Spring has, at last, sprung at Maison Newton and I've been so busy the past several weekends doing yard work, OY! This is one of the reasons I wanted to downsize to a smaller house and smaller yard than what I have now. I love my yards and my gardens, but they are, quite frankly, too much for me to handle on my own at this point in my life. My plan was for Mr. Don to be here with me during our Golden Years to help with the necessary. He loved puttering around in the gardens, too. But it did not come to pass.
So - on to House 5. If you take a look at the prior posts, you will see my adventures with Houses 4, 3, 2 and 1.
House 5 went on the market on or about May 1st. When I opened up the browser early one morning, still half asleep, sipping my instant coffee before doing the trudge back upstairs to get ready for work, my eyes widened and I instantly became fully awake when I saw A NEW LISTING!
The house is 3982 S. 74. In fact, next store, directly to the north of 4002 S. 74 (House 4). I had finally viewed 4002 on May 2nd, and so admired what it had to offer and its potential, I was ready to put in an offer to buy it. BUT -- I wanted to see 3982 before reaching a final decision. I was itching to pull the trigger on a house at this point. I had had enough of looking at houses and dickering with sellers. I wanted to settle on a place and BUY IT.
There she is - 3982. This is a typical basic ranch style house for our area: three small bedrooms, one bath, one living room, one kitchen with dining area. Full 11 course concrete block basement as large as the square footage above. Stone or brick facade on front of house, aluminum or vinyl siding on the rest of the house. Ranch-style windows (narrow and short) in bedrooms. Separate garage built at the back of the lot. They were put up in our area by the thousands during the 1950-1960's. This particular house was built in - 1955. 4002 and 4029 were built the following year, in 1956, but have the exact same floor plan, with minor variations in bedroom configurations, and identical square footage on the main living area.
Here is what 3928 did not have: 4002's lovely bay window with crank-out windows on either end to provide cross-ventilation with the dinette window (that had two narrow windows on either side of a large picture window that could be opened), and a curved front sidewalk with a beautiful decorative flowering tree, expertly trimmed shrub linking the public sidewalk area to the house walk-way, and the driveway-side lot line adorned with climbing roses at either end of the house; OR 4029's cute and smartly-designed front garden area, sharp decorative paint job with cool colors, decorative shutters, and decorative metal thing hung between the two front bedroom windows to provide the final finishing touch.
All can be fixed, of course, but still...
OF COURSE 3982 sellers' schedule and mine did not coordinate. I had hoped to see 3982 the same evening I saw 4002, but alas, it did not come about. I was not able to view 3982 until the evening of Friday, May 6th. Four long days of waiting, tick tick tick, and having ants in my pants the entire time...
The property listing for 3982 made a point of noting that the following items were new: (1) furnace; (2) air-conditioning unit; (3) remodeled main floor bathroom, with new bath tub; (4) siding on house AND garage; (5) exterior doors (front door, side door that exits at driveway and -- PATIO DOOR!!!!!) The Patio Door is extremely important because that meant these owners took the time and expense to replace the 1950's style picture window in the dinette area looking out over the backyard with a brand new (mini-blinds inside) sliding patio door, with new steps, down to a (6) beautifully finished concrete patio and (7) fully privacy-fenced backyard. Let's see, did I miss anything? Oh yeah, (8) a new high-end laminate floor installed in the kitchen/dinette area in a rich deep red mahogany-like color that I fell in love with instantly upon seeing it in person. This flooring was NOT shown in any of the listing photographs, BTW. Neither was the patio door.
No photographs of what I consider the BEST features of 3982 were featured in the real estate listing. Why on earth not? Anyway, my buyer broker and I appeared shortly after 5:30 p.m. on May 6th, and we entered the property. The side entrance to the house is exactly the same as 4002 and 4029 - off the driveway; there is a small landing, perhaps 36 inches square, and from there are stairs to the basement and, a step up into the dinette area of the kitchen/dinette. The kitchen/dinette area at 4029, 4002 and 3982, designed in the same manner, are all approximately 11' x 19', with each area (kitchen, dinette) taking up approximately 1/2 of the length.
It's all in the details, darlings. As you know...
First thing I noticed upon entering the dinette area of the kitchen was THE PATIO DOOR. I swear that Heavenly Rays of Light Were Shooting Forth, and in the background, I could hear a Heavenly Choir strike a harmonious chord -- TA DA!
No photos of patio door exist in the real estate listing. I had my camera with me, but I was too busy whipping out my tape measure to measure the square footage in the dinette area, because I was worried that my 56" diameter dinette table and 4 large but comfy dinette chairs would not fit in the space! Especially with a ginormous fridge with lower drawer freezer that must have measured 200 inches across (well, maybe 36" across) parked in the dinette area rather than in the kitchen-proper area.
What the hell????
My dinette table and chairs, which I am in no position to give up, will fit in the space - barely. Note, though, there is a large opening cut-through the wall separating the dinette area from the living room area; it allows tons of light to flow from the front of the house to the back of the house. Said wall could be removed down to the floor, fully opening the space..
Still - that unfortunately-situated monster fridge. I don't need such a large refrigerator/freezer. It appears the current owners did not relocate the entryway into the kitchen to make more room for the gigantic fridge on the "kitchen" side of the space, and opted for the cut-out/pass-through instead; but the fridge was a major downer.
What charmed my pants off, though, was the patio door. Whooosh, my broker and I opened it up and went down the steps (made of composite, very nice, no maintenance needed and will last forever), to the brand-new concrete patio screened from the driveway and prying eyes to the south by an equally new six-foot tall cedar privacy fence.
No photos of any of this rich bounty exist in the real estate listing! What on earth was the listing broker thinking??? These were major selling points for me, not shown in the listing!
Here is a photo of the kitchen from the listing:
Cute, heh? Lots of cabinet space. Notice the same corner sink with windows design that 4029 and 4002 also have. Notice, even, that THESE cabinets appear to be identical to those in 4002, complete with the arched upper cabinets and the "plainer" lower cabinets (no arch). Also notice what is missing - REFRIGERATOR.
I consider this a major design flaw. 3982 chose to extend a peninsula and make a breakfast bar (seating for two) into the middle of the room, rather than moving the entrance into the kitchen by extending the wall on the left to add room for a fridge.
I give the owners props for nice decor. There is a dark grey tile backsplash. I'm not particularly a fan of that for a backsplash, but it does go well with the grey walls, white counter-tops and chevron pelmets above the corner windows.
I'm not a fan of oak. Had already determined to paint the oak cabinets in 4002 if I ended up buying that property; would do the same here.
Major Minus: the flooring color (brand new according to the listing - you can see it in the photo below) -- DOES NOT GO WHATSOEVER WITH THE OAK COLOR OF THE CABINETS. It is a mahogany reddish tone with entirely different graining than the oak cabinets. Major clash. What were they thinking??? Maybe Mrs. Owner intended to paint the cabinets???
You may get an idea of how cramped the dinette area is (because of that ginormous fridge) in this photo:
This photo shows you the (1) new wood floor (2) the original light-ish "blond" woodwork trim from the 1950's (3) the new outside door in a darkish faux-oak finish -- none of which look good together. I am not a matchy-matchy person when it comes to wood, but styles and/or colors MUST coordinate, else it looks like a hot mess. This room is a hot mess when it comes to the wood finishes.
Notice the little dining table. Oh my. My elbows would not fit on such a little table. On the right, you can see a part of the gigantic refrigerator/freezer combo. On the right you can also see the cut through/pass through to the living room that opens up the space to light from the living room picture window. You can also see part of the HULK fridge on the right corner of the photo.
I do not like the built-in cabinet on the far wall, either. It is not centered, for one thing, looks totally off kilter and out of place. 4029 had closed off that cabinet in the dinette area but had opened it up on the basement-stair wall, where it is much more practical to my way of thinking.
What is not shown in this photo is the patio door on the left, out of view. Staircase to the landing (entry from driveway) and the basement staircase is just outside the door (see the step down?), to the right.
Here is the living room/front room. It is not a large space - 14' x 15'. My current front room is 16' x 19' with vaulted ceiling and I have furniture, unfortunately, the size to match such a space! Not enough room. Downsizing is a REAL BITCH in reality. What do I give up, and what do I try to fit into a house that is 500 square feet smaller than my current space?
Above is the bathroom. These sellers did NOT install a glass block window, hooray! Mucho points in their favor. There is tile. There are new fixtures. There are currently hip colors. It is stylish. It is not my style, exactly, but it is livable. Low water-flush toilet is a definite plus in my book. This house features a linen closet just outside the bathroom, and the new vanity is a generous size with lots of storage without overwhelming the small dimensions of the space. Bathtub is new. There is a tile surround in the tub area, as well as a tile accent behind the mirror above the vanity. Very nicely done. The floor is also tile and, good to note, it is in a neutral, albeit somewhat darker color tone, that it did not figure prominently in my first impression of this crucial room. Low maintenance. I like low maintenace.
Here is probably the best photo of the basement rec room area. The listing contained several photos, including close-ups, of the bar area. Several close-ups of the bar area, actually. It's okay, but does not ring my bells. That dropped ceiling - eeeeuuuuwwwwww! I understand the practical aspects of havin easgy-access to pipes, heating vents, electrical wiring, joists, etc. above the drop-ceiling, but this one -- I just don't feel it was well done. And those overhead fluorescent lights - I hate them. They are ugly and remind me of offices I've worked in for the past 44 years.
A couple of nice features about this bar area are (1) the smaller flat-screen t.v. centered at the back of the bar, so people seated at the bar can also enjoy glancing occasionally at whatever is on t.v. and (2) a full-size fridge/freezer on the right side of the bar to keep soda, water, appetizers, etc. cold and fresh. It is flush in the rec-room finished space but sticks out into the unfinished part of the basement (on the other side of the wall). Not sure I'll keep it in the long run. Maybe a mini-fridge that will fit underneath the bar, should I end up using this space.
There is a powder room and a small alcove with a futon bed in it off of this rec-room area, along with the entrance to the unfinished portion of the basement that contains the furnace, hot water heater, utility sinks, washer and dryer, sump-pump, and built-in shelves for storage. Cramped, but usable.
Not a fan of the powder room style. Barren and cold-feeling. The house would benefit from a second full bath, like 4002 offers. But putting one in would entail knocking out walls, reconfiguring, etc. etc. I just can't see me doing that.
There is work to be done at this house. The bedroom floors have been nicely refinished, but I don't like the wall colors, and the woodwork is - yechhy. Kitchen needs to be reconfigured so that fridge actually is in the kitchen area, not the dinette area. That breakfast bar is an inefficient space eater in an area meant for a table and chairs, it needs to go. The oak cabinets do NOT go with the color of laminate flooring in the kitchen/dinette at all! The paint in the living room looks like pea soup turned moldy. The basement stairs are dangerously narrow. On the plus side, the yard has raised beds, good grass, a generous new patio area, privacy fencing, and that patio door access from the house directly to the backyard.
No trees, though -- and full southern exposure all the long summer days. Hmmm....
It also lacks curb appeal.
December 4, 2016: Hola everyone! Winter has arrived in Milwaukee and there are snow flurries today. Despite several hard freezes remarkably my "spikes" in two of my patio planters have absolutely refused to die. The rosemary and thyme plants I nursed inside the house through last winter spent the summer in their pot outside next to the side stoop off the driveway, where they get plenty of sunshine all day long. I transplanted them into a cozy sheltered spot right next to the stoop in October and they are still green and growing, too! With the delay in getting the drywall patching done in the relatively minor "reconstruction" work I had done in my kitchen, I am way behind my time in getting the house decorated. But yesterday I got my wreath decked out with extra lights and dressed the front door of the house, and my battery-operated traditional candles were put up on the window sills all around the house Friday evening. It becomes a ritual to go around at dusk and turn the tops to the right to turn the candles "on" and at bedtime to go around and turn the tops to the left to turn the candles "off." Today I put some "glittery" throw pillow covers purchased new last month from H&M on three of my sofa pillows to glam things up a bit in the living room and add some sparkle. Later on, after I sufficiently fuel myself up with wine and snacks and probably to distract myself while I listen to the Packers game on the radio, I will huff and puff and pull my artificial tree up from storage in the basement. I will decorate it simply this year. Every year I say that, and every year I end up throwing just about everything except the kitchen sink on the tree. I am very proud of myself this year, though. I did not buy a single new ornament or Christmas doo-dad for the house (throw pillow covers don't count!!!) Happy Holidays to all, with hope and fervent prayers for 2017. I've a feeling we're all going to need a lot of help from Goddess in the coming year. Jan