17 April 2012

The new Casa P: Apartment option #1

You guys all watch House Hunters, right? The show on HGTV where a person or couple is choosing a home to buy, and you get to see their three options while they walk through saying things like “But I really wanted granite countertops” or “This half-acre yard is so tiny” or “I don’t know, it’s such a busy street [as absolutely zero cars roll by]” to build pretend drama? Yes, I say “pretend” because.... shh...

They’ve already chosen a house. House Hunters is fake. Fake! And often they didn’t even look at the other two options when they were actually shopping! I’m sorry if you didn’t know and I’m spoiling. But honestly, knowing they’re acting just adds to my enjoyment. I like to play armchair psychologist and figure out which is the real house over the ones they’re fake-considering. HINT: they’ll probably choose the one with granite countertops and a one-acre yard on a pretend-busy street.

So I’m going to be up-front with you guys: Mr. P and I have an application pending for an apartment! I admit I’m a little surprised; I assumed that we were shopping a bit early, just getting the lay of the land as I told you last week. But, if all goes well with the lease terms, we already have a place in St. Louis! Holy moly!

Still, because I kept getting that “DUN! dun-dun-DUN! dun-dun-DUN! dun-dun-DUN-DUN!” decision-making-music from House Hunters in my head as we drove around to see different apartments... I think we should play House Hunters, Team P edition!

Over the next few days I’ll show you the three places that made it to the top of our list, once we’d seen all our options. Even though I admit that it’s fake-considering-for-the-sake-of-tension at this point, these were our actual top choices, with our actual thought process. Plus, it’s worth noting that it is NOT a done deal at this point, so we still may end up in a different place in the end!

So, let’s go! Recall our wish lists:

And just to be fair, I’m going to show you the options in the same order that we saw them, which was basically whenever I randomly scheduled the appointment.

So first up, at 9 AM...

Apartment #1

Though this was our first appointment of the day, we’d actually seen a few apartments the day prior. They were old, and you know how Mr. P feels about old – but they were a wonderful price.

So as we drove to this one, I warned Mr. P, “This one is really nice – much nicer than yesterday’s – but it’s sort of over budget, okay? It’s the most expensive of all the appointments. I really just wanted to see it.”

Why make an appointment for a place I thought we wouldn’t ultimately consider? Well, the apartment is the entire third floor of a historic mansion in what would become my most-desired neighborhood. Say, how big is the third floor of a historic mansion? Oh, two thousand square feet. Annnd now you understand why I had to see it, budget be damned. It’s called “comparison purposes”, or so I told myself.

As for the lower two floors of the mansion, they are occupied by the owner, and therefore the landlady, who also served as the leasing agent (she has a few other properties). So, because of this landlady-neighbor-agent thing, there was next a bit of surreptitious pre-screening disguised as small talk in her foyer until she determined that we were a respectable young couple. During that time I mentally patted myself on the back for asking Mr. P to wear a polo and not one of his many t-shirts, which include sayings like “Feelings are Boring, Kissing is Awesome” and “Return to the Moon and Don’t Forget the Chicks This Time” (I am not joking; see here).

Then she took us up to see the apartment, which does have a separate entrance and staircase, but not exactly private – it’s indoors, and has a shared landing. We would cut through a small corner of her house; she could theoretically see or hear us coming and going. So basically, living in this place means that a friendly relationship with the downstairs neighbor/landlord is 100% essential. Fortunately, we all got along swimmingly; she emphasized both privacy and community, talking about inviting us in for a glass of wine occasionally. As for Mr. P and me, we’re fairly boring, quiet people that make for good upstairs neighbors. So while it seemed like a good match, it’s certainly a unique situation that merits consideration, which is why I’m all WORDS WORDS WORDS instead of pictures.

Which is what you really want, so here they are! As before, these were pulled from a publicly available listing (which is why they’re small); I’m not sourcing them to keep the address private.

It turns out a 2000-square-foot apartment in a 100+-year-old mansion has a foyer (!) with built-in original cabinetry (!!!).

I’m not exactly sure how we would use the room itself other than a room-sized hallway, because the walls are all doors. At least that’s lots of great storage, right? Oh, but wait. In the very upper-left of that photo, you can see a cord for pull-down steps to the fully-floored attic, which would be entirely ours. Good grief, that is an insane amount of storage.

The kitchen in this place is pretty dreamy, even if I don’t love all the green:

Great appliances (a gas stove!), a bay window with plant shelf, a big pantry, a second butler’s pantry with bar sink (say whaaaa), and a non-functional fireplace. In other words, so many reasons why this place is top-dollar.

The living room is spacious with another decorative fireplace. Oh, and it’s carpeted, like every room except the foyer, bathroom, and part of the kitchen (I don’t like carpet – our current house has NONE – while Mr. P prefers to have carpet):

It’s big enough I could have my dream sofa sectional... if we could move it up to a third-floor apartment with skinny stairs. Which we probably couldn’t. So, uh, nevermind.

There’s a dining room as well, but because the eat-in kitchen could hold our dining table, we’d likely use it as an office.

Fortunately it has a closet, too. Even though there’s a ridiculous amount of cabinets and attic storage, there’s not a whole lot of closet space for things like hanging clothes or the vacuum cleaner. So it goes with older homes, even ones that are drastically remodeled like this one.

But... see those transom windows? Swoon. This place really was great at being updated enough for Mr. P, but having the charm I love.

Crazily enough, this ginormous apartment has only two bedrooms (compared to our house, which has three bedrooms in less square footage). How weird is that? I mean, they’re spacious, and we could use the dining room as the office in place of a third bedroom, but still.

Both bedrooms continue the all-beige theme, and I didn’t ask about painting. Truth be told, I’d be nervous about it with all the carpet. But, at least they do have sloped ceilings and dormers to keep it interesting. Here’s the less-interesting side of the master, which shows the closet:

And the more-interesting side of the guest bedroom, which is slightly smaller:

It’s short on bathrooms, too. Just one! At least it has a large counter around that corner, and separate tub and shower (I’m a tub person with my infrequent-hair-washing while Mr. P is a daily shower-er, so we like that). So if we’re only going to have one bathroom, this one’s a good one.

As for laundry, it’s in the basement (thumbs down), but at least we would have our own washer and dryer. Not ideal for when I decide to start a load of laundry at 9PM, but it’s doable. And we’d have a bit of storage space down there, too.

Another downside is the outdoor space, because there’s not really any. The landlady has a lovely deck and fenced backyard, but it’s mostly hers. She did point out a spot where David could put his grill, and also mentioned that we could entertain with notice or even set up a garden, as a previous tenant did. But... it’s not our space. It’s not even really hers as much as her two dogs’ (yes, we would have doggy neighbors too). It’s nice that we’d still be able to grill, but that’s about it. I mean... where would I do my spraypainting?!

And finally, neighborhood. It’s a mile from my building, which means I could walk to work (no need for Metro, squee!) through a fairly safe and super hip neighborhood. The apartment itself is on a private drive lined with preserved historic mansions, all with immaculate landscaping. We’d get one garage spot, but the other car would be on the street. Fortunately it’s a private street with plenty of room to park, and no meters or permits, just street-cleaning once a month.

So how does Apartment #1 stack up?

All in all, it’s a really lovely place in a perfect neighborhood, and we obviously liked it a lot, even with the landlord-as-family situation. But oh, we would pay for it. Soooo much. Like, “50% more than our mental budget” soooo much. I know I said that we later bumped our mental budget up a bit, but still. Even when we determined that we could afford it, there was still the matter of whether we wanted to, especially because, as you can see above... it didn’t even check all the boxes on our list. Was this place really worth the several hundred dollars a month more than the other places?

Well, I’ll show you those other places tomorrow and Thursday! In the meantime, what do you think about this one? Would you wrangle the budget and befriend the landlady, just to live in a historic mansion?


Miranda said...

Yay! I love it! I brings back the days in the hospital with Houser Hunters and Pinkberry. :)

Rachel C said...

I love House Hunters, Team P Edition!! I am excited to see what you pick. And I am going to make my guess on Thursday!

Mary Beth said...

I'm a bit depressed to hear about House Hunters, but I'm the kind of person who lives in denial and thinks the "Real Housewives" are actually REAL. Regardless - I love hearing about your apt search!

Tina said...

Y'all may rattle around in this place... With so much space and carpeting maybe you can do your exercise walking inside your apartment in addition to walking to work!;-) I know the stairs are going to give y'all a workout for sure!

Anonymous said...

Fun to read about your search and "finds". Really comes down to a pro/con list. What can you live without, what are definite "must-have". Life is all about compromise even in apt hunting. Am looking forward to the next two listings :)

Christal said...

This is such a fun series! What a beautiful place!