom white, as well as the two walls of the kitchen with all the cupboards (which are painted white and look great that way). We plan to pull up the carpet and pergo in the living room and bedrooms to expose the hardwood. The kitchen and bathroom, on the other hand, have ugly brown (very seventies!) linoleum. We don't like it, but we're not going to do anything about it yet. We can't just pull it up, because the hardwood is apparently in poor condition in there. Further down the road, we intend to lay tile in the kitchen and bathroom - probably some shade of white, as we both like white kitchens and bathrooms.

As for other long-term plans, like I said, we'll probably make a third bedroom in the basement eventually. Air conditioning is also on the long-term list - I'm not sure if we'll get to it before this summer. Thankfully, it's an old house, so it shouldn't get too hot. Along with the tile, we intend to replace the countertops, but we'll keep the original cabinets - we love them! (We'll replace the hardware, though - those look like they're from the same era as the countertops!) We decided against adding a dishwasher, as we don't want to tear into the cabinets.

We have about a month of overlap between our rental and the house, so that should give us time to paint and pull up the floors. I also need to do some research to find out how to protect hardwood floors - they don't need to be refinished, but I want to keep it that way! It'll be a busy month but it's well worth it for my dream house...hell, my dream life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful house! That's really cool that it has so much original stuff, but don't forget, original isn't always better. Replacement windows will make your house stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, which tends to be a problem with old houses!


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