When Bad Things Happen To Good Houses
22 April 2010
Even though I love house hunting more than just about anything else in the world there are some things about it that make me wonder if I’m a capable of murder.
But before I go into that, let’s get something out of the way right now since I’ll probably be talking about this subject ad nauseum for the next several months: I’m selling my house and looking for a new one. Why? My house is 850-square-feet on a good day (I used to think it was 900 square feet but according to the assessor that was optimistic) and when I bought it six years ago I was planning on living here alone forever with my dog, Rex. It was perfect for the two of us. But then I met my now-husband and he (and large quantities of sporting equipment) moved in. And now it’s so crowded it looks like an episode of Hoarders. The prospect of moving is exciting but also heartbreaking. I love this house. I love the street. I love the neighbors. I love the sounds of the birds in the morning and the thud of the newspaper being delivered and even the garbage cans rolling down the extremely steep hill and falling over and spilling trash down the whole block. I’m probably going to sob uncontrollably when I close the door behind me for the last time. However the time has come to move on.
Now back to the murder part.
When walking into an old house, say a Victorian or a Craftsman, that’s been “improved” with “modern updates.” I experience a range of emotions and sensations: sad, fearful, short of breath. Mostly, though, I just become angry. Scarily angry. I’m particularly sensitive to flooring. Wall-to-wall carpet engenders suicidal (no, make that homicidal) thoughts. The kind of scene depicted below might necesitate someone holding me down.
Vinyl or other kinds of cheap flooring make me irate, too. When I walk into a house and see that original built-in cabinetry has been removed or old doors have been replaced with sliding mirrored doors or some other atrocity, I literally want to kill the person responsible. I’ve been shushed at open houses for uncontrollably spewing obscenities at the sight of a kitchen whose 1920s-era pantry has been pried out in favor of a Sub-Zero fridge or whose original porcelain subway tile has been replaced by the (menacing and ubiquitous) granite countertops.
Today I went to look at house for sale. It was adorable from the outside. An unassuming yet elegant Craftsman bungalow, built in 1910, in a neighborhood that reminded me of the quiet streets of one of my one-time home, Lincoln, Nebraska. “This is great!” I thought. “Not a manse in the hills, not a Dwell Magazine-ish hipster pad in a fixed gear bicycle-ridden hipsterhood. Just a solid old house in a solid, middle class neighborhood.” So, in great anticipation, I climbed the porch steps, lovingly touched its majestic stone columns, and opened the front door. I then noticed that the front door was from Home Depot and featured a frosted glass design of (no joke) hummingbirds. The floors were supposed to look like hardwood but they were actually laminate. The original bathroom details had been swapped out for sliding shower doors from Home Depot and cheap vanity sinks.
And then there was the fiireplace. I'm pretty sure it could be turned on with a remote control device.
So sick and wrong. However, a bargain at just over $500,000.