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February 18, 2013

I have to start this post with a caveat - I have not really house-hunted in Virginia.  I've been in lots of other people's houses, but never did any serious looking.

Given that, there's a few unexpected differences between what I expect in a house and what I've been seeing in our walks through random Boulder area houses.  I don't know if these are regional differences or decade design differences.  Possibly a little bit of both?

Can you see the texture?  Rather stucco-ish.
First - textured walls.  I actually like this look, but I was surprised to see it in EVERY house we went to.  We finally commented about it to a Realtor(tm) at an open house, and she seemed just as surprised that Virginia walls were all smooth drywall.  Many corners are rounded, too, which is nice for those of us lacking spatial awareness.

Our apartment has light switches that are actually sliders instead of switches.  I haven't seen it in any of the houses, but it still amuses me.

Colors.  Wow they can use bright colors out here!  Dark walls are not intimidating to them.  I was horrified at first, thinking they'd be tomb like, but these houses are also full of windows.  Big ones, little ones, stacked ones, corner ones.  So much brightness that a flat white wall would likely blind you.  Sometimes the colors clash, but so far we haven't seen anything too garish in the houses we've looked at. Except the one rental.  The finished basement had primary orange and blue walls and emerald green carpet.

Gas fireplaces in pretty much every home.  Boulder is very fire wary, so this is all that is allowed, with a few grandfathered exceptions.  Since I'm pretty fire wary myself, I am perfectly fine with this option.  Turn the fireplace on with a flick of a switch?  No cleaning?  No crackling bits falling out randomly?  OK!

Earth tones are also somewhat popular, or else that's just the trend with staging and rental decorators.  I am in love.  Greens and chocolate browns and creams and reds and turquoises, maybe a hint of gold or sky blue.  It's totally inspiring for me, and I may do some crazy things to furniture in the future.

Big wooden blinds.  Little white vinyl blinds are common in Virginia, if bothered with at all, but out here they're much more heavy duty, and much more needed.  That sun is BRIGHT.  (ok, these are vinyl in the picture, but most are bigger!)

Rock landscaping.  I could have lots of fun with this.  The less to mow, the better!  One house we saw, the entire (small) backyard was nothing but gravel.  If we'd taken the house I'd totally decorate it with plastic castles and make it look like a fish tank, because it was already halfway there.

Doorless master bathrooms.  WTH? is all I have to say.  Over and over and over.  It's like the 80's where they thought it was a good idea to put the tub in the bedroom.  WHY?
No. Bathroom. Door.
I WANT that barrier of a door when I'm taking a shower or brushing my teeth, if nothing else than to keep noise and humidity contained and insulated from a possibly sleeping spouse.  Or if you have guests sleeping over and they pop their head in to ask a question, oh look, there's hubby, soaping up right in there!  No.  At least the toilets are in their own little closet, but if you're claustrophobic it's not going to go well.  Besides, it's boring.  Nothing to look at but the back of a door, like a slightly upscale public stall.  Besides, I don't want to lay in bed in the evening, and look at my pretty bedspread and my elegant curtains and lovely furniture and then see all the cabinetry and chromeware and sinks and coldness of the bathroom.  I want a door to close off that sight!  It's just good feng shui, right?

Bathroom vents are frequently absent, too.  We expressed concern, but apparently all that's required is an opening window.  One agent pointed out the lack of humidity here as compared to Virginia, so we'll just have to adjust our mindsets.  (I'm already struggling with dry skin.  I'm going to turn into a crocodile this summer.  I'm so used to humidity!)

Basement windows.  They're HUGE.  Larger than average windows with deep wells, normally.  In VA they're little tiny things near the basement ceiling.  The agent today said you could have a basement bedroom so long as a suited up fireman could fit through the window.  We haven't seen a walkout basement yet so I'm not sure if the same requirements apply.

Three car garages.  Whoa!  It depends on the neighborhood, but the newer or more expensive ones all have them.  Boats are somewhat popular up here, although I have no idea where they take them.  Four by fours, too, and having a spare truck, motorcycle, or Jeep to get around in the winter.  They appeal to us for the workshop possibility.  I'd love to have a place to do some messy work, and both of us want to be able to build things ourselves.

See that pseudo-curb?  Weird, but also
a  little easier on your car when you
accidentally get too close.
Driveway aprons.  You know those angled areas to allow you to get into your driveway?  Some places have this.  Other places?  The curb is at a steep, about 45 degree angle rather than a rounded right angle, and doesn't change when you get to your driveway.  This is going to cause a problem for me trying to get my car into the driveway.  It already protests speed bumps.

Closets IN the master bathroom.  I'm pretty sure this is just a modern trend.  I dislike it.  I don't want the damp to get in my clothes.  I also don't want to wait for someone to finish in the bathroom to put clothes away or get some out for myself, although since there's also no longer a bathroom door, that problem is solved.   Plus, I am just not a fan of having to walk through one room to get to another.

This has been quite a learning in experience in more ways than one.  Apparently I'm a conservative traditionalist when it comes to how my home is shaped.  I want privacy and quiet, which means doors on the bathrooms and walls between rooms!  Fortunately we ARE finding suitable homes, but they are selling quickly.

P.S.  I also saw my first radar detector.  (They're illegal in Virginia.)