There are some properties you just never forget #683

#683 in a series of true experiences in real estate

Sometimes a property so involves and enchants us, we never forget. This is about a property we listed 10 years ago. Sorry to say, not available for sale now.

We were there to pick paint colors, Sahdu who is the stager, Anet and I. Sahdu stood near the doorway with a fan of paint chips in her hand. She slid one strip out from the pack, then another, naming some as she went.

The house, built in the 1920s has not been lived in for a year. Except for yellowing pleated drapes and sheer glass curtains, the rooms are empty of furnishings but in the center of the living room is a dusty pile of carpeting that has recently been pulled up.

As the three of us stand and talk of white ceilings and trim, I go over to a window, begin to remove the old drapes, and look outside. There is a giant weed growing there — no, there are 3 of them, all huge! — those thistle-like weeds that look crisp like celery but have leaves that are gray and dusty.

Sometimes in my own garden I’m surprised to find them camouflaged among other plants. They grow very fast and tall, seeming to appear overnight. I interrupt the color talk to motion my friends over to the window and to ask if we could win the Biggest Weed Contest at the fair with one of them.

Sahdu chooses peachy-apricot and soft cocoa-brown colors, plus a lot of pure white. I try to describe to her the carpeting Anet and I picked for one bedroom, and just can’t do it. “Big pattern but subtle, yellowish, not too much.” We went back twice to pick out the carpet. We didn’t want a carpet at all but there is no finished floor in that room. Only 1920 sheet linoleum — quite wonderful actually and we’d have kept it — but it’s not in good shape. The carpet will look fine.

It’s the hallway that gave us fits, a small hall that connects kitchen to bath to bedrooms, and no finished floor there either. We thought we’d have to put down carpet there too, same as the bedroom, but it just bugged me. I kept saying to Anet that the hall needed to be wood. We ended up going to our wooden floor people asking if there was something they could do.

There is: prefinished wood. Real woods available in various thicknesses and lengths and glosses. The flooring doesn’t look fake and doesn’t need sanding. Perfect solution.

I am getting super excited about this property. Every night as I go to sleep I walk through it in my mind seeing the house all washed and dressed. I do hate the kitchen floor, shiny white vinyl, whole but dirty and wrong look for this house. It’ll be better cleaned up and waxed and Sahdu will lay down one of her rugs on part of the floor. It doesn’t make sense to spend money on a new floor, there are better places.

We go to the back door and walk a short way to the cottage, older than the house, probably built before the turn of the last century, then just a simple wooden farmhouse alone on a sizeable piece of land. The ceilings are high, 9 or 10 feet, and the windows are tall and narrow. No one has lived here for many years. The floors are covered with the same white vinyl used in the kitchen of the house. Must have been on sale so they bought a lot of it.

There is something wonderful about this building though – the height of the ceilings, the old wooden beadboard, the original yellow tile back splash in the kitchen. I don’t know what-all makes me happy here but I am.

I cannot wait for the painters to get in here to spray out the ceilings and walls and doors all in one color. I am so excited at the thought of it that for a second I think that I’ll join the paint crew and spray it myself. How thrilling would that be to watch as my own hand made the surfaces uniform color.

The light fixtures are awful. All wrong, all from about the 1960s. Fake chrome and gold and dark walnut hanging down on linked chains. Not large enough either, out of proportion to the volume of the rooms.

There is still more to this property. Behind the house, in back of the cottage but before you get to the fruit trees, there is the garage and workshop. It is my favorite of all. Old steel factory windows, rectangular panes of glass, one with the peach tree leaning against it.

The building needs a new roof, and the pale yellow paint inside is peeling off in little pieces. But the concrete floor feels good and solid. There is a metal cabinet sink, workbenches, many uncovered light bulbs in porcelain ceiling sockets, an ancient electric saw bolted to the floor.

And there is space, lots of it. Probably the new owner will be a cabinet maker or maybe even a dancer. This could be quite a dance space.

Not long ago I scraped the plastic film off of all the metal sash windows. I could have waited for the window people but right then, I just had to let the light inside.

Someone must have covered the windows so no one could see inside, and that must have been a very long time ago. The plastic when I touched it was so dry and fragile that it shattered into bits and it crackled when I walked on it.

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