Friday, June 7, 2013

What Color Should We Paint The Kitchen?

What color should we paint the kitchen?

What kitchen you may ask?

Our kitchen!

That's right, our offer was accepted on a townhouse this week!!

Praise the Lord, this is a huge answer to prayer. After 4 months of serious house hunting, we finally are in escrow on a house. Our close date is slated for June 28th, but of course nothing is final until we have the keys in-hand.

Jon and I looked at well-over a hundred properties in the last 4 months and placed four offers before this one. In this seller-driven market, we are happy that we finally found a place that was $100k under our max budget. The townhouse is in a clean, family-friendly neighborhood and has ample space for us and our two dogs and our future family. It's just shy of 1,600 sq ft and has a 1 car garage (with additional parking space on the driveway) and a small fenced backyard.  Remember that list of  "must have's" that I published a few weeks ago? Let's revisit it to see how close we came to meeting our criteria. Responses are in blue

Must-Have's:
- Minimum 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom. Might consider a 2 bedroom if there is a loft or office space
Check! It's 3 bedroom, 2 and a half bath. 1/2 baths seem super popular out here.
- A fenced yard. We would love a huge, grassy, fenced yard but we will settle for a smaller yard if necessary. Must be large enough to throw a tennis ball to our dog, Tatum =)
Check! We comprised on this one and settled for a small fenced yard. We would have loved a huge backyard, but we can't have our cake and eat it too. It's big enough to throw a tennis ball but small enough that he won't be reaching top running speed. We plan to take our younger, energetic dog to the dog park 1x/week or so to let him get his high-speed running play out of his system on a weekly basis =)
- An open-floor plan or the structural architecture to knock down a few walls to turn it into an open floor plan. This is especially important for the kitchen. Our AZ house had a large open kitchen with a big island and we utilized that space so often that we really want something similar in our next house.
Check! The kitchen is UGLY! But it has mega potential. It's pretty open, but we plan to replace all the crappy particle board cabinets. When we do that, we will turn one of the sides of the kitchen into an island with walk-around space. 
- A master bathroom that has 2 sinks or 1 sink with enough counter space. So many master bathrooms out here are very small and bathrooms are difficult to remodel in terms of expansion so a large enough master bath is a must.
Boo, we didn't get this "must have". The master bath only has 1 small sink (plus a toilet and shower). However, the master bedroom is HUGE and the bathroom shares a wall with a walk-in closet. We are thinking that down-the-road, if it's worth the investment, that we may knock down the wall between the bathroom and closet and turn it into a huge master bathroom with a separate bathtub and shower. We would then add side by side closets to one of the sides of the master bedroom (there is plenty of room for this). This won't be a project we take on any time soon, as we want to see how the housing market does before we invest this much into improving the master bathroom. 
- Close to Jon's work (aka, under a 30 minute commute in traffic, 10-15 without). Jon works in a really fun part of the Seattle Eastside and we find ourselves enjoying activities near his work often, so we don't want to compromise on location too much.
Sort of got this one. It should take him about 30 minutes to get to work on a good day, 45 on a bad day. 

This is a good time to add that we plan to stay in this house for 5 or 6 years tops. We compromised on a location a little bit in order to save big on our mortgage so that we could continue to put away a lot into savings and set ourselves up for financial success later in life. Hopefully in 5-6 years we can afford a better house in a more desirable location, but for now, we are happy with this house =)

Those-Would-Be-Nice:
- A two-car garage. Unlike Arizona, two-car garages aren't as common out here. I think it has to do with the larger amount of townhouses and condos. We have debated about whether or not to make this a "must-have" or "would-be-nice" item, and finally decided that as long as there is enough in-house storage space AND a yard where we could put in a nice storage shed for bikes, yard tools, etc, then we would be ok without a two-car garage.
Almost! It has a 1 car garage, which gives us enough space to store bicylces, holiday decorations, yard tools, etc. 
- Hardwood floors in the main living space and carpet in the bedrooms
Check! This is something we LOVED about this townhouse. It has hardwood in all the right places and carpet in all the right places. The main level is hardwood and that's where the kitchen, entry nook, dining area and living room are. The stairs and upstairs (where all the bedrooms are) have carpet. It's a neutral color too and in decent shape, so we don't even need to replace it.
- A wood-burning fireplace (I'm a sucker for the sound of crackling firewood)
No =( We really wanted a wood burning fireplace, but this one has gas. We will miss the sound of crackling firewood, but the convenience of flipping on a switch will be nice. We are compromising by buying a firepit for the backyard.
- A covered patio
No. However, we can add one later or buy a large patio umbrella. 
- A built in firepit (We used our firepit in Arizona ALL the time. It's a great entertainment piece when friends come over)
No. We knew this luxury was a long shot. We won't be building one either, as this is a short-term house.
- Ceiling fans already installed
No. This will likely be a project for next summer, as ceiling fans would be nice.
- A separate laundry room (many houses have a small laundry space shared with a 1/2 bathroom...not a big fan of this design).
Kind-of. There is a laundry closet. I would eventually like to buy a stack-able front loading washer and dryer in order to open up more space in this closet for shelves and a drying rack, but at least this is separate from the bathroom and has doors to close the closet shut. 

Absolutely-Won't-Tolerate
- High HOA dues. Our dues in AZ were $40/month.  It's common for HOA dues to be $300/month and over out here, mostly in townhouse and condo communities.
Check! Our HOA dues are $100/month, which isn't cheap, but is on the lower end of HOA dues out here. It covers earthquake insurance, which I'm not sure I should be thankful for or terrified of =)
- HOA pet restrictions.  Being dog-lovers and wanting to foster again as soon as we have our own house, we don't want to be restricted by an HOA that doesn't allow "aggressive breeds". If I own the house, I don't want to be told what kind of dog I can and can't own.
Kind of. There are restrictions on number of pets but not breeds. We can still foster, so the HOA terms were acceptable to us in this case.
- Junky neighbors. Ok, so no offense to anyone, but Washington people love their RVs, trailers, campers, extra cars that don't work, etc. And they seem to love to keep them in their front yards. Of course, this isn't representative of everyone, but we have found quite a few neighborhoods like this. And not "bad" neighborhoods, just a mix of run-down houses next to well-kept houses. We want a neighborhood where we feel neighbors take some pride in their home ownership.
Check! The HOA ensures a well-kept neighborhood, and this one seems very clean and family-friendly.
- Too much to fix. We don't mind buying a house that needs fixing up, even a few walls that need knocking down, but we draw the line at houses that have very costly repairs. We want a house that is livable, but that we can do DIY projects over time, such as updating a kitchen.
Check!  The work that needs to be done is "fun work". The inside is kind of ugly, but it's completely move-in ready and livable. The kitchen is ancient, so we plan to redo the entire kitchen at some point. There is lineoleum in the front part of the house that we plan to tile over. The light fixtures are ancient, but those can easily be replaced and updated. And the walls are white. However, it will be fun to pick out paint colors and new lighting and plan out what kind of kitchen we want. All the appliances are included which adds an extra bonus. We want to replace the old refrigerator at some point, but for now it works and is staying. 
-----------------End of comparison)---------------------

So there you have it! A breakdown of our new house. While it isn't "perfect" we are really happy about this and pray that the escrow process goes smoothly without any complications. 

Stay tuned for more updates! The next blog post will probably be about paint colors =)

PS. The lack of pictures in this post is intentional. Until we have the keys and all the paperwork is signed, I don't want to post pictures. 



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