A combined kitchen/dining/family room didn’t give my kids any privacy when hanging with their friends, so they preferred spending time at the houses of friends who had a separate room for playing games/watching movies/etc.
While a city neighborhood full of mid-century ranches and small, independent businesses would be cool and all, it wouldn’t get us the things we’re really yearning for. (And because if more people who like what we like join us, the community will change in ways we’d like.) No, there isn’t the kind of hipster cool we see in Portland: But there’s still a kind of cool.Our front yard isn’t particularly large, but it feels spacious because there’s a nice distance between our house and the neighbors on either side: We like our neighborhood so much better than many of the new neighborhoods we see, with houses all crammed together on postage-stamp lots, nothing much more than paint color to distinguish one from the other. But we see so much potential here, especially for people like us.Our neighborhood has an organic, grown-over-time quality that we just don’t see in new developments. (Meaning, people with more energy than money, who like a good project and want to make a place their own.) Take a look at this home, which was on the market for less than a week before a “sale pending” sticker appeared on the realtor’s sign: This is a project house, for sure–but when we look at it we don’t so much see the dated color scheme and too-cute window boxes and boxy shape as we see that sweet bay window and space for kids and the trees framing three sides of the house.We might not have a whole lotta dollars, but we’re supporting the kinds of businesses we’d like to see more of with the ones we’ve got. Right now it’s got all kinds of funky wallpaper, and we still need to tear the carpet out of the bedrooms, and the exterior needs paint, and the landscaping needs an overhaul, and most of the light fixtures are brassy uglies, and don’t even get me started on the living room ceiling, done in something we call “wedding cake.” (Close cousin to the popcorn ceiling, which we have in all our bedrooms.) Here on move-in day, you can see our wallpaper and border, one of our brassy glassy light fixtures, and the wedding cake ceiling.We’ve already replaced that floor, which you can read about in our cork flooring posts.We’re thinking the rage for mid-century modern has just about run its course, and something else will have to take its place. While we loved the idea of a small, vintage house in a great neighborhood full of old trees and great restaurants and independent bookstores and one-of-a-kind shops, we knew that just wouldn’t work for the lives we’re really living.If it’s hard for you to imagine the big 70s split-level having the same kind of appeal, we get that. We’ve got two adults and a revolving door of three getting-bigger kids (with other parents who live about 60 miles apart from each other).We’re not sure what to call it (Ella has dubbed it the Talking Room), but it’s a space where you can sit in a comfy chair and read, with just enough separation from what’s going on in the living room proper to be undistracted–but you still feel like you’re with the rest of the family.We’ve got many of our books here, and we’ve put in a big table for projects, puzzles, and playing games.We’re a financially-stretched, stirred family with members who need both proximity and space.So, yeah: We bought a big, boxy split-entry house in the suburbs.