Tour Of Our New (Old) House. Or, “What Have We Gotten Ourselves Into?”
Quick side story before we begin: When we arrived in Virginia on Friday night, I had Justin name our WiFi connection “MuffinsAreTasty.” (Bonus points if you get the reference.) On Sunday morning, our neighbor brought us muffins, still warm from the oven. Coincidence? Or was she feeding into what she could only assume was a fetish so strong that we’d named our WiFi connection after it?
Either way, coolest neighbor ever.
As you may or may not know, depending on how closely you follow along on social media like Facebook, I had a really hard time with this house hunt.
Like, really hard.
The only person who had it harder was my realtor. Bless. Her. Heart.
(I’ve been in The South for over 10 years now, so I can say that with zero sense of irony.)
As people who sold — by owner — our DIY house within two weeks and managed even to turn a modest profit (you know, if you don’t count all of the money we poured into that sucker), we had high expectations when it came to purchasing our second home. At first, we wanted something that didn’t even need updating. No hard projects — maybe some paint and a little wallpaper removal, but that was it. It didn’t take long to realize, however, that a non-fixer-upper just wasn’t in the cards for us. Anything that didn’t need work was either way too cookie cutter for our tastes, too expensive for our budget, or not in a great location.
And as with any proper house hunt, location should always be the number one factor. After living in the boonies for so long, we knew we wanted to be within walking distance — or a very short drive — from amenities like restaurants, shopping, and parks. And while Williamsburg is a beautiful city, Justin’s commute would’ve been long and the older homes we liked were just not within reach. (Maybe if we’d moved in the spring there would’ve been a broader market, but we had to work with what was available.)
So eventually we focused more on the area of Newport News. The thing about house hunting is that it’s rare for one house to fit every “want” on your list, so a little prioritizing has to occur.
And without further ado, here’s what we ended up with based on our own priorities (great location, one-story home, nice yard, structurally sound):
It’s a 1957 all-brick ranch with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms. It’s approximately 2,000 square feet, including an addition that was added to the back (I’m not sure when), which houses the master bathroom, the half bathroom, and a large sunroom.
Our biggest compromises were the single car garage and the size of the bedrooms. We’ve been spoiled with a huge garage, and now we have to work out that whole car shuffling thing. And the bedrooms are a tight fit, but nothing we can’t handle. Oh, and the kitchen. The kitchen is… well. We’ll get to that. There are three main reasons we bought this home over all of the others we looked at, and we’ll get to that as well.
Eventually I’d like to work out a floor plan so you can really see what we’re dealing with here, but for now you’ll have to settle for the shots I hastily snapped before we trashed the place with boxes and started ripping up carpet.
Oh, the carpet.
When we walked in the door, we were immediately assaulted with mint green carpet directly to the left.
It wasn’t in horrific shape, but it was definitely stained. Before we bought the place, we pulled up a heat register to peek at what was underneath, and it appeared to be hardwoods. That helped us overlook the mint.
Turning back towards the front door, we have a lovely wallpaper mural of an Italian(?) courtyard, complete with marble flooring they likely laid directly over those gorgeous hardwoods.
That hallway leads to the bedrooms and also has a doorway into the kitchen. But back to the living room, pivoting to the right of the wood-burning fireplace is the dining area.
Who doesn’t love a carpeted dining area? This, of course, is where the carpet was stained the worst. (And unfortunately, it wasn’t just food and drinks.)
Now. See that doorway with the “closet doors” to the left? That’s not a closet. That’s actually… uh… this room:
I’m not sure what this room was originally intended to be, but the previous owners were using it as an office. To the right there’s a door going to the back yard, and to the left there’s a door going to the garage. The obvious choice for us is to turn this into a hot tub room.
It will be a laundry room. Duh. That just plain makes sense. Especially because the current laundry room is in the garage:
Here’s the garage looking back towards what will become the laundry room:
And just a little further to the left:
As you can see, the garage comes with what was very likely the original 1950’s kitchen inside the home, complete with yellow Formica countertops. The good news is this means the kitchen has been updated since the home was built. The bad news is it likely hasn’t been updated since I was born. But we’ll get to that.
Heading back into the office/laundry room, this is what it looks like facing back towards the dining area:
If we head up those stairs and straight across the dining room, we’re met with the kitchen:
A lovely nod to late 70’s/early 80’s decor, the kitchen features very dark wood cabinets with brass ring pulls, olive-green laminate countertops, and mauve and mint wallpaper. (Don’t worry — this isn’t the only room with the mauve/mint/floral wallpaper scheme.) The stove is probably from the 80’s, but the giant microwave was replaced in 2011. Whew. So you can tell where modern cooking priorities lie.
Turning back towards the dining area (see that office/laundry room on the other side?), you can see what was probably once the window over the sink is now a pass-through into the sunroom addition, letting in some much-needed light:
It’s actually an eat-in kitchen, as you can see from the photo below (I’m actually standing in the eat-in part).
The problem is that putting a table here would place an obstacle directly in the path from the hallway to the sunroom. If we pivot left, we can see the door to the hallway with closet doors directly across the hall:
If we pivot right, we see the doorway to the sunroom:
And this, dear readers, is the first reason we bought this house:
A bright, airy, sunroom!
It’s a little awkwardly shaped, but I’ll take it. To the right of the windows is a half bath. Does anyone see more mauve and green floral wallpaper? (That weird sticky-outy wall is part of the master bathroom on the other side.)
Turning back towards the kitchen, we can see the pass-through and a long laminate countertop:
And heading back out the doors, we have reason number two we bought this house:
Kids, meet our deck. Our massive, spacious, wraparound deck. (It’s also accessible from the dining room.) And the yard, while definitely not as big or private as our last, is pretty lovely, too:
Turning back towards the house, we can see they did a really nice job of bricking-in the addition to help it match the rest of the house:
Now. Remember that hallway to the right of the front door?
The first doors on the right are a closet. The first door on the left leads into the eat-in area of the kitchen. The rest are bedrooms and a bathroom. A lovely, green bathroom:
This bathroom, once likely the only bathroom in the house, is very tiny. And very green. But it has a full tub/shower, the tile is in pretty great shape, and it’s certainly functional.
Then we have the yellow bedroom:
And the purple bedroom:
And the very, very mint green master bedroom:
It’s hard to tell in the pictures, but the green is definitely of the mint variety and more prominent than it looks here. It’s also the color of the window trim. And the baseboards. And the crown molding. And the closet:
(This looks yellow from the light, but trust me — it’s green.)
Luckily, we have more mauve floral wallpaper in the bathroom to break up all that mint:
So. Obviously we bought another fixer-upper. As I type this, Justin is updating a slew of two-prong outlets and there’s a wad of mint-green carpeting and rotted padding lying in the garage. My hands are blistered from pulling staples out of the floor, and the master bathroom wallpaper was half-ripped down in a Day 1 frenzy I’d rather not talk about.
Instead, I look into our dark (but probably custom) kitchen, at the thick chair rail molding in the hallway and hardwired sconces near the fireplace, at the meticulous way those 1950’s cabinets were installed in the wood-paneled garage, and I see the love that’s gone into it. And I see the potential if we put a bit more.
And, finally, I remember the third reason we bought this house:
Just a short walk away… location, location, location!