Something miraculous happened today, I sat down to look at real estate listings and suddenly I could see the positives in them again. Let me explain, just yesterday, nearly every single house I looked at made me think "There are no nice houses left in the world." Today, the word "potential" has somehow crept back into my vocabulary. "That kitchen has potential." I actually said that. Progress!
So in keeping-on rolling with the flow of positivity, I decided to make a wish list of things I'd like to see in our new place. I was surprised how much it helped. I think when you're looking at real estate, you obviously have to go into it with budget limitations and a general location, but beyond that, you need to be able to squint your eyes a little, and imagine the way your own personality could put a stamp on it.
Oh funny story! One time when visiting at a friend's house, we were introduced to a couple. We mentioned we'd just bought a house (this was a few years ago). "Where in the city is it?" they asked us. We told them. To which the woman replied. "Oh. I didn't know there were any new builds in that area."
"There aren't," I told her.
"Oh." she said. "It's a re-sale?"
She made it sound dirty. Like an old cardboard box. The house was built in 2004 for crying out loud!
Anyway, the lesson here is, not everything has to be new. There are SO many new developments in our city. And they're gorgeous to look through. But generally they're over-priced (for our budget), they have a back-yard the size of a postage stamp, and you can speak to your neighbours through the window while your on the toilet. It's just not my bag. And I think I lost sight of this in all the jumbled disappointment on missing out on that house we wanted because it was newer (read: not brand-new) but it still felt shiny and "upgraded." Obviously there are perks to buying a new home in a brand-new neighbourhood, and if I was in a different place in life, I can't say we wouldn't jump at a chance to own and design our own brand new place. But for now, the reality is we'd like to keep a tight budget in mind, so looking at real-estate listings means we also have to keep an open mind. As in: P-o-t-e-n-t-i-a-l. Are the nuts and bolts and structure of the house sound? Are the windows new? Furnace? Once you've weighed on the bigger ticket items, the rest is gravy. And quite honestly, the fun stuff. Hard work, yes. But at the end of the day, I like the idea of tinkering around and making it our own.
When I squint my eyes, here are some of the things I'd like to see if we can work into the renovation plans for our new place:
We've been through a lot of listings of older homes that have similar long style family-rooms on the main floor with a centre-piece fireplace. Built in book-shelves have always been my dream. So generally speaking when I'm looking at a room, I'm trying to picture how I can fit built-in's into the design.
You know what the good thing about a "re-sale" is? A lot of the time, basements have been finished. They're the projects owners left until they'd owned the house for 10 years or more, or because they needed extra space for their growing family. I love this because the guy who appraised our house when we bought it a few years ago told us that actually, a finished basement costs a lot to install (especially one with a bathroom) but in the end, it doesn't raise your property value that much. Plus insurers don't like finished basements because generally, that's the room you have to pay out on due to flooding. I love these two ideas above because they're just about a bit of muscle, but not a lot of savings, especially if the basement already has most of the work taken care of.
This is a perfect example of what you can un-earth in an old house. I've seen this beautiful stair-case in it's ugly formation, at least in 20 different houses throughout my searching. Maybe they wouldn't all have that gorgeous window, but you can imagine how far a little paint and a sandpaper can go when you're imagining re-finishing the stairs in your house. I love this one because it blends the white with the grey/dark tones. It fits in with the feel and age of the house.
I think you already know how I feel about built-ins. Combine it with some natural light and a cozy nook? I could get lost for hours. I think a window-seat is a forgotten element of houses. I actually love watching out windows and it's a great use of space that's around your window. Not every house would have a landing like this, but again, you'd be surprised when you start looking how many homes would have the potential for a perfect little seat like this one.
If you're looking for a new-to-you place, I hope this has been helpful. If you're looking to love the home you're in, I hope you are inspired! I know just looking through ideas has got me all excited for upcoming projects. Which is a good thing because a few days ago I was (already) ready to throw the towel in on our house search!!
This is Day 8 of Write 31 Days! Look at me go!!