Monday, January 05, 2009

The Lair

Allow me to give you a tour of our home as it is right now. Before I start, let me preface this by saying that I loved this place when we found it... and have argued with Tom (lovingly, of course) about not needing more room ever since. But that was before La Madelyn.

Come into our front yard. On the right is a grassy... well, grass... surrounded on the perimeter by tons of ferns, lavender (from our wedding) and rosemary. A few other plants are dotted here and there, and a huge palm tree stands in the front corner. On the left is our nod to the desert in which we do dwell. Succulents, including a couple of gorgeous aloe plants, fill the area that had once been covered with those hideous garden rocks. It took Corey and I the better part of a summer to sift rocks from dirt. The rocks have since found new homes with various friends and family members. Where the two rose bushes once stood (I had to get rid of them... Mom's house has 32 rose bushes and I was in charge of them when we lived with her), is now a triumphant Mexican sage plant. It's beautiful even as it is in desperate need of some cutting back. The yard isn't huge, but it's been manageable for us, as well as a lot of fun.

Come, into the lair. Open the front door and you'll find our living room. It's not that large, but that didn't stop us from putting in a couch, two big chairs, an entertainment center (which, okay, we got from my dad because I couldn't say no even thought there was no room... and I'm so looking forward to it not fitting in our new place), four bookcases, and a table that is meant to go behind a couch, but is up against a wall instead. The trunk that used to be our coffee table is now an end table so Mad has room to play.

Should you choose to go straight from the front to the back of our apartment, you'll run into a double-sided fireplace. So cool, now if only we could burn any of the wood we have stacked up in the backyard without smoking ourselves out. Leaning up against the fireplace is a seven-foot long box with rails for when Mad's crib becomes a full-sized bed. When'll that be? Oh, probably three or four years from now, but where else it gonna go? On the other side of that is our dining room... with all the standard accoutrements and another bookcase.

On either side of the living room are bedrooms. Corey's (with the sliced screen on one window) is on the left. It's huge and made larger by the fact that his dresser is in the closet (why pretend he'll hang something up?). If we had two kids of the same age and gender, it'd be perfect. It has a full bathroom in it. Never, and I do repeat NEVER give a teen boy a bathroom in his room.

On the right is our bedroom. Also large. And it's a good thing, too, because here's the layout (counterclockwise from the door):
Our ginormous dresser, Mad's ridiculously small dresser (who thought a baby's clothes would fit in there?) and a writing desk (currently serving as a changing table). Turn the corner, there's the stack of boxes of clothes Mad has already outgrown, a nightstand and our bed, with the crib down at the foot. Along the next wall? Why there's a bookcase with Mad's library, naturally, and a small table with our alarm clock... conveniently out of reach so we have to get out of bed to turn it off.

The fourth wall is comprised of our walk-in closet (AKA "storage") and our bathroom. The tile in the bathroom, including the shower, are original... some 45 years of bad taste and mediocre workmanship. The tub has been scrubbed and bleached and even scraped, but nothing aside from replacing it will make it look like new. There is no vent in the bathroom. There's a window, which we can't leave open... not for burglars, per se, but because Corey has repeatedly gotten into our locked room this way. So every 18 months, I paint.

Back to the dining room area; on the left is a "den" and 1/2 bath. In the closet is a wet bar, which confirms the 1960's-ness of the whole place. I am sitting here, nursing Madelyn and typing, surrounded by camping gear, cooking equipment, most of my grandparents' photo albums and assorted stuff. To the right of the dining room is the world's smallest kitchen. It's so small we frequently wonder who thought it was a good idea to block off cabinets that we desperately need with a washing machine (the dryer is on the back patio... no, it doesn't make sense, but we don't have to lug laundry, so we don't complain). If we have the dishwasher open, we cannot open the fridge all the way. The tile counters are a pale, but not pretty yellow. Sort of a grayish yellow. Also original, with original grout as best I can tell.

Out back is a 5-6 foot wide swath of concrete that runs the length of our place. It is used for the grill, recycling (which piles up a lot more now that Tom's driving the truck) and our dryer.

That's home. For now. Sure, we have more bathrooms than we need (okay, sometimes it's not so bad with all the non-diapered people having a place to go... after a long road trip, for example), but we have so little storage that we have to go grocery shopping about twice as often as we should. Or we buy everything we need and then just leave it in the bags on the floor between the living and dining rooms. That's attractive.

So what do we want? It's so funny that you should ask. The answer to that question has changed considerably over the past two months since we began this journey.

"You know, 1600 square feet would sure be nice. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a decent kitchen. Good plumbing, solid electric and a tile roof would complete the package, even if we had to do some minor repairs here and there. A garage or, heck, a carport would be so nice!"

***Perhaps I should have clarified before what. Two of my sisters live in the High Desert. One of them... the one who looks like a 40's pinup girl... lives in a more rural area so she can raise chickens and goats (not even kidding). The other lives in a fairly new development. A few homes are in foreclosure and one caught her eye. 2400 square feet, four years old, great condition, 4 bedrooms, three bathrooms, fireplace, blah blah blah... $87,000. Naturally it was in escrow by the time we heard about it. And nothing remotely close to that price has popped up again, but even doubling that amount it's a good deal.

So then:
"1800 square feet, 4 and 2, big kitchen with lots of storage and room for our big new refrigerator. Solid plumbing, electric and tile roof. A nice-sized back yard would be nice, wouldn't it?"

And then (after spending a day looking at a few homes up there and seeing what's available):
"2000 square feet is probably as small as we'd want to go, especially if we do decide to have another baby. Four bedrooms is good, but if we want to have guests, we'll need five... and what about an office/library? A cul-de-sac would be lovely."

"I'm not sure why we'd go smaller than 2700 square feet. The kitchen can't have white tile or linoleum, and it needs a walk-in pantry. 4-6 bedrooms in a move-in ready, inside-corner lot on a cul-de-sac. 2-3 car garage. Oh, and can we get the laundry room upstairs? Because the one-storey houses look like retirement homes, so we really can't consider those. Thank you."

So we sat back in open-mouthed shock and disgust during the past few years when people paid more money for houses than they should have... and especially at those people who bought more house than they should have, and yet here we are. Thank god we're not looking at glass houses.

1 comment:

Lady with a View said...

I was laughing as I read the progressive list of "bare" necessities. This happens to everyone.

We built our first house when I was 26 years old - it started out as a simple two story - maybe 1800 sq ft. It ended up being 3600 sq ft.

The time and effort it takes to keep a house that size organized and clean is tremendous - and one of the reasons we sold it. It's not the main reason - but is one. Mostly, we were house poor. Never, ever again.

In today's market though - you can get a lot for your money..happy hunting!! Hopefully you will find your dream house for a fraction of what it will be worth when this market turns around!!


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