April 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’m too late to join the How I Met My Home party at Our Suburban Cottage, but nevermind. Here goes:

Mr. E and I moved to Massachusetts from New York City (Manhattan, of all places) in the spring of 2008. He had just graduated with his PhD and lucked out with a tenure track job at a state college. (Quite an achievement in the current economy!)

We rented a lovely apartment in Swampscott – by the sea! – while getting to know the area and looking for a house of our own. Swampscott was heaven after Manhattan’s crazy traffic, even though we were right at one of the local thoroughfares. We wanted to buy a house, not an apartment, and sat down to brainstorm. We made a list of things we’d absolutely want, what would be nice, what we would prefer not to have, and what we absolutely wouldn’t deal with.

We looked on our own a bit in the summer, then when we had an idea of how we typically respond to houses and what is available, we found a fabulous, fabulous realtor. (If you ever should find yourself in the greater Salem, MA area, give us a shout – we can provide a recommendation!) She showed us more, and we continued to go out on our own. There was a lot to choose from, but we were very picky sure of our requirements. Typically if Mr. E liked a house, I remained unconvinced and vice versa.

By November, we were getting frustrated. I’d filled one of those 2-inch binders with properties we’d seen, and we were nowhere close. Mr. E had a favorite, I had mine, and there was a relatively good “best so far” house as well, but it was an impasse nevertheless. Then, Mr. E suggested that we widen our area, and just for the heck of it, have a look at waterfront properties. (His family has a summer house in Maine on a lake, and waterfront was always on his wishlist.)

The suggestion turned out for the best. On our very first excursion we found our dream home! It was still unfinished – the walls and moldings were up and painted, but besides tubs and toilet seats the bathrooms had nothing, the kitchen was bare, and we walked on the plywood subfloor. There was a 2-car garage. The lot was near a lake, not on it, with right of way to the shore, so that was close enough. There were woods on two sides of the house. After showing us the two living floors the seller’s realtor turned to help other visitors, and we continued to the basement on our own. In the stairwell Mr. E turned to me and said, “What do you hate about this house, ’cause I love it!”

I had no complaints. We finished our round, and for good measure visited the other three houses we had planned to see that day. It was pretty clear we’d lost our hearts, though, and in the evening we contacted our realtor to get the ball rolling.

Now, pictures!

Front Hall

Front hall from the stairs. Love the front door as well!

The builder had most of the house painted yellow. If I’d had to paint, I probably wouldn’t have picked yellow. It does remind me of the neo-classical buildings with white trim that you can see in older city centers in Finland. And that’s good.

Living Room

Living room, with breakfast nook in the background.

What I really love about this house is the amount of light coming in, even in the winter.

Breakfast nook

Breakfast nook, back door, and view of the living room.

We got a wood-burning fireplace (as opposed to a gas monstrosity, gah!). Not only a fireplace, but a TWO-sided fireplace!

Kitchen Before

The hole that wanted to be a kitchen.

As you see, it was left to our imagination to fit up the kitchen when we first saw the house. There was going to be an island; we knew as much from the outline drawn on the subfloor. The fridge had a dedicated spot on the left, the stove in the middle of the same wall, and the sink under the window.

Dining room

Dining room seen from the kitchen.

Yellow and green? Again, I probably would not have picked this green if I’d had to pick paint colors, but I don’t seem to mind it, and neither does Mr. E. The plans said this space was the (formal) living room, hence the chair rail I think, but we thought it makes better sense to use it for dining.

Master suite

Master suite.

This large room was designed as the master bedroom, but we had other plans for it. There’s a bathroom, a small linen closet and a walk-in closet attached (on the left outside the picture). The little nook you see by the window is meant as a sitting area. There is a double window (on the right) facing the lake as well.

Second bedroom.

Second bedroom.

Two additional bedrooms were both painted cream and had double closets. They share a Jack’n’Jill bathroom, visible through the doorway.

These pictures remind me of how far we’ve come. And they still make me smile, so clearly we picked the right house for us!

Edit: I’ve edited and re-posted some of the photos.


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