When we found our old house, nine years ago, it was just the two of us, plus two cats. It was small and a wreck, but we were up for the challenge. We focused on subtractive decorating at the very beginning—tearing up carpets, pulling out faux-wood paneling, removing grim bathroom fixtures, the works. A few months later, we remodeled the kitchen and bathroom. And then once more as it turned out—my husband is a measure once cut twice kind of guy. We eventually added another bathroom (without adding square feet in a triumph of spatial planning by our contractor) and landscaped the front and back gardens. We loved it.
|The old house's garden, complete with ancient and abundant orange tree. All photos courtesy me and my negligible photography skills.|
Fast-forward nearly a decade. We have kids, we have a dog, we're down a cat. The kids are getting bigger (and so is their stuff—big kid clothes take up a lot more room). There's basically one closet. Even for the default minimalists we've become, it's getting tricky. On a whim, we call an agent we known for years and decide to list the house. We start looking for another place.Though we love Atwater, most of the houses are similarly dinky. Glendale, just down the street from us, begins to look really appealing.
Now, we wound up buying the second house we ever saw on our first real-estate go-around. This is something of a pattern for us. We tend to agonize over little decisions—where to go for dinner, for example—but make the big ones much quicker. So in keeping with tradition we fall head over heels in love with the second house we see. We keep looking, but nothing compares. The size, the flow, the street. Everything else seems hideous. There are ugly kitchens and bathrooms that have had the charm modernized right out of them. Weird layouts. We've seen nirvana. Nothing else will do. We make an offer; it's accepted contingent on the sale of our old place; we cross our fingers and bury St. Anthony in the front yard. Miraculously, it all works out.
We've been in the house now for a smidge over a month, and we still adore it. Of course there are quirks. It's an 80-year-old house. There's the so-frumpy-it's cool wallpaper in all of the bedrooms. The oven scorches whatever I'm baking. Some of the light fixtures, added at various points in its life, are on the hideous side. But all of the awesomeness outweighs them.
|The spider light. Doesn't work but so cool. Apparently there was a wrought iron gate at the front with a spider, too, once upon a time.|
|The front hall. Floor is a faux-tile (pressed cement). Walls are faux-stone.|
|Fireplace. One of the most fab features. We're researching the tiles. Current guess is Markoff.|
|Master bath tiles. These, and the fireplace, might have been the deal-sealers for us.|