Photo: Of all of our Boston area apartments, our second one had the best kitchen (pictured). Yeah, the cabinets were old school, but it was huge and had a lovely gas range. Loved this kitchen. It was also a big upgrade from our tiny one in Beacon Hill which featured a “charming” slanted floor. No seriously. The floor in Beacon Hill was so slanted that we couldn’t fill our glasses to the brim and put them on our table for fear that they would spill or tip over. Not to mention uneven cooking on our stove. Or spilled sauce on plates…
I confess that I’ve fallen in love with someone other than my husband. I’ve spent the last 48 hours obsessing about this new love of mine. I keep looking at profiles and emails and pictures. I can no longer deny how I feel.
I’ve fallen in love with a little house in Massachusetts.
After all of the writing I did on Sunday, we took the boys to my mom’s and went out to meet my realtor to see some houses. I know that we’re moving to a townhouse in three weeks, but that’s not the end goal. The goal is a house. I’m sick of renting, I’m sick of sharing walls, I’m sick of not being able to garden. We need a freaking house.
There were two houses that I wanted to see: One that had been on the market before but had the price reduced significantly, the other an estate sale that had been on the market for a month. My realtor had been to the broker’s open of the first home a few weeks before and wasn’t impressed. Too small, she said. Well, I wanted to see it for myself. She was right–the only full bathroom (the only bathroom in the entire house!) was off of the kitchen. The ceilings were also super low and both The Husband and I felt the need to constantly duck out heads. The stairs leading from the downstairs to the upstairs were the steepest I’ve ever seen in a house. Too steep to even carry the boys up and down safely. The back yard was lovely, and the living area was spacious, but otherwise, we were unimpressed. My realtor was like “I told you so.” Alright fine. I wasted my own time by not trusting you. Fine, lady, fine.
Down the street was the home that I was more interested in, anyway. We hopped in our cars and headed down the street. Took a right onto a private driveway and kept on rolling until we came upon a lovely old farmhouse, complete with a little barn on the side, nestled onto a very wooded lot, with a front yard that got nothing but sunlight. I instantly saw the garden that I could plant there. It screamed for tomatoes and lettuce and maybe some collards, broccoli and asparagus. There weren’t any footpaths between the front door and where the cars were parked, but wouldn’t it be lovely to put that in ourselves anyway?
The house is very plain looking, with two little side doors and four windows on the front. It doesn’t have a lot of “curb appeal” because it’s not on a curb. The house was owned by the same family for a century, and it showed–someone really loved that house. There was a new roof on it (for what we could see) and it was painted fairly recently in a pretty deep yellow (not sunny yellow. Closer to orange, really).
You must know that the house was built in 1914. It’s old, it’s solid, everything is made of solid wood that is stained and gorgeous, including beautifully maintained hardwood floors.
The first thing you step into is a precious little mud room–just big enough for four pairs of shoes, a few rain coats and umbrellas. The next room is the kitchen.
The kitchen was a disaster. Not a lot of counter space, an ancient refrigerator, a teeeny tiny range (not a full sized one. Range that is maybe half the size of a regular range. I remember cooking on one when we first moved to the area and lived in Beacon Hill. You can barely get 2 pans on that thing), no dishwasher, not a lot of counter space, lots of cabinets, but in weird places.
Usually the kitchen is my first and last stop. Regular readers will remember my current life space: 2 loads of laundry, 3 meals a day. There is no way that I could cook 3 meals a day in that kitchen. But maybe it was the haze of my exhaustion from the night before, but I kept walking, first to the former dinning room, which is the first room off of the kitchen.
Magnificent. Adorable windows that overlook the front yard, a little place for nice overhead lighting and a charming little built-in shelf/display area for our dishes. Oh, my God, so breathless. I love built-ins.
Leave that, going back through the kitchen, there is a small half bath off of the kitchen to the right and there is an entrance for the living room to the left. The living room isn’t huge, but large enough for a couch or two and a television. It featured a very old, very yellow shag carpet, but the realtor pointed out that the hardwood in the rest of the house looked great and she suspected that it was nice in that room, too. The room was plenty sunny, with more windows overlooking the front yard. More crown molding, too.
Walking through the living room, there is a wonderful 3 season porch, perfectly sized for either an office or a play area. It barely had a wall, just beautiful windows that let in the sunlight from all angles. Unlike other traditional 3-season porches, this felt like an actual room that could be used are year around. We even suspect that it’s insulted. We’d have to see.
Reasonably steep beautifully dark wooden stairs lead to the second floor, which houses a full bathroom with a clawfoot tub (!!!!) and two bedrooms and a master-bedroom that has an incomplete bathroom. Each room is almost oversized–just delightfully large, and full of sun and views of the ancient trees. There is old wallpaper in every single room of this house–though tasteful wallpaper, not totally dated—but it would have to go. It is clear, though, that the people who owned it before really loved this house and they had pretty good taste. The bathroom with the tub didn’t have a shower, which just happens to be a big problem for The Husband. Did I mention that there are little built-in shelves in the bathroom and in the bedrooms? Along with old narrow closets with the hooks still in them? Oh so charming.
Between the master bedroom and the master bath, there is a door that reveals a staircase to the attic. A HUGE attic. A beautiful, unfinished attic that could easily be finished and turned into a functional room. It was hot as Hades up there while my skinny little realtor looked around without a bead of sweat upon her brow. The Husband and I were waiting for her to stop talking so we could retreat to the coolness of the downstairs.
Last stop, the basement, which is always my least favorite area of the house. I’ve quickly learned that New Englanders don’t seem to care about basements–they are usually small, with low ceilings, damp, poorly lighted, and filled.with.spiders.
So usually I just send The Husband down with the Realtor to examine the good of the basement. Well, when he got to the bottom of the stairs, he looked up to me and said, “actually, it’s really nice down here.”
“I don’t see any.”
The stairs were sturdy, the air cool, the floor dry and not moldy, the area…spacious….and not a single spider in sight. Not even a speck of dust. Holy freaking crap.
The house uses oil for heat (surprise, surprise) which is very expensive and impractical, so we’d have to convert that. Anyone know how much that costs? I suspect it’s a milliony billion dollars.
And did I mention that there is a barn, too? Not a barn that is big enough for animals, but certainly one that is big enough to be turned into a garage! Or a play space? Or an outdoor kitchen? Or an office? Or a craftroom? Or an in-law apartment (read: The place I banish my in-laws to when they invite themselves over to visit)?
I’m in love with this house. I’m in love with this house, ya’ll!!!!
But there are soooo many problems, which my husband just loved to point out to me.
“Would you be able to function in that kitchen?” He asked. No, probably not. It needs a new range, a dishwasher, probably a fridge, and a table island for food prep. Husband’s estimation: $1ok for repairs. Add cabinets and it’s probably another $5k.
“I need a shower,” He says. “We’ll have to convert that tub.” Well, good news, they have thingys for that: $2,000
“We should probably consider converting the house to gave heat.” Works for me, because I prefer cooking on a gas range. How much does that cost? No idea. Let’s guess $15k
Realtor: “The Septic failed. There are plans for it, but you’d have to have it done.” Well shit. $40k.
The cost of the house? $299,900. At the very, very top of our price range. The house is sold as is, so that means that the family isn’t going to do any repairs. And it’s an old house, so you know the inspector is going to come through and find 20 more problems in that house.
I tell my realtor I want this house. Talk to the seller’s agent. Tell them that we’re good and awesome people.
Well, she does. The family says they’ll put the money in escrow for the septic. $40k off of our worries. Woohoo!
But that still leaves the kitchen, and the gas, and the tub.
and oh, Google Maps says that it’s right next to some of the busiest commuter rail tracks in the area. We didn’t hear a train go by when we were there, but it was Sunday so there is less train traffic. The house is on a hill and I couldn’t even see the tracks when I went in the backyard to look around. It could be that a train went by and we didn’t hear it. Three things bother me about the train: 1) hearing it. 2) Having the boys accidentally fall down the hill or something and land on the train tracks and 3) we do the work on the house, raise its value, move to sell it some day and then nobody wants it because it’s freaking too close to train tracks. I told my husband that we need to go out there on a weekday and listen. Maybe the sound won’t be that bad?
(…..I have a feeling that the sound is going to be that bad….)
I don’t really fall in love with things/people this easily. It is hard for me to find attachment to things–relationships are fleeting, even with objects. Once a strong bond is created, I’m loyal and devoted to a fault. You should have seen me the day we sold my first car in exchange for our current one. I wept for hours. But that took years of flying up and down the east coast in that thing. But there is something about this house. I have made an undeniable connection with it.
I’m in love with this house. Unabashed love. Unrelenting love. I can’t stop thinking about it. With all of its faults, known and unknown, I still love this house. The things I could do to it. The dreams that I have for it.
But I don’t have the extra $30k required to make it workable and I don’t know how I feel about the trains. So what do I do now? Anyone out there just giving away money??
I’ll keep you posted. I haven’t given up on it yet…