My family has lived in Knoxville for almost four years, and this spring we decided to start looking for a home. Little did we know what was in store for us. The Knoxville real estate market is a little like The Hunger Games. No. Really. Think about it. There are a limited number of resources — a.k.a. houses on the market in our price range. We are put in this arena to fight for these resources and along the way some crazy stuff goes down.
I entered into this game with my husband and our two children. We entered the arena armed with a budget, a sippy cup, diapers, and our sanity. We left with a diaper and a sippy cup. That’s it. Our sanity? We have seen a total of 39 houses, and we said later to our sanity at about house eight. Our budget? Somewhere along the way it got expanded and reformed until we no longer recognize it. We have managed to keep our sippy cup. It has been left at a total of three houses, but through our realtor’s awesomeness, we have it back. We also have our diapers. Of course, I have forgotten that we HAVE these diapers in the trunk of our vehicle. That would have been nice to remember the time my son had an epic blowout and all we had to use was my cardigan to cover his behind as we pressed on and looked at the house. (R.I.P. floral print cardigan.)
This process has been an eye opener for my husband and me. We’ve been together for fourteen years — married for nine, and it’s been nice to know we still have things to learn about each other and what is important to us.
Having a big yard is important.
Until you have to decide who’s actually going to mow it. I hate mowing yards with a passion and my husband has outdoor allergies. It would make sense to have a low maintenance yard, right? Wrong. We somehow decided that between our children and our dog, we NEED a yard. A fenced yard. My husband also wants to do ‘yard stuff.’ I am unclear on what ‘yard stuff’ entails, but he assures me it’s important. I think he wants an excuse to visit The Home Depot and buy All.The.Things. Anyone know some teenagers who are looking for a summer job? Holla at ya girl!
Double sinks in the master bathroom are non-negotiable.
In fact, I firmly believe that having double sinks will save us hundreds of dollars on marital counseling. Think that’s crazy? My husband has a beard. Really, that’s all that needs to be said. I may or may not have a touch of OCD, and the sight of beard hair in the sink where I have to brush.my.teeth makes me twitch. He could clean it up right after he makes a mess, but it falls into this weird gray area right up there with putting down the toilet seat. I mean, my husband does laundry, he takes out the trash, and helps out so much with household chores, but this is a gray area. We don’t talk about the gray areas (like our office that’s named “That Room of Which We Do Not Speak.”) Instead we get double sinks and I play ‘don’t look at his side.’ See — I just saved hundreds of dollars in therapy!
Our definitions of ‘Fixer Upper’ are not the same.
I have visions of channeling Chip and Jo and going all ‘Demo Day’ on a house. New flooring, knocking down walls, new master bathroom…give me a flannel shirt and a sledgehammer! My husband sees a Fixer Upper as some painting, new fixtures, and maybe a new bathroom. Considering his love of The Home Depot, I could have bet money he would be itching to get his demo on. I would have lost that bet. He wants a semi-move in ready home.
Hardwood vs. Carpet.
This is a revolving debate for us. My husband loves the look of hardwood and its low maintenance properties. I think carpet does a great job of hiding dog hair and crumbs.
An open floor plan is equivalent to an open marriage.
It might sound like a hip idea to have an open floor plan, but when you have two children, it just gets complicated. I don’t want to KNOW and HEAR what my family is doing at all times. When I’m in the living room bingeing on my favorite show, I don’t want to hear my kids tearing up the playroom. I want to be surprised. It’s supposed to be great for entertaining, but let’s be honest. Ain’t nobody coming over to our house. I want OUT of my house when I see friends. Plus, when my husband watches baseball, he needs his privacy. I mean, I’m pretty sure the curse word heard ’round the in-laws’ dinner table happened after my daughter watched a game with my husband. We need some walls.
My husband has a better imagination than I do.
I am stunned by this revelation. On a daily basis I am pretending to dodge lava, feed a rocket-wearing kitty, and carry a purple dragon with my daughter. In potential homes, however, I see only what is there. If they have an office with some random furniture and a box that’s what I think the space is for. My husband is good at seeing the potential of a space and how we would use it. It came in REALLY handy at that one home that had an office FULL of dolls. Just dolls. Some with heads, some without, some dressed and some not. He had the imagination to know we had to leave and very quickly. I love him.
I am sensitive to clutter.
This has been a total surprise to my husband. I mean, we have an office that we affectionately named ‘That Room of Which We Do Not Speak.’ Despite this, when I go to a showing where they have clutter and junk everywhere, I can’t move past it. I can’t see the possibility and the ‘bones’ of the house. I wish I could see the clutter in my own house, but my superpower is being blind to my own faults.
Who knew that this would be something we both ever cared about or even agreed upon? If you have neighbors with cars on blocks, landscaping that involves baby cherub fountains that pee water, or loud animals, we can’t even make it in the house. We’ve both watched the movies where the couple moves in and the neighbors reveal their craziness — ain’t nobody got time for that! Plus, after living next to a woman who loved to mow the lawn wearing a see through bra and swimming undies, we’ve learned to be cautious.
Our budget can be a sliding scale when it suits us.
If you know nothing else about me, know this: I am frugal. Cheap, a tightwad, thrifty — whatever. I love saving money. So does my husband 95% of the time (except for electronics). It’s surprising that with the possibility that we could get into a subdivision with a pool, gym, or a better school district, our budget just up and grows.
Master bedroom on main floor.
It sounds amazing. In theory. That is, until you realize all the crap your kids can get into while you’re downstairs. Crayons on the wall. Finger painting with Desitin, etc. I mean, privacy for sexy times and just general peace and quiet are something to yearn for, but right now we need to be able to see our little mess makers…albeit from a distance. I don’t want to share a wall with my kids’ room. That creeps me out.