The gory details will just have to wait
What happened with the house

Quirks and Complaints

Last night I wrote this long meandering essay on Selling Your House: Lessons Learned, and then the internet went out. And instead of marching around yelling, "Suckcast!" at various intervals, I've decided to take it as a Sign. At least for now. Perhaps I should wait a few more days until I've decided what I've learned. At LEAST.

In the meantime, the internet went out and the wireless only works in a two-step radius of the router and Phillip was so angry and so up against a deadline he drove to WORK so he could do his homework last night. And while crappy wireless isn't truthfully a characteristic of living in an Old House (it's actually a characteristic of SUCKCAST), I think it's a half decent segue into a segment I'll call: Living In An Old House: Quirks and Complaints.

On the Quirks side we have things like sloping uneven floors and the utter lack of a linen closet. (A'Dell! Your advice please!) What we've gained in a third usable bedroom is the loss of an entry way and office, so I'm having a hard time figuring out where to put things like Phillip's computer stuff and all our coats and scarves and hats. This house is not bigger, just laid out VERY differently. Each room is its own space, as opposed to my old house which was as open as you could be. And the space, while awesome and flexible, is just generally sort of Un-Intuitive. It's taken us a long time to decide what goes where, and we're still not sure. The upstairs smaller living room currently holds the smaller of the couches, both of our desks, my rocking chair and the bookshelves. The downstairs just-slightly-bigger living room/playroom has the bigger couch, the giant Expedit bookcase, the wardrobe (holding the coats and scarves), the TV, the little bathroom cabinet (which is the TV stand for now) and all the kids' toys (except for what we left in Jack's room when he doesn't feel like napping.) But because of the layout down there, there's really only one way to arrange the furniture and it was totally bugging me until yesterday when I pushed the couch about five inches closer to the wall and suddenly all was well in the world again.

On the Complaints side...

The laundry area has an uneven concrete floor which I planned to cover with a big carpet scrap from my old house. Except that the door going outside practically scrapes against the floor as it closes, so I can't put ANY carpet down. This annoys me.

The water pressure in the downstairs shower is nonexistent. I forgot what this was like. (SPOILED!) Also, we ran out of hot water the other day. I can't remember the last time that happened to me. (SHUT UP! SO SPOILED!)

And that's it. I mean, for now. I reserve the right to discover other things to complain about. But everything else either feels like one of those Oh, It's An Old House, Of Course It's Near Impossible To Control The Temperature or isn't really an issue, like the appliances. I think that dishwasher is as old as I am, yet it appears to work better than my previous fancy one. I KNOW. The washer and dryer are REALLY loud, but there's a door to close and it doesn't really bother me. The oven is spectacularly clean inside and works just great, if the carrot cupcakes and Coca Cola cake I made over the weekend are any evidence. (Various people going on airplane trips brought me their perishables and what ELSE was I supposed to do with carrots (ugh) and buttermilk?) (Also, remind me to give you the coke cake recipe because OMGHEAVENLY.) (And I HATE Coke.)

We still have boxes lying around and I'm still unsure about a few things. We need a different TV stand, if only because the bathroom cabinet seems a little wobbly (see: uneven floors). We did get Jack a Craigslist dresser and Phillip gallantly agreed to work with plastic storage drawers in the closet so I could have the big dresser. I'm doing my usual terrified-to-hang-anything-on-the-walls thing. Oh, and we need a little filing cabinet and I haven't even started on the garden and I want to spend our entire tax return on decorating a house we don't plan to live in for very long. WHAT OF IT.

Oh, I forgot to put on the Complaints side: yes, I'm within walking distance of nine thousand things but UNFORTUNATELY, everything is UPHILL. Or downhill, but that just means walking uphill on the way home. And we're not talking little hills. We're talking scary Seattle hills with a double not-jogging stroller. But I figured out that if I just go down the block I hit a Popular Running/Biking trail which I THINK is mostly flat, as it skirts a lot of the hillishness, and that's possibly our plan for today. We'll see. I have about six pounds of house selling stress-eating pounds to work off. SIGH.



That is just how it was when we moved into this house! Previous house - where everything should go was very obvious. This house was like a puzzle and one I still haven't completely solved - but it's totally ok to take a long time to figure out what furniture arrangement works best and to wait to hang art, etc.
Also, some of this might be old house combined with the fact that you are renting - for example you can't take the laundry room door off the hinges and shave off a quarter inch and put it back on, because of the renting thing. You're obviously not going to put in a tankless hot water heater (OMG LOVE) because you don't own the house - etc. That's why I was so excited to finally buy a house, I think - I could finally do stuff like replace hideous light fixtures. On the other hand, I know you're not a huge fan of slaving away on a house, so maybe having to leave stuff alone is a blessing in disguise.


We put the towels in a bin in the office closet in our old house. It was neither convenient not intuitive. But, when I needed a towel I at least knew where to look.

Now I have to go UPSTAIRS to the linen closet to retrieve a towel and this is so inconvenient.

I should have been more specific with the universe: a linen closet DOWNSTAIRS please!


I wouldn't have classified the house we live in as an "old house" (though certainly not new! built before I was born) but I think most of the quirks and whatnot I've come across were due to the previous owners laziness. Need to punch a hole in the partial drop-ceiling in the kitchen to install a light over the sink? Don't patch the hole, just hang a clock over it! Took out too much drywall when installing the AC? wallpaper over it! Don't like the old paper? Just wallpaper over THAT (3 layers of ugly wallpaper we had to strip!) etc. But I can feel your pain on the quirks!

Sonya in San Antonio

Maggie, sounds like you have a great outlet for creativity trying to figure out where everything goes in the new old house. How is it with Jack sleeping on a different floor? Oh, and please do share the Coca Cola cake recipe, because I LOVE COKE. It's my major vice and I've had Coca Cola cake before and it is HEAVEN, but I need a good recipe that someone else has used before I'm brave enough to try it myself!


I've heard of coke cake, and that it's good, but I heard the BEST part was that you can also make it with DIET coke for healthier cake. Because cake can be healthy right?


Our old house had terrible water pressure in the shower, too. But, everywhere else, the pressure seamed okay. So, I changed the shower head, and it now works like a dorm shower. Just unscrew the head and see if the stream of water seams strong. If so, that's the problem (sometimes they get plugged with pipe crud). If not, just drink and eat cake. It won't fix your shower, but it sounds good!

Marie Green

We don't have a linen closet either, but we do have this weird dresser/cabinet thingy in our hallway that we use for linens. And if we didn't have THAT, I'd probably use a regular dresser.

Craigslist a double jogger? Uggg... hills!

Hope you continue to settle in!


That is one thing I LOVE about our house: how intuitive it is. It's not open plan at all (well, the kitchen opens into the family room, but every other room has doors that close), but everything flows together very nicely.

I still think it's GREAT that you have this house so you can figure out some dealbreakers for when you buy again.


Our last apartment (it was basement suite so it was really oddly laid out) had absolutely no entrance way. You just opened the door straight into the living room. To solve the hats/gloves/outside stuff problem we got a half-size Expedit shelving unit and laid it horizontally. Then we got the baskets that fit in them and put all our outdoors stuff in it. It was probably our best system for hats etc. in the 4 places we've lived together.

I love old houses (maybe I should spaces because I haven't lived in a house since I left my parents' place -- curse the Vancouver housing market!) but they are a real challenge to decorate and organize. And if you're renting it's worse because you don't want to spend a ton of money on it!

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