Non-negotiables

January 21, 2010 · 6 comments

The good news is that we finally sold our house in Georgia. Remember? It was the house that we were so confident we could redo and then sell, as a good investment. So much for good intentions; it was a bad time for the housing market, and we bought just before it all started to plummet. We are actually very thankful that the house finally sold; it could have been much, much worse. But now, we find ourselves in a similar position we were in about 7 years ago when we bought our very first house. We have no money, and would like to live in a house that won’t fall down around us. It’s a huge blessing that we ended up in Indianapolis, a city with some of the most affordable housing in the country.

So we’ve started looking at houses. Since this is the third house we’re buying, and since we now have a good bit of experience with renovation, we have a much better idea of what we want, and I usually know from the minute I walk in the kitchen house if it will work or not. If I were to ask my general blog-reading population (you and 15 of my closest friends) to guess what might be my non-negotiables in a house, gleaned solely from information I willingly and somewhat narcissistically share with whomever happens to land at this web address, I might get a list of answers ranging from “big kitchen” to “gas range.” And those are really good guesses; right behind 3 bedrooms and at least a half bathroom more than one (please?). But at the very tip-top of my list — the one thing I absolutely cannot do without — is light.

My kitchen now has it. The house we’re renting is a meticulously restored historic craftsman bungalow. It’s probably the nicest house we’ll ever live in. But — it being a historic bungalow and all — it’s a very dark house. Dark wood trim, dark floors, muted wall colors, and a large, deep porch make for a constant battle for more light. Sometimes I feel like Mary on Little House — in the episode where she’s going blind? I walk around turning on every light in a room (thankfully I’m not lighting candles under threat of falling asleep and burning down the house), just thinking, I can’t see anything! The only thing keeping me from ordering my own personal sun light is the kitchen — a pale-yellow, white-trimmed room with huge windows and french doors opening to the stone patio. It’s a bright, cheerful, warm room, and I spend all of my time here, be it time spent cooking, writing, reading, or all of the above. I can’t help but wish that the rest of the house had the same feel. On the one hand, it’s a good thing we’re renting; on the other, I doubt I’ll be buying a house with a kitchen this nice. And that is, after all, where I spend just about all my time save sleeping.

And I’m not sure our realtor is going to understand these needs. I’m guessing she’s heard just about every request imaginable; but I feel like I’m just shy of claiming that our house needs good feng shui. I can hear Tim now: “Katy just needs to feel light and warmth when she walks into a house, especially the kitchen. Because she cooks. A lot. And, how’s the borrowed view out the kitchen windows? These are the things we need to consider. Oh, and do you think they’ll take a low-ball offer?”

Is this ridiculous? Maybe. But — and here’s where you will be able to see that I’m serious — for the right light and ample-sized kitchen, I’d even be willing to cook on an electric coil stove for a while. All the while, sleeping with this photograph under my pillow:

kitchen_athens

My First Great Kitchen (the one we gutted and reno'd in Georgia). I will have another, someday.

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{ 6 comments }

Rebecca Martin January 21, 2010 at 9:07 pm

1. I love the looks of your renovated Georgia kitchen. You’ve got such style!

2. I’m so glad you sold your GA house.

3. The kitchen I’ve loved most in my life so far was in our initial-three-months-of-Blacksburg sublease. It was *perfectly* arranged, and with a sink window overlooking a park. The whole three months I knew I was falling in love with it, and it is still painful that that’s not the kitchen I own. I mean, I’m glad we own a kitchen, attached to a whole house that is ours! I just wish it was that other one.

Katherine Adams January 22, 2010 at 9:03 am

I really did love your kitchen in GA, even if I did not know yet what I’m suppose to like in a kitchen other than places to sit on the counters while other around me cooked. Congrats on selling the house.

Liz Wiley January 22, 2010 at 10:49 am

When I first started reading the post, I was guessing “windows.”
I enjoy remembering your explanation for all your decisions in that kitchen, way back when we got to stay with you that one night. And I’ve tucked a few of those ideas away, also hoping to one day indulge in our dream kitchen, at least to some extent.

katy January 22, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Rebecca, I think a window sink is a huge plus — in fact, it could be key.
Katherine, the eating bar was precisely for that purpose. What good is a kitchen if people can’t sit and watch you cook?
Liz, you were right on. My last favorite kitchen was in an original 1940’s apartment flat in Knoxville. The whole place had huge casement windows, and the kitchen was not spared that luxury. It was filled with outdoor light until the sun went down.

CK January 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm

So GLAD you sold your house! Hurray! And that was a magnificent kitchen.

Stephanie January 26, 2010 at 12:31 pm

OH, to have a kitchen with WINDOWS! Mine currently has none. The closest one is in the dining room, so we knocked down part of the wall between the rooms to let in more light. I totally understand the need for windows. BTW, your new kitchen here in Athens was truly a great kitchen.

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