Remember last winter when I left the Super Bowl party at the home of a friend with a raging case of house envy??
Never really got over it….it’s just changed in form.
It all came bubbling back to the surface after Hubs Colorado elk hunt last month. One of the cronies he went with is a young man (J.) who became tragically paraplegic a few years ago who is building a new fully handicap accessible home and work shop (he trained in taxidermy after his accident, it’s now his profession). Hubs took me over to see the house, which is full of amazing architectural details and surprisingly innovative design elements. Afterwards we sat at home discussing this young man, Hubs expressed a desire to make it a point to spend more time with J. as he got the impression that though J. has made a good life for himself he seemed lonely. I immediately said “lets start having him over for Sunday brunches, or Saturday movie nights”. And that’s where the conversation got interesting….
In my eagerness to open my home to J. I forgot one major obstacle: There is no ground floor entrance into this house. None. Being a raised ranch style, our home is completely inaccessible to someone in a wheel chair. As Hubs reminded me of this glaring fact, he expressed concerned with all these stairs in the future; he has bad knees, I have a bad back and we’re not getting any younger. Then he dropped the bomb; “I want a house where everything is at ground level”.
We live on one income now, so increasing our mortgage payment is not an option. So we both hit the real estate websites and started perusing the listings. Hubs thought since we were gonna move we might as well buy a place with a few acres. The hitch in his plan is that the only homes with acreage in our price range are all fixer-uppers. We stewed over this dilemma for a couple of weeks and then I BECAME BRILLIANT.
As it happens more and more frequently in my middle age, the solution popped into my head when I was completely engrossed in something totally unrelated (which means I was buried neck deep in DIY Christmas gift ideas on Pinterest!). Instead of spending the time and money to bring our current home up to resale condition and then turning around and renovating the new home, why not just renovate the home we have??? We love the neighborhood we live in, so let’s just avoid all the stress of selling and buying and make this one suit our needs!
My bright idea was to convert the upstairs (currently the main living area, kitchen, dining and master suite) into the 2 spare bedrooms plus a craft area for me and relocating the main entry to the ground floor. Our finished basement would then become the main living area (it currently has 2 spare bedrooms, full bath, utility room and a very large family room which is never used. It houses Hubs MASSIVE Denver Bronco memorabilia shrine and the big honkin’ pool table). Knock down some walls, open up the space and make it the living room, eat-in kitchen, downsized utility room and Master suite plus a half bath for guests. BRILLIANT I TELL YA..
The biggest obstacle we couldn’t figure out was where exactly the main entry would be. Our basement is half buried at the front of the house and we really wanted to avoid the high cost of having to change the grade and building out a foyer space. I am adamant that the entry not look like a “basement” entry. The solution we finally hammered out was to use an existing side entrance door on the side of the garage and take a few feet of space from the garage to make an entry that is already at ground level work for us by making it a kind of long foyer leading down the existing 4 steps down from garage into the basement. Add a bunch of windows so it doesn’t feel like a dark hallway and BOOM! We got ourselves a nice entry easily navigated by old geezers like us!
Now, we’re a couple years away from this major renovation job so in the meantime I am apparently just going to spend 17 hours a day stalking Houzz.com for a kajillion ideas that 99.9% of are impractical, unsuitable and just won’t work in general, saving photo’s and then changing my mind 562.3658.654 times between now and when actual construction will begin….
But in the meantime, I’m having fun!