Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Elusive Bungalow

It goes without saying that I enjoy shopping for old stuff, especially those diamond-in-the-rough pieces that turn up at estate sales and charity shops. Shopping for our first home—now two weeks into the process—is proving to have that same joyful rush of finding something special that others have overlooked, but with a layer of anxiety I wasn’t expecting.

My problem is this intense love for period homes, especially those that haven’t been messed with too much over the years. Wood windows, clawfoot tubs, old kitchen cabinets, wood floors – these are the things of my dream house. But where they are to be found, I’m also finding oil tanks, outdated electrical, and old sewer lines.

Oh, the dilemma of buying a fixer.

First there was the excitement of finding this vintage house with a farmhouse-style porch. The price was a bargain, but too good to be true. It turned out the house was bank-owned and they were only excepting cash offers.

Next, we almost took the plunge with this darling 1924 bungalow on a pretty, tree-lined street—a house with a list of projects that might keep us busy for years, but eventually it could be restored to its former glory.

Alas, it was something we hadn’t been expecting that forced us to walk away – the neighboring properties to the south were zoned commercial. Yes, having a vibrant commercial street with lots of locally-owned establishments within close proximity was a huge plus…but having them on the other side of the fence was a little too close. I didn’t want to live with the fear that one day I might wake up to find my backyard neighbor was a rowdy pub.

Goodbye lovely porch. Au revoir sunny kitchen nook and leaded glass cabinets. We hope someone doesn’t remodel you to death, but, for us, you were not meant to be.

And so the search continues….