Dreaming of home…

When I was 15 or 16, I made a wishlist of the qualities I wanted in a partner.  (Precocious, I know.)  Lo and behold, 3 or 4 years later, I found him.  Seriously.  Chris hit every check box.  Plus we’ve always had that… je ne sais quoi.  Magic.  Chemistry.  Spark.  Whatever you want to call it.  We never were in that “friend zone.”  There was just no point.

So now, I thought I’d write a list of everything I want a home.  Maybe seeing it in black and white will knock some sense in me and make me appreciate what’s underneath my very nose!

If I was starting from scratch on a home search, what would I want?  (And what do I know Chris would require?)  And how does our current reality stack up to the wish list?

  • Location, location, location.  Chicago (of course), established neighborhood (with shops, restaurants and park space), within half mile away from the L, express buses would be nice…

Dear god, it’s hard to think of a more perfect location.  4 miles from the Loop, a stone’s throw from the lake, great public trans access, plenty of iGo cars within walking distance, kickass restaurants and local shops, RIDICULOUSLY good access to mulitple grocery stores, a library less than a quarter-mile away.  Heck, our Walk Score is 100!  About the only thing that’s missing is a cute little bakery.

  • Building type: condo or townhouse.

Much as I daydream about a single family home, the reality is that neither one of us is interested in house maintenance.  I like the idea of a yard (gardening space!), but exterior maintenance does not appeal to either one of us.  So the fact that we have a condo is A-OK.

  • Master bedroom with ensuite bathroom.

So not a problem now.  I just repainted our ensuite bathroom.

  • A music room for Chris.

Check.  His room is pretty well located too – none of our neighbors can hear him and I can barely hear him in most of the house.

  • A great room: room for books, A/V system, comfy furniture…

We’ve got one, but it’s a bit snug.  More like a “good room.”  Our dining space is TINY and I don’t think it’s particularly comfortable.

  • Room for guests.

I’m working on that right now, creating a guest room/library/office/stitching room with an outdoor patio.  I’m hoping that we’ll actually use that freakin’ patio this summer if we use the adjoining room for “public” purposes.

  • Room for “me” space: something girly, room for crafts, office, tea kettle.

See above.  The room isn’t going to be too girly, but there’s definitely going to be pretty touches.  Need to nab an electric kettle though.

  • A “real” kitchen.  Decently sized, preferably with sunny outdoor space just off the kitchen for easy access to my kitchen garden.  A granite-free zone.

Nope.  Our kitchen is tiny, with limited counter space made of granite.  No direct access to an outdoor space.  The kitchen window faces north, so I can’t even grow herbs on the window sill.

  • Speaking of which, outdoor space.  Big enough for Chris’ grill, table & chairs, a veggie/herb garden and a flower garden.  Oh, and a composter.

Check… sorta.  We’ve got two outdoor spaces, so there’s enough room for Chris’ grill, a table and couple of chairs and I’ve had good luck growing herbs over the past few years.  But all this is squished onto our not-sunny-enough-for-my-taste balcony, while our patio languishes from neglect.  It’s dark, inconveniently located, and just feels dirty.  My goal this year: create an attractive space on our patio so that we actually use it!  And I’m trying to figure out how to best compost in our space.  And I’m adding veggies to the mix this year.

  • In unit laundry.  Preferably with room for side-by-side units.

We’ve got stacked laundry units in the kitchen.  With some demo work (and the elimination of the pantry) we would have room for side-by-side, but that’s not happening any time soon.

  • Central air w/ A/C

Check.  Chris wouldn’t have bought a place without central air.  I do think the energy efficiency of our system is quite suspect and I’d prefer radiant heating downstairs, but it’ll do until we get around to rehauling the system (4-5 years from now?).

  • At least 1.1 bathrooms, preferably 2.1 bathrooms.  I’d love a spacious master bathroom with a large shower, dual sinks, water efficient fixtures.  ZERO jacuzzi tubs — such a pain to clean — but a soaking tub would be lovely.  Clawfooted and cast iron (so that it hold in heat) would be ideal.

Three full bathrooms… which means one extra tub to clean.  And that extra tub is a jacuzzi tub.  And none of those tubs are soaking/clawfooted/cast iron.  No water efficient features except for low-flow showerheads.  All three bathrooms are super tiny.  Layout is less than ideal because the only bathroom on the living area is our master bathroom, which means guests need to trek downstairs for one of the guest baths.  Still, I’d prefer to have too many bathrooms than not enough.  I wouldn’t like to go back to one bathroom.

  • Parking (since we capitulated and bought a freakin’ car in January), attached but in the alley (I HATE garages that face the street)

We bought our place thinking we wouldn’t buy another car and therefore didn’t plunk down for a parking space.  Fortunately, I don’t drive the car so I don’t deal with parking, so I’m not heartbroken over the lack of this feature.  Chris has been having fantastic parking luck (*knock on wood*), so he’s not too heartbroken either.

  • CHARACTER.  Vintage charm.  That “Oh My God” reaction.  A historical landmark would be ideal.

Our place is cute.  A courtyard, brick building with exposed brick and hardwood floors.  We’ve painted it with wonderful, dramatic colors.  But I think it’s a bit of a “yawn” — it just doesn’t make my heart stop.  It’s not completely blah — it’s not a vanilia box — but there’s nothing really vintage-ish about it, nothing really special. There’s no grace, no elegance, no va-va-voom.  This deficiency is easily the biggest reason why I’m not happy and why Chris is.

  • Fireplace.  Woodburning w/ gas start.

After months of arguing, I finally agreed to rip out our fireplace.  It was over-sized for our tiny living room and NOT woodburning (or as Chris would say, not “real”).  There’s no hope for a “real” fireplace here.

  • Multi-story.  It’s probably the last vestige of suburban upbringing left in me, but stairs make a condo feel more “house” like.  That and we have a fat cat that needs to get as much exercise as possible.

Check.  Our first condo was two-stories, then we rented an apartment for a little while that was single-story… I missed the multi-story aspect.  One of the major attractions of our current place is the fact that it’s two-stories as well.

In the end, this little exercise didn’t do much but confirm why I’m not in love with our current place, why it’s perfect for Chris.  Furthermore, part of what would make a place perfect for me is that Chris is happy and given the geographical limitations… I have a feeling that what I want doesn’t exist.

So I’m spending this extra time redecorating our place, rearranging furniture, and making the best of a cute place…

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