I certainly didn’t know my dream house existed when it fell into my lap. In fact, when I saw the listing that my mother-in-law sent me, I only had to see one picture on Zillow to know I wasn’t interested. And the following twenty pictures confirmed it 1,000 percent! To me, the house I saw in the pictures was ugly. But I love house hunting so much that I wanted to go peek in the windows anyway!
When we pulled up I was surprised. Of course, it wasn’t the one, and even if it were, moving was about as much on our radar as flying to the moon, but it wasn’t as bad as I initially thought. It was obviously neglected and falling apart in many ways, but somebody had grand dreams for this house. I loved how the backyard was a hill that sloped down to a view of the lake. Out front was a wide-open field of wildflowers (aka weeds) with an enchanting little barn sitting just adjacent to it. I envisioned an orchard in bloom among those wildflowers. If I squinted, I was standing amidst great potential for an elegant European cottage makeover! And when I did peek in the windows, I loved how open and airy it seemed. But the fireplace was hideous, and I didn’t know what to make of the massive baseboards. From the outside looking in, they were comical in size.
Oddly enough, though, that night I couldn’t stop swiping through the hideous photos of this house. As I analyzed what I disliked, I realized that most of it was the color palette, which was just a matter of paint. I also knew that we weren’t in a place to buy our dream house wrapped up in a perfect bow. We needed to create something lovely out of an existing mess, which this just so happened to be– a foreclosure that had been sitting vacant for four years! My interest in going inside was piqued enough that we reached out to a friend, who happens to be a realtor, to see if she could take us inside. I mean, why not?
I was smitten the minute I stepped through the heavy, oversized front door (that was water damaged and peeling). Before me was a grand staircase straight out of the Sound of Music, and all I could see was my children and my future grandchildren singing Do Re Me Fa So La Ti Do! I also envisioned fairytale rounds of Hide and Go Seek in all its secret nooks. (I actually should have seen myself wanting to poke my eyes out because it’s every boy’s dream for a Nerf battleground.)
As we toured the home, there were hidden treasures all along the way. A laundry chute! A walk-in hall closet! An actual pantry and laundry room! A cute little bonus room begging to be remodeled into a playhouse; two offices with built-in bookshelves. And when I was actually inside, the baseboards looked classy and to scale with the high ceilings. It had all the open light in the world, and I was in love.
“Where on earth did you find this place?” my realtor friend asked. “I’ve been looking for houses in this price range and have never come across this gem on the MLS.”
After a little detective work, we realized it had been listed incorrectly as a one-bathroom house when in reality it had three bathrooms. It wasn’t coming up in anyone’s searches, but it was feeling awfully meant to be, so we bought it!
And here we are with a long list of victorious transformations behind us–some more pleasant than others–and we’re still dreaming and designing away to bring to life this work of art we call home. I expect and hope that creating our home–whatever and wherever that might be– will be a lifelong endeavor because an artist is never finished.
And now for some of the original Zillow pictures! It’s tough, but can you see the potential?