Sunday, March 12

It Wasn't Really an AHA.... much as an Aaaaah!

The Real Estate section of today's New York Times is featuring an article that claims "buyers often unknowingly seek out spaces that are physically evocative of havens from their childhood."

Which reminds me of the story of why we chose this house over The Other House. Amidst the many duds, we saw two great houses on the same day. The Other House was wonderful - a cute snug foursquare on a busy street in the Next Bigger Town Over. It had intact woodwork, a woodburning fireplace, french doors between the living and dining rooms, and the most stunning oak beadboard ceilings in the enclosed porch room. It was cozy, an effect that was emphasized by the Capital-C Country decor of the previous owner. There was an adorable reading nook in tucked into the back stairway, an original root cellar (I've had a long obssession with root cellars), a charming backyard. Oh, I could just go on and on with how lovely it was. We loved it and felt like we would be so comfortable there. Like we could move right in and get on with our lives. Two drawbacks:

- If our family grew to include more than one child, we would have to move. From the small size of the rooms to the limitation of only one bathroom, it definitely had a feeling of a starter house.
- It's location meant that D. would have a 25 minute commute every day, each way. And we wouldn't be IN the community where he worked, which could adversely affect our social and professional networks.

Did I meantion it was really really really really really inexpensive? Like we could easily have afforded it on D's salary alone.

Then there was Our House. With the yucky carpet, dingy walls, and smoky smell. Oh yeah and peeling exterior paint, nasty bathrooms, and vinyl-sided addition. At twice the cost. Its condition was nowhere near as bad as some housebloggers, but we knew it would take years of work and thousands of dollars to get the house to what we wanted.

Let me remind of its advantages: four blocks from campus, one block from the town square, 10-foot ceilings, intact oak woodwork and pine flooring on the first floor, four large bedrooms and the option for a fifth, separate den and living rooms, all totalling 2,600 square feet. It was spacious in every sense, and that was very seductive after three years in a way-too-small city apartment.

We spent all night and most of the next morning going back and forth between these two houses. We're not the King and Queen of Decisionmaking, so it wasn't clear how we were ever going to come to a conclusion.

We visited The Other House a second time the next morning, and it hadn't lost any of its appeal. Our (fabulous) real estate agent was pretty sure we were going to choose The Other House.

But....that's because she didn't know about my dream. In the night, I had dreamed about my childhood house - a large Victorian in San Francisco. The only house I remember both of my parents living in. My grandmother even lived with us for a while. Its layout was actually very similar to Our House. It had a foyer with a bannister I used to slide down and a door on the right to the living room, just like here. In my dream, I saw again the tall ceilings and large windows, the brightly colored walls of the 1970s.

I remember being swaddled in a towel after a bath and standing next to the radiator to warm up. I remember my dad carrying me through the house when I was sick. I remember the "mountains" of cereal and pancake letters that my father would make us for breakfast. I remember my 5th birthday party, when I got my favorite childhood book. (I bought myself Alala again for my 35th birthday.)

And I think that was the deciding factor in making me choose this house. It felt familiar, like I could just let my my breath out here. And that feeling of comfort has just increased - as we chose deep bold colors for our walls, as we found new and old furniture to fill the rooms, as our heirlooms give it character, and as we start having friends over. It was in January that I started feeling this way, like it was OUR house now (which honestly has contributed to my lack of motivation for further improving the house). Often, the feeling is accompanied by the memory of that dream I had the night we first walked into the house. As if it was a premonition of what Our House could be.


At 12:57 PM, Blogger Kristin said...

What a nice story. :) Our house doesn't remind me of any houses I had growing up, but it is the house I always dreamed about. Even as a kid, I loved to daydream about old houses and having one of my very own one day with a front porch like ours and a shady, secret spot in the yard.


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