Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Gentle January 2018: Day 2



My home sweet home

I went through a traumatizing divorce
in 2006 but one thing I negotiated 
was the ability to keep living in the house we'd shared
until at least the end of 2010.

As you know, the real estate market crashed
in 2008 and was still in the depths
through 2014 (where we lived, though
Seattle's market showed a boom earlier).

I put the "marriage" house on the market
in early spring 2013. 
Every other time we'd sold a house,
we'd accepted an offer within 2 weeks,
so I expected the same.

In June 2013, my real estate broker
convinced me to look at houses
so I could see that, even though I had to split
profits with the ex and would be spending 
about half the value of the old house on a new one,
I'd find a house where I could be comfortable 
and happy.

Looked at several in my old town
(the beautiful Gig Harbor, where
the HGTV Dream House 2018 located)
but nothing wowed me and they were all 
a little pricier than I'd hoped for
a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath with a decently-landscaped yard.
I really hoped to be able to be mortgage free
in the new house, so that meant serious
downsizing and lowering my expectations 
from what I'd been used to as the wife
of a corporate executive.

So I expanded my search to a town about 15 miles north
and found this house online. 

It was one of those houses where 
you walk in, feel the energy of the house,
and announce "I think this is it."

I made an offer and purchased it the next day
(luckily I was able to get
 a temporary full price loan
 until I could sell the other one --
 a process that took 15 months
and price cut after price cut
(eventually selling for $200K less
than the Zillow estimate of its value: OUCH).

My son and his girlfriend moved into the new house
which I minimally furnished,
and I lived in the enormous,fully staged house
on the golf course while I was waiting for a buyer.

Funny thing about homes and furniture.
I assumed that I could roll up the area rugs,
move the furniture to the new house,
and be done with it.

Turns out that "downsize" meant that rooms were
smaller as well as fewer.

The 11 x 14 carpets were too large for the living room 

(there were two of those).
The living room sofa was too long and too deep
for the space available.
I'd lost probably 100 linear feet of custom built-ins
for books and lighted display cabinets 
for my Santa collection and my Storytellers.
There was no place for my petite baby grand piano,
the oversize sofa and chair grouping from the master,
the pool table and the bistro table and chairs from the game room,
and I went from 400 feet of semi-finished in-home storage
to none.

Yikes!

So I put some stuff in storage
that Gavin and Danielle wanted when 
they were able to get a place of their own,
and started making the place my own.

The pair of chairs on either side of the fireplace
got new upholstery. I picked up two additional chairs
for the new living room at consignment stores.
The coffee table moved from the seating area 
in the old master bedroom; two metal round 
end tables moved from the old family room.
I found a new 8 X 10 area rug for the space
and bought a freestanding bookcase and display cabinet
on sale.

Add in 3 Chris Bivins folk art sculptures 
(on top of the display cabinet),
plus celadon pieces and antique bottles,
books, one of my paintings over the fireplace,
and candle holders on the mantle --
all of which I already had,
plus the new cream-colored camelback love seat
(also on sale) and the room was all me.

I didn't have to consider anyone else's tastes
or desires. Only how to stretch my budget
through really smart shopping.

Soft cream-colored fabrics
(except on the Hepplewhite chair by Stickley
that came from a consignment store
at a price a fraction of what it originally sold for --
the chair has a black frame and red tone-on-tone
upholstery on the seat that looks like silk and
picks up the raspberry sherbet color in the carpet). 

Some other design "accidents"
include medallion shapes on the coffee table
and in the arms of the French-style chair
to the right of the sofa. 
And, if you look carefully,
you'll see that the sofa, French chair,
and occasional chairs on either side of the fireplace
have that curvy "hump" on the back of each.




The seating area in the living room 
portion of the great room easily seats six
and there's room for a couple of people
on the hearth. (Cushions stored underneath.)

When Gavin and Danielle move out,
I may either move the bookshelf
or let them take it
replace it with a buffet and hutch
that's currently on loan to my daughter.


 On to the dining room --
which is part of the great room.
The house (which was architect-designed
for the sellers) has a room off the kitchen
which was designed to be the dining room.
But I knew that large dinners
would be only an occasional thing
and couldn't see allocating a whole room
to a table and chairs.

Besides that, my "old house"
had an almost square dining room
with a feature granite pattern
inset into the maple floors,
so I'd ended up with a custom 60" square
glass table and 8 high black, high gloss finish
Italian chairs with upholstered seats.
I'd always hated that table --
the glass showed every fingerprint
and moat of dust and just seemed cold--
except for the fact that the table edges
and glass base edges were all beveled
and caught the afternoon sun
and threw rainbows all over the walls and floor.

That table just wouldn't fit
in a rectangular "dining" room
and besides, 
there was no way to fill the great room
that made sense unless you incorporated
a table and chairs at the end closest to the kitchen.

So. . . .
consignment store to the rescue once again.
For sale: one glass table, 8 chairs
from Roche Bobois --
and used the proceeds to buy
a dropleaf, gateleg oval table
that seats eight.
Add in 8 tiger maple Windsor chairs.
Anchor the grouping with an area rug
from consignment store.
Plus a mirror fronted piece to hold
china, crystal, etc.
Voila!



The kitchen. . .
well, that's another story.
The cabinets are oak and
the door fronts are flat
with beveled edges.
All the appliances were white 
(except the Subzero with oak panels).
It's got an acrylic sink (ick!)
and a Corian-copycat counter
but the worst part is that the cabinets
are custom-height at about 3 to 4 inches 
higher than average.
Not a problem for the original owners, 
who were both tall,
but a disadvantage for 5'2" me.

I've gotten used to using them
(good breast support for when I'm still
in my nightgown and fixing a cup of chai)
but I have to have a lightweight step ladder
for accessing anything above the first shelf
on upper cabinets.

I'd love to replace the countertops and sink
when I've saved some $,
and I've replaced the oven (when the old one conked out)
and the dishwasher with stainless steel models.
Eventually, the cooktop, hood, and trash compactor
will be swapped out for stainless steel ones.
And, of course, I'm going to add some cabinet and drawer pulls
to combat the utilitarian look of the cabinets.

The stark design of the cabinets
was also mitigated a bit by displaying
baskets and other items above them.

Oh. . . forgot to mention that the backsplash
is heinous 4 inch white ceramic tiles,
some of which have random veggies painted on them.
I would never have picked them in 1000 years.
They'll have to go at the time of the countertop swap.

The 4 swivel bar stools at the peninsula
make a great place for casual eating 
and seating for those wanting to chat with the cook.

The "Keeping Room" 
formerly known as dining room.


and the master bedroom


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