I have no idea what is wrong with my camera. Anyone want to guess why all my pictures seem slightly blurry and low-resolution? I know I'm not the world's greatest photographer but usually I can manage to keep my hands steady. I'm going to post these anyway because it will give you an idea of what I'm talking about.
The back "mud room" which is in need of some serious organization.
I didn't accomplish anything on my "Little House Projects List" this weekend. Yesterday we headed to a birthday party around noon for both the children of some good friends in our neighborhood. We intended to stay for two hours, tops, and then come back home to get something done. We had such a good time visiting with everyone that we stayed until it was time to come home and put the kids to bed. Perhaps this afternoon I can put a dent in our bedroom which currently looks like a rummage sale exploded all over the place. Eric did manage to cross something off his list by installing a programmable thermostat. I just love these things. Nothing beats rolling out of bed in the early morning to a house that is already nice and warm.
Eric didn't make all those holes--he's actually pretty competent with a drill. We're guessing this is at least the third thermostat in this spot though the last one was pretty old so it doesn't make sense that the old holes weren't patched.
In the meantime, I will entertain you with a little tour of our basement and attic. Our goal, while house hunting, was to find a home with a big enough ground floor for the entire family to live on permanently. And when I say "entire family" that includes having more kids, I hope. But we soon realized that we weren't going to find a city house in our price range with three good-size bedrooms and enough leftover living space to keep us all from driving each other nuts. We continued to rule out single family homes because they tend to have all the bedrooms on the second floor (they also cost just as much, or more, than the two-family homes and make up only about 20% of the housing stock in our neighborhood). So we were left with finding a two-family with a couple main-floor bedrooms and a finished basement.
We definitely have mixed feelings about the usefulness of a finished basement. Joseph can't get down there so we don't want to use it on a regular basis for much of anything but as our family grows, something will have to give and we'll need the space. We're still working out the details of all that. For now, our main apartment is about 1200 square feet with two bedrooms and we're all fine with the space that gives us for now.
That ledge makes a nice little pantry overflow space. Lots of tomatoes! We found them for fifty cents a can and stocked up.
As you head down the back stairs from the kitchen you come into a pretty nice, well-lit room. It's messy! But it's a basement and we're still unpacking. This room currently houses our laundry and chest freezer and storage items that we need to access more frequently: tools, bulk food items, etc.
There is an "L" off to the back with some built-in closet space and we have some plans to organize that entire nook to hold everything that will live in this room permanently. Then we both feel like this room could be nice enough for a bedroom for us, for one of the kids, for guests. This room can be closed off completely from the rest of the basement which as you'll see boasts a second kitchen:
This is also "L" shaped and is big enough for one or two to "eat in". There is a nice large room beyond it.
It's a bit spartan at the moment but we have successfully hosted a couple sets of guests down here already. Margaret spends her rest time down here each day. When she isn't sleeping she likes to dance in front of the big, mirrored closet.
There is also a basement entrance from the front hall and that comes into this rather large entry-way space and you can see there is a second full bath off to the right there.
We hope the basement space might be a nice way to be hospitable to people needing a place to stay. Eric's department has a few new hires coming through this summer. It would be easy-enough to give someone a little studio apartment and still close off the laundry room for our family's use. But we may just keep the space all for ourselves. Once we are fully unpacked we'll have a better idea. We've also looked into converting one of the stairwells into a residential elevator which would allow us to have a much bigger house available to every member of the family.
And if that's not enough space, we've got an attic! The stairs in our entryway lead up to the second floor apartment (for which we have tenants lined up to arrive in the summer) and also to the attic entrance which is a separate, locking door off the landing. The attic is a huge, well-lit space. Currently we have long-term storage up here (outgrown kids' clothes, Christmas decorations) and Eric set up a desk with a few storage bins and a spare door. It's not fancy but he loves having a "home" office two floors away from the family. He can actually get work done from home now which is a huge boon for an academic with an irregular schedule.
With some new flooring and a coat of paint the attic could be quite lovely. It's set up for heat though we haven't been able to make it work yet (we knew about that problem before we bought it). The ceiling isn't very high but the various "rooms" are all large and there are lots of them. We are toying with the idea of making this Margaret's room in a few years.
These pictures really don't show how big this space is. It's a bit more than we know what to do with!
Out the back you can see our brand-spanking new roof, just put on yesterday. Nothing says "I'm a homeowner" like forking over thousands of dollars for a new roof. Fortunately we knew that we'd be replacing this flat section before long and got the sellers to kick in for it even though they swore it had never leaked (and we believe them). But we had a terrible wind/rain storm our second weekend here and ended up with a puddle on the floor of the second floor kitchen. So now we have a new roof. And though you can't tell from this terrible picture, we have a view of the Manhattan skyline from this roof. There might even be a chance of putting in a little deck up here down the road, though that's certainly pretty far down the list.
This isn't the prettiest view of our immediate neighborhood which is actually quite lovely. There are some luxury condos going into a vacant lot next to us at some point in the not-too-distant future.
So there you have the far reaches of our new home. It's an enormous amount of living space if we can figure out how to best use it. Fortunately, we have plenty of time to figure that out.