Thursday, June 14, 2007

House hunting

Doug was reminiscing about his strangest house hunting experience. I started to chime in, but then got too wordy, so here's a trip through the weirdest floor plan I ever encountered while looking for a home.

We were looking for a two or three bedroom house and kept stumbling into fixer uppers in our price range. One day though, we found one that had been "flipped" by enterprising contractors. Contractors who had apparently never lived in this house, or perhaps any other house, in light of the way they moved doors, walls, and even entire rooms.

From the front, the 3-bedroom house was fairly non-descript, typical of the many types of California bungalows, built in the twenties, that pepper the Bay Area. The house in question was raised a bit farther from the ground and didn't have hedges obscuring the view to the garage.

Walk up the steps to the front door, walk in the door to a typical "craftsman" living room. Fireplace on the right with built in bookshelves all around, windows to the street over the couch, entrance to the kitchen to the left. Cute. Typical. Fine.

This was the last bit of sanity we were to experience.

Walk into the kitchen. Whoa! Blue! Contractor likes blue! Mexican glazed blue tiles on the floor. Uneven tiles. Granite countertops. Hee hee. Look at that, they've staged the kitchen with bright blue Le Creuset pots on the induction cooktop. And they haven't taken the price tags off. OK, enough giggling about the staging. Let's look at the kitchen. Loooong. Really long. Why so long and so big and no place to eat? Wait a minute, where do you eat in this house? That little teeny table set for tea I passed in the living room? I though that was just decoration. That's IT? Seats two at the most.

OK, go through the back door of the kitchen -- table must be back here.

Huh? Mud room? Washing machine and dryer. Oh my god, these were in the back yard or in the garage before because I can't quite squeeze past them. (Note to self. Put them back in the garage hookup if you buy the house.

So. Eh. Wait. Bedrooms? Did I miss something here? Oh. OK, if you go through the mud room (with all the pegboard for the tools and the closet for the vacuum cleaner, and squeeze past the HUGE washing machine), you get to the master bedroom.

And what a bedroom it is. White. No molding on the window. A wall of closets. Wall to wall carpets with no baseboards. And white. Huh. There's a smallish master bath to the left. That's it. Wait. Where's the other bedroom?

This is where the insanity really kicked in. The seller's agent toddled in just then as we were walking in circles in the isolation chamber. Why, it's right over here. Just open this closet door and walk on through.

Wait. Through the CLOSET?

Dear Butcher and I stumble through, and no, it's not a door disguised like a closet door, it's a passageway through a closet. As in: step into closet, open door cut into back closet wall, step out of closet. The second bedroom has original architecture, the right moldings, hardwood floors, although it is quite small. The wall on the right looks strange though. Too big. No broken up space.

Then it hits me. There used to be an entrance to the front living room here. This was probably the dining room, but with the living room being so small, they took away a door. That's why they could get more furniture in the living room. Ah hah! (Still don't understand the closet theory. Crack?)

Our buyer's agent is squirming mightily at this point, and she wants to leave. But I want to see more! This place is insane! We come back through the closet (Alice in Wonderland? The Secret Garden? The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe!) to find the still grinning seller's agent in the white bedroom.

"Where's the third bedroom?"

"Come with me!"

At this point, Dear Butcher mutters under his breath that they must have it hidden in the washing machine. I'm voting for the kitchen cabinetry.

Out we go through the side door, down a new set of wooden porch stairs to an outside patio. Mind you, the stairs are on the outside of the house. As is the patio. The patio under the stairs features tumbled brick set into the ground in a herringbone pattern. Nice, except the bricks are all popping up. No one bothered to prepare the ground, or compact sand. They just laid out bricks in a herringbone pattern on the ground. (Next time guys? Don't spend the money on the Le Crueset pots, OK? Actually BUILD the patio first.)

We reenter the house at the bottom level and discover that the garage has been renovated into a modern efficiency apartment. Camel walls, beige Berber carpet, overstuffed armchairs, and, uh, a kitchen too. (At this time I was pregnant with Saul and Neo was three. Sure, she can cook her own breakfast. No problem. Here honey. Let mommy teach you how to use the microwave.) But even here, the weirdness abounded. No shower or bathtub. No room for a table. Wait a minute. No OUTLETS? OK, there's one. But eh, don't you sort of need them all over?

(We discovered the no outlets issue when we noticed that one of the lamps was trailing its cord along the wall like a lost snake. Perhaps the stagers shouldn't have pointed that out to us?)

Anyway, it was an interesting experience, that house. Should have been marketed as a one bedroom with an in-law apt, but it wasn't. Some nights as I'm sending the kids to bed, I still giggle about the staircase to the bedroom which was outside of the house. (Time for bed! Don't get wet!)

Glad I'm not house hunting any more.


Doug said...

LOL at the walk-thru closet!

Well, that's the Bay Area for ya. They'll do anything to add square footage, considering the $$$ at stake.

I've posted your linkback ;)

Mailyn said...

LOL! Somebody was on an acid trip when they designed that house. Or maybe it was a diet house. Nowhere to eat so you won't lose your figure!