Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back

It's been already two years since moving into this house. Things are moving slowly. There is no reasons to rush. This is our place. We make sure we pick what we like and do it right. We want to be happy with all outcomes. Our friend told us that we should get long lasting fun at least for the years we pay our mortgage. That is a good way of thinking.

The house shows Craftsman influence - the built-in cabinets in the dining room and the hallway, the dominant fire place, the roof, the front porch which we found out used to be open, and so on. Arts and Crafts movements started around 1910. The house was built in 1925. Typical Craftsman style houses are seen in California, but architects in the east coast could be interested in the new wave at that time. In fact, the Arts and Crafts movement in England was introduced at MFA in Boston for the first time in the US. The architect who designed this house might try to take some new style into this house. The form shown in this house is not as masculine as bungalows in the west coast. I think it's good balance. It's nice to have something a little different in New England where you find a lot of Colonials and Capes.

The previous owner bought the house in the 70's. A lot of regulations have been changed since then. This house hasn't much. When we moved in, it had knobs and tubes. Yes, it's a fire hazard. But, it's an old charm...uh, not this one. First year, we took care of it. The electricians updated all original sockets on the baseboards. This made me quite happy. We were able to avoid ugly plates to hide the old holes on the baseboards. Now, all old wiring is gone. Yay!

We had a lot of rain in spring of 2010. Most of my town used to be a swamp. My area is no exception. The basement was flooded. We saw hoses were sticking out from the neighbors' basements. Over the fence, the next door's yard turned to a pond. We heard quacks over the fence. A duck couple decided to stay the temporary pond for a while.

It was not fun to take care of water in the basement. We installed French drains in the basement in the second year. This works wonderfully. It cost more than what we originally thought, but it's well worth investment. The vendor cleaned up walls in the basement as well. We still run a dehumidifier, but there is no musky smell anymore. And, we still have the field stone walls. These are the old charm!

For any work, finding venders could be tricky. We want to hire somebody who understands why we love the house in addition to having necessary skill. Luckily, ones we have worked with so far all understand the charm of the house. They were careful to keep the charm getting their job done right. We appreciate their respect to the history of the house a lot. Hopefully, this luck lasts long.

We did some work on the house by ourselves as well. I'll talk about some projects we've done next.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Let's the Story Begin!

It was in fall two years ago. My family was almost becoming homeless. We put our townhouse on market to check the water. It was sold in three days! Oops, we didn't expect that would happen in the tough market.

Our serious house hunting began. My husband and I knew what we wanted... not a new construction, something with character and room to convert it to our home. We spent a good amount of time browsing the Internet. One day, I found a listing matched our criteria - the number of bedrooms, the size of the yard, the squire footage, the location, and so on. It was listed as a Colonial built in 1925. Its exterior didn't look exciting. "Hum, we can change it as we like as long as its structure is good..." I started looking the pictures inside. Even in the small photos in the listing, the house showed its lovely woodwork on the window trims and built-in cabinets. I fell in love with the house. "This is it!"

We went to see the house one cold evening. When we got there, the owner was there. She was a small old lady. We could tell she concerned who would buy her house since she loved the house so much. The house was well maintained. We were so impressed by that. It was a full of charms. As we saw on the pictures, the woodwork was beautiful. The doors had original hinges. The spacious basement exposed field stone foundation. The house looked much better than the pictures.

We, however, looked around other houses to be sure that was the one. We saw Capes, Victorians and Colonials in our target area. One Cape was nice, but it had an odd layout and not much room to change things out. One Victorian was gorgeous, but the house was standing at the bottom of the hill in its property. We were not thrilled with its parking either. One Colonial had a nice sun room. We could imagine we hand out there in a warm winter day. But, the second floor was too tight... Another Colonial had a ginormous antique safe in its basement. That was so cool! But, that didn't convince us enough to make an offer.

Finally, we went back to see the one I fell in love with again daytime. The house was in the historic district. There were old houses along the street we couldn't see last time. The yard looked good. The garage was nice and big. We made an offer.

We moved into the house two weeks prior to Christmas. It reminded me the movie, A Miracle on 34th Street. The house was a big Christmas gift to ourselves... even it came with a mortgage. We found a house we love, and that is ours! It's our home!

And, the Smitten Home starts its story...