I know some of you have been waiting patiently or not so patiently, or maybe you’ve even given up on seeing pictures of the new house at all. Sorry about that, I don’t know why it’s taken me so long. I’m going to intersperse pictures with the story of how we found the house. Some of you know we moved from a good sized newer house on two acres on a once quieter country road to be in the town where Rich works. We had decided that we really wanted to be in a neighborhood for the kids’ sake. Since we were moving to a town with lots and lots of very old houses (200+ years), I fully expected we’d be moving into a traditional cape or maybe a New Englander, maybe not historic but probably older. I expected we’d be in a smaller house on a smaller lot but gain the benefits of being in a small town with a strong sense of community and neighborliness. Is that a word? Anyway, I had told our real estate agent I could be happy with 1200 sq. ft. if it was laid out well. (I’d much rather live in a smaller space that is easier to clean and I had gotten really tired of lugging laundry up and down two flights of stairs.)
The market was on our side but we weren’t having too much luck at finding something we really liked. Our house had sold and we moved temporarily into an apartment in town. We were starting to get discouraged when a small ranch came on the market on the Friday afternoon of the weekend we moved out of our old house in late June. Our real estate agent nabbed the first showing for Monday at 12 noon. We drove down the little street and were charmed by the neatly kept lawns, swingsets and toys in many of the yards, and its great location, just a mile from my husband’s office and the boy’s new school. The most shocking thing was that the house was a ranch! Not scarce by any means, but not a typical house style for New England. The other shocking thing was that it was only 1040 sq. ft!
We waited all weekend and went to see it on Monday. It was clean and bright and well kept by the tenants who I have to say had a most amazing collection of art and antiques. I fell in love with the big kitchen and the wood floors, restored but still revealing years of lived in character. The windows, doorframes, and original cabinetry in the kitchen had a warm charm befitting the 1952 birthdate of the house.
I was a little scared of the size but I loved the layout. Unlike most ranches where the living spaces and the bedroom spaces are shaped like two “L”s that fit together to make a rectangle, this ranch is laid out with all of the bedrooms in the back and the kitchen, dining area and living room all in the front. It makes for a very spacious feel to the public part of the house. We put in an offer a few hours after seeing the house, it was accepted and the rest was paperwork. ;)
During the wait until settlement, I spent hours online researching all things mid-century modern. I didn’t think I’d care for the style of the time period but I knew that the more I get to know something (or someone) I can usually find something to like, and so I have. Now to figure out how to start incorporating those things I like into our mish mash lack of decor. My favorite resource has quickly become Pam’s RetroRenovation blog.
We moved in a week or two before school started with the help of many friends from church. Six months later we had met many of our neighbors despite being so busy with school starting and the weather turning cold. We had a great time building forts and slides and tunnels in the snow over one of the snowiest winters in the ten years we’ve lived in Maine.
As the snow melted we saw even more walkers out and about. I’m actually enjoying living in a neighborhood more than I expected. And I don’t mind living in a ranch either! I may never go back to stairs. In fact, if I can find a way to shoehorn the washer and dryer into the kitchen I would reallllly be a happy camper. (And yes this would be an acceptable idea for the time period.) Not that I have any intentions of living in a period museum, but I do like to know the history of older things and try to respect their “bones” if you know what I mean.
The bathroom was completely redone not too long ago and is sort of IKEA modern looking which is fine except for the light fixture which doesn’t look right at all to me and the fact that it really needs some additional storage inside the bathroom. At least there is a cute little built in linen closet just outside.
The original linoleum was apparently too far gone to be usable but rather than glue something down onto it, the sellers had chosen to install click tiles in a neutral grayish faux marble look. It’s okay. But it is interesting to know that we can easily take a peak underneath if we ever want to. It runs throughout the kitchen, bath and hallway. All other rooms are hardwood.
Some pieces of the kitchen were moved around, I wouldn’t say it was updated really, mostly new appliances, all the original wood cabinetry was retained although someone painted it all white at some point. It’s kind of stark with the black hardware.
I’m not one for painting woodwork usually but since it’s already been painted and having two young kids, we don’t have a lot of free time, there is no way I plan on stripping the layers of paint off that huge kitchen. I don’t care for the dark gray laminate countertops but I don’t think I’d want period metal rimmed counters either. I hate cleaning that kind. My friend Jan had a great idea that I am thinking about seriously. Wood counters! That would bring in some much needed warmth.
There were enough clues for me to figure out that the fridge was originally where the stove is now. The range top would have been directly to the left of the fridge (above those fake drawer front grill looking things) and the space where the fridge is now originally housed wall ovens. I really wish they hadn’t changed that. It would be a much more efficient work triangle as originally planned but I understand they probably didn’t want to spend a lot of bucks on a fridge that would fit or the carpentry to make one fit. I don’t care for the stove being right next to the kitchen entrance either. As I mentioned earlier, I’d love to get a washer and dryer, even a stacked combo, into this spacious kitchen. I’ve considered a number of ways of doing that but those will all be down the road of course.
The only really pressing issue we haven’t dealt with is the fact that our bedroom had no doors and no closet! Apparently the room did once have a closet but it was taken out at some point. There is also a very tall window that sits in the space where there was once a door to a dilapidated porch that no longer exists. The window is fine, it looks out onto the nicely treed vacant lot behind us. (Definitely a plus since our lot is quite shallow, the treed lot behind gives it a much bigger feel.) We put a tall wardrobe in front of one of the openings and we did install a door in the other opening. Okay, it doesn’t have a knob on it yet but we’re getting to that. I think it helps to just live in a house for a while to figure out how you want to organize your things in the space. We didn’t want to go about making a bunch of changes or buying furniture etc. until we have lived in it for a while and get to know the flow and the light through the seasons. Now with summer rolling around I am finally making some decisions. And yes, nine months later, we like the house even more.
More posts about the house:
Dining area lighting
Vintage floor lamp and pinch pleat drapery fabric
Cindy – I’m a big fan of efficiently designed smaller houses. So much “official” square footage is not really usable living space in 2 story houses – the stairs, hallways upstairs, etc.
The idea of the washer/dryer in the kitchen is very european. Every vacation rental we’ve had, has had a washing machine in the kitchen. And the full size frontloaders can be stacked – that’s what we did for the space limited companion unit.
I really like your house.
What a beautiful house you have there. We also live in a small home, 920 sq ft and there is five of us. It is amazing what one can do to make use of small space :) I am glad this works for you and you’re enjoying your neighborhood as well.
Nice! Love your kitchen. We’re in a 1954 ranch or what i call a 1950’2 post war house. we’ve added to it but the original size was so much bigger than the house we had been in.
As someone who also bought a ranch, although 1962, so we’re a bit “younger” than you, I completely understand the feeling of surprise. It’s a smaller home than I imagine owning, and smaller than the houses I grew up in! Plus a totally different style than I had envisioned. Of course we have done some additions and given our home a very different feel from how it began.
But I love the one floor living–laundry and playroom & computer now in the basement which opens things up a lot, too. I haven’t seen a ranch with your layout, though they probably exist around here, too.
Good luck making it your own. Mine is finally feeling that after 10 years. I’m slow to decide what I like, though quick to know what I don’t like. Despite disliking my kitchen/dining room wallpaper-border-sponge-paint mix for ten years, it took a friend visiting who questioned, “did you guys decorate this room?” to finally get me into action stripping, sanding, and re-painting. And that went a LOOOOONG way into making this house feel even more like our home.
Enjoy the process.
It looks like a really nice house. The most important thing is that you are comfortable in it and you obviously are. :-)
Comments feed for this article
Trackback link: http://www.random-charm.com/wp-trackback.php?p=894