Saturday, November 05, 2005

A Four-Bedroom Treehouse: Part 1

"We're running out of room. Two of you will have to sleep hung on hangers on a hook on the wall."--Fozzie's Mama, Muppet Family Christmas

Why are four-bedroom houses so hard to find?

The Squirrels have been looking to relocate for quite awhile now. We've looked at everything from every-inch-finished condo townhouses (too family-unfriendly, they wouldn't even let you have a barbecue) to older houses that would have taken a heap of fixing up. And we haven't yet found anything that a) we like, b) we can afford, and c) that has four bedrooms.

For a long time we tried to be flexible on the four bedrooms. We've heard all the stories from older people who raised a passel of kids in tiny little wartime houses and all the rest of it. And after all, we only have three squirrelings, which is just a modest-sized family compared to many of the homesquirrelers we know. So theoretically we could just keep everybody doubled up, right? Three bedrooms should be plenty. And most new four-bedroom houses are the kind that also come with Jacuzzis and glassed-in formal dining rooms--not what we're looking for.

But we do have three Squirrelings of very different ages and different personalities, and a little bit of privacy goes a long way when you're home together a lot of the time. So we're still looking, and hoping for something with an extra bedroom (and that does not include a damp little scooped-out place in the basement, or a converted broom closet), and enough living space for a busy family. And the looking has been an education in the way people are "supposed" to live now.

This is what we've noticed:

New houses, or ones that have been recently renovated, don't assume that anybody's going to spend much time in the kitchen--although they may have tried to fancy things up a bit with European-style appliances.

Most "dinette spaces" fit four people comfortably.

New townhouses can have as many as four bathrooms to clean but not enough corners to set up a sewing machine or a workbench.

The "master suite" in a brand new house will have tons of space, and usually an ensuite bath. The kids' rooms are smaller. But if you think about it, it's usually the kids who have way more stuff to put in their rooms. I'm not the one with the Barbie house or the Rubbermaid container of craft stuff or the pile of board games; I just have my clothes and a few books to worry about. You'd think they could even things out a bit; the kids are the ones who'd really be wowed by some creative built-in storage space.

Most decks are badly built.

Anything described as "cozy" just means small.

Open-concept main floors don't give you anywhere to put bookcases or hang up maps.

And finally, you can tell if someone's taken care of a house by whether or not their bathroom doors have rusty hinges after only a couple of years. Rusty hinges equal too many steamy showers and nobody wiping things down afterwards. Bad sign.

In Part 2, Mama Squirrel will talk about some treehouses she's known in times past--all of which had at least four bedrooms but no Jacuzzi.


coffeemamma said...

We had very similar experiences this past summer. The only homes in our price range with four bedrooms were either falling-down old farm houses, or had the blechy basement bedroom (they should advertise these as "extra bedroom in basement suitable for family troll").

The one house we still have our eye on has one of those unbelievably huge master bedrooms, with two others of average size. Our plan (if we end up buying it) is to put all three girls into the unbelievably huge master, give The Boy a good-sized room of his own, then Hubby and I could take the other (we only have a bed and two small dressers- the bookshelves could go in the living room).

I guess we need to get creative if we can't build a home the exact way we want it :-/

Mama Squirrel said...

LOL about the family troll, Coffeemamma. I hope I'm not coming across sounding too greedy...we've functioned all right so far with three bedrooms and I'm sure we could continue, but it doesn't hurt to dream a little, does it?

Anonymous said...

You think finding a 4-br house to buy is hard? (I'm assuming you're looking to buy.. I could be wrong) We've been looking for a 4-br rental for oh, 5 years now, and it's ridiculous what the rents are, IF you can even find something 4-br available. And yes, those are advertised as "executive"... how many executives these days have more than 1 or 2 kids? Or advertised as "adult" although legally they cannot do so. And who without kids would NEED 4 br's????? It is a most frustrating endeavor.

I would be happy with 4 reasonably-sized br's (with 4 br's and 5 kidlets, we still have sharing going on), cupboard space in a good sized kitchen, and a backyard that DOESN'T double as a swamp. Oh yes, and no mould.

Mama Squirrel said...

Jennifer, we're actually open to possibilities: rent or own, we would consider either as long as it met the other things we're looking for.