Angela felt that it was a little uncharitable of me to include in this recent post a photo of our garage door in particular, especially in the context of the accompanying diatribe against garage doors in general. I did take pains to say also how much I love the house for what it represents, but to be fair I herewith append two other photos of the house that show some of its more charming aspects.
Of course, a lot of this house’s “official” charm lies in the fact that it is getting old enough to have earned a euphemism: “mid-century.” (The house is exactly as old as I am. When I get old enough to need a euphemism, that’s what I’ll call myself — “mid-century.”) It was real estate agents, I’m sure, who first applied the word to houses, but younger couples these days are apparently gaga over mid-century homes, and they’re not just being manipulated by marketing. I don’t know if it’s the clean lines, the open floorplans, or the big plate glass view windows, but kids love ’em.
We love this house because it offered us everything we needed at the moment we needed it. Before Mara came along, Angela and I used to turn our noses up at anything post-World War II. Passing by split-levels built in the ’60s and ’70s we would stick our fingers in our mouths and pretend to retch, smug in our certitude that small-roomed, cold-hardwood-floored, drafty-ass, tippy-walled, wavy-windowed Craftsman authenticity was the only kind of house for us.
But (we felt) we were outgrowing our (see string of adjectives above) cottage after Mara started walking. We lived pretty much in the upstairs, since the basement was dark, dank and unfinished, which means three of us were getting along in 550 square feet of space. (If Tim C. reads this I’ll get another earful — see “Worm bin Jedi” — because he and his wife raised their daughter in about the same amount of space, presumably without griping.) Our refrigerator was not in the galley kitchen but rather on an enclosed back stoop above the basement stairway. With a small table in the dining room and a sofa and some benches in the living room, you could hardly move through the place. Mara had a narrow angled path about 18 feet long that she could run back and forth on, like an aisle in a grocery store. Oddly, our bathroom was so spacious you could dance in it.
We looked all over north King County at bigger houses, and were even starting to see the good sense behind the split-level plan, since we now had a toddler who was going places. But every time we found something that was in good shape and our price range, we became depressed. They were always nestled in some warren of streets whose sidewalks, if they had existed (which they didn’t), would have led only to strip malls and Taco Times. Especially for Angela, who stays home during the day as a full-time mom (she teaches dance in the evenings), this was a serious bummer.
Living in Wallingford/Greenlake had really spoiled us for walkability. We couldn’t seriously see ourselves living in a place where we couldn’t walk to the grocery store, our church, the parks, and coffee shops and cafes. We would wither, we knew. Perish outright. But for years, the market was such that even if we raked profit selling our little cottage we still wouldn’t be able to afford a cardboard box in our own neighborhood.
When this house came on the market it was the answer to our prayers. It was located only three blocks away in our very own neighborhood, we could (just barely) afford it, and its floorplan included two features that have relieved pressure out of our lives like a steam valve: 1) the kitchen and dining room are one big bright space where Angela can fix a meal or a snack while still enjoying the company and conversation of visiting moms and keeping an eye on kids playing there, and 2) the hallway and living room form a large loop, which Mara loves to run around more than anything in the world. We run around the loop every night before bedtime, changing direction to startle and scare each other.
These are just a few of the things we love about this house, but it’s getting late and I have to work in the morning, so I’m out.