Slash and Burn
Do you remember that old Mad TV sketch, "Lowered Expectations"? That might as well be this blog post title but when you're talking about over a 4,000 sq ft house maybe I could be less of an ungrateful cow? I'm working on it. So the initial plan I sketched up for the house was a bit over 3,000 sq ft on the main level and 1500 for the unfinished basement. Before we purchased the lot, I went to the city inspector to make sure it was fine to finish the basement at a later date. Well, let me back up a bit. So at Halloween (like a week before we got an offer on the house) my mom and I took my daughter trick or treating in the neighborhood for families in Walla Walla. It's a development on the end of town comprised of about 5 streets that form a giant square, with wheat fields on two sides and a creek on another. The homes are all on about 10k-13k square foot lots so I had dismissed it initially because my plan for our next house was to always have acreage that I could build a shop/barn on for my rental business. My in-laws actually offered us one of their acre parcels around this time and we were seriously discussing it. But then Halloween night as we were going house to house my mom looked at me and said, " THIS is the neighborhood you should live in. You are going to hate living in the country. Sloane needs kids to play with! You want people to actually see your Christmas decorations." I hated to admit it, but she was totally right. That week after we had the offer on our house, so we changed course and started thinking about buying a lot in that neighborhood seriously. Well there were literally two left. One was on the busy corner that everyone that accessed the development turns on and backed up to the county road that is the only road to the development and the other was extremely steep and would need a walk-out basement but it was at the end of one of the streets inside and it had views of the mountains and only wheat fields behind it. It was an easy choice on which to pick but I needed to make sure we could get by with not having to finish the basement immediately. After I met with the inspector and he said it was fine to not finish it (we just have to sheetrock the ceilings) we moved forward with purchasing that lot.
So once we had that out of the way I started designing the floorplan. I really struggled with finding anything online I liked or even could use as inspiration. I knew I wanted three bedrooms on the main floor and a formal dining room(that is a whole other blog post I will defend my position on ) but finding all of that with a walk-out basement was non-existent. You might say, "well just find a rambler plan with that and add a basement" but I didn't want to squeeze in a tiny staircase in some backhall. I visualized a open staircase right when you walked in the entry similar to this photo from Houzz.
So when I couldn't find what I was looking for I started sketching it out on graph paper. Then I found a free online program but it kept crashing on me so I splurged a whole $75 and bought Home Designer Suite on Amazon. The reviews said it had a steep learning curve, and maybe it is for non-millennials or for people that don't work daily in Adobe Programs , but I found it extremely easy. My first design ended up as this.
I really liked the idea of NOT having an entirely open concept. In our last house, the kitchen, dining and living was all in one big room and I was over it. I hated cooking a fancy dinner and looking at the dirty pans as we ate, or having the tv on in the living room for Sloane and it reverberating throughout the house. I also wanted a large living room for parties and I have always dreamed of a large entry with a round table when you entered the house with flowers and books on it. ( I know, I'm a Pinterest basic bitch circa 2009.)
So my first sketch had all that and a huuuuge closet which was another thing on my must have list. We sat with this plan for about 6 weeks. We had a draftsman go over and it and tweak the things I had no idea about like wing walls, and the width wall you want your laundry pipes in (2x6 vs 2x4). Then the bids started pouring in. We had initially planned on $450k all in. We were quickly going up to 500k and over. I really didn't want to be house poor, and it would be a stupid decision in the neighborhood we have chosen. The highest comp is $480k. I already built the most expensive house on the block with my last house, I'm not doing it again. So Beau and I sat down and had a honest conversation about how much I really wanted to have to work to contribute that large a mortgage payment and how many years we would be comfortable having the highest comp in the area. The answer was not as much and not again. So I went (literally) back to the drawing board.
I shaved 400 sq ft off, but note, that I'm back to an open concept. I can't fucking escape it. And the kitchen and living room are exactly the same layout as my old house. Old habits die hard or some shit right? The one thing I did love about my old house was the kitchen layout and I figured why teach an old dog new tricks? If I literally layout the kitchen with the exact same drawers in the same places then Beau will have no excuse not to empty the dishwasher correctly, right? So now these plans are at the drafters and I've promised David, our contractor, I'm done changing things, this is it or forever hold my peace.