So, I decided to go ahead and put up a "home improvement/home renovation" blog to document this oddyssey that the hubbers and I are about to embark on. I don't expect anyone who doesn't know us will read it, but years of conditioning in high school writing classes has compelled me to start at the very beginning whether anyone wants/needs to hear it or not.
So, about 8 years ago the hubby and I were looking for our very first house. We had been living in an apartment for several years and being "This Old House" and HGTV junkies, we were dreaming about rennovating some beautiful old house...some drowsy Victorian jewel with wraparound porches, clawfoot tubs, carved marble fireplaces, and beautiful fixtures just waiting for the love and attention it would get from our tender mercies. Bravely the hubby and I would stand side by side, hand in hand, working on the weekends and evenings to restore this beautiful house to it's former glory.
So, we started looking around the Atlanta area at the older homes for sale, and we found that most of them fell into three categories:
- A complete crap hole with no insulation, no hot water, no central heat/air. These houses would require tons of work and masochistic tendencies to live there.
- An already renovated old house, usually updated with completely ugly (and pricey) ultra modern kitchens and bathrooms.
- A beautifully renovated old house that somehow managed to keep it's charm while being updated with all the modern conveniences. Oh, did I mention that these houses were inevitably WAY out of our price range?
So after being dragged from one crappy candidate to another on what had to be the HOTTEST August day Atlanta has ever seen, we finally got to our house.
Tucked into a charming Atlanta neighborhood filled with neat little bungalows, our house is actually an unusual type. It's a Pyramidal Folk Victorian. What this means is that it has a pyramidal shaped roof with a Victorian style layout, but it was built for middle class folks (so it doesn't have a lot of fanciness that most people associate with Victorian architecture). Our little house is strange indeed because it sort of straddles two major house styles. For instance, we have the classic 4-over-1 windows which is very much Craftsman, yet we have a very wide central hallway running through the length of the house which is most definitely a Victorian layout.
Anyhoo, when we announced to our friends and family that we were ready to get our first home, everyone told us that when we got to the right house, we would "just know it". I can be pretty analytical at times, and I tend to do a lot of research before I buy anything. I had a stack of about 20 "buy your first house you dummy" books by my bedside table that I had faithfully read cover to cover, so I had trouble thinking I would have some deep mystical attraction to a pile of bricks, mortar and lumber.
I was wrong.
After being dragged through about 40 houses ranging in age from Antebellum to the 1930's, I was tired, I was hot, and I was exhausted. I was not really in any kind of mood to fall in love with anything, and yet I did. Hard. We pulled up to our little house, and I noticed that the front yard had all these neat little rockscapes and flower beds.
Bumble bees floated along in the drowsy heat. The front porch looked cool and inviting, and I could almost see myself rocking in the front porch swing drinking a glass of iced tea.
By the second room, I knew it was the house for me. What attracted me to it? The house had a lot of little quirks that were just perfect:
- There are four fireplaces in the house, yet none of them work. This would be offputting to most people, but I loved it. We live in GEORGIA where you have maybe 3 cold (or even coolish) months a year, so you don't really need a fireplace. However, I really like the look of one- so I get the look of fireplaces without all the mess and fuss of cleaning them up? WIN!
- There hadn't been a whole lot of upgrades to the house, but the important ones were there. The house had central heat and air, hot and cold running water, hookups for our washer/dryer and perfectly functional (albeit tiny and extremely ugly) kitchen and bathroom.
- Did I mention that the bathroom and kitchen are tiny and ugly? Cause they are. You would think that would be a negative selling point, and it would be for most people, but I'm not most people. We went through several old houses that had added an extra $40,000 bucks to their price tags because they had recently renovated the kitchens and bathrooms (to their taste). At the time, the whole white-on-white-on-white Shabby Chic thing was really in and we saw so many stark white kitchens and bathrooms that I was starting to get a headache just looking at them. I didn't want to have to pay the money for remodeled spaces that I didn't like, so give me my fugly, tiny, functional ones any day! We can always remodel later (I didn't realize at the time that it would be 8 years later, but them's the breaks folks).
- The house is painted like a clown college. Every house we went to had beige walls, which is what the experts say you should paint your walls to sell your house. But you have to understand, I was coming off of 7 years of living in an apartment. 7 long years of staring at bleak white walls that if you blinked at them too hard would get smudges. The people who lived in this house before us were artists, and they were NOT afraid of color. Just about everywhere you look there are bright, overly saturated colors on the walls. Heck our bathroom has lime green walls, bright red cherry wood paneling and gold lame stars. To most people this would seem ugly, or at the very least, just too much...but to my color starved soul it just seemed LIVELY! BRIGHT! VIBRANT! Besides, you can always paint the walls later, right? Admittedly, after 8 years of just "living with it", I'm really ready for something a bit more subdued, sophisticated, and adult. Just no white or beige please.
So we got a good price on the house because they were selling it "as is". We moved in and told ourselves that in a couple of years when we had saved some money we would renovate it and make it the lovely old home of our dreams.
That was 8 years ago.