Sneak Peek: Our Modern Bayou Retreat...aka, WE'RE BUYING A HOUSE!
I have to say, I feel like this was a bit of an accident.
I really never meant to buy a house again. They've honestly been a lot of trouble for me - rife with the normal homeowner responsibility things, but also with not-so-great memories and life troubles that went along with them. To say that my houses of the past have some baggage is to put it lightly.
Which is why I was surprised to find myself hunting for a house at all, but also seeking out a very different type of home than I did in the past. As a self-proclaimed city girl and lover of all things urban, I have always said that it could only go two ways for me. IN the city. Or waaaaaay the fuck out. Guess which one we chose!
So many factors went into our decision to move outside the city (and, honestly, we're only 35mi across Lake Ponchartrain via the causeway bridge so it really only FEELS like a long way), and they're the usual ones:
- Space - both inside and out; this 800ish sq ft apartment with 4 total rooms was starting to close in on us, and I've been hungry to enjoy more of the mild Southern weather outdoors, too
- A bit of a yard - because: dog, garden, patio, project space
- An office - as I've been rejiggering my business this year, I've been craving space separately of our living space so I can work. Focus. Dig in. Concentrate.
- Peace & quiet - as much as I do love the city and the sounds, it's different here in New Orleans than it was in Minneapolis. It's louder and more chaotic. Our neighbors are, um, more festive. The windows are all single pane and falling apart. We do NOT live in a quiet, off-the-beaten-path neighborhood, so there is literally to escape from the ruckus. And it is, yes, unpredictably dangerous in some spots nearby. Kev gave me two years of soaking up all that NOLA offers, and I appreciate that so much. But I, too, am ready for the boondocks.
- Affordability - because we get all of this exchange at the very same price. Boom.
There is a LOT of stigma here about who lives inside the city and who lives outside. We're "fleeing" the diversity of the inner city, after all; the term "white flight" gets bandied about quite a lot. It's very charged. And there's no question that, just like Minneapolis, the further you move from the city center, the more red the population becomes. So, all of that did worry me a bit.
But, most of my local friends were very excited for our change; some were decidedly not and have already kind of started joking that I'll never been seen again. It's such an interesting interplay.
In fact, we'll be commuting into the city regularly. Kev works downtown so he'll be in every weekday. I'll tag along the mornings I'm working my PT gig, and then spend the afternoon working a la coffee shop or my fav French Quarter watering holes. Maybe seeing friends and grabbing pool days at The Country Club when the weather's right. I honestly can't wait to have that kind of shift in my own balance of work & play. It will be much more intentional and, I think, will allow me to enjoy those days even more.
Then, we'll retreat to the North Shore, to our little slice of the boonies, for the evenings and weekend. (I've already warned a couple friends that I'll be crashing overnight when the time comes for events and parades and other can't-miss events; I'm all set up!)
So this latest iteration of the Kevin & Tracy Traveling Road show takes us to the North Shore of Lake Ponchartrain, but decidedly NOT into the suburban, sprawling cookie cutter developments that the area is known for. We'll be in a quieter, away-from-the-action, weird little neighborhood that has unique homes of varying ages. If there was a trendy "look" to the houses in our neighborhood, I'd say that ours fits it perfectly: a riff on an Acadian cottage, built in the 70s, with cool rooflines and the feeling of a country getaway.
In Minnesota, we'd say it's like a cabin up north. Here the term "camp" is favored, as in a fishing or hunting camp. A place families owned and shared as a spot outside of the city where they'd hang out on weekends or for holidays. Our home likely started as just such a camp, located right on the water with access to the Tchefuncte River. I can't wait to figure out if we can do some fishing out there. (I'm hoping for a least a kayak or canoe, but TBD on the alligator status, so....)
Bring me the funk
I'll talk more about the house itself in the next post, but suffice it to say that we had to search high and low for a home that didn't suffer from some of the reallllly bad construction and design of the 90s and early 00s here. There was a growth spurt underway before Katrina, and the resulting home building trends were, let's just admit, not the best for a picky designer's eye.
The must haves were more about location (as they really should be, right?) so once we got that out of the way and had the right proximity and number of neighbors checked off the list, to put it simply: I was looking for something funky.
We'd both gotten on board with the idea of a fixer upper, too (and I'll also explain more about that in the next post), so we were going for funky-with-potential. We knew we could DIY a lot, bring a contractor in for the big stuff, and come away with some serious equity in the home by the time we were done. This means searching for not just the right look, but the right condition and the right value. Ohhhh what could be easier?!
So yea, no bad tract homes, no boring cookie cutter layouts, no more ugly ass tray ceilings, please. Enough for us to work on and make our own, but not so much renovation as to make it unlivable or a complete shit show while we're doing our projects. We needed a balance.
So, a bit older home, please. Some unique features. A few reserved/not trashed historical bits. A little charm and character. We dug for the gems and saw some really amazing MCM & contemporary angles and lines; original terrazzo floors; gorgeous rock fireplaces; raised-seam metal roofs; waterfront properties on canals and bayous; large yards, small yards, swampy yards. Man, we saw a lot. And all of them - like all properties - had a blend of things we wanted and things we didn't.
So we relied on a very non-technical combination of math, inspector & contractor feedback, and gut instinct.
Tuesday, the week of
So it's Tuesday and we're scheduled to close on Thursday, then move on Friday.
As of this morning, due to the complexity and never-ending, drawn-out string of paperwork and approvals needed for this kind of loan, we still don't have a final approval from our mortgage lender. WHICH IS NOT STRESSFUL AT ALL.
But we're acting as if, putting all the pieces together and getting ourselves ready for the first big step: getting in.
I'm hoping to write the next post - and tell you a bit more about the renovation projects and what I'm thinking about design-wise - from the house.
Wish us luck!