Friday, October 4, 2013

31 Days: House Hunting From The Inside Out

Welcome to the cafe! This month, I am participating in a 31 day challenge to blog about one topic. My theme for the month of October is this:

A BIG part of the home relocation process involves house hunting. Yesterday, I offered some tips on choosing a house with the outside features in mind. Today, I thought I'd offer our experiences with house hunting from the inside out.

To tell you the truth, I rarely have a firm list in mind of the items that a house MUST have on the inside, for one simple reason. A house and its various rooms can often be changed and updated and modified to suit your family's needs.

I always have to roll my eyes when I hear the couples on House Hunters that say "But the kitchen doesn't have stainless steel appliances! And I don't like the bedroom color AT ALL!" Hell-o! There are these magical places called Home Improvement Centers that sell appliances and paint and all sorts of wonderful items to customize your home.

I don't get hung up on the little things. But I do pay attention to some other things, such as:

*How is the flow of the house?
*How is the natural light?
*Are there enough bedrooms?
*Is the square footage adequate for our family?
*Where are the bathrooms?
*Will it need new flooring?
*Are the mechanicals like furnace, air conditioner, water heater, roof, in good working order?
*Are there a lot of signs of "deferred maintenance", such as water damaged ceilings, cracks in walls, cracks in tiles, etc?
*Any signs of mold or mildew?
*Are the home improvement projects beyond our expertise and budget?

For our most recent move, I really wanted an older home that felt solid. I wanted a house with character and quirky features, a place that would feel happy and warm and cozy.

When we first toured our house, it was empty. Empty houses just do not show well for most home buyers with limited imaginations. Our realtor did not like this house at all. She felt that it was too dated.  But I managed to see beyond the cavernous empty spaces, and here is what I found.

A massive, gracious foyer with terrazzo tile and a shabby chic wallpaper that I could love!

Gleaming hardwood floors!

Crown moldings!

Lots of built-ins and closets with tons of storage!

Quirky features like built-in cuttings boards and pocket doors!

Bathrooms with vintage tiles!

And the piece de la resistance...a laundry room that was destined to become my happy place!

And look! A laundry chute!
I am not exaggerating when I tell you that the moment I walked into the laundry room, with its happy yellow gingham wallpaper and laundry chute and door leading to the back patio, I knew this was the house for me. Yes, I love laundry that much. Chefs love gourmet kitchens. I love big sunny laundry rooms!

This house made me happy, plain and simple.

My husband, Mr. No Vision Guy, just could not see it.

It took a few more weeks of house hunting before I convinced him to go give this house another tour with a fresh set of eyes.

He still didn't see it.

But he trusted me, and eventually, I wore him down with all of the positive features of this home. Neutral decor, Honey! You won't have to paint (much!). Plush carpets! A family room with a wood burning fireplace for your man cave movie room! A living room with a gas fireplace and bookshelves! Big bedrooms for the kids! A private and secluded back yard!

We've been living in our home since Memorial Day weekend, and I have to say that we all love this house now. It is not a perfect house, and it is not a model home. It is just a perfect house for us.

If a house gives you a feeling when you walk into it, trust that feeling.


Make a list of the features you must have in a home. The list might include:

*Number of bedrooms
*Placement of bedrooms
*Number of bathrooms
*Fireplace (wood or gas burning?)
*Square footage
*Basement or no basement
*Placement of laundry room
*Room for an office, if necessary
*Extent of home repairs and remodeling
*Storage space

When you've completed your must-have list, you may want to add an "it would be wonderful if it also had" list. This could include:

*Updated kitchens and bathrooms, if you are not handy and do not have a budget for remodeling
*Newer flooring (carpets, hardwood, etc.)
*Neutral decor (if painting is not your forte)
*Outdoor features such as pools, sheds, entertaining spaces, playground equipment, etc.
*Space for home theater

Share some of the important  items with your realtor so that he or she can narrow down your search.

1 comment:

  1. So true that you can get a sense of whether the house is 'yours' when you step in! Some just feel right. :) We are in our 5th house (in 6 years of military marriage), and it's the first one we have purchased. I knew as I stood in the kitchen during our tour that I could make all our dinners at that stove while my toddlers played nearby in the adjacent sunroom. And that's just what we do!