I clicked on it. I quickly called my husband over. We scrolled through umpteen pictures of impressive vignettes, all holding out the promise of spacious loveliness. We sent an email. “We want to see it!”
The visit in person only confirmed what the pictures had suggested. A large and well-maintained yard for the children to roam in, with stone walls and curious nooks that begged for hours of imaginative play, the picturesque landscape dotted with ornamental trees and shrubbery. The layout of the interior, very similar to our home at the time, was just a wee bit bigger in all the areas that we needed it to be, and the finished basement was ideal for our active young children who needed a playroom in which to spread out villages made of legos and train tracks or set up an elaborate tea and dress up in floppy hats and fancy dress-up clothes. A formal dining room could easily be transformed into an office and home library with the simple addition of a couple doors.
Several other features of the house were things that were already on the “wish list” of our imaginations. You know, the one that you keep filed away in your mind, the one you add to on those days when you sit on the couch and take a wide, sweeping look around and say “someday I’d like to…”. A gas fireplace, for instance. Wood floors on the first floor, a lovely and generously-sized shed. An attached garage leading right into the kitchen. A deck made of maintenance-free materials (yes, yes, I’m a “wood girl” at heart, but I have spent enough time painting a deck to appreciate certain aspects of the many uses of vinyl and various other composite materials).
White kitchen cabinets. Wainscoting and beadboard moulding. A large soaking tub in the master bath. Lovely tall windows. A tray ceiling in the dining room library. Wood stairs instead of carpet. Tiled bathroom floors and a pedestal sink in the half bath. A cottage-y built in entertainment center in the basement, all white with shelves and cabinet doors with large knobs. A pantry. All these things, seemingly simple and maybe not even appealing to anyone else, all screamed out at me because I had imagined them time and time again as I sat daydreaming, spinning a “house of dreams” in my mind the way many a woman with a strong tie to home and beauty and creating lovely environments is apt to do. It was as if someone had read my thoughts like a blueprint, built it, and offered it to me on a silver platter…
Okay, so it wasn’t quite that simple.
Of course we put in an offer. Silly question. And after the usual back-and-forth (modern day haggle and barter), our offer was accepted. Contingent, obviously, upon the sale of our current home.
I’m not sure it even hit us at the time how crazy all of this was. I was seven months pregnant. The housing market was atrocious…still is…the average time for a house to sit on the market was a non-inspiring eight months. My husband was very busy at work and had some study and teaching commitments for church that required a serious time investment. We weren’t exactly rolling in excessive amounts of extra cash.
However, crazy or not, we committed to putting the house on the market in eight days from the time of our accepted offer. Eight days. Eight days to clean, fix, paint, repair, scrub, air out, remove stains, decorate, rearrange, organize…at seven months pregnant at the end of February/beginning of March with four small children.
Here is my little green cottage. A boring colonial, you say? Maybe, to the untrained eye, but I had spent years transforming my little cookie-cutter-builder-standard-box into a cottage haven. And somehow I had earned the reputation that it was always spic and span, immaculately clean. Well, if anyone ever stopped by unannounced, they were in for quite a shock. And you never know how dirty your house really is until you start refreshing the paint on white baseboard moulding…
to be continued…