Small Space Embrace

Once we had decided on the general location where we wished to relocate, Bob and I had two main requirements during our new house search: a basement and a garage. Our previous homes lacked these two features and we were eager to experience the joy of pulling into a specialized parking space attached to our own home while in the middle of a driving rainstorm. And, we were desperate for a space where the kids could be sent when the sheer volume of their existence made me want to punch a unicorn (more specifically, the 30 minutes prior to dinner).

We also really wanted a home that felt cozy. We missed the smaller spaces and little nooks and crannies of our first house in Alexandria. But, we needed actual full-size closets to go along with all that character. Our Richmond house had storage to spare but it’s large size was a lot for us to maintain and keep clean. Plus, I was always losing the kids or yelling up the stairs or across the entire length of the house. Some of the rooms went mostly unused. We needed the best features of the two homes – coziness and closet space – combined into one house plopped on top of a basement with a garage attached.

In addition, we had a whole entire separate wish list of things that would be nice: a screened-in porch (bugs – so many bugs in the South), first floor master (trying to think practical and long-term which just proves we’re getting older), a gas fireplace (Bob is scared of indoor fire) and, lastly, we were really hoping for a nice open view since the mountains are one of the reasons we zeroed in on this area to begin with. All of these things would be nice, we thought, but since we’re easily swayed, none of them were deal breakers.

We’re still amazed that we found a home that checked everything off our wish list(s) and then some.

IMG_2214

At about 1,800 square feet, the new house is definitely cozy but with an unfinished basement of roughly the same size, it easily holds all of our stuff. It is light and bright on the inside thanks to an abundance of windows and we love, love most everything about it.

Bob and I decided, well before moving day, that we were going to take six months to just clear and clean the home (C & C because we cannot do anything around here without naming our efforts). We are a bit weary of major home improvement projects and since this home is in such good shape to begin with, we’re going to take our time and spend our first few months in the house enjoying the scenery without feeling rushed to make big changes.

The only exception to that rule may be painting. The entire house needs to be repainted since there is an awful lot of faux finishes and strong color choices working against us currently. And, the trim and doors throughout are ivory so if you have any suggestions about what works with cream-colored woodwork, we’d be happy to hear it.

(All of the following pictures were taken on closing day and shortly after we had dumped the contents of our two cars throughout the house.)

IMG_2124

The kitchen is a great size and sits at the front of the house which I really like since it captures the views from the large bay window where we’ve placed a small table. I don’t love the cabinets but they’re in good shape and have some really nice built-in features. The appliances are in excellent condition and the only plans we have for this space in the short-term are to remove the too-low microwave and replace it with a standard vent, switch out the faucet for one that I can actually fit a pot underneath and to paint the dark red, rag-rolled walls.

IMG_2127

Off of the kitchen and foyer sits the combination dining room/living room. More faux painting adorns the walls in this room but with french doors that lead to the big screened-in porch, I’m willing to overlook them for a bit. There is also a column/room divider thing (I’m not even sure what to call it) that we confirmed with the previous homeowner is decorative and not structural. It needs to come down. It’s… odd and visually makes the dining area seem huge while limiting the furniture placement on the living room side. Naturally, it’s also faux painted. My parents are visiting this month and I have a feeling my Dad would be delighted to get to demolish something.

IMG_2133

There is one central hallway that leads to the bedrooms and which also contains a super convenient laundry closet. The kid’s bedrooms are on the small side so furniture placement has been tricky. The previous owner had a third bathroom rough-plumbed in the basement when the home was built so we envision eventually finishing off that space with another bedroom, bath and family room.

IMG_2137

Millie’s room has three large windows that catch the morning sun coming over the mountains.

IMG_2141

Our master is generous in size and came equipped with a headboard and faux-leather-looking wallpaper! Awesome! However, it also has a completely renovated bathroom with a great walk-in shower and fancy heated floors (that we never turn on). It accommodates my desk perfectly since I don’t have a dedicated office in this home. It’s very cozy and after having hardwood floors throughout virtually every room in our Richmond house, I definitely prefer carpet in the sleeping spaces. It’s just softer both visually and underfoot.

This house has so much potential and we get excited talking about opening the wall between the kitchen and dining area or running rough-hewn beams across the cathedral ceiling in the living room or replacing the vinyl siding with a lovely, soft yellow HardiPlank but it’s also the first house that we’ve lived in that we haven’t felt like we need to do all of that all at once. We’re too busy right now enjoying the view.

This morning's sunrise.

This morning’s sunrise.

New Digs

We’ve been in our new house for just over a week now and I have some thoughts.

1. Having a basement is just as awesome as I had made it out to be in my mind. When the kids get rowdy or the in-fighting reaches fever pitch because we’re all stuck inside (because it snowed/is freezing AGAIN), I banish them to the lower level to run it out. When the screeching/screaming escalates, I simply close the door and everything is magically muffled.

Also, we had the movers put every single one of our moving boxes and bins down there so we could unpack at our leisure instead of being buried by cardboard in every room right out of the gate. This turned out to be a great plan but I imagine the moving guys were seriously bummed when they pulled up to our one-story house and then we broke the news that they were going to have to cart everything one floor down.

2. At some point, we are totally going to hit a deer with our car(s). It is inevitable. They kind of just… hang out everywhere – right outside of our windows, at the bus stop in the morning, meandering across the roads all casual-like even though you should really pick up the pace there little buddy because that propane truck is barreling around the corner. It would be cute if it didn’t feel a little like they were loitering. Also, the kids spied a dead deer on the side of the road and the scene involved vultures and oh my goodness, there were some Circle of Life conversations after that one.

It appears I’m a little high strung about the wild animals because Bob, right before he left town for a few days, told me he spotted a coyote walking across the back field. When I expressed incredulousness he said they just look like “big dogs.” I’ve never seen a coyote because I’m not from Alaska (That’s where coyotes are from, right? I’m guessing here.). So, when a husky-ish looking “big dog” meandered onto our front porch yesterday morning, I promptly passed out. Then, I noticed the collar around its neck (name tag and all) and felt like an idiot. I still don’t know what a coyote looks like. There are also wild turkeys out here along with foxes and some aggressive crows that will not leave our garbage alone, making them the squirrels of the bird family.

I want our entire spring to be spent exactly like this - outdoors.

3. We spent a good portion of our time last week outside enjoying the scenery and mild(er) weather. For reasons I find very confusing, everyone ended up with splinters in their hands/fingers. Henry got a couple of splinters from a fence and Charlie said his splinter came from “the ground.” Anyway, I am becoming excellent at splinter removal since Google tells me that splinters can lead to infection, gangrene and then amputation. So, apparently, out they must come. I don’t want to brag or anything, but I have the technique and precision of a Civil War battlefield surgeon. After dealing with Henry’s uncooperativeness over the sewing needle I had to use, I just simply dug Charlie’s out with a pair of Tweezers. Sometimes, you just have to get it done.

4. I have never understood why people on House Hunters always lament when a kitchen in a house they are considering buying is sans center island. Now, I understand their plight. I’ve never had a kitchen island before but I do now and I am surprised by how much I love it. There are no upper cabinets in the way, plenty of light and you can walk all the way around it as you grab things from the pantry and the refrigerator and every other direction, throwing together meals and packing lunch boxes. You’ve probably already discovered the joy of the kitchen island but let me have my moment here.

And, about that kitchen. I’m cleaning our new one with a determination and detail that surprises even me. We found evidence of mice in the pantry and since Bob reacted negatively when I suggested that we sell and move to a house without mice, my only option was to clear and clean the entire space. Drawers have been removed, nooks and crannies have been vacuumed, the dreaded under-sink cabinet has been cleared (it is always the WORST). I come from a long line of people that have been known to break out the Q-tips on cleaning day so I really feel like I’m honoring the obsessiveness found in my family tree with this move. However, cleaning this way takes a LONG time so I still haven’t cooked a proper meal since we moved in. But, the stove is next.

5. Henry’s transition to his new school could not have gone better. I find myself repeatedly underestimating the strength and grit of my children. He has made new friends and joined new clubs and it is all just going swimmingly. Charlie and Millie are also getting settled and seem happy to explore their new surroundings. It helps that we bought Charlie a Gator sized just for him. It is so, so slow which makes watching him from the windows as he circumnavigates the house absolutely hilarious. It’s like slow-motion. There is no way he could outrun a coyote in that thing.

IMG_2171

I still can’t believe we’re on the other side of the move. We worked so hard for months to make the transition happen and I am eternally grateful that it all came together.