Friday, March 11, 2005


We want a smaller house, of course. We do not appreciate, however, the decorating trends of the 1970s. And after having just paid for a new foundation for this old Victorian we live in, and a new roof, and paint inside and out, we are quite ready to move into a house that we can - well - move into! Not rip up carpet, not fix electrical lines, not replace the bathroom fixtures! My husband Ed is talented at many things - but carpentry, plumbing, floor-laying, and electrical skills are not included in the "Ed package."

We're tired of trying to maintain a large house. That is one reason we want to simplify.

However, we do not mean by simplification that we are willing to live like bums, so to speak. We still have taste. In fact, that's one of the ideas the simplicity books mention - better to have one delicious piece of chocolate than a whole buffet of cheap, processed food. Quantity versus quality sort of thing. We still want a home where we can feel cozy, comfortable, that is a pleasure to live in. The colors, the smells, the textures, the warmth that we seek - this is our goal.

I write this because we saw two houses for sale yesterday. Even though this house will not officially be on the market until April 1, we are spending some time touring houses that are for sale right now, to get an idea of what's out there at what price. Each of these houses had its own individual deficits, but they shared one thing: Any person from the 1970s could have walked in and have thought it was a "cool pad."

The first house looked like a garage. Not a house garage, but a mechanic's garage complete with concrete floor. They had enclosed the garage part, left the concrete floor, left the big table/bench tool area in the rear, and tried to start lowering the massive ceilings. Apparently they didn't get very far before they moved, and just lived upstairs during the "renovation."
Up a very steep staircase was the second floor. Actually, the floor was what we first noticed. Several square feet of old shag carpet. One room had an animal-print type shag with swirls of beige and brown, and the other bedroom had the exact same pattern except in bright blue.
All the walls had cheap semi-dark paneling. Oh, my! There was a kitchen on the second floor. I didn't look much closer; I just wanted to get out of there as fast as I could. I thought it had to be a joke, to be honest. Someone must have been pulling our legs! The "house," or "garage," as my husband prefers to call it, came with 3 acres of wooded land. They really need to tear down the "structure" and just sell the land. The poor real estate agent showing it to us was embarrassed to even show it. Our real estate agent couldn't believe his eyes. And to top it off, the "house" didn't even have central heat, oil or whatever. They had a hookup for a wood stove in the "garage" downstairs portion, then had a small wood stove upstairs and 2 electric wall heaters.

I'm telling you, that had to be the ugliest house I have ever seen. Should have taken my camera, because a word description just does not suffice.

The second house was an old farmhouse, younger than our Victorian built in 1890 - the farmhouse was built in 1900. I think I want a little newer than that! Anyway, it had shag carpet from the '70s all over the place and nothing else updated since then either. The upstairs had a creak on the floor so loud I thought I would fall through the floor. It wasn't just one individual creak on one individual board - it was a major defect creak that would wake anyone up within 20 yards. During the energy crisis in those years, they decided to lower the ceilings to preserve heat, so they had a metal grid put up and placed in it those styrofoam sections. This grid was not done well, and the sections were falling in several places.

So I started thinking about aesthetics. We are definitely trying to simplify, but can't we have a house that #1 looks a bit more up-to-date and #2 does not require pulling up miles of shag carpet, and #3 looks 90% ready to move in when the time comes? Is that too much to ask?
Are we too picky?

So today we went by the modular home company, a place highly recommended to us by a number of people. I'm sure exploring this avenue will be an adventure in itself. They say you can personalize the floor plans to the max and from the day they get your call to order the house of choice (and your downpayment!) they can have your dream house built in 8 weeks.

Trying to simplify surely does involve a lot of stressful decisions!

I am, however, filled with gratitude that I did not have nightmares about shag carpet in my sleep last night. And my second point of gratitude is that I woke up in this lovely house and not in one of the houses we saw yesterday!

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