August 11, 2006

A Momentary Lapse of Sanity

For the past two days or so, I lost my grip on reality. I started looking at real estate for sale and dreaming of moving to a house with more bedrooms. I found a couple not too far from our house, that although more expensive than I really would like, were not completely beyond the realm of financial feasibility if our house sold for what we think it could sell for.

Last night a friend had offered to take the children and we didn't really have a date planned, so we called up an acquaintance in real estate and went to check on the two houses that interested me. One house had been over-renovated. I'm not, by any means, an old house purist. I don't care if some changes get made along the way or if the plaster has been ripped out and replaced with dry wall, but if an old house changes character completely, it just isn't as special a place and one of the houses was just that. It had been taken from a charming little bungalow to a house that felt like soulless new construction in the suburbs -- except that out there, someone would have made the owners mow the extremely tall weeds out front.

The other house -- it tempted me. Which is not to say it was perfect and I'm moving right in. It has had most of the major necessary things done to it -- new electrical work and plumbing, etc. and the kitchen was gorgeous. It has its original floor plan and woodwork downstairs. Downstairs, it just felt about perfect -- in spite of the complete lack of closets, the non-landscaping, the front porch that had been chopped into two sections (and replaced with concrete and metal columns) so that there was a carport under what had once been the prch roof. I could do something about all of those things eventually and I've always wanted to own a wardrobe.

However, the house also has the steepest, scariest spiral staircase to the upstairs that I've ever been on. It's neat looking, but to get furniture upstairs and for the safety of kids going up and down, it would need a traditional staircase (which there is room for). It also only has a window unit air conditioner for the upstairs and the upstairs has ugly new carpet and poorly done plaster. I think we'd eventually want to gut the upstairs.

I find it tempting despite the flaws, especially because the downstairs is beautiful. But it would take all our money to buy the house and we would certainly need a large chunk of change to redo the stairs and the air conditioning upstairs. Our neighborhood where we currently live, though less than 5 minutes away from this house, is nicer and probably safer and we'd have to put our house on the market and go through the hassle of selling it.

It was a good trip to look at houses. Although the one house offered the lure of more space with original floors and trimwork, I find resisting that siren song easier today than I did before I went out and looked at houses. Today, I'm pretty sure staying where we are for the moment and figuring out how to continue to improve our current place is the way to go.

We've already started drawing plans for either an attic conversion to a bedroom or a second story addition in Sketch-Up. Now we just have to see where we can go from there.


Sometimes it takes a reminder of just how much you have put into your own house.

Your house and garden are lovely.

I would vote for adding a room and staying there!

Posted by: Mary at August 11, 2006 04:45 PM

Ah, yes. The reality chorus is the best counterpoint to the siren song. As long as we don't have to lash you to the mast, things should be fine


Thanks for the SketchUp link. I don't have a reason to use it (as long as I can resist my own siren songs), but it astonishes me to see what amounts to mass-market design automation software. That the "pro" tool is only $495 is mindblowing for someone who has had a bit of a window on CAD for (shhhhh...) about a quarter century.

Posted by: Patricia at August 12, 2006 10:05 PM

There's absolutely no hope for my sanity. Oh well! ;)

Posted by: Lenise at August 15, 2006 12:16 PM