Monday, November 18, 2013

This weekend I had some opportunities to pick a friend's brain. This gal is an eclectic, amazing, artistic individual full of spunk and spirit - with a design aesthetic that combines modern, eclectic and very simple living.  She decorates primarily with art she's purchased from local artists.  Her current home (an open plan loft in downtown Dallas) is a perfect gallery home - FULL of light from super-high ceilings and tall windows.  It really expresses her personality.  

(This is not my friend's condo - this photo is from a current listing in her building.  I neglected to take a good photo of her condo during my visit.)

My friend and her husband are starting to think about moving away from the downtown life - into a more traditional home.  So, of course, we had a lot of fun talking about the challenges she'll face transitioning from such a large, open, eclectic condo to a more suburban lifestyle.  We talked about some unique design dilemmas that she anticipates in her next home.   Perhaps the most interesting part was to hear such a different perspective on the problems faced when planning a room.

Her biggest anticipated problem space is an art room. We spent most of our time talking about how to create a room that organizes and contains the mess of being artistic without completely cutting the artist off from the main area of the house.  What was truly awesome was how different our approaches to arriving this problem were.  In the end, we don't know if a chain wall, clerestory windows or some other solution will be the answer - not until we're looking at the actual space.  The fun part was throwing ideas at each other and seeing what stuck!

Later this weekend, a chance remark to my husband gave yet another example of how two people can have different priorities while sharing the same desired outcome.  We saw a very modern couch and both of us liked its clean lines.  However, what was important, and very different was why we didn't like it!  I was concerned about how the metal pieces would set a more distinctly modern tone - making an expensive piece of furniture very dated very fast (form).  He was more concerned with how difficult it would be to sprawl out on it to read a book (function).

This was a good reminder to me of why, when making an important decision or large purchase, I always run things past anyone who will have to live with the decision and at least one outsider.  Its especially valuable to talk to someone who has made a similar choice and had to live with the results.  

For instance - in my next home search I will totally look at townhomes and condos (wouldn't touch them last time around!), but I will require an easily accessible mailbox!  In one case, experience has changed my mind - I now find an HOA fee a reasonable payment in exchange for low exterior maintenance responsibilities.  I also passionately dislike having to walk two blocks just to check my mail!  Now - if I lived in a very walkable neighborhood, that might be a different story.  My point is - always run big decisions by an informed outsider, whether you're buying a couch, a home or bringing home a puppy.  And big decisions are not necessarily monetary - often a big decision can have more to do with time.  How much time will you spend staring at your new plates, wishing you'd forked over another $40 for the ones you REALLY liked, instead of buying the ones that were on sale?
It's been a crazy year - and, in reality, I still don't have time to blog.  But, as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is in full swing, I'm reminded - do I have time NOT to write?  So, consider this a re-opening of the portal to my little world of design and architecture.  This world is a glorious place to be - let's live in it!

In the coming days, I've got a lot to say - I went on the amazing American Institute of Architects tour of Austin homes (Alas, photography was strictly forbidden inside the homes!).  This was another step in an unique little quixotic quest I'm embarking on - to help my mother discover what her style of design is.  With some unique challenges (Low budget!  Log cabin with super low ceilings! Love/hate relationship with wood!) we'll see if we can turn her home into a place where entertaining and relaxing can happen in equal measure.  

Of course, I'm also working to explore design and architecture that is green, unique and DIY-able.  What better place is there to take this journey than the hills of Austin, Texas?!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Same, Yet Different

Okay, this post (my first post in a little while) is going to be house heavy and analysis heavy.  I will be presenting to you 3 townhomes from the same community.  Let's compare!

1742 Timberwood Drive
Square Feet: 1531
Listed at: $129,500
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2
Living rooms: 2

This is a view of the living room.  In the top right corner, you can just barely see the railing on the walkway/balcony that looks down from the second story into the room below.


1731 Timberwood Drive
Square Feet: 1531
Listed at: $128,000
Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 2
Living rooms: 2

This picture highlights the feature that is hinted at in the previous listing.  The railing and ceiling height are showcased.


1731 Timber Ridge Drive  (I suspect this is actually Timberwood.)
Square Feet: 1566
Listed at: $138,900
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 2
Living Rooms: 1

This picture is of the same space.  I believe this is the best picture of this space - it shows the architectural features well and emphasizes the size of the room. 

However, these three images highlight the importance of making a personal visit.  Because an agent's poor photography choices can be the buyer's gain.  The townhomes featured here have vastly different listed prices, but are mostly the same.  Only with a personal inspection would one be able to determine whether the differences are worth the price increase. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

When life gives you lemons...

Make orange juice and have everyone wondering how you did it!  (I always keep a can of Orange Juice Concentrate in my freezer for just such an emergency).

My lemons have, as is the nature of lemons, been both sweet and sour - I'm thoroughly enjoying my time with The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) - but it's leaving me with a lot less time during the week to do other things I'd like to be doing.  On the other hand, the drama that came two weeks ago is still here, still creating baby dramas of its own.  Bwah.

So here's a pretty picture of a pretty house, just to make you (and me) feel a little better.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A quick poll

What price range should I concentrate on for the next few houses I feature? 

A) Under 100K
B) 100K to 150K
C) 150K to 200K
D) 200K to 350K
E) 450K and Up
$) Millionaire properties only, please!

Same cute little place - lower price

Doing a quick search on the properties I've featured so far, most have held their asking price, with two exceptions:

The property on 917 East 51st Street, listed at $188,000, has been withdrawn from the market.

The property on 307 West 45th Street, listed at $189,000, has had the price lowered to $165,000!

Looking back at my post, I realized that I failed to give this property's address (oops!) so, just for your memory's sake, here's a picture (worth a thousand words, right?).

I'll always try to keep you updated when things change on the listings I post.  My goal with this blog is to help you develop a broad picture of the Austin Real Estate market, educating you in the ways I wish I was educated prior to buying my first home.  As such,  I'll do my best to offer facts as facts and opinions as opinions.  Please feel free to let me know what information you're finding useful/interesting and I'll be sure to feature that type of info more often!

Friday, July 30, 2010

I had to use the phrase sometime...might as well be now.

Location.  Location.  Location! 
Some properties are featured on this blog for their architectural or landscaping features.  This is not one of those properties.  Instead, I would like to present you with a cute, simple, move-in-ready house in one of the four areas around Austin I've put on my "would love to live here" list.  This quiet residential area is still in North Austin, but it's just inside the 183 loop.  Lots of old trees are in this neighborhood.  There is a bike lane on the main road that goes through.  It's convenient to the school, convenient to my work, I'd take it in a heartbeat!  And this elusive locale is: 404 West Odell Street. 
The other big plus about this home (blocks from the Airport Metro station) is that it's been recently remodeled.  Now, for me, this would be a slight negative.  I'd rather get the house for less and do the remodeling myself.  But for a lot of people, the idea of a cute move-in-ready place is absolutely irresistable.  Take, for instance, this lovely granite countertop, travertine backsplace and nice double sink.  That's right folks, the kitchen is all modern and clean and lovely.
Of course, the space has to have SOME character or I wouldn't even consider it for the blog.  Look at these lovely old hardwood floors - just look at them.  Don't they make you happy?  They make ME happy!
By now you may have realized that I'm a sucker for outdoor spaces.  This one is a beauty - nicely landscaped with old, old trees.  There's a lovely little patio to the right there - but I wanted to give ya'll the view with the path & the trees.  Why?  Because.  That's why.  Now eat your vegetables.

So, if you're looking for a lovely place at a lovely price ($169,000), take a tour of 404 West Odell Street and see what you think.  For me at least, the neighborhood is full of character and is being well taken care of.  It would be my guess that in just a few years, your $169k house would be worth a good deal more, I predict this neighborhood is up and coming!