Friday, January 13, 2012

Landed Gentry, Part I

After many, many years of renting, the Rules household has finally purchased a home! It's been a long time coming - when we moved here from Chicago, we didn't want to buy a house right away without having a chance to live here and check things out.  Then there were the lost years of the housing boom - where prices skyrocketed - and bust, where prices inched down, even on total dumps.   So we sat tight in our downtown condo, despite the pressure from my mother (a realtor, of course) and sister (a yenta) to stop our crazed hippie lifestyles and buy a house already.

We went about the process backwards. Instead of scouting out nice houses and then going to look at them, we started with the location.  First, we ruled out any towns without a direct line to South Station.  Then, we compiled lots of gossip, hearsay, school test scores, and scuttlebutt to figure out which towns would be potentially good. Then we got in the car and drove around different neighborhoods, peering into people's backyards to see whether there were playsets, approvingly noting little toys in the driveway, and generally seeking the kind of neighborhood where people walk their dogs and kids go out to play.  Then we finally had an agent take us to just a handful of houses.

As a result, our house hunting was actually kind of fun.  I am naturally a nosy person and am sad that HGTV always tells people to remove their personalization from the house.  I love checking out people's photographs of children, diplomas, ketubahs, school lunch menus, and memos.   But every once in a while, you find some wild stuff.

One time, we were looking at one quite beautiful and updated house, when we found out about the neighbors. "Well," the agent said, "It's sort of a commune." There were four houses that were owned by siblings ("Ugh," I thought, "too much like Big Love") and they had a small farm where they sold eggs...and honey. "Bees!" I exclaimed. "No way."

Another house had about five cats (that is the one thing I don't like about people's houses - cats. I'm so allergic my eyes start tingling right away), two large German shepherds ("We can't go in just yet," explained the agent, "The owner is muzzling the dog."), and a live goat. 

Next door to that house was a lady who offered twice-daily yoga classes. "She has widened her driveway to accomodate all the cars," beamed the agent, as if that was a good thing.

One fantastic house had been built in 1840 and was completely, gorgeously, Martha Stewart-y redone. It had an enormous sunny kitchen with built-ins and cute sunrooms and nooks everywhere.  I was already planning where to put everything when my husband nixed it. "It just feels like a B&B in here," he said.

I was so excited to see this one house that was in a terrific location, but upon walking in the door, I didn't realize that I was entering a weird time machine bringing me back to 1985.  And it wasn't just sort of boringly outdated; it was spectacularly outdated, with hot pink and turquoise touches to complement the shiny black furniture.  When I was in middle school, I would have thought this was the coolest house ever!

And then there was the house with the mother of pearl toilet seat in the powder room, the mirrored wall in the den, and the wall-to-wall leopard print carpet in the master bedroom (eeeww). 

Guess which one was our pick?

To be continued...


  1. If you got the Martha Stewart house I will be so jealous!!! Curious as to where you were looking...we are in West Roxbury, right on the Dedham line, and won't be here forever. Probably another 5 years or so. Hubby works in the financial district so we need the South Station line too...

  2. Outdated one so that you can update and actually add value and have things the way you want it. No point if the place is already perfect and you have to upkeep it - then it's just a money pit. If something has survived since the 80s without much renovation then likely it can withstanding your renovations.

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