Thursday, June 30

Getting Down to the Wire

D. and I have started to think in lasts. My last day at work. Our last paychecks. Our last rent check. I wish I could type "Our last box," but we haven't gotten there yet.

So it wasn't a big leap to "the last day of the first month of our blog." We're heading out of town for a few days, so posting will be light. But when we get back, we'll try to deliver the blow-by-blow on final days in the Big City, moving, and closing.

Meantime, thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, June 29

Not exactly designed to sell.

The next house I wanted to share with you all was wrong wrong wrong in so many different ways that I don't know where to begin. It had drop ceilings. It had ugly wallpaper on ugly panelling. It had all the things that we had already come to hate about the house. In fairness, I should mention that it did have one of the best features of any house that we saw -- stereo speakers were located throughout the house in walls and ceilings (I guess those drop ceilings and fake walls had some benefit after all!) and the stereo itself plugged the outputs right into the wall. So convenient and easy, as long as we would have kept the stereo where they had it I suppose.

Of course, the worst part about looking at this house was that we interrupted the family's dolls watching TV.

the dollswatching tv

Yes, we saw a lot of people's personal belongings in a lot of different houses, and many of them were things that I know I wouldn't display if I was trying to impress potential buyers, but the daybed full of dolls positioned to watch the TV might have taken the cake.

Of course, we bought the house that had their Kiss action figures prominently displayed. So what do I know?

Tuesday, June 28

Let's Just Hope It's Friendly

Last night, I became convinced that our house has a ghost. I was looking through the photos we took during our walk-thru and inspection, and I came across this:

I swear to you there is NO logical reason why there is that big swoop of light in the image. I wasn't moving (see the other parts of the image), and there's no light fixture there anyway.
The picture was taken in the front bedroom of the second floor, where D. and I plan to sleep. But maybe we should reconsider that decision.

What do you think - ectoplasmic being or trick of light?

The Invasion Has Begun

Originally uploaded by houseintheburg.

It's not just your paranoia. We probably are becoming pod people. And the first step toward rural domination: the minivan.

A 1999 Toyota Sienna XLE, to be exact. That's the "Camry of Minivans" to you. Ooh yeah! We can kick the butts of all those Subaru Outbacks that most of our cohort are buying. Without even scratching our Classic Green Pearl exterior.

Yes, we have cargo room. Yes, we can seat seven adults, even amply sized ones like ourselves. Yes, we get better gas mileage than an SUV. And no, we ain't worried about parking. Chez Revivalized has a grand total of five parking spots. PLUS. It's located next to a parking lot. Seriously.

I feel like that PLUS is starting to symbolize the transition we're about to make. I've already mentioned the abundance of storage space, the excessive amount of parking, and the oversize of our vehicle. But we haven't discussed the four PLUS bedrooms, two parlors, and two kitchens. Look, people, there's only two of us! And we've been squeezed into a one-bedroom apartment for the last three years. No balcony, let alone a yard. It's not just the apartment that contributes to the current crunch. It's just Big City life. You just start to feel like the whole City is closing in on you. And on the subway, I am literally crushed by people for 90 minutes a day.

Last weekend, D. picked up this beauty and drove it back to the City for us. Already I feel more liberated. I find it exciting to be able to ask, "Should we drive there?" Even if the only driving we are actually doing is finding a new space during Street Cleaning. It the power of knowing you CAN do it, if you want to.

When people hear about our large house and minivan, the usual comment is, "Well, you can have lots of kids!" I know I shouldn't read too much into the "innocent" comments of bystanders, but isn't this wierd? As if the only, first, or possibly best thing we should do with our newly won personal space is procreate. Mightn't we use this Room of Our Own to create, transcend, inspire, grow or Do Great Work?

Look, we may have joined the pod, but...there's a limit. And... after letting out our belts a little, spreading our wings a bit, we'll let you know where it is. In the meantime, antiques fairs, auctions, nurseries, Lowe's, Walmart, Giant Food Stores - here we come!

Thursday, June 23

Another Dud

What K. neglected to mention in her previous post is that, in addition to all the storage space we have in the house, yesterday I rented us a 500 cubic foot storage space on the outskirts of town. Now, ostensibly this is a temporary rental to help with the move and to store the minivan full of junk that I just took out of my parents' attic. But given the obscenely cheap rental rate of a nickel per cubic foot per month, how could we NOT keep renting it?

But I digress. Today I wanted to tell you about another house that we looked at when we were hunting.


This was an old house which, as you can see, was quite large and on a lot of land. And did I mention the barn, which was roughly the size of the block we currently live on, and had that growing-out-of-a-hill thing that K. liked in one of our earlier duds so much going on?


This house also came with more acreage than most of the houses we looked at, and the price was well within our budget. So what was the problem with this house, you may ask? Well, let's take a look at the indoor swimming pool. (Did I forget to mention there was a pool?)


Yes, it was full of cracks and the lining was pretty gross, and the interior of the room was oddly unfinished. And this room was in better shape than most of the rooms in the house, many of which were unfinished or gutted, and the carpets were peeling up and gross and there were holes in the ceiling and the floors were slanted and...well, let's take a look at a couple more photos.
118_1870 118_1869

I mean, we don't have much room to complain about ugly 60's appliances, for reasons that you will someday learm, but still. And the combination of a drop ceiling, fake siding, and astroturf carpet is just a little too much. We would have gone for any two of the three, but not all three. One thing that you can't tell from these photos is that the entire second floor was also built at the 6 foot level, so I was constantly bumping my head. I would like to say that was the reason we didn't buy the house, but by that time our mind was already made up. It was only the icing on the cake.

Tuesday, June 21

Making a Clean Break

Honestly, I believe in the practical, economic, and spiritual value of releasing one's material possessions at regular intervals in life. I have practiced Fly Lady. I watch those shows on TLC and Style networks. And everyone you ask advises you firmly but politely to purge your belongings before you move.

But in our situation, it would take us more time to sort through The Stuff, in order to purge, than it is worth. First, we're moving from a 750-square-foot apartment to a 2,600-square-foot house. And that's living area, not storage area!

For storage, we will have:

-A full basement already tricked out with shelving, Basement
-A finished attic, Attic
-A "four seasons" room that we plan to use as a staging area for the movein. Four-seasons room

Wait for it, there's more...
-A storage area built into the carport Carport AND
-A one-car garage. Garage

PHEW! Just the thought of so much room is overwhelming.

Second, we did a major purge three years ago, when we moved from a larger apartment in a smaller city to a smaller apartment in the BIG City. After the yard sale, we hauled two dozen large boxes of clothes, books, and miscellany to the local non-profit thrift store. I think we could have deducted $1,000 from that donation. So we're already living pretty lean.

Lastly, D's New Employer is paying for our move, so it doesn't cost us anything to just move The Stuff.

While D. is home more than I this month, my packing is limited to weekends. So, when D. asks whether to pack my wine cork "collection" (it's for a craft project that I'll do someday. Really.), the calculus in my mind is more like "How much time will it take me to decide whether I want to keep that or not?" than "Do I really need to hold on to that or will releasing it create space in my life blah blah blah?" At that point, I lose interest and just say, "Pack it."

I'm naturally a Blink decision maker, and it's just not worth the effort of consideration. Space we got, time we don't. 18 days and counting....

Thursday, June 16

The House Always Wins

The New York Times, in today's article titled "The Trillion-Dollar Bet," reports that "The traditional 30-year mortgage with guaranteed payments is increasingly a loan of the past." Well, here at Revivalized, we're all about the past (see above, definition 3). And proud of it. So it's probably no surprise that we didn't opt for the "hot" "new" "fashionable" "bet" of home financing: the interest-only 5-year ARM.

What looks like a gamble to other people just looks risky to us. I mean, we're no Grandma and Grandpa, but we do admire previous generations' commitment to saving and security. I also feel a small glimmer of pride in knowing that choosing the old-fangled financing option means we're not contributing to Alan Greenspan's "froth" (a term I get inordinate pleasure out of, by the way). We're doing our small bit to keep the economy stable -- and protect our prodigious investment.

ps. Yes, I have become a tad bit obsessed with real estate economics ever since my net worth just went Code Red. You got a problem with that?

Wednesday, June 15


I thought I would let my first few additions to this here blog be a tour through some of the "duds" that K. mentioned earlier. We looked at about 20 houses over the course of two weekends, of which we liked about 6. At some later point, I may write a bit about the Ones That Got Away, I thought I would start by showing you the ones we happily threw back.

Strange House

strange house
Originally uploaded by galois.

strange house
Originally uploaded by galois.

This first house was one that could have a lot of potential as a cool funky house if one basically wanted to just save the shell and add to it. As you can see, it has a cool growing-out-of-the side-of-a-hill thing going on, and a slanted attic space that I never really understood. Despite what it looks like, it was a one story house, and all of the bedrooms were in a line on one side of the house, all with sliding doors opening up onto a basketball court.

strange bedroom
Originally uploaded by galois.

strange house interior
Originally uploaded by galois.
Luckily, the idea of gutting everything and starting with a shell would have been much easier given that the house was already pretty well gutted. Yes, that first picture is one of the bedrooms. Thank God that the one thing they left was the strangely Romanesque gold plate on the way-too-big-for the-size-of-the-room fireplace.

Despite our excitement about home renovation in general, we decided that this project was more than we were ready to tackle at this point. we genuinely hope that someone cool buys this house and does something cool with it and invites us over for a party, but it was pretty clear that we were not going to be those people.

Log Cabin House

One of the things that we just couldn't accept in a house was vinyl siding. There were several houses that we liked a lot of things about, but whether we ever articulated it or not, I think that vinyl siding was a dealbreaker. One of the houses that we looked at was especially strange, as like in so many other houses we saw they had covered up the entire outside with vinyl, yet on the inside they had stripped away the walls to expose the logs in the structure of the house.

Cabin Exterior
Originally uploaded by galois

Cabin Interior
Originally uploaded by galois.
Of special note was the second floor, the entirety of which was a master suite. This was quite nice, especially in the way that they combined the strange log cabin walls with the boring modern design, but lost some of its charm when you realized that there were no doors separating the two floors, and in fact the master bedroom essentially opened right onto the foyer of the house as well as a child's bedroom, which also had no doors.

Cabin Master Suite
Originally uploaded by galois

I'm not sure which of the many weird things about this house were the ones that made us decide not to buy it, but it quickly got cut off the list, despite being surrounded by beautiful fruit orchards.

Victorian House

Our final house for today was a gorgeous victorian house both inside and out. It had lots of nice features, and while it needed some work, it didn't need much more than the house we ended up buying, and certainly no more than one would expect for a house its age. The only real downside to the house itself was that the hallways were very very narrow, and that the master bedroom had a slanted floor. It was also more money than we had been planning to spend, though no more money than the house we ended up buying.

Originally uploaded by galois.

So why didn't we buy it? Well, it was on a busy street in a somewhat commercial district, but i don't think that was really the reason. The real reason is one you cannot tell from any of these photos. You see, one of the previous owners decided to pave over the entire backyard and build several large garages, one of which now houses a four-ton mechanical lift. And while I think it would be cool to own a four-ton lift, K. had a different opinion, and in the end we decided that a garden -- or even just grass and a lack of concrete -- was more important. I regret to inform you that we have no pictures of the lift, but at that point we didn't realize that someday we would be blogging about this whole endeavor.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, folks. Stay tuned for more duds.

Thursday, June 9

Love at First Sight?

Originally uploaded by houseintheburg.
Did we know when we first saw this picture that this was IT? The one. The house.

I don't think we did. We knew the location was good, and the outside looked promising. But we were reticent. If you'd seen some of the houses I dragged us to, you'd be cynical too. Lots of properties look charming, adorable, perfect or at the least intriguing on the web, but...once you see them in real life, NO WAY. Sometimes you know at hello that it's a dud, sometimes it becomes clear once you see the inside, and sometimes there's just no sparks.

It's quite similar, in fact, to online personals. Which coincidentally, is how D. and I met. We liked the looks of each other's profiles, our first date went smoothly, but did we know then that we were destined to own real estate together? No, we didn't. What both of us recall most from that era was how easy and interesting our conversations were. Somehow through the magic of pheromones and subconscious imago projection, we managed to fall in love over the course of a few months.

Our romance with the House in the Burg is similarly slow. The inside - room after room of 10-foot ceilings - seemed comfortable but not the House of Our Dreams. Even as we jumped right in with an offer, we didn't know if our intentions were true. As we started to imagine our future there...and plan out the years of renovation, I think it was casting its spell on us. The inspection, like meeting each other's parents or friends, provided outside confirmation of our growing fondness for it. So here we are, in that early blush of hopefulness, waiting to close, move in, and make it our own.

If our relationship with this house is anything like our relationship with each other, then we are off to a good start.