We Bought a House! OMG, What Are We In For?

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10 days from today, we close on a house. It’s my first time buying one, and… wow. Just… wow.

A quick background: We’ve been renting forEVER. We’d found an amazing house that a friend was selling. It was several hundred/month more than we’d budgeted for rent, but he’d rent it to us til we were able to buy it from him. HUGE gorgeous house… but we were living month to month, hand to mouth.

When I slowed significantly on taking cake orders in order to write my books & transition to the next stage in what I wanted to do, our income took a huge hit. We knew it would happen, of course… but we also knew that the hard times would be worth it in the end.

Very recently, we came to acknowledge that there was no way we could continue to live here. We’d never get ahead, we’d never be able to save for a down payment… and the stress was no good for anyone. It was just too much house for a couple that had one member adopt a “starving artist” period of transition.

The house next door is what started the ball rolling. It went up for $100k. Wow. That’s about a third of what the buying price on our house is. Husband noticed, came home, and floated the idea of buying it.

Well, aside from not having a down payment saved up, it was next door. That’d just be weird. Those neighbors were an obnoxious “party” house. The other neighbors would gossip. It’d even be weird for the cats, who would look across their new yard to see “their” old 3 season porch. Yes, our cats factored into the decision – we couldn’t do that to them, LOL!

So we looked at the Star Tribune’s real estate listings online, for the foreclosures. We’ve heard a lot about people getting insane deals on houses, maybe we’d get lucky. We found one that I kept going back to, for some reason that I can’t put my finger on. It was a fairly nondescript house. Nothing spectacular, nothing horrible… not the cheapest, not the most expensive. It didn’t stand out in any way whatsoever… but I thought that there was “something about it”.

It was only 18 minutes away, so we drove by. Again, nothing spectacular, nothing unique… but “something” grabbed me. Now, our driving by there was maybe an hour after the idea of even CONSIDERING buying a house even came up. My husband had NO idea why – and I didn’t either – but I made an appointment to view the house the following day. If I thought it had potential, my husband would arrange to view it as well.

It was a cute house, but obviously needed some TLC. (And a whole lot of DIY, if we’re talking TV station acronyms!). One of the first rooms I saw was the kitchen… and it was almost the last room I saw. I just about cut the viewing short, right there. It was so awful.. Tiny, bizarre shape, bad condition… I cook for a living, damn it! How can I make my living creating and writing about food, while owning a kitchen that I don’t even want to set foot in?

Still reeling from viewing the kitchen, I grudgingly agreed to see the rest of the house. Paul, the real estate agent, led me up to the converted attic, which would probably serve as the master bedroom. I walked up the stairs – beautiful condition! – to the attic. It was a big, open layout area with two “rooms” (not much divide between them), with plenty of sunlight streaming through the windows. The ad obviously did not do this place justice. I was envision the room with carpet – it had no flooring – when I was jolted by something I did NOT expect to see.

As I entered the space and walked towards the far end of the room, there was a little alcove, with beautiful woodwork done. The woodwork sported a sleek skylight… and framed off a hot tub. Um.. What?

Yup. Although there was absolutely no mention of this in the listing – in text or in photo – there it was. From the looks of it, it was so new, it had not even been used yet.

Well, I was mentally placing myself in that tub at the end of a long day… glass of wine in hand… in our little bedroom oasis lofted up from the rest of the world… and I was pretty much sold. A few other factors – big enough basement and garage areas to satisfy my husbands packrat / handyman needs – and I was ready. Called my husband, he came and viewed it… and we put an offer down. Yes, first house we looked at!

Although the house had been on the market for 160 days – and had not seen a drop in price for over a month – Murphy’s Law proved its stronghold on my life ONCE again, and two other people put in offers the same day. After a very stressful, sudden-death “put in your best offer, no negotiating, best offer gets it” bid-off, we won!

We won our bid one week – to the day – after the idea of buying a house was brought up for the first time. Since that time, life has been a whirlwind of packing, planning, horrible shopping trips to Menards… more planning… watching kitchen shows on DIY… not being able to see a movie, commercial, photo, or whatever without focusing on the cabinets, flooring, etc that may be pictured. We’ve kind of gone nuts.

We’ve elected to have a fairly short period between closing and moving in. We are very excited, but it’s a weird time of year – my second book is coming out, I’m getting my competition cake ready for the Food & Wine Show (no gore this year, sorry!)… have an art show cake to make, etc. Was already busy, and now there is juggling contractors, picking curtain fabrics, etc. Lots to do!

We are going kinda nuts with design. After renting so long – I’ve only lived in places with white walls – we’re using color on our walls. (OUR walls! Woo!) We’re coordinating curtains to walls/ flooring, and I’m custom making everything. Even things like picking out light fixtures, because several are missing. It’s fun to have such a blank canvas, and it’s really exciting to know that it’s ours. Anything we do to that house, it’s like we’re just paying the money to ourselves, you know?

So, after tweeting a fair amount about my trials and tribulations with finding a home security company (which took more time, effort, and research than buying the house itself – no exaggeration!), picking fabrics, etc… we’ve decided to blog the experience as we go. You know, assuming I can find the time!

The kitchen? Well.. It’ll be waiting for a while. We’ve sent pictures of it to a kitchen reality show in the hopes of finding some help with it – we honestly can’t even figure out how to lay it out! – and we just really want to get everything else done. The kitchen is a big, standalone project, so it’s important to me that most of our house is pretty much DONE when we move in. It would stress me right out if EVERYTHING needed a ton of work. Oh man… that kitchen!

When the time comes, however… my husband will be custom building our cabinets and everything. It should be interesting… and hopefully not in the “Chinese proverb” sense.

Now that I have the backgrounder done, I’m looking forward to posting fluff about the house. Sharing fabric samples, paint chips, etc. I feel kinda like I’m planning my wedding all over, so… expect that kinda nonsense from me for the next while!

I leave you with photos of my kitchen. OMG. Please don’t let this chip away at my street cred… I swear it’ll be gorgeous when we’re done!

1 thought on “We Bought a House! OMG, What Are We In For?

  1. Your kitchen looks like it used to be a bathroom. lol!
    Seriously though, AMAZING story. I love interior design, just as I love wedding/event planning, and you’re right. They’re totally the same.

    I’d think that alcove was a breakfast nook and the weird spot next to the sink was a built-in pantry. If you’re able to tear down the sink wall, I think you’d have an excellent space. I’d even recommend breaking down the alcove wall… There seems to be plumbing in my “former pantry” space so perhaps the course of action is to do a top view plan of the space, figure out which walls or studs are weight bearing and must remain as part of the architecture of the space, and then work from scratch. I did some kitchen/bathroom design for Home Depot and the number 1 rule is the triangle rule: your sink, stove/oven and fridge should be related to each other like points of a triangle. Not sure if that makes sense, but it’s a good way of starting to visualise the space.

    And if you need tips, ya know where to turn!

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