It was a year ago this weekend when we drove down a long, paved driveway and first set eyes on what would soon be our new home. It was Labor Day weekend 2016 and we were eager to see the house we found in a Craigslist ad.
I’ll be honest, from the pictures in the Craigslist ad, we were intrigued, but not in love. The house seemed like it was in good shape and we liked the abundance of windows, but the windowsills were covered with chicken figurines (in an assortment of shapes, sizes and materials), the walls sported bright pink dolphins and peacocks, an old rusty saw hung over the doorway, and the master bathroom featured a very 1980’s dusty rose colored sink AND shower AND toilet AND bathtub (sooo much dusty rose… sooo 80’s). Even the 10 acres of land were unjustly portrayed in the quickly snapped photos posted online (Thank goodness- this is probably why it was still on the market!)
Despite the funky photo portrayal, we were surprised to see a house in our price range with 10 acres and a prime location just outside of Traverse City. Why not take a peak?
One year later, I am so thankful we did! What could have been a house of horrors (or maybe a “house of mediocrity”) ended up becoming the house of our dreams! A few weeks after we moved in, I unpacked a box that contained a journal. I don’t really journal (though I think I should start!), but I did have a few notes and lists jotted down throughout the first dozen pages. I flipped through and found this…
A few pages into the journal, I re-discovered a list of “house hopes” that I had written while living in southern California. In this list, I detailed what I thought my dream home would feature.
As I look back on our first year in what truly is our dream home and the house we plan to retire in (hopefully retire early!), I’ve decided to reexamine the my “house hopes” list to see how our new home measured up!
The “Dream Home” List
— Small Enough to Clean (3-4 bedroom, less?)
Check-ish: While it is not huge, I’m not a very efficient house cleaner. So even at three bedrooms, this house is on the “I don’t want anything bigger” side of the equation.
— Wood Floor
No Check: Our house does not have a warm, shiny wooden floor… and I am so glad! When I wrote this list, I was the mother of a relatively immobile <1 year old son. I was clueless. Any wooden floor would be beaten to a pulp by our toddler. Carpet, on the other hand, not only takes a beating well, it also muffles the sound of pounding feet and softens the inevitable tumbles our child takes.
— 3 Bedroom
Check: One is currently our office/”library”, one for AR Jr. and one for us.
— Office with a Door
Check: As I mentioned in my last post, I am a now a full time remote employee for a large company. An office with a door was table stakes for a house.
— Basement for Workout Room/Den
Check: I enjoy working out and like having the option to exercise at home. While I was able to workout in our 660 sq. ft. one bedroom in California, it required pushing back chairs, moving a coffee table, hauling out my mat + weights from their hiding place and monopolizing the living room (which doubled as the walk way between the kitchen and the bedroom).
My workouts = Mr. Adventure Rich stuck in either location for 45 minutes or at risk of getting tripped mid-burpee if he tried to run past me. After a few years of this, I wanted a more dedicated exercise space (especially for the winter months!).
— No T.V. Room/Game Room
Check: One thing I admired my parents for growing up was their effort to make our living spaces non-T.V. based. That meant that the T.V. was neither in the middle of the living room nor in a dedicated “T.V. Room”. It was located in their bedroom, accessible to my brother and I only on occasion.
Mr. Adventure Rich and I have done the same. The T.V. is upstairs with us (FYI- we are a non-cable family… we primarily watch “Sound of Music” over and over again per AR Jr.’s request!) and our living room is kept as a family room for play, conversation and reading.
— Walkable House (able to walk to store, school, etc)- Bike-able
No Check: While we are close to Traverse City (about 5-6 miles from downtown), the roads into T.C. are either extremely curvy back roads with little to no shoulder or very busy, fast roads. Mr. Adventure Rich and I would be comfortable biking the back roads to town ourselves, but we are not willing to risk pulling AR Jr. in his bike buggy behind us.
As a result, I find our house “semi-walkable/bike-able”. I can make a quick drive to the local paved recreational trail, ditch my car, and walk or bike to most of the city from there. It is a trade-off I am more than willing to make for the location and the house/property.
— Yard, Safe Area
Check: When AR Jr. arrived on the scene, I daydreamed of living where I could let him play in the yard without too much concern. I want our son to be adventurous and excited about the outdoors, independently exploring and finding each bug and each plant fascinating. Our property is an ideal place for this! With our home set about 1/4 mile back (and over a few rolling hills) from the road, I can safely leave AR Jr. in the yard to play his afternoons away.
— Park Nearby
Check-ish: We don’t live near a park… but this was a “house hope” of mine as I imagined a house without much land. With the 10 acres, we have our own park to picnic and play in.
Check: We blew this one out of the water. I knew we wanted land, but I don’t think I envisioned 10 acres! We ended up trading the use of our land to a local farmer so that he could grow hay on it.
— Functional Kitchen
Check: The kitchen in our home is very functional and logical. The cabinet space is limited (which has challenged me to minimize our excess cook/dishware) and I am happy with the layout.
— Space to go to/be quiet in
Check: Mr. Adventure Rich, the eldest of 5 boys, grew up in a very open air/open floor plan house. He would crave quiet, alone time but struggled to find a good location in his childhood home. In our small CA place, beyond the bedroom, there was also no where to go if we needed a bit of alone time. We both agreed we needed a place to chill out and recoup.
Cue our “library”. This is part of the same room my office is in but is located on the opposite wall (with a coffee table providing a “divide”). Since this office/library room is on the entry level, it is removed from the bedroom, kitchen and living room levels, creating our little oasis of calm and our escape if needed.
Semi-Check: When I jotted down “outbuilding”, I imagined a barn or some similar outside structure. While not barn exists on our property (yet… *eyes Mr. Adventure Rich as he researches barn costs for the 500th time), we have a two car garage and two wooden sheds that are perfect for housing yard tools. Who knows, maybe one will become a chicken coop someday?!?
The Verdict: Dream Home
After reviewing the “house hopes” list last fall, I was surprised to see how many boxes our home checks off. The house we bought does not look like the house I imagined. But it is our dream home in ways we never envisioned. And we are incredibly blessed to be nearing our one year mark in not only our dream home, but what we hope will become our “forever dream home”.
For those of you in the United States, have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend 🙂
Always an Adventure,
Mrs. Adventure Rich