The Sixth House
Hello! When last we got together I was showing you around the outside of our fifth house. Now it is time to bring us up to the present day. As a reminder, we moved to Holland, Michigan late in the summer of 2018 when John started a new job in Grand Rapids. We expected to be there until John retired and undertook designing and building a home that we would love for all of those years (here is the post about that). We all know now that it didn't work out like that! This is about to get chatty, I fear.
John was offered a job right after we broke ground on our Holland house with a different company in Portland, Maine. John and I both grew up on the east coast, John on Long Island and I (mostly) in Connecticut, and the prospect of getting back to the northeast was very appealing to us. John also grew up going to Maine in the summer, Maine is where we honeymooned, our dear friends have a cottage south of Portland that we go to every chance we are offered, and to top it all off John was very interested in the job so it seemed meant to be, even though we were in the process of building a house very far from Maine. Would you call that meant to be?
John lived in an apartment in Portland when he started at his job. Our dream scenario would have been to buy a house in Maine, move in before school started and sell our under construction house in Holland over the summer. Like I said, a dream. We started seriously looking for a house in the Portland area in the beginning of the summer (of 2019). The real estate market was extremely competitive, and this was before Covid. We put offers on two houses, losing both in the closed, multiple bid scenarios that were the norm for buying a house, and didn't even have a chance to bid on any other houses that we were interested in as they were snapped up immediately. By the end of the summer we took a pause. We did not sell our house in Holland and we did not buy a house in Portland. Rather than renting a house in Portland for the family, we decided it made more sense for John to continue in an apartment and for the rest of us to stay in Michigan for the school year. We figured by the spring, our Holland house would be done and on the market, and that it would be, fingers crossed, easier for us to buy a house in Maine in the spring.
Hello Covid. When it became apparent that working from home would be the norm and companies started looking at their office space and in person staff needs going forward, John's company made the decision to relocate a lot of the Portland staff to existing space outside of Columbus, Ohio (once people make it back to the office). Our inability to find a house in Maine was a true blessing, thank you God. Had we bought a house in Portland it would have no doubt led to stories of a seventh house (if not yet, eventually).
We knew that schools were going to be on a hybrid schedule in the Columbus suburbs so as soon as restrictions lifted and we were able to list our house in Holland and tour houses in Ohio we started the process of buying a new home and selling our (very new) Holland home. The real estate market in Columbus was, and remains, on fire. Again, we were facing multiple bids and homes being sold in a matter of hours. The first house we saw online that we really liked we made a special trip to drive to immediately and put an offer in that day. There were actually nineteen offers on the house and ours was not accepted. It was such a cool house. A 1970s/1980s contemporary. A completely different style for us and I loved it and I'm still sad we did not get it. Days after we put an offer on that house our Holland house sold. We really needed to find a house in Ohio.
There was almost no inventory and when something came on the market is was usually under contract the same day. Weeks before we had to be out of our Holland house, I came to Ohio for two days with our older daughter to find a house to buy. John was very busy at work and said he didn't care what the house was like, just to get one. I cannot even fathom saying those words to someone! I made a list of about ten houses that had remained on the market for several days for our realtor so that he could set up appointments. A few of them were no longer available when we got there so we looked at maybe nine houses in total. The first day was not encouraging. When we left the last house for the day our realtor said that it was the most depressing house he had even been in. I was close to tears, real crocodile tears. He assured us that tomorrow would be better.
It was like an episode of House Hunters on HGTV. On the second day my daughter and I narrowed it down to three from the ones we had seen. The first was a new build at the top of our budget. The second was a move in ready house that had a peculiarly shaped back yard. The third house was in a good location and needed a lot of work. Which one do you think we chose?!?!?
If you guessed the third house, you are right! The new build was far out of town and I loved the house across the street so much that it would have tortured me to look at it all of the time. The second house was not really my taste, although move in ready, and there was virtually no backyard for our dog. The house we chose is at the end of a cul-de-sac, has a large backyard and is close to town.
I have been thinking about how to show you our sixth house. It was built in 1996 and is still all original. It has some of the 1990s new fangled architecture features like angled walls and peaked ceilings. There is a lot I want to change about this house and I am going to use the next several blog posts to workshop it out. I'm open to suggestions. If you have any ideas, amazing sources, wonderful contractors, or think I should look at something differently, please feel free to let me know!
To start today, I am going to show you screenshots of the listing photos from when we bought the house. The house was vacant and it seems like the best way to see it, the way we saw it when we bought it. From there over the next several blog posts I will talk about how I want to change rooms and then follow up all those changes with posts on how I want to decorate the rooms. As hard as it will be for me, I will refrain from any comments about the house or rooms until we get into it.
So, here we go.
The Front Entryway
The Study/Living Room
The Dining Room
The Great Room/Family Room
The Sitting Room/Den
The Powder Room (there is no listing photo of the laundry room next to the powder room)
The Master Bedroom
The Master Sitting Area
The Master Bath
Bedroom Three (which actually had three listing photos)
The Hall Bath was not shown in the listing. Make of that what you will.
I think there is some room for improvement in this house, what about you? As I write this, I must admit I am feeling rather hopeless (funny I just typed hopeful by accident and corrected it, hopefully a good sign!) because we have not secured a contractor yet to do our renovation. I have someone I want to work with desperately and he is extremely busy. I pray by the time I have shown you all of the plans and overall vision for the house we will have connected and we are able to begin moving forward.
I hope you are around for the journey.
Thank you for coming to see our sixth house,