Pretty flowers at the new house

We’ll have a few landscaping projects at the new house, but I was happy to discover that the previous owner had planted a number of beautiful flowers in the yard. This bright red fuchsia plant is my favorite.

Bonus: There’s another pink fuchsia plant too.

Not sure what these are, but they’re pretty.

Our real estate agent was telling me about this plant, which smells like lemon when you rub it.

Randomly, in the front of the house there is a poinsettia.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that wasn’t in a pot around Christmastime.

There are two plants that have got to go, though. These hedges are awful!

I think our main landscaping goals are:
• clear out the side yard and plant grass so the dogs can use it
• clear out some other overgrown plants and replace them with berry bushes and a strawberry patch
• add more plants to the front garden so that the ugly pipes are covered up
• replace the sod out front with a fruit tree and drought-resistant ground cover
• steal oranges from the neighbors — just kidding!

We got a house!

I’m so excited to say that we bought a house! Here she is.

Given the crazy market, it feels like some kind of miracle that we were able to put in an offer on this house and it was accepted. We think it probably helped that they only had one open house and gave 4 days for people to put in offers. They wanted a quick sale and we needed a quick sale. It was also rainy that week, which might have kept people away. And the house, while in excellent shape, is a little bit … frumpy?

It was formerly occupied by a retired lady, and so many things haven’t been updated. But that’s part of the charm for us — projects!

Starting with the godawful awnings out front. They must go! Look at what they are doing to the view.

The kitchen cabinets are actually kind of cool and in great shape. I’m thinking all they need is a paint job. The microwave, on the other hand, is as old as me.

There is ugly brown carpet throughout the house, but we’re told it’s all wood floors underneath. The floor in our room gives a sneak peek. I love the inlaid pattern.

The bathrooms both need updating. We may not be able to do it right away, but hopefully soon.

There are many, many more potential projects I’ll tell you about later. First things first we have to address some problems with the electrical system. And unfortunately we have to spend $5,000 to update the sewer line. But generally the inspection revealed that this house, built in 1949, is a real gem. Good foundation, good plumbing, no earthquake retrofits needed. Whew!

(Did I mention that the home inspector had a waxed mustache and arrived on a bike with a ladder strapped to the side? He was awesome.)

Other things we love about this house:
• It has a master suite that my mom can use.
• It has a separate workshop out back that I can use for my business.
• It’s on a nice big lot with a deck and plenty of room for Harper to play, the dogs to roam, and us to use for gardening or storage (perhaps Airstream parking?)
• It’s about 2 minutes from where we currently live. We love the neighborhood and don’t have to learn a new one.
• The schools are in El Cerrito and much better than some of the other options we would have had to consider.
• Though the decor is dated, the layout is perfect and has so much potential.
• It’s on a nice flat street. So many houses in the area are on precarious hills.

Downsides are that it was at the absolute max of our budget, so we don’t have much left over for improvements, and it’s a little on the small side. We came really close to going for a house in Richmond that was closer to 2,000 square feet. It was a 1920s house with lots of built-ins, and a ton of retro charm. But it needed like $100,000 of work. In the end we went for the safer option and I’m glad we did.

If all goes well, we’ll close on April 29 and probably move in slowly throughout the month of May. That gives us time to redo the floors and fix whatever needs fixing. Then my mom will join us in August.

I can’t quite wrap my mind around just how big this is for our family. I have wanted to be able to buy a house since Mike and I first moved in together 8 (!) years ago. It felt like such a daunting task to try to buy one here. I felt so discouraged at times. But for all our hard work pounding pavement and scouring ads, I think we honestly got the best house out of all the ones we saw.