Friday, 24 April 2015

What I Love About Our New House

Well, it's about time for some positivity around here! My recent posts have been full of Big Feelings, but have been rather on the depressing side. So let's walk through the new house—with words, because I don't have very many pictures. (All photos taken by me at the home inspection, and purposely chosen to show a minimum amount of the current owner's things, out of respect.)

To start with, I love the neighbourhood.  It has a mix of traditional house styles, like colonial, craftsman, farmhouse, etc. Ours is more on the farmhouse side of things, or would be if it had a bigger front porch and a steeper, more gabled roof. Our street is lined with trees on the boulevard, and in 15 years the street will look just like the beautiful riverside neighbourhood that I've always loved. 

The front porch is a little bigger than the one on our duplex, but not quite big enough for a swing. But that's OK because I have the perfect bench for it. And visitors will be welcomed by a cheery red door, which opens into a real entry instead of straight into the living room. I was quite impressed with how pretty the tiles in the entry are (and by our realtor's gorgeous shoes!).


As you walk into the house, the living room is to your left, with its big southeast-facing bay window that I adore. The room also has an awkward corner fireplace, which is not ideal. I've never liked corner fireplaces, or gas fireplaces (although I do concede that they're more convenient than the wood-burning ones that I love). It's going to take some creativity before I'm happy with it. I've never liked corner fireplaces. But, as The Nester says, it's a "lovely limitation," and I'll be gleaning ideas from the way she worked with her own corner fireplace.

Except for the entry and bathrooms, the entire main floor, stairs, and upper floor have gleaming hardwood in that variegated blonde colour that makes me think "Swedish farmhouse" for some reason.  Maybe because it's exactly the colour and sheen as the pine Ikea table we had for the first eight or so years of our marriage.

Between the living room and kitchen lies a broom closet (Yay! Our duplex doesn't have one!) and a powder room. But the curious thing about the powder room is that it is also the laundry room. This room is going to benefit from my time spent browsing Pinterest. I'm really excited to work on it. It has a lot of potential, and will look amazing when I'm done with it.


The back left corner of the house holds the kitchen. I get a white kitchen, finally! I don't care that the cupboards are that plastic-covered MDF instead of real wood and the counters are basic dark grey laminate. It will look pretty for now, and there's plenty of time to upgrade if we choose later. One thing I will definitely change ASAP is the backsplash. It is currently shiny white 4-inch square ceramic tiles in impeccable condition. But to me they look like they belong in a bathroom. I think that's because they're so much shinier than the cupboards. (You can keep up with my ideas for the new house on Pinterest)

The back door and closet are in the kitchen. I'm really going to miss my mudroom, tiny as it is. But we can make it work, as long as we work hard on developing tidy habits once we move in.

A lovely, large dining room is in the other corner of the house, with a huge window looking out on the deck. I've never had a dining room before. I've never actually lived in a detached house before. This room is just the right size for our big farmhouse table, and wide enough to have a lot of versatility too.


Upstairs, the main bedroom is at the front of the house, with another big bay window. The room is huge, and what it lacks in versatility, it makes up for in floor space. The closet is weird. It takes up one entire long wall, is not walk-in, and is accessed via three evenly-spaced bi-fold doors. This will eventually be remedied. I don't yet know how, and it may take me a few years of thinking before I come up with something.


The ensuite bathroom isn't as big as we would have liked, but it is definitely bigger and more functional than the teeny tiny one we've had for the last six years. It has potential. And a window.
The other upstairs bathroom looks exactly like every other basic bathroom you'd expect to find in a house like this.

The kids' rooms are a nice size and look out to the backyard. It will be fun getting them set up.
We were lucky to find a finished basement in our price range. And it's nicely done, with a large and versatile rec room, and a large bedroom/office/whatever. The small bathroom actually includes a jetted tub, which is funny (but nice!). The house has an excessive number of bathtubs. Our main problem with the lovely basement is the 2 smallish storage rooms. We will have to carefully curate what we keep in there. But that is actually a good thing, and will keep us from being burdened by unnecessary junk.

To finish off this wordy tour, one of the best perks of this house is what it doesn't have: loud traffic! It's a really quiet street. I've driven by several times (like a stalker), and it's always peaceful.

Now I feel better. One of the things that makes the issues I mentioned in my last post harder is that we have to wait so long to move into the new one.  If I could immediately start working on the new house, I wouldn't have the time to dwell on the disappointment of my ideals.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Mourning a Dream

Don't get me wrong.  I love our new house.  I can't wait to get my hands on it and farmhouseify it and make it ours. July 3rd can't come fast enough!

But I'm also in mourning.  This new house, close to schools and family, and in a lovely neighbourhood, is where our kids will grow up.  And I have to say goodbye to my lifelong dream of raising my kids in the country.  That door is closed.  I'm not sure if I want to push it out of my mind and stop thinking about it or allow myself to grieve.

I spent half my childhood on my best friend's acreage in the country, complete with woods, a pond, and a big garden.  We wore elaborate prairie-girl costumes when we walked miles down the dirt road unashamedly, because there was no one to see.  We picked armfuls of lilacs, and cuddled kittens and sang loudly as we jumped on the trampoline. I learned what cornflower blue really is from the flowers in her mother's garden. I explored the woods on my own, and even lived on a horse farm for two months when I was thirteen.  Even back at home at the very edge of the small city I grew up in, I had country experiences, catching salamanders and frogs in the creek and weaving mats with the cattail reeds.  I always wanted that kind of life for my kids.

I've known for several years that it was unlikely that my husband would ever want to move to the country.  Between the commute to his job downtown and the high price of land around here, there was very little chance that it would happen.  And I thought I had accepted it.  But with a simple signature on a piece of paper that says we're buying this beautiful house in the suburbs—the one our kids will remember when they think of home—has brought back all this longing that I now know will never happen.  It's official now.  I think I really do need to allow myself to feel these emotions and truly mourn this loss, as silly as it may seem to other, more logical people.

   I will never be able to help my kids build a fort in the woods (and then check them for ticks?).

   I will never be able to raise a horse or have chickens or a big vegetable garden (I'm undecided whether I actually want to do all that or just like the idea).

   I will never be able to send my kids outside to play out of sight without that tiny worry in the back of my mind about traffic or kidnappings (but then, I'll also never have to worry about wolves or cougars or a cranky bull moose).

   I will never have a clothesline.

   I will never learn to shoot a bow (at least not without either spending a fortune on club fees or driving an hour to my brother-in-law's acreage).

   I will never be able to watch the sunrise on the horizon from my kitchen window (or any window) before the kids wake up and the day's rush begins.

   I will never be able to build an addition on the house (it has no mudroom.  Just a back door straight into the kitchen, with a closet to the side), or a bigger porch, or a detached studio/office.

   I will never be able to walk out of my house, look up, and see ALL the stars.  I've almost forgotten what that even looks like.

   I will never have an orchard (although I'm pretty excited about the one apple tree in the new backyard).

   I will never have enough flowers in the garden that it doesn't look denuded when I cut a lot to bring in the house. And wildflowers are completely out of the question.

   My kids will never be able to explore the woods and fields at will, or climb trees or have a treehouse, or learn about wildlife because it visits our yard.

Have you ever had to mourn for something that was only a dream?


Sunset at my in-laws' cabin...the place that soothes my longing for natural beauty, even though it's crowded among all the other lakeside cabins.

We Found a House!



Thursday, 9 April 2015

House Hunting Stress



We sold our duplex last week.  It took two days...less than a week after we first contacted a real estate agent.  The inspection is scheduled for Friday, then on Monday conditions will be removed and it will be official.

So we've been house hunting. Exciting! Fun! Stressful!

Oh my word, this is so stressful!  This new house will be the one our kids remember.  The one they call "home."  It will likely be our forever home--for the next ten years anyway.  Unlike last time, when I only had to wonder if I'd like the house for a few years, and had very little experience in houses to influence me (I've never yet lived in a real, detached house.)

The trouble is that, at our budget every house we like has major issues that are out of our control.  My absolute favourite was a side-by-side split level in a little ravine neighbourhood (see pic) that was in absolute perfect condition and the use of space was exactly what I was looking for.  That one had two serious problems.  First, was the loud traffic noise from two major highways.  Second, there was no school in that neighbourhood, and the closest school with open boundaries is already full for next year.

And then there's the newer one in a great neighbourhood, with beautiful upgraded finishes, and a main floor laundry that I loved.  But it was listed in the very top range of our budget, and has no neighbourhood school.

Then there's the one we saw yesterday, in a great area for schools. We discovered the problems before we even walked into the house.  It's the second house in from a busy corner with no parking allowed at the front of the house.  Any guests would have to park at the back on the miniscule driveway or one very-muddy spot beside the garage and come in the back door (I have always hated that!  Where I grew up it was very common for people to either only have a side door, or have a front door and never ever use it.  The only other parking option would be to park down a small side road a block away, which I suspect is often full, making the walk to our front door even longer.  I've always wanted a hospitable home.  This home isn't very hospitable.  The traffic noise, even from the busy intersection, wasn't that bad.  Perhaps I could have wrapped my mind around the parking situation and lived with it.  But the trouble is that I don't like the kitchen well enough to make that compromise.  It's a bit small, and a bit cramped.

Then there was the one in my favourite neighbourhood, with excellent access to all three schools.  I even liked the layout, although the pictures were really bland and the house had no personality.  But that one had high voltage power lines running practically overhead.  I probably would have overlooked that issue, but Kevin wasn't happy with that.

Oh, and the one in an older neighbourhood, well maintained but obviously being sold by the original owners (who like mint green).  It was full of potential, but there were too many things that required too much work in that one (regrading the yard, tearing down the sunroom, possible crack in the foundation).

Are we being too picky?  I don't think so.  I'm not looking for perfection, by any means.  My favourite house, the split level, had really dated country blue counters, and linoleum in the kitchen, neither of which I particularly liked.  The house doesn't have to be pretty.  I just really need a good location, and a layout I can work with.  Kevin needs a house that doesn't need a lot of major work before it can feel like home.

We are going to see another tonight that I already think is too far south, and we will have to literally drive past the road to my kids' current school in order to get to the designated school for that area—trying to keep an open mind, can't you tell?

I'm fighting despair here!  I've already given up my dream type of home (acreage) because I'm married to an accountant who already thinks his commute is too long.  I really don't want to live in a home that's going to drive me crazy once the novelty wears off.  46 days and counting until we have to move out.