Monday, July 25th, 2016 • No Comments on Hey there! Wanna see my bookshelves?
Has it been three months since we sold our house and bought a new house? I guess it has. Sometimes it seems much longer, given how long we were getting ready to sell/buy; other times it seems like we blinked and–poof!– here we are. Mid-July, sweltering summer heat and the living is about as easy as it can be when you’re settling into a new house with two kids.
Seriously, it’s been a whirlwind. Despite the dread I had over the logistics of moving, everything went just about as smoothly as it possibly could. We sold our house in a heartbeat, which I wasn’t prepared for even though everyone said it would happen, and everything with the new house went super fast and seamless. It was just a matter of finding the house.
Oh, what a house! Even after six weeks, Jay and I still say it at least a few times every day– Oh, what a house! I love this house so much. It isn’t perfect, no house is, but it’s so incredible. With the boys (and Jay) out of school, it feels a bit like a vacation home with the lake view, wildlife, neighborhood pool and just beautiful, beautiful scenery. It’s perfect for us in so many ways. And getting more perfect every day as we do things to make it our own.
It’s funny how we said it was the perfect house, bought it and have proceeded to do so much to change it. Ha. But it needed a fenced yard for kids and dog, and it is in desperate need of paint because neither of the previous owners bothered to paint most of the rooms! So we have painters in for the next couple of weeks, painting the bedrooms and bathrooms and the tall, tall cathedral walls. I love those walls and the airiness of the entire living room space, but I would not want to be climbing a ladder to paint it. I’m grateful for the pros.
And then there are the bookcases. My whole life, I have always wanted built in bookcases. Pretty bookcases. I’ve had shelves and small bookcases and ones that we moved around, but I’ve never had bookcases designed to my specifications. Until now. Before we even closed on the house, I got an estimate from a local woodworking company to built the bookcases I wanted. And soon after we moved in, they began working. We’ve only had them for about 3 weeks now, but it seems like they were always there. They’re perfect. Behold!
Doesn’t that wall of bookcases look like it belongs there? We went over a month without a couch. But I’m loving how the room is coming together. Paint and art next!
Why yes, that is a sliding library ladder. Isn’t it gorgeous? It was also a freaking expensive part of the project, but I think the look is worth it! The designer included grommets in each of the bookcase sections with access to the outlets inside the cabinets so that we could put lighting on the shelves. I found these cute little silver touch lamps and they look like they were made for the space.
The reading nook upstairs in the loft area. The bookcases and window seat make the space useful, plus there’s a ton of storage for board games and crafts! We opted for drawers in the window seat bench rather than lids so we wouldn’t have to move any cushions or pillows to get to anything. Like downstairs, there are also grommets in the bookcases for access to the outlets inside the cabinets. The painters painted it the same lovely blue as the accent wall opposite it. Now I just need a cushion for the window seat, a bunch of comfy pillows and some art!
I’m in love with these bookcases. Except for one thing. They barely contain my book collection. Sigh. The cabinets underneath the main bookcase was supposed to be for DVDs and CDs and instead it is packed– packed!– with more books. I guess I’ll just need to find a place for more bookcases, hmm?
And so the new house experience goes… with me geeking out over bookcases and finally having a couch that will hold all four of us and making the place our own. I have big plans for other rooms, too, but we’ll get there. I’m trying to remember that I don’t have to rush and get everything done at once– we have time!– but I’m also anxious to be finished. We’ve already had friends visit (and spend the night) and I just want it all done and pretty! In time, in time.
So, besides the house selling, house buying and house decorating, I’ve been entertaining two kids on summer break, writing for my regular gigs Mom.me and BookBub and trying to get some new stuff out in the world, and just enjoying the summer. I hope you are too!
Thursday, April 14th, 2016 • No Comments on Our House
Our dream house!
The story of our house…
It’s been over a year since we decided we wanted to move and started looking at houses. We began looking in South Carolina and from last spring until late summer, we thought we’d end up in Summerville, just outside of Charleston. But come last fall, realizing we’d miss the change of seasons (among other things), we changed our minds and started looking farther north in Virginia and ultimately focused around Richmond. I don’t know how many houses we’ve been in–probably over 50 in 2 states–and we’ve ruled out hundreds more online.
We liked one house well enough to consider making an offer, but the house sold before we could get a second look. We were quicker to make an offer on the next house we liked, but someone else beat our offer. The third house seemed to be a sure thing–on the market for nearly a year–and we made an offer last Tuesday. The owners bought it at the height of the market and wanted to go back and forth over what they wanted vs. what it was worth and what we were willing to pay. Had they accepted our first offer, or even the second, we would not have seen the fourth house. And while I liked those three houses well enough to be able to imagine living there, none of them seemed to be THE house. None were our house.
Jay found the fourth house last Thursday while we were negotiating on the third house. Since he was on spring break this week, we drove up to see it Friday morning. I had joked after losing the first house we liked before we could even make an offer that I need longer than 30 minutes in a house to decide whether I want to live in it the rest of my life. Turns out, I was wrong. We both immediately fell in love with this house and were ready to make an offer before we’d even seen the upstairs. I literally teared up at the thought of living there. We made an offer within 2 hours and signed the contract on the drive home (yay, technology). We were told there was another offer coming in and more showings over the weekend and they wouldn’t be deciding until Sunday evening. In the meantime, we sold our house Friday night after only 2 days on the market and amended our offer to sweeten the deal and hopefully beat any other offers.
It’s all happened very fast and it was an incredibly long and stressful weekend. But on Sunday evening right before we sat down to have dinner, our real estate agent texted, “Congratulations!”
We got our house. ❤
Monday, March 7th, 2016 • 4 Comments on House Hunt 2016: The Almost Perfect House
The house that got away?
House hunting is exhausting. It’s been one year this week since we first decided we wanted to move. That decision took us in the direction of South Carolina (the Charleston suburb of Summerville) for awhile. We made two house hunting expeditions in May and August, looked at over a dozen different model homes in several new communities and we thought we knew what we wanted. The houses were beautiful, the planned communities had all of the amenities any suburban homeowner could ask for, but ultimately we changed our minds and changed direction.
By fall, we were looking elsewhere for a house, and no longer focused on new construction. We have been inside around twenty houses in the past few months and looked at dozens more online. We have pre-qualified, we are preparing our house to put it on the market in the next few weeks, we are ready to get serious. And we almost found our house this weekend. Almost.
We went on a road trip yesterday to visit a couple of open houses, and added a third while we were already in the neighborhood. All were beautiful, but the first of three seemed… almost perfect. Of course, this was based on a twenty-minute viewing with two kids in tow– which is less than ideal for trying to make as important a decision as buying a house. “That’s why we left our rugrats at home,” said one woman who was also touring the house as she watched me get my energetic boys under control. I couldn’t have rolled my eyes harder. Leaving our kids at home isn’t an option most of the time and, really, I like seeing how they respond to each house. They’ll live there too, after all. Of course, after being cooped up in the Jeep for a few hours, they mostly wanted to run around and touch everything. Sigh.
So, this house. Oh, this house. The porch of my dream house. A very lovely house, well below what we’ve pre-qualified for and very reasonably priced. It is bigger than the house we have now but not so big we’d feel lost in it (like the second house we saw– with tons of space but lacking the room configuration we need). Many, many pros, from highly rated elementary, middle and high schools to a community clubhouse, tennis courts, playgrounds and swimming pool. Lovely, flowing streets, lots of green space, walking trails. Houses spaced far enough apart that you can get to know your neighbors– or avoid them. A partially wooded lot for exploring with a two-level deck for entertaining. Just minutes to all the places we shop and a convenient 6 minute drive to Starbucks, which is closer than I am now. Lovely.
Of course, as with any house that’s nearly 20 years old, there were some issues too. Minor things, things we could change in time on our own dime. Rooms to be painted, floors to be covered, an aging air conditioner that would need replacing sooner rather than later. A fence that would need upgrading so our escape artist dog wouldn’t run away. But, all in the all, nothing that was a deal-breaker.
We made the several hour return drive home, discussing. Pros, cons, timing. It’s really too early to make an offer– the best we could do is make it contingent on the sale of our house and hope they would be willing to wait until the end of June to close. Should we? Could we? It feels wrong to make a decision like which house to buy– conceivably the very last house we’ll ever buy– based on a 20 minute tour and a couple hours of discussion. I thought we should give it a few days. Maybe try to see it in private with our own agent in a week or so.
We got home late, put the boys to bed, and continued discussing– missing The Walking Dead in the process. “Is it the house? Is it our house? Do you love it?” Jay asked the important questions and I hedged, giving him the pros and the cons (again) and saying, “Yeah, maybe, possibly, let’s wait though..” I could see us living there. I could see how I’d decorate the spaces, what colors I’d choose for the rooms. Was it perfect? No. Was it perfect for us? I thought… maybe. But still, there was time and we could keep weighing it, think about whether we want to commit so early. “Early” is relative, of course, since we’ve known we want to move for a year and looked at so many houses in two different states now. But still– we don’t want to move until the kids are out of school and shouldn’t it take longer to decide on a house than a quick viewing and a couple hours of discussion? I think so.
Turns out, it doesn’t matter. By 10pm last night, less than 8 hours after we saw the house, someone else had already decided to buy it. Jay checked the listing, and there it was. Pending. 4 days on the market and a 2 hour open house and someone had fallen in love enough to make an offer. And it wasn’t us. Should it have been? I still don’t know. I still feel like I would’ve wanted to look at it one more time, preferably without other people in the house and without having to keep a hand on each kid, and just feel the energy of the place. I think with a little more time, I would’ve decided it was the right house. I think. Maybe. I’m cautious like that– seeing the possibilities in anything, but wanting to be sure and not wanting to feel pressured.
And so we’re back to waiting for other houses to come on the market, as the other two houses we saw weren’t quite right for us, for different reasons. Three houses and one was almost perfect. Or maybe it would’ve been perfect after 6 months of living there and making the changes necessary to make it our own. I’ll never know.
I can’t really mourn a house I never had. I can’t really feel like I lost something that I wasn’t even sure I wanted. It’s a beautiful house in a beautiful neighborhood– a neighborhood we’re going to be watching closely for other houses to go on the market. Maybe the next one will be the perfect house. Maybe it’ll simply be perfect because we’ll be the first to say, “We want to make an offer.”