Saturday, January 03, 2009

Kitchen Design: Then and Now

B. and I were noodling around an old book store last week when he spotted this book.
Published in 1950, it was written to empower "Joe Average" to take on the task of building a house ALL BY HIMSELF, for a mere $3,500.
We love the book because it has detailed information about building techniques that were used in 1950.
I was interested in what the book had to say about kitchen design.
Are you curious too?
What were the design specifications for a modest "build it yourself" kitchen in 1950?

Cabinets were to be built from plywood, and painted with enamel paint.

The counter top?

No granite or Corian. No sirree. Not when you could simply use LINOLEUM for your counter tops!

I have never seen a linoleum counter top personally, but I do know the stuff wears like iron and was inexpensive compare to tile.

Now pay attention ladies: All you need for an efficient "modern" kitchen are places for 22 items.

A bread cutting board (number 5) and a regular cutting board (number 6).

Notice a drawer is designated for recipes, while two drawers were specified for towels: hand towels and dish towels were stored separately.

Think you could cook for your brood with just this little nook to work in?

I imagine plenty of home makers churned out three meals a day without a second thought in exactly such a space.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (house that is...)

The watermelon red kitchen is no more.

Time for me to start narrowing my choices on kitchen cabinets.

I've had my moments when I felt like saying "plywood slab cabinet doors, paint them soft yellow, and slap on a linoleum counter tops please" just because it would be so amazing to do so.

Oh, and a Hudee ring around the sink would be cool too.

("Hudee" is the proper spelling of hootie, btw Vicki. I knew you'd appreciate that little detail!)

But really, what has been even more amazing to me is looking at the kitchen magazines out there.
Oh my lordy....who on earth needs a 1,000 square foot kitchen, with granite quarried in a specific location, and cabinets with paint and glaze and aging and glass and....and....and....

Seriously, $200,000 kitchens?

$500,000 kitchens?

$800,000 kitchens?

For that much money, who even NEEDS a kitchen?

I could go out to eat for the rest of my life for that much money!

On a much more modest scale of thinking:

I'm sort of thinking this style cabinet (with maybe one more "stair step" inside the frame.

I like the Praline color finish, but don't want all the details on that style cabinet door though.

It is really pretty, but good grief, if I were to spill a sack of flour or knock over unset jello on that, it would be take me forever to get all clean.

(I live in dread of spilling liquid jello. I still shudder just thinking of the time it happened when the kids were still toddlers. You can imagine the scene....)

So the Praline color (love eating Pralines in New Orleans; maybe that is why I like this color finish) on birch, or clear alder.

Bronze Black hardware.

Glass in the cabinets over the sink, and we're thinking glass that would match the glass that was in the front door. Maybe even a custom circle and square glass insert.

Or maybe not.

And the quartz Alpha Brown for the counter tops. Either we have good taste or a herd mentality; Alpha Brown is currently the most popular quartz counter top at Lowes.

Hmmm....maybe I'm reacting to the too red kitchen by now going to too bland.

It is a start, and I'll run my ideas past the designer on Friday, and let her make suggestions and guide me in making a final decision on this.

The funny part of the whole deal? Lowes worked up a bid on the "mid price" cabinets.

I could have built myself three houses "back in the days" for what it would cost to just put the cabinets in one 350 square foot eat in kitchen today.

And THAT price doesn't even include the appliances!

Bonus material:

The deck surrounded by cottony snow from the snow we had Friday night.

I'm now paying close attention how various trees look in snow. This is a tree on the uphill or eastern side of our back yard.

Mt Olympus in fresh snow.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Announcing...The Hippest Home in the Cove!

Remember this picture from a few posts back?
Remember that I mentioned that the little community to the right of the steeple at the foot of the mountains was called Olympus Cove?

Well, we just bought the Hippest Home in Olympus Cove!

I know that is true; it said it was the Hippest Home In The Cove right on the top of the real estate flier!

And here in all it's winter splendor...our new 1954 Mid-century modern rambler.

Note the lamp post: the area has no street lights, each home has a lamp post instead.
That means the night time star gazing is going to be simply wonderful!

Well, what do you think? On the main level it's got a living room with fireplace, three bedrooms, dinette area off living room, eat in kitchen and full bath.

Downstairs in the walk out basement are three more bedrooms, a 3/4 bath, a family room with second fireplace and a "cold storage" rooms. And a laundry room.

(I really don't want a "laundry room". What I really want is a person who does laundry for a room that I never have to go to...I can dream, can't I?)

Each floor has about 1,250 sq ft. We could easily just live on the main floor.
(If we didn't have to ever do laundry... dreaming here again.)

So checking my check list: The house is about 20 minutes from my work, 15 from Bernie's.

Has a two car garage.

Mountain view out the back?

Oh yeah...

The view from the back deck...Mt. Olympus. The wispy oak bare oak branches will be trimmed back later, of course.

View from the back, looking to the left.

The view up the street from the house.

Out front, and from bedroom window: view across the valley, and to the Great Salt Lake.

The sunset views are spectacular.

View of downtown, in fact a view of where I was downtown when I took that first picture of the snow covered mountains. I was tucked amidst the tall buildings.

The lake can be seen in the back ground, and the city lights at night are just beautiful.

As I kept saying as I was looking for houses: It is all about finding a view.

A view is something that can not be remodeled or renovated.

THIS house had VIEWS!

The house as it was when we first met in October. The owners had strings of lanterns along the typical wide eaves. Hip indeed!

I was pretty turned off by the ashlar cut sandstone rock facing; Bernie LOVED that detail.

It eventually grew on me too. Two chimneys...and a gray box between on the low pitched roof.

That's a swamp cooler, probably all that a house up in the mountains needs, but it is going to be removed, and we'll have central air conditioning instead. That should help the roof line look a little neater.

Notice the tall tree in the back? That is a rare (for the area) 80 foot tall sequoia. It is in the far back corner, away from the house. I have no idea how it got to SLC, but it is pretty darn special that it is growing in our yard.

The house had been empty for months. The vines were starting to take over. And the hedges are just begging to be trimmed.

At first I was quite mystified by the matching brick and mortar. Had they been painted?
No, it was considered quite "the thing" back in 1954 to have mortar that matched the bricks. Ohhh...designer touch!
(There is a Smurf blue brick house of the same era in the neighborhood that also has matching mortar. Amazing....I didn't know you could even make bricks that were blue!) ready to go inside now?

Oh yes, another designer touch from 1954! And yes, this house actually was a designer house; it was custom built by a local architect, and was featured in the 1954 Salt Lake City Parade of Homes, an event that featured all the finest new homes in the area to be highlighted on a tour.

This house was built in addition #2 of the newly created Olympus Acres subdivision. Previously the area had just been a great place to go hiking.

Can you believe it...the Salt Lake City planning commission approved the creation of Olympus Acres on April 13, 1954.

I was born the very next day!

We have a copy of the promotional materials for the 1954 Parade of Homes. This house was selling for an amazing $24,000. Two years later my parents built a custom house in San Diego; it cost them $17,000.

This "hip" house had all the great new features, including a balcony, tile floors and TWO fire places! And "pink mortar and red brick."


The front door really is a big deal.
A business in Austin has just begun to replicate the classic Mid Century Modern front doors. Apparently people are beginning to appreciate the signature styles of the post WWII era houses, and needed appropriate doors for their mid century houses.

I am so pleased that our door is a unique ORIGINAL front door! The retro door company doesn't have anything as cool as this!
The house had a wood and glass storm door over this door, it kind of hides the great details. I think that is a bit of a shame.

(If you are thinking there is something vaguely familiar about that last picture, you are right. I had posted it during my house hunting posts.)

Well, come on inside and take a look around.

The living room fireplace, which is at right angle to the picture window.
The yellow paint has GOT to go.
Last night we were planning on lighting the gas log and enjoying a glass of bubbly together to celebrate, but we discovered the gas valve is INSIDE the fire place. How on earth do you reach inside to turn it off once the fire is going?
And B. realized he hadn't had the chimney inspected yet. There could be a raccoon living up in there for all we know...we decided to postpone having a fire until we were sure we wouldn't accidently burn the place down.
(And yes, I had posted this picture before too...)

The real estate flyer said the house had custom designer finishes. Two tone paint!
This is the area just beyond the living room with the fireplace. It is called a "dinette" in 50's
style house lingo.

Ranches almost always had a sliding glass door at just this exact place. You can literally see right through the house from the front the picture window! This door will be getting replaced with a double paned wood framed slider soon.

Don't you love the oak floors? They will be getting refinished; the contractor has already happily pointed out that they are in beautiful condition, little will need to be "fixed", but I will need to decide what color to have them stained as the bedrooms and the living room and hall way stains don't currently match.

If you look carefully you can see one of the two pocket doors that lead into the kitchen; one from the dinette, and the other in the hallway.

Through the sliding door to the deck. This is where I fell in love with this house.
I plan to live on the deck, staring out at the mountains, watching birds playing in the trees, enjoying the garden growing below.

Yesterday the deck was covered with snow, yet the sun shone warmly there too. We could see rabbit trails in the garden snow.

The huge tree (ash?) shades the deck in summer, and had gorgeous golden leaves in the autumn. I first saw the tree when it was still green. Then visited again a few weeks later, when it had turned color. Now the tree is bare, but I hope we will be in the house to live when the leaves begin to unfurl in spring.

A night view from the can just barely see the full moon in the sky.

Back in through the kitchen door (which also has a window) that is accessible from the deck. Won't that be handy for barbecues?

I'll bet you remember this house now! Oh yes....the house with the wild red kitchen!
Metal cabinets...back in the '50s they were considered "the thing" to have; wood was not quite as "modern". Then there was some rethinking, and wood fronts were put on metal frames, like this kitchen.

I did not care about all that. All I cared about was the pop out "eat in" space that looked out to the trees and the mountain. A cup of cocoa and good conversation at the kitchen table on a snowy day while baking something that smells wonderful...ahhhh. Bliss!

The color actually makes me quite happy. The old style kitchen is fine with me...but eventual resale sensibility requires that we take advantage of B.'s GE employee discount and get new appliances and renovate the whole kitchen. The tile floor will be replaced to oak to match the rest of the house. I am still undecided what style and color cabinets I will have, but we ordered all the appliances last night. Including a wine cooler...

(MY idea of a perfect kitchen renovation is a Mennonite Girl somewhere who brings over food as needed from HER kitchen. I would turn my own kitchen space into a hat salon and tea room where friends would gather and try on hats and sip tea or wine all day, enjoying conversation and books. Why should this not be possible? It seems perfectly logical to me...)

The kitchen does have gas, but I decided I wanted a GE Profile style stainless steel smooth surface electric free standing double oven. We'll have to sell this old one.

I liked the metal trim on the original white kitchen counter tops. While usually a sink with no window is not desirable, I don't mind; the dirty dishes will just be popped into a dishwasher anyway.

The second pocket door is just to the right of the dishwasher. It leads to the hallway.

Kitchen door is first door on the left, and the bathroom is just beyond that, and a small hall closet too.

On the other side of the hallway, (the front of the house side),the first door is the opening to the basement stair case, then there are two bedroom doors. The back door one is the master bedroom, the front will be used as our office.

At the end of the hall is the door to the third bedroom, which will be the guest room. It has amazing views!

First room, to become the office.
Love those "hip" beaded curtains!

Master bedroom, in the front of the house. I don't like master bedrooms in front, because I hate to have to mess with pulling curtains whenever I change. Nicely the front windows are so high up all you could see is my head anyway unless you were standing outside right next to it.

Yes...the two tone paint will be going....I think.

A single six foot long closet to share. We have been sharing a six foot closet in the apartment for the last four months; we CAN do this...
(and use the closets in the other five bedrooms for rarely used or seasonally used clothes)

The guest room with the current new thing: removable carpet squares. Only these don't "stick" like the old ones used to.

The original upstairs bathroom across from the master bedroom. Love the glass block window and letter box window to vent the room!

I LOVE it, and I would have left it just as it is but the tub had been refinished with epoxy, as had the tiles, which were in perfect condition with a very interesting wavy surface design, but they were ashy pink with gray trim.

I wouldn't have minded having a pink bathroom. I would happily have taken the pledge and joined the cause to Save the pink bathrooms!

But as it is, epoxy on a tub will not hold up, so we will be getting a new tub, sink, and taller toilet (better for older knees...), heated flooring and new tiles, color to be determinded later.

So now you have seen upstairs. Let's head down stairs shall we?

Jeff LOVES this three sided wood burning fireplace. Cozy!

I love the bead board walls, hate the current white on top and dark black brown on the bottom paint job that the other walls currently sport. I would happily spend today painting it RIGHT NOW!

The door on the left leads to a bedroom we will use as a sunroom, the door on the other side leads to a hallway with a bathroom, small bedroom and laundry room with door that leads outside to the under the deck.
The stairs will be getting railing too by the way. The room will get new carpet and paint, the hall will get some kind of tile so trips to the bathroom from the garden hot tub won't result in wet carpeting worries.

The ALL ORIGINAL downstairs 3/4 bath. Love the sink with the overhanging lip.
Love the tiles!
Love the etched medicine cabinet mirror!
Won't be changing a thing in here except a new coat of paint on the walls.

The "sun room" which I hope will eventually hold my white glass front book cases, and white Etorp couch and chair and ottoman. If I am not to be found on the deck, at the kitchen table or by the upstairs fireplace, you can be sure I will be haning out in this room.

I like the white bead board....

Outside that door...the garden. The deck below will be where the Japanese soaking tub will be placed, from where we can enjoy a view of Mt. Olympus in relative privacy. The garden slopes down to an easement where seasonal runoff flows. Most months there will be stream in the garden, but we intend to put in a water feature too. Stay tuned for more about that later.

Back inside. At the foot of the stairs is a door way that leads to the unheated cold storage room. I have no idea what exactly was the intent of a cold storage room, but I figure I can alway use it to store stuff, regardless of whether it needs to be cold or not.

The laundry room is pretty basic and unattractive right now, so I will spare you a shot of that. The other tiny bedroom off the hall is about 8 ft by 10 ft with one window looking out the back. I'm thinking it will be the sewing/hat room, but I am not sure...B. is eyeing it for a sauna room.

We have one more room to see.

Bedroom #6. It is entered by a right turn at the foot of the basement stairs.

I'm sure you will remember seeing THIS room before:

Oh yeah...and Marley is going to have to go too. It is a room that has only the one small window,and no heat; the only basement room that is fully underground. I will be putting most of the bloomin' 220 moving boxes in this room until I can get them unpacked, and then mostly using this room for storage.

Can you believe we bought the Hippest Home in the Cove?

Believe it!

We BOUGHT the Marly house! Oh my gosh. I would never have imagined such a thing.

Don't you just LOVE it though?

(I didn't at first; it took some getting used to. And lots and lots of reading and research about the style. Boy oh boy are there some really fun resources out there about 50's style houses!)

Now it is time to start imagining this house again. As it ought to be...a place for friends and family, with harmonious colors and sensible (yet fun) decore. We will meet with the contractor's foreman tomorrow to figure out the work flow for the renovations. The contractor says it all can be done in 45 days; we need to move in on Feb. 1.

The race is on.

Wish us luck! And start making plans to come visit us!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A two part post: Year in Recap/Mid Century Modern, Cliff May and Me

Whew...what a year! And what a day is today!
I hope to later insert links to some of the events that are mentioned in this recap...but as you will read in part II of this post...a LOT is going on around here!

Recapping 2008:

January: Laura moved in with us, Bernie was recovering from a knee injury, and lots of closet and other space reorganization and parring down was going on. I (we...) had felt God nudging us to reduce our belongings, and to be watchful for an opportunity to move closer to family, and specifically, to move to Salt Lake City.

February: Bernie and I have a quick romantic tryst to Natchitoches Louisiana. Bernie's work is having him fly somewhere every three days...he is exhausted. Laura and I enjoy visiting various places in Houston that only the most die hard tourists would normally seek out.

March: A lot of millinery going Saint Patrick Day celebrations, a hat contests (boo!) and a virtual Easter Parade!

April: Bernie, Jill, Laura and Jeff all fly to Hilton Head South Carolina, and visit Savannah Georgia. Bike rides on the beach, loafing by the pool, horse drawn carriage rides through Spanish moss spangled oaks, and golf, lots of golf for the men.

As soon as we got back, BGF Gail came to Houston for an amazing bluebonneting outing, and sight seeing in Galveston. Oh how little we knew how much that town would soon be changed.....

May: Laura leaves us to return to home town San Diego, finishing her years as a travel nurse. I get run out of a small southern town, and the next day get hospitalized for a week with Ischemic Colitis, and we decide on a name for an alligator.

June: The job that has nearly killed Bernie with constant stress ends. We are actually rather relieved, and immediately begin to look for work closer to our families. Our house gets prepped for selling; life as we knew it was about to change! (So glad I had heeded that God nudge to get ready...I should have worked a little harder on that though!)

July: We both find jobs in...Salt Lake City! PTL! We put the house on the market July 6th. I fly to San Diego to celebrate Laura's turning thirty-farewell to the 20's party, the craziest party EVER!

August: Bernie and I each pack two duffel bags, one back pack and a cat carrier and fly with our boy cats to our new life in Salt Lake City. We move in with Jeff for a bit until cross cultural cat wars break out.

Two weeks after we left Houston Hurricane Ike destroyed Galveston and devastates the Houston area. Our house thankfully was spared.

September: I have my first swim in the Great Salt Lake, my first hike to a glacier lake, and my first day at my new job. We move into an apartment downtown SLC, furnishing it with a few things from Jeff's place and a spending spree at Ikea. We plan to live in the apartment until our Houston house sells. The hurricane has slowed house sales in the Houston area. Suddenly the real estate market begins to tumble in the rest of the country, including Salt Lake City. We realize that God is blessing us, the Texas real estate market stays stable, while all around us "deals" are happening. Interest rates drop too, suddenly we can afford more house than we could have just two months before!

October: Everyone is telling us this is one of the most amazing autumns ever. The mountains are colored with glorious displays of autumnal foliage...the temperature stays warm, and life is good. I love going for hikes in the near by mountains! Then...our Houston house sells and my life becomes a seemingly endless tour of horrible houses! When oh when will I find the house that would be right for us? At the end of the month we have decided at last on a place. More about that later!

November: We fly to Houston to sign the papers on our house, and oversee packing. Tears...lots of tears....not so much because I regret moving as just being confronted by how transitory life is. A week there, then a long Thanksgiving weekend in San Diego. It is good to see our parents and our daughter, and Jeff is able to come out too. Our Thanksgiving table has but six people; we treasure that we all can be together.

December: Snowfall, and for no really good reason, a lot of sadness. I find myself deeply depressed after getting back to SLC.

Too much change, so many changes and travel finally caught up with me. Bernie and I walk and talk, and I try to take it easy. The holidays seem like just a number on the has been four months here with just the basic items, and it is hard to get enthusiastic about anything.

Christmas is spent with Jeff, and we have our very first truly White Christmas.

I hardly know what to say about 2008. It had such highs and such lows. Many of our friends facing extreme personal challenges in relationships and work as well. I pray that next year will bring healing to the situations that they find themselves in.

Mostly 2008 was all about change. I come away from it realizing that family, friends, creativity and the great outdoors are my deepest satisfiers in life and what steadies me through the changes life brings. And the knowledge that God is ultimately working all changes to bless us.

2009 will again present many significant changes for us. One is a new house for us! And peeking over the horizon is the strong possibility of at least two other excellent changes as well. Good things...oh I pray that God will continue to bring changes that are to bless us even while they challenge us!

I hope this New Years Eve closes another year with you at peace with whatever changes happened during the year, and ready to face a New Year with confidence that God cares about us, and already knows what each moment of upcoming year will bring.

And now....

Post Part 2: Mid Century Modern, Cliff May and Me.
I was working on this post a few days ago...planning on posting the day before we closed escrow on our new house. The closing date kept getting put back...and back...until at last we were finally informed that closing would happen on Dec 31, at 1 pm.

Hurray for closing in 2008 tax wise.

Double hurray and PTL for it being put back until today: the delay was due to the lending agency (Wells Fargo) not having filed the right paperwork for the kind of loan we were Utah.

This state specific element meant that at the last minute THEY had to re-do the loan...resulting in the loan being re-locked in at TODAYS interest rate, instead of the interest rate that was locked in way back in early November.

Net result? A sizable drop in the interest rate of the loan! We had inquired of re-writing the loan with the lower rates a few weeks ago, but we would have had to pay to have it changed.

It seems like every bit of this house hunting process has been subject to "wait...wait...." and while we waited, the circumstances around us our benefit! Amazing!

So here's the scoop and a background on how we came to be buying this particular house. It is a bit of a long story, but I think it will help you understand the house when I unveil it tomorrow!

A few months ago I bought an interior design magazine. I flipped through the pages, enjoying the pictures, and skimming the text. Last week I looked at it again...and discovered a phrase sprinkled though out the print: Mid Century Modern.

A few months ago I had never heard the phrase. Now it is on my mind constantly. Mid Century Modern. Remember that phrase!

If you have been reading my blog the past few months you know that the past few months I was out looking at houses in SLC every weekend. I had certain criteria for our house, besides the price of course:

That the house would be no more than about 20 minutes (or less) from work
Have NO stairs that were necessary to be climbed in order to reach the main part of the house (kitchen, bath, bedrooms, living room.)
Must have a view of the mountains, from the back
Must have a two car garage or space to build a two car garage.

With those four items in mind I started looking at houses.

I soon learned a bit about housing styles. I learned that house styles form around cities like growth rings on a tree. You can know something about the age of the buildings and style of houses by how close they are to downtown.

In SLC, downtown had Victorian houses.
Circling outside the Victorians were the Bungalow/Craftman and Tudor style homes of the 1910-1940's.
Next came Ramble or Ranch style of the 1950-1960.
Then there were the split entry style or two story houses of the 1970-1980
Lastly there were Neo-classical styles, and the McMansions; houses with high ceilings and a lot of variation in roof line, with a profile that rose high above the street and took up every inch of their property.

I initially had to make some mental adjustments to the older home styles. They are all so different than the Neo-classical houses that we've lived in last ten years.

But that was then, and this was I took the time to consider all the house styles.

Built between 1890 and 1910, the Victorian houses visually appealed to me.
After visiting a few it became quite clear that they could never work for us; we are simply too tall to scurry up steep stairs, or to stand in shallow basements. We also are too large to squeeze comfortably into dollhouse size tiny rooms. Plus these older houses require a lot of upkeep!

So adorable though...I love how the Queen Anne style houses looked in the snow.
Sigh. Situated in an area called "The Avenues" the Victorian cuties were so near to work I could have walked to work every day. But Jeff had lived in that area and quickly filled us in on the downside: few garages, no on street parking in winter, higher crime due to closeness to downtown's homeless.

So on we pressed to the next era of houses.

Built between 1910-1930, the Craftman/Bungalow/Tudors were the next ring of houses circling down town.

The deep porches of the brick bungalows, with their built in book cases and arched openings were so appealing. The one car garage and narrow lots were not quite so charming.

Shallow basements again, tiny rooms and small back yards bound on three sides with other houses. No mountain views were possible from inside these homes!

I must say I think Tudor style bungalows are also adorable:

Situated mostly in an area called Sugar House, I later learned that those neighborhoods were originally built for easy access to the trolley/cable lines, with the houses lined up cheek to cheek to make foot travel to the trolley station quick and easy.

Lots of young married couples and young families love the Sugar House area; but the house style just didn't work for us.

So onward I pressed, to the next era of housing, built post WWII, and featuring a newly designed house style which came to be know as Ranch or Rambler.

The automobile made travel by trolley unnecessary. Instead of building houses packed tightly together to accommodate walks to the trolley station, the ranch or rambler houses stretched wide on their lots, and a drive in the car through the neighborhood was something to be savored.
Here's an interesting fact: Did you know there is only one house style that is uniquely American in design?
It is true; it is the ranch style house!

Below is an example of a typical ranch style or "rambler" house:

Chances are if you were born sometime in the middle of the last century, you grew up in that style house. Known as the ranch or ramble style house, it was originally designed by a native son of my own home town, San Diego resident Cliff May.

Cliff May (1909-1989) was a California architect credited with creating the California ranch-style home in 1931. May grew up in San Diego, built Monterey-style furniture as a young man and eventually designed over a thousand custom homes in San Diego and Los Angeles, although he never formally registered as an architect. When he died in 1989 at the age of eighty-one, he had designed numerous commercial buildings, over one thousand custom homes, and several tract house plans resulting in more than eighteen thousand tract houses. But out of all of his work, this southern California native is best known and remembered for developing the suburban dream home of the 1940s and 1950s—the California ranch house.

The ranch style house was designed for the modern family. Modern as in "get on with life and have fun!", designed without much formality at all. The front door opened into the living room, which had a huge picture window where the family's "prides" (the Christmas tree for one thing...) so they could be viewed by those driving by.

The living room melded into the dining area which was right off the kitchen. The garage was attached to the house, as the car was such an important part of the household!

The dining area usually had a sliding glass door that would take you visually out to the back yard. In fact the whole back of the house was designed to draw the family outside.

All the living area was clustered together; the sleep areas were in a different part of the house.

Down a hall were the bedrooms, usually two on one side of the hall, another at the end of the hall with a bathroom which was shared by all. Mom and Dad's room were right next to the children's room. These children were both seen AND heard, and needed to be kept close by, and as advised by Dr. Benjamin Spock, to be ENJOYED as well.

Some of the "starter" ranches just had a carport and two bedrooms; they were designed to be affordable for all, and with a basic rectangular shape, also designed to easily be added on to. A wing or two could be added later as the family grew: a master suite for the parents, a study or a family room as needed.

Families didn't need to move to get a bigger house to house their growing household; no need to leave friends and neighbors behind. Just go ahead and expand the house!

The ranch house had another interesting element: with the GI bill to help the returning warriors purchase a house, and the event of a twenty or thirty year mortgage, for the first time a house could be bought over time instead of needing to have almost all of the money up front.

Yes, the 1950's were a good time to be a family when it came to buying a home.

Now for most of us Baby Boomers, a ranch or a ramble house is something that we may have turned up our noses at later on. Synonymous with "track housing", the conformity of the low slung wide eaves house lacked detail, and charm. The basic rectangle and low roof line lacked a certain romantic appeal. The foundation plantings seemed uptight, and the bedroom windows too small.

What we Boomer girls wanted was something with a specific style...a look of another era, but more comfortable. And definitely bigger....much bigger. Soon the McMansion was in vogue. The tidy 1,200 sq foot houses of our childhood wouldn't do; the builders were happy to present the ever shrinking family with ever growing footage; a family of four soon could hardly bear to squeeze into 3,000 sq feet!

But those big houses came with a double price tag: they were costly in both money AND time. Situated at the farthest ring out from the city center, the McMansions frequently required over an hour commute each way for the home owner (or more likely, home owners, a dual income was needed to keep up with the payments.)

So why am I telling you all this?

Well, as I have said before, I looked at over 75 properties. Once you rule out the 1970-1980's split level houses (too many stairs between the garage and the kitchen!), Victorians and Bungalows, add in a view, and a short commute, there just wasn't not a lot of choices that appealed to me.

Early on I was show the wacky house with the multiple door knobs and a view only from the end of the driveway (which is still for sale by the way....)

On the way to see it, we drove past another house on the same street, a ranch style house that was $100,000 over what we could afford.

Later that ranch house down the street house dropped in price. I took a look. It was kooky. Bright colored walls were EVERYWHERE. And a fabulous mountain view from the back deck.

I took a second look at the property with Bernie, just to make him laugh.

He didn't laugh. He liked it.

I didn't.

The low slung ranch style with sandstone facade, and deep red bricks with PINK mortar...ewww. Blue collar tract house. Yuck!

He liked it.

I started reading about ranch style houses, trying to figure out why I didn't like them. I was right, they were tract, they were houses for blue collar families. (Bernie was an electrician for many years, we were a blue collar family, and I am proud of that fact.) I just couldn't see myself living in THAT style of house!

I kept looking.

And the price of the ranch house fell another $20,000 two days after we first saw it.

I looked and looked at houses, but just kept thinking of the view. We looked at other houses with views, west facing views across the valley. And I realized I really wanted a view of the mountains up close.

I decided I wanted the ranch house after all. Just for the view. Bernie was thrilled.

Then I decided the house was too noisy. Too near the freeway; the mountainside made the noise even louder. I decided that it wasn't the house for us after all.

Then....I saw the house with the river in the back yard. That was when I knew.

I knew I could have a river put into the back yard and it would drown out the freeway noise. (Bernie and Jeff both didn't think the noise was that objectionable. And you couldn't hear it from inside the house at all.)

I wanted that house.

Then...B. decided the house had too small of a garage...and needed too much mechanical work....

We took another look. Talked to the loan officers. The garage was fine...and we could roll the remodeling costs into the loan. (This had been a concern of ours as we had been told that that was not possible by another loan officer AND our first "Barbie Doll" real estate agent.

Oh brother....I could have saved myself so much ugly house looking if only we had not been so sadly mis-informed!

Now this particular house went on the market last March. We put in an offer in late then the cost had dropped $130,000, and the interest rates had dropped as well.

Unbelievably...24 hours before we put in our offer, someone else put in an offer. Hours before we put in an offer, another person put in an offer, and then another one came along too.

FOUR offers in less than 48 hours, after seven months without a nibble.

In a time when all around us houses were going into foreclosure, this house was going into a bidding war.

This was most unnerving. We had felt such peace about the first house we contracted for, and were astonished to have sold from under us hours before it was to be inspected, even while we had a signed contract!

We had prayed that time...and look what happened.

We had prayed this time too...and felt decidedly nervous.

We got the house.

We were still nervous. We still had to find contractors to give us bids on the necessary mechanical updating, and remodeling. It wasn't the desire to upgrade that drove us, but rather knowing that this was a 54 year old house! A MID CENTURY MODERN ranch style house!

Yup, that's right. It was built in 1954...the same year I was born.
And it was all original. Just like me!

The contractor's bids had to accomplish what we wanted, yet not cause the house to cost more than it would be worth on the current market. With real estate prices tumbling, who knew if a simple new bath and kitchen, wiring and plumbing would make it "under water" price wise.

The bids came in, the work was submitted to the lending agency. Last week we got the good news: the property would value at a price that would enfold the cost of the remodel. Whew. We could go ahead with the deal.

Today we will be signing the papers to take ownership of the Mid Century Modern Ranch style house.

Tomorrow I will be posting the pictures of our new abode. We won't be moving into it until after the work is done; we had to sign a lease on the apartment anyway, so we might as well stay while the work is being done on the place. But you will be able to see pictures of the place as it is in it's current splendor.

And perhaps enjoy watching it get turned back into a place where a child of the 50's will once again find a home.