Yesterday Adam and I did something rather exciting.
We loaded Olive into the car, drove down a beautiful tree-lined street and parked. We got out, met our realtor, and then this happened:
Guys, we bought a house. A HOUSE! For us to live in! Forever!
We actually started the process of buying it a month ago, but I’ve been too terrified/superstitious/afraid to jinx it to tell anyone. But now it’s official and we have the keys and they can’t take it away from us (can they?!) so I can tell the whole story.
I keep describing it to people as the Old Lady House of My Dreams, and even now I can’t think of a better way to sum it up. We bought it from the original owners, who built it sixty years ago when the street out front was just a gravel road.
I fell in love as soon as I saw the pictures and, having been burned by this crazy real estate market before, I immediately jumped on the phone to our realtor and we were the very first ones to see it.
Adam was working, so it was just Olive and I the first time around. We walked from room to room and I just kept falling harder and harder for this little bungalow with its built in bookcases and fancy ceilings.
The house was dated, but absolutely immaculate. Everything was original and had been so unbelievably well kept- you could really tell that they had loved this house.
This was really significant to me, because we had seen so many houses that weren’t necessarily terrible or anything, but they just didn’t feel loved.
It didn’t feel like people adored the house and took good care if it as a result.
So many times we found ourselves staring at shoddy paint jobs, or uneven flooring, and wondering what other shortcuts the owners took if they couldn’t even be bothered to do a good job on the stuff in plain sight.
And if the original hardwood under the carpets and the little yellow wooden high chair in the basement weren’t enough to seal the deal (I know you’re not supposed to look at the furnishings but seriously, it was just Olive’s size and absolutely adorable), I opened a cupboard in the kitchen expecting to find a small pantry and instead saw an ironing board.
Built-in ironing boards- my kryptonite!
Not even the bumblebee colour-scheme in the bathroom could dissuade me after that. I was sold and just had to hope Adam would love it too.
Adam and I look at houses very differently. I focus on the feel of a place. The floor plan, how long the the to-do list will be, and the character of the neighbourhood.
Adam is the details guy. He walks around slamming doors and bouncing on floorboards and crawling under things to look at the foundation. Between the two of us it’s a good balance, but he sees projects where I see marriage-ending renovations. I see romance and character where he sees old and dilapidated. Agreeing can be challenging.
After he was done work that day we met our realtor for a second showing and I swear I held my breath as he walked through the house.
He loved it. I loved it. Olive couldn’t stop rolling around on the new carpet downstairs. We made an offer the next day and I wrote a letter to submit with it.
As I mentioned above, the real estate market is crazy right now. Homes are selling in hours, and given the condition of this house, and how much potential it had- to say nothing of the fact that Adam and I AGREED on it (seriously what?! The house is magic)- I wanted to do everything we could to ensure we got it.
The owners, we’ll call them George and Betty, were moving to a retirement home. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how hard it would be to leave a house you had built, raised your family in, and loved for sixty years. So I did the only thing I know how to do, I started writing.
I was honest. I told them them that we would take good care of their home, and that we love old houses. I said that we would be making small changes in order to make it into a home for our growing family, but in doing so our goal would be preserving its character, rather than ripping it all out and going ultra- modern.
I wanted them to know that we were a young family looking forward to raising our children here, as they had.
You never know with these things, and part of me felt silly doing it, but Adam encouraged me and when our offer was accepted after a bit if polite back-and-forth, our realtor said that she felt the letter had a huge impact on their decision to sell to us.
Magic I tell you!
And then the fun began. Some parts were just so perfect, falling into place like a sweet story I’d written in my head years ago.
Since George and Betty were moving to a retirement home, they offered to leave us their adorable wood twin beds, vintage dressers, and a collection of an amazingly Mad Men-esque basement furniture like a mid-century couch, armchairs, and coffee tables for Adam’s (significantly classier than ever) man cave. This was fantastic as it helped fill the gaps in our furnishings, and I’ve been looking for a vintage big girl bed for Olive.
And, and they left the high chair.
So that was just perfect. But then, THEN there was the other part. The money part. The legal part. The back and forth and signing a billion documents part.
My brother had warned me that the most stressful part of the house buying process for him came after the offer had been accepted. And I was all “What? No. That’s crazy! House hunting has been hell! I don’t believe.”
HE WAS RIGHT. Liam: YOU WERE RIGHT. So mind-blowingly, heart-achingly, buckets-of-tears, gitelmans-attack, incredibly stressful.
I can’t even talk about it. I never want to see another lawyer or mortgage broker ever again in my life. EVER. We are never again moving. By god this is IT!
But it’s done. And those who know us, know just how long this has taken. How long – and sometimes tough- this road has been, and how much this means to us.
Adam and I sat there last night on the carpet of our new living room after Olive finally crashed at midnight (!) and we just talked about how we couldn’t believe how lucky we were. Are
I’m sitting on the floor typing this on my phone (because we don’t have internet yet). Olive is napping, everything is quiet.
It’s about to begin. We’re home!
(Now to tackle painting approximately eleventy-seven kilometers of wood panelling in the basement! So. Much. Panelling!)
congratulations Know just how you feel the stress of it so unending but the right place so perfect
love the high chair
Congratulations! And although you may not be into this idea…… Old ironing board cabinet = amazing spice rack space! a bunch of little shelves and you can see all your spices beautifully displayed and kept safe from light!
That is a fabulous idea! I am so tempted to keep it but I know that I would 100% never use it. So better to put the space to good use I suppose!
This made me smile from ear to ear, Madeleine. I am so beyond happy and excited for you, Adam and Olive. I feel like this house will become another character in your stories, and I can’t wait to hear about it (him? Her?) growing along with your family. Well done, and congratulations!
He/she feels like a character already 🙂 I love that perspective.
Congratulations! That is so exciting, I can’t wait to see what you do with the place. I bet it feels really surreal right now, like you’ve broken into someone’s house? I remember feeling like that when we first moved into ours. But you haven’t, it’s yours! Yay!
YES! That’s the feeling exactly, like someone’s going to burst through the door yelling “Hey! You don’t belong here!!”
I’m glad it’s not just me 😉
You know when you feel blessed to have met someone? That’s how I felt when I found your blog when I was 2 months pregnant last year. Your advice was invaluable..
I am SO delighted that you have finally found the house your wonderful soul deserves.
Bless you, Madeleine
Thank you so much, Sue.
Congrats ……. I’m very happy for you and remember that feeling when we bought our home 25 years ago…just love the feeling of a house that’s not just a house but a home…
Thank you, Patti!
I totally got all teary when you wrote about your letter to the older couple. What a lovely love story. Congrats on your forever home. Look forward to the renovation posts 🙂
Ahh renovation posts! What fun 🙂
Yay! It was SO meant to be! Congratulations 🙂 I’m so thrilled for you and more than a little jealous. And I can’t believe they left the high chair. Kismet?
Sure felt that way!
Congrats! Thats just FANTASTIC! And those little beds are so cute. What a wonderful adventure for you guys. 🙂
Very exciting! Congratulations! A year ago, this was us. We found our special older home with character. We bought it from a widow who built this house with her husband and raised their children in it. We were the first to see it and put an offer in that very night! It’s been so much fun renovating and highlighting it’s character! We just finished painting our paneling in the living room, what a difference!! I still love our home just as much as the day we put an offer in! Yay for you!
omg omg omg i am so incredibly happy for you guys!!! and i’m happy for the house, and for george & betty, b/c i think the house went to the right people!
Wow–congratulations! You describe your new home so sweetly and it’s obvious that you’re crazy about it. We actually have those EXACT vintage beds, too, a hand-me-down from one or two generations back. They can also be made into bunk beds!
Enjoy this giddy phase of being new homeowners 🙂
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