Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Do you love your home?

I was helping a woman in our store the other day. She was looking for fabric to recover her dining room chairs.

"I'm 80. I only need them to last another 10 years." she said. Then I'll be dead.

Believe it or not, this is not the first time I've heard a customer say that.

I needed a little direction to help her find the best fabric. So we started chatting about her house.

She told me she hates her house. And she really hates her dining room because it doesn't have a window. "Who would make a dining room without a window?" she asked. "And it's in the wrong place too. It's right by the front door so everyone dumps their stuff on the table. I have to cover it with a tablecloth so the beautiful wood isn't ruined. A man must have designed my house. A women never would have put the dining room there." she scoffed.

"Why don't you blow out the wall and add a window?" I asked.

"Well my son offered to put in a skylight. But I always thought we wouldn't be here that long. So I never did." she answered.

"Well, you plan on being there ten more years, do it now!" I said and smiled.

She smiled back. She kind of liked that idea.

The last time she did anything in the dining room was when they moved into the house. That was 1973.

She and her husband bought the house because it was the only thing available at the time. It's your basic no frills, starter/tract home. Their plan was to live there 6 years then find her dream house.

Unfortunately, her husband decided that he liked the house and wanted to pay it off instead of moving. So they stayed. And she has disliked it ever since. And she is not shy about telling you. So I'm sure her husband is aware of how she feels.

I found that so sad. She was very open with me about the type of house she wanted. She dreamed about living in a California craftsman style home with a big porch.

She then went on to tell me an even sadder story. Her parents lived in Alameda in a California craftsman style home. They lived in the house over fifty years. It had a huge front porch that wrapped around, a dumb waiter and a back porch too. She really loved that house.

Then one day the Alameda school district came knocking on their door. They wanted to buy the house, and two others, to build the school district offices on the three lots. Her parents declined their offer until the school district threatened to take them to court. Her mother was in her seventies and the thought of going to court scared her to death so they sold the house.

The school district gave them 90 days to find a new place to live. Then they immediately tore down all three houses and black topped the area. And that is how it has been for a very long time. They never did build the school offices there.

She said she drives by every couple of years to see the old neighborhood and it's the same.

Here's an example of a California Craftsman in Alameda. This one is for sale on Pearl Street. It's definitely not a tract home. I think she should go for it. It's never too late to start over.

Her story got me thinking about where we live.

Don really hates our townhouse. I mean really hates it. He wants a yard and more space. And a garage. I'm not crazy about it either but I've accepted it. Our plan was to live here for a few years. As in two. That was 4 years ago.

I need a "moving to a better place" plan. I don't want him becoming bitter and resentful like her.


  1. Kris, I didn't know you lived in a town house. Your Norwalk home was so big and had the yard and nice neighborhood. I hope you find the place you will love! I know for myself that where I live is extremely important - renting someone else's dumpy but big condo for 3 1/2 months was depressing. When we moved to FL, I knew the house we bought would have to have certain features like I had in CT, cause I LOVED the house we built there. Plus some things I didnt have, like a large laundry room. We looked at over 40 houses and found one that had almost everything on our wish list. And the colors and style match our furntiure and artwork! Market timing was on our side too - houses in our neighborhood sold for 200,000 more just a couple years ago.

  2. I can't believe we live in a townhouse either. The housing market is so expensive here our townhouse was valued at $750,000 when we moved in. That's just a little less than we sold our CT house for. CRAZY!

    I just checked zillow and the townhouse is now valued at $492,000 - a bargain! The market is really volatile, plus the kind of house we want we can't afford. It's a bummer.

  3. alixandra mullinsMay 4, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    yeah - find a new house - it's perfect timing according to astrology... (lol_)


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