When I first found the plans for our house online I fell in love with them. And there were so very many things about those plans to love. The master bedroom is huge. The front porch is lovely. There are three huge bay windows, and a skylight in the bathroom, and plenty of light in the house. The plans seemed, somehow, to be perfect.
But as with anything else, once the house was built I could see why the plans weren't exactly as perfect as I had thought. The ceilings are only 8 feet, which may be nice for heating costs, but makes the downstairs feel a little cramped. The layout of the kitchen and the laundry room makes no sense, and if I'd had any concept of what it was going to look like I would have had them do a complete redesign of that entire area. The access to the attic is a tiny little hole in a closet that makes it next to impossible to get up there, and if I'd had half a brain I would have insisted they put in a pull-down staircase in the hallway, where we could actually make use of that 8 square feet of plywood flooring we had them install three years ago when they built this house – flooring we've never had occasion to use because getting up there is just next to impossible.
Most of the time those things just aren't that big a deal. After all, there's a lot to love about the house, not the least of which is the simple fact that it is ours. But every once in a while I look around and add one more thing to the list of changes I would make to this house if we ever built it again.
I like to look at model homes. I've always liked looking at them, even when I was in no position to buy, and even now that we own a house and really have no intention of selling it and moving anywhere else, I still like looking at model homes for the decorating ideas. It's fun to see what the designer has done – where they put things, how big (or tiny) they made the bedrooms. It's fun to compare things in new homes to things in ours.
So on the way home today I saw a sign for a few new developments in our area, and we took a detour to go check them out. There were two sets of models, and we started with what turned out to be the smaller of the two – four houses in each set. We wandered through single and two-story house, winced at the size of the closets they call bedrooms, agreed that we really liked the color one of the master bedrooms was painted, and then set off to wander through the second set.
That was probably a very big mistake. In fact, we figured that out after we got into the first house, but it got worse as we kept on moving down the line. And it all culminated the minute we walked into the final house in the set. There was a formal dining room, and a formal living room, and a staircase, followed by the type of kitchen I have dreamed of having, and a huge and comfortable family room, and then, oh then, just around the corner from the kitchen, the office – bigger than the one we have at home, and across the hall a little low-ceilinged closet underneath the stairs that would be just the perfect spot to house things like servers and routers and other equipment that one might want to keep safe from cats.
We walked up the stairs and everywhere we turned there was something else wonderful to find. Three bedrooms – all decent sized – a master bedroom with a huge bathroom and walk-in closet and lots of space in the bedroom itself for a little reading nook, and then to top it off, there was a huge bonus room with two little window seat cubbies, open to the entire house, that screamed out 'library'.
Naturally, we realize that this house is all wrong for us. The yard – while a larger lot than you usually see in new developments – is certainly not as large or as nice as ours is right now, even still as incomplete as it is. The price is a heck of a lot higher than anything we could hope to afford, even with the equity I know we've got in this house from all the work we've put into it. Most importantly, the house is almost double the size of the one we own – a ridiculously huge amount of space for two people, even if we do come with seven cats. We would rattle around in it and never see each other. But knowing all those things didn't change the fact that we both fell head over heels in love.
I know that when I built this house, my intentions were for it to be the place where I would stay, permanently. I did not want to buy just a 'starter' home and then work my way up – I wanted to start with a house where I could really believe that it would be my home, for as long as I needed to be there. I realize, of course, that things change; life changes, jobs change. A lot of things can happen during the course of 'forever'. We might decide to move. One or both of us could lose our jobs again and *have* to move. A lot of things can happen.
Despite the fact that we both really liked that house, we realize that it would be silly to even think about making it a reality, and not just because it's ridiculously huge, or far more house than we really could afford. We do realize, however, that maybe there are things we could be doing to this house we're in right now. I know there are things on that list of changes that will never be possible – after all, raising the downstairs ceiling a foot is kind of hard to do in a two-story home – but there are other things that might be a bit closer to our grasp.
And maybe, just maybe, the next time I see a sign for model homes, we should just drive on by and not go looking. Sometimes it's better not to know what else is out there. Sometimes it's better just to keep to things just the way they are.
This has been an entry for Alphabytes.