Home Sweet Home

Two years ago this week, we closed on our new house. We moved in several months later, after having some painting and repairs done. Since then, friends from distant places have asked to hear more about it. We’ve been here a year and a half now, so I guess it’s time.

For nearly 30 years, we’d lived in a 1920s arts and crafts bungalow. It was kind of cute, but it always needed work. And it was so cramped that when my son came along, he slept for years in the upstairs hallway. We’d planned to add onto the house, and even had an architect draw up a preliminary plan. But in the end we decided against spending the staggering amount of money and time that would take, and we began thinking about moving. It took us nearly a year to find a house we liked that we could afford.

We wanted to stay in the neighborhood, but it’s very popular and obscenely expensive, with few houses on the market. It seemed that only two kinds of homes ever came up for sale:

  • Homes that had not had major renovations, meaning they were about the same size and condition as the one we were trying to improve upon. These we could afford, but what was the point of moving to something no bigger than the one we already had?
  • Homes that had started out like that, but that had been beautifully renovated into enormous houses that now sell at more than a million. Keep in mind that I’m not talking about large houses; a large house here is over 1.5 million. As I said, this is an expensive area, and it’s always a seller’s market.

Finally, we found some middle ground. Our new house is a Cape Cod, built in 1954 and only four blocks from our old bungalow, though technically we’re over the line into the next neighborhood. I’m still mourning my old neighborhood. It has a funky, eclectic vibe that appeals to me. But here we have something the old house didn’t have (along with about 600 extra square feet): the front of our new house does not look out on another house, but on a strip of woods with a creek! And our backyard is hilly with a patio and a lot of trees.

It was my husband, Bob, who loved the house instantly. That was surprising. He had a list of must-haves and must-not-haves to which he’d been strictly comparing ever house we’d looked out: no large trees, not a lot of steps, a flat yard…. This one didn’t tick any of his boxes. He’s usually ruled more by his head than his heart, as I am. But he loved the house. I took more convincing. It had a nice feel to it, and a lovely family room with a fireplace, vaulted ceiling, and built-in bookcases. And it had a nice, large office for me. But there just wasn’t enough storage. Finally I agreed that we’d put in an offer, but that I would be able to add storage space without him giving me grief about spending the money.

I have added more built-in bookcases and cabinets, though I want to do more. I’ll post about some of my improvements another time. For now, here are some exterior shots.

Here is the house, complete with my Little Free Library (lower right), though it’s currently closed because of the pandemic. This was taken the day we had the pink dogwood planted in the front yard.
And here is the patio in the backyard. My writer’s group was meeting here that day, masked and distanced, to work on our various writing projects. Note the vertical wooden post near the center of the photo. This is the base for a bird feeder that we’d taken down for maintenance at this time.
And here is our bird feeder, the Library 4 Birds, after repairs and re-installation. The library patrons shown here, a mourning dove and a downy woodpecker, seem happy with the new roof and floor. We also host cardinals, sparrows, catbirds, chickadees, wrens, blue jays, and other birds. And the occasional squirrel or chipmunk. We have very literate birds in our neighborhood.

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