Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The temptation begins...

Yesterday a fellow board member, who is also a Realtor, came by our house to take a tour, give us an evaluation and recommendations for preparing to sell the Laburnum Bungalow. That evening we all met them on Mt. Tabor to look at two houses that have been on the market and tempting Mr. W and me.
Mr. W's house crush is a 1903 Colonial Revival. Prior to taking the tour I thought it was too much house for us; the consensus after the tour is that it is. It is an awesome house, but it needs too much love which we cannot afford to give it. It boasts 7 bedrooms and 4 fireplaces. The public rooms of the entry, dining room and living room are stunning. There is a large room in the basement, with the same board and batten wainscot as the dining room above, which I am quite convinced was a ballroom, why else would there we such a wide, grand staircase into the basement? The kitchen is a hot mess. No kidding. It was a such a horrible and poorly executed 70s remodel that I didn't waste any digital memory on it. Seriously not good and the butler's pantry had been eliminated. So much rot, asbestos, and repair is needed for this home. The servants quarters on the third floor are completely unnecessary for us, even if we are able to add more children to our family.The second house has been among my house crushes for several years. It is a 1890 Queen Anne Victorian which is featured in Classic Houses of Portland, Oregon: 1850-1950 by Hawkins and Willingham. It is a dream house for me with qualifications such as corner lot, large side yard, views, and ample architectural interest in the facade. I've been pouring over the interior photos online and eating fast food lunches in the car parked outside trying to figure out the interior layout to determine what rooms remain un-photographed. The real estate listing claims Povey Bros. Art Glass.
The interior did not disappoint. Because the house has multiple window bays I was having trouble deciphering the layout; I was wrong about the placement of several rooms. But the woodwork is heavenly, the stained glass is mostly Povey, the floors are parquet, the walls and ceilings are in good condition albeit covered in inappropriate wallpaper. Sadly there is only one fireplace in the whole house and it is located in a sitting room which we would likely use as a family room and tv room. It's surround is black marble in the Eastlake style and I'm guessing it is missing its overmantle because it is looking a little forlorn, or maybe it is just he wallpaper that causes the problem.The kitchen is also a little problematic. It has been updated as recently as the 1980s so while not my exact preference, the layout, cabinets, and finishes are liveable. The problem is there is no butler's pantry or built-ins in the dining room to compensate for the scant upper cabinets in the kitchen. I worry about convenient storage. The second problem is the lack of a breakfast room and the kitchen would not accommodate our dinette table.The 4 bedrooms upstairs are in good condition, just poorly papered. The master suite is a slightly odd Boomer paradise. The sitting room which adjoins the bedchamber has been converted into a dressing room. The abundant storage is awesome, but the placement of some of the cabinetry is a little questionable considering it cuts off the view from the windows. The his and hers bathroom with two commodes and two toilets includes a glass block steam shower with two doors, and a double jetted soaking tub.
Not what I would have done in a Victorian, but I'm not sure whether I can live with or would completely hate it. Did I mention it is all 1980s shiny brass with flowered porcelain?
The third floor is all attic space and accesses the novelty porch. It is the kind of attic you imagine in books. There is also a stash of all the original wood sash, double hung windows. All the double hungs have been replaced with what I assume are Marvin tilt pacs, which while not ideal, is perfectly acceptable. Clearly the current owners have put a lot of love (and attempts at energy efficiency) into this house over the last 3 decades. The entire attic needs to be insulated however.
The basement is moderately scary. The furnace is ancient and has some asbestos insulation. All the rooms down here are in sad shape but the brick foundation appears to be in good shape and more importantly dry. There is a potters room, a pantry or some type of canning room, a work room with I'd imagine a century's worth of old tools, a pathetic laundry, but happily an incredible 1940s knotty pine bonus room. I'm positive the vinyl tile flooring in there has asbestos, but the paneling is wide and gorgeous!Mr. W and I have a lot to contemplate. Most importantly, can we afford it now? Mr. W described the house as "bad ass" this morning so I know that my house crush is now his house crush too.

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