Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Almost-Our House, Part 3: The Downstairs

Time to go down to the basement!

The open, turning staircase is rather inviting.

At the landing, we can see a glimpse of the casual living space.

Now down the stairs, we have a good view of the fireplace.

Now I'm standing on the fireplace facing the stairs. The back of the house is to my right. You can see that the bathroom light is on to the right of this bookcase.

Now I'm standing on the fireplace in the corner.

Now I've turned toward the left. You can see the extensive family room with a wetbar at the end and an opening to the laundry room. The berber carpet is relatively new and the drywall ceiling has recessed lighting. Unfortunately, not all the wall are drywall. That will be a fun project for later! Let us now visit the least-glamorous room in the house. The laundry room!

Here's a view from the doorway. Good, spacious and finished laundry room!

This is standing by the washer and turned right. There's a hanging bar! I haven't had that since I moved out of my parents' house. Hooray! Just barely off the right edge of the photo, there's a folding door that hides the water heater and furnace.

Close to the laundry room door, another folding door opens to unfinished storage space under the stairs. The water heater and furnace are behind me in this photo.

Now I'm standing by the wet bar, facing the back of the house. Those window treatments will be gone even faster than the paneling.

Blinds open, this is the back door. The window on the left is the third bedroom.

I've turned to the left. The sliding glass door is to my right, the fireplace is behind me. The left doorway is to the bathroom, the right is to the third bedroom.

A peak in the bathroom reveals a shower, a toilet and a vanity which is larger and apparently newer than the one upstairs. Oh, and wallpaper. Its removal is not urgent, but it will happen sooner or later.

And here is the view from the door of the third bedroom. It really doesn't feel like a basement bedroom, and that's nice.

And here's a view from the inside, looking out the windows.

And that's pretty much it!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Almost-Our House, Part 2: The Back

I open with this picture. This is the dining room light fixture. I don't like it, but I love this photograph. I wasn't even trying to be artsy or anything; I just like the way it turned out. Thank you, camera!

Okay, I'm standing in the middle of the living room, facing the front of the house.

Now I've turned to the right, and you can see how the living room is a bit wider than you might first think. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of the back of the upstairs from the entryway, so you have to use your imagination. We are already calling this the "piano nook," because it is really the only interior wall that makes any sense to put the piano. The coat closet is on the other side of the short wall on the left.

Now I've stepped closer to the piano nook to get a better view of the extent of the dining room. It's really not large, and considering the lack of table space in the kitchen (on the other side of that white wall), I'm surprised that doesn't bother me, but it truly doesn't. We'll just get a nice big dining set for our next house.

Here's this dark photo with me standing near the dining room table. Off the frame is the rest of the desk under the window and little TV stand. This would be a nice sitting area for us.

Here's a closer view of the deck/balcony. The vertical strip things (can't remember what they're called) are too far apart for current code, but that can be dealt with until we eventually replace and enlarge the deck.

And now I'm standing on the deck looking in.

And here's a view of the deck from the ground. The sliding door on the left goes to the living room; on the right is the master bedroom. It's time to visit that bedroom.

My back is to the front of the house and I'm standing in the doorway to the master bedroom. The sliding glass door is on the right.

Now my back is to the sliding glass door. We have a queen-size bed, as is the one pictured, so it will definitely fit easily.

Now I've turned to the left. The small closet you can see has a counterpart facing it. The light you see is coming from the bathroom, which is also accessible to the hall and is the only upstairs bathroom.

This is a view of the floorspace, standing near the bed. The closets and bathroom door are to my right. The bedroom door is also on the right, further back.

This is the view out the window.

And out the door.

And now I'm facing the doorway, and this is the hallway. You can see the second bedroom at the end of it, the bathroom door is just outside the master bedroom door, the linen closet is beyond that, and the basement door is the last door on the right before the second bedroom.

This is the view of the upstairs bathroom from the master bedroom, standing between the closets.

And this is the view from the hallway. Yes, it's small, but much like with the dining room, I find myself oddly not caring. It's a compromise, but there's no such thing as a compromise-free home.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Almost-Our House, Part 1: The Front

These following posts are experimental (a.k.a. probably pretty boring, but it's my blog, so there). I hope to properly order tons of photos I took at the inspection of the new place so that one could get a good idea of the layout. We shall see if it actually works. Also, this will function as the "before" photos--before we get in and make it our own!

I'm standing on the front porch, looking out.

Now I've turned around and am facing the front door.

This is the front door. I'm standing on the edge of the parquet floor of the entryway, which curves around to the entrance of the kitchen, which is just to the left of the edge of the photo.

I have turned slightly to the right. Behind the wall of the entryway is the door to the second bedroom. Let us enter.

This bedroom is currently an office. I am now facing the front of the house.

Turning to the right.

And to the right again. This shelving area will be returned to its former closet-y glory. Now we will turn slightly to the right again to walk out of the second bedroom and return to my position at the edge of the entryway.

This is turning to the right from the previous shot from this position. The open basement door blocks the doorway to the second bedroom. You can see the linen closet just to the right of the basement door in the hallway. The mirrored coat closet faces the front door. In the reflection, you can see the dull light of the second bedroom, blocked by the basement door.

Now I'm standing by the basement door and facing the front of the house. See the kitchen? Let's go in.

Standing in the kitchen doorway, I'm turned to the left. The longterm plan for this wall is to cut it down and put in a peninsula with built-in cabinets. You can see the door to the garage on the right.

I've turned to the right, and the garage door is now open (okay, this was actually taken a different day). The amount of cabinet space is not impressive, but they are new and therefore include a whole bank of drawers. I really, REALLY appreciate drawers since I've been living with only three tiny ones in my kitchen for the last year and a half. There's a microwave on top of the fridge. That's just not right. The view out that window is the same as the view from the front porch and from the second bedroom window, for we are still facing the front of the house.

I'm now standing by the garage door and fridge, facing the back of the house.

Turning to the left, observing the wall that is not long for this world. (Of course, we'll have to save up the cash over time to actually do the project. Not even counting the mortgage, buying a house is expensive!)

Turning left again. Here you can see where parquet meets carpet in the entryway and a hint of the basement door. You can also see Erich's diligent note-taking.

Turning leftward again. The stove is the oldest appliance in the kitchen by far. Do you think a microwave/vent hood combo would fit above it? Really, do you? Prove you've read this much by answering my question. Go on... prove it!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Love This Song!

YouTube Link

House Hunt, Part 3

One week ago today, once the craziness of Holy Week and Easter was over, Erich and I went out for a second round of house hunting.

Neither of us was expecting to fall in love with a house. Not trying to get our hopes up, we assumed that the townhome we liked would end up being the best possibility. Joanne took us back to that place first. The seller had painted the kitchen from dark red to tan, but they didn't do a very good job and kitchen was still bad. I investigated a little more and tried to open one of the few drawers. It pulled out about two inches and collided with the oven door handle. I opened the oven, and it pulled out another inch and collided with a knob for the stove. This kitchen really frustrated me.

We took a walk through the place again and found our opinions to be unchanged from the first time. I was so glad we went there first so that we could more easily compare our favorite to anything else we saw that day without having an unrealistic idea of how good it was.

Our next stop was around the corner in the same nice neighborhood. This was a ranch end unit with three bedrooms, two baths and a basement. It sounded good, but I sure wasn't hopeful when I saw this:

Look how tiny it is! And it's so blah-brown. When I stood behind Joanne as she opened the door, my hopes did not lift. The door opened to a long wall with dark wallpaper and I thought, Yep, it's really cramped and narrow. This place is going to be too small!

But I was deceived by first impressions. The entryway actually opened up to a spacious living room/dining room combination. The kitchen in the front of the house had nice countertops, floor, and cabinets and used the space so much better than our previous favorite. The two bedrooms on the main floor (master and second) were bigger than a lot of other bedrooms we had seen. There was only one bathroom, but it was accessable from the master bedroom as well as the hallway and had an en suite feel. Both the living room and master bedroom had access to a small deck.

It was time to see the basement. My mood continued to lift as we opened the door to the basement and could see natural light. Down the stairs and around the corner, I saw this:

I couldn't even be distracted by the horror of that paneling because I was so surprised at the amount of space down there! And as a bonus...

Fireplace! Also a bonus was the fact that the carpet down there is fairly new. By this point, I was jumping up and down, proclaiming my desire to live here. Erich, still keeping himself lukewarm in typical fashion, was also feeling extremely favorable. I absolutely loved that we both knew this was the place for us. That's important, since we are taking our relationship to the next level by buying a house together!

The neighborhood sealed the deal. And then the kitchen sealed the deal. And then that basement--oh, that sealed the deal. But just to seal the deal even more, we went out to the backyard. We walked along the little creek and ended directly behind the house.

The property line is actually much closer to the house, but we're standing in a common area that we could use. There are lots of trees around, but this area is open enough to play a good game of catch. :)

So clearly, this was the new "one to beat." We went on to another unit on the same street.

It had the same layout. I thought the white trim was a lot more pleasant than the brown of the other one, but it wasn't an end unit. It was also listed as $20,000 less than our favorite, which immediately put us on our guard. Sure enough it was mostly the same on the main floor, only the kitchen and bathroom were dark and ugly. And when we went downstairs, not only did we see horrible russet-colored carpet, it was also not nearly as open. Instead of a big space, there was a wall separating the fireplace area from a dark-as-night unfinished storage area. I'd rather have a big open living space, thank you very much. We concluded that even though we liked the price of this one a lot better, about $20,000 would have to be spent a lot sooner than in the other one to make it close enough to our ideal. Moving on!

I don't even have a picture of the next place we saw. It was a condo in Lisle in a very crowded little development. It had a garage but there was no direct access to that garage. It had its own front door, but only if you walk around a snaking pathway. Moving in and groceries would be a nightmare. The place was pretty nice, a split level with separate living and family rooms. There were only two bedrooms and they were SMALL, though. Now that we had seen our house, we didn't need to linger as long in the places that missed the mark.

The last place we visited was the only other single family home anywhere near (but still pretty far above) our price range in Naperville, an investment property being sold by one of Joanne's colleagues, who demanded she show it. Desperate much? Anyway, I didn't take pictures of the inside. The kitchen, despite its builder-basic features, actually had a spectacular layout and was the most compelling room. However, there was only room for a small table in it and there appeared to be no dining room. The one living room was inadequate. No basement. Three small bedrooms. Really, the place felt like a three-bedroom apartment. It didn't even feel like a single family home, and the outdoor space left much to be desired.

We felt it in our guts--we wanted that little brown townhome. Erich had a class that night, but I made arrangements with Joanne to take my parents there that night. They liked it as much as Erich and I did and gave their blessing. The next day we made an offer of 20,000 below the asking price. The seller countered with 5,000 below asking, so we increased our offer by 5,000. As you might guess, we settled at 10,000 below asking, 10,000 above our first offer. Buying a house is so exciting and so annoying! I'm looking forward to the end of the busy 5-day period of getting the contract finalized.