Going With My Gut (Reno?)

Sometimes I temper my words because personal preferences shouldn’t be mistaken for sweeping generalizations. I’ve been known to say that I hate long hair, but I really mean that for myself only. Others look perfectly fine with flowing locks; it’s just never been my thing.

(Baby-crazed Brooklyn? My hands want to type each to their own [because we know cliches make everything better] but my brain, gut and heart just can’t get past the horror of this adorable Carroll Gardens real estate story. This is a genuine concern. How do you avoid buying in brand new building where you haven’t seen any of the tenants yet and it turns out that everyone except you has newborns? I’ve noticed that at open houses brokers often glance at my stomach, as if they’re trying to determine whether I have a pooch or if I’m three-months pregnant.)

So too, with home décor, I’m discovering. For the first time since we’ve been dabbling in open houses, I think we saw something that garnered a “I could see putting an offer on it.” (Though neither of us actually know how to put an offer on a property. I’m not joking. I don’t understand all the rigmarole, fees, legalities. Do you need a realtor? A lawyer? There will be no mortgage involved. Here’s a chunk of cash, when can we move in?)

I think the main reason this condo appeals is because it’s almost exactly the same layout and size as our current apartment but with a yard. It’s big. Also, it’s in a very good location transit-wise and the maintenance is very low because there are no amenities (we have zero interest in doormen, playrooms, etc).

Well, there are issues. The bedrooms are small (in return the kitchen is larger than ours now and there is a dining nook) and most distressing to me is the ugly banality of the kitchen and bathroom styles. Yes, we’re stomping loudly into first world problems here but this is Project Me not Project Global Citizens.

It’s one thing to buy a cheap dump and rip out all the cabinets and tile, but it’s quite another to look at a brand new, never been lived in home that’s been priced to reflect some idea about luxury when the style is not to your taste. I’m not paying a premium for cabinets, fixtures and appliances that would be more fitting in a nice rental than a freshly renovated $1 million+ condo.

Dull Then again, it’s just a matter of taste. I hate vessel sinks, granite and travertine where many find those to be hallmarks of class. This place is not that. Where flashy new buildings we’ve looked at tout Viking, Bosch, Miele, blah blah, this condo is all GE Profile . I’ve looked at Viking ranges online out of curiosity. Yeah, $6,000 is a lot money of a stove, but then adding $200,000 to the price of a unit because you’ve added lower end stainless steel everywhere doesn’t really cut it. I’d rather pay less and put in my own appliances, counters, tiles and so on, though that’s not how things work.

This is not the exact unit but photos from a sister building on the same block. Not offensive in the least but not “dream house” material. I am sorry for having dreams. I am also saddened by the blandness and muted palette, ’90s nice, Pottery Barn. I like clean lines and bright colors or simple black and white, not beiges, browns, taupes and light colored wood. This style to me is the equivalent of depressing office temp wear—slacks, flats, cardigan—acceptable, comfortable and full of compromise. I can’t live like that.

I used to love Flipping Out because Jeffrey Lewis would scornfully gut kitchens and bathrooms that had the suburban high end Home Depot look. But he was a flipper. This building we’re interested in is also totally a flip (I can see that the whole thing sold for $1.5 million in 2008 and the three units it has been chopped into would sell for $2.8 million total at face value). It seems weird to buy something just to rip out and replace never been used fixtures and accouterments. The cheapskate, frugal me finds that extremely distasteful.

So, my question is do you buy something that is good sized, good location but ugly? I think only with a price knock-off to reflect changes that would have to eventually be made. Or do you just cough up more money (in the case of Brooklyn real estate I’m estimating an extra $350,000) and look at properties in the next tier up where the kitchens and bathrooms are all sleek and designy?

Badbulbs Jeez, or more. I just found a property, also in Park Slope, but not near the transit hub of the blah kitchen place, that is exactly the same concept, two floors of a brownstone, two bedrooms with a yard, but larger and with higher end finishes. It’s 500 square feet larger and $500,000 more. That’s a lot of money, a whole house in other cities, and for fuck’s sake they have the audacity to employ my ultimate dealbreaker. Maybe, my eyes are deceiving me but those look an awful lot like dressing room bulb lights in the bathroom!

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