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A $420,000 Home Where We Can Be Happy

10:01 AM EST on December 16, 2023

overexposed artistic rendering of a house
Chris Thompson/Defector

Recently, a friend was telling me that he did not buy a house because upon entering it, his small child said that the house made her "worried." We talk a lot, in this decade, about vibes and how something innately feels. I cannot imagine a house I would like to spend less time in than a house that made a small child worried. What does the house do? What terrors does the house hold? I won't be sticking around to find out.

This week, though, we have already explored something very worrisome together: the wire. The wire makes me worried. The wire is cursed. I check on it every day, and now you have all been subjected to my insanity. I cannot do this to you twice in one week. Instead, we will see a house that does not make me worried at all, a house that I find so lovely and calming that I would like to take it as my own!

This week's house was sent in by reader Chris! "The house popped up in my neighborhood FB group and I instantly recognized it because it's on my normal dog walking/going for a run route, about five blocks away from my house," Chris said. Beautiful! Love that.

Chris also provided quite a bit of context for this house, which I think is helpful. While this is not a Frank Lloyd Wright design, there are many nearby in a neighborhood called Parkwyn Village. Every designer in this area seems to have been inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, and the dude who designed this house is no exception. Norm Carver, according to Chris, "has several houses sprinkled through the neighborhood and I met him a few times. He was also a photographer who had a small gallery in downtown Kalamazoo in his later years and we've got a couple of his prints. He was a super nice man."

Chris also sent in a fun anecdote, which I will share in full:

My wife and I went to the open house and the listing agent was walking us around it for a few minutes before dropping this bombshell: "There's a secret room in the house that only the owners are allowed to know about. I don't even know where it is or how to access it. They'll tell the new owners at closing so the secret stays with the house." I don't think this is a feature of all Carver houses, but you can bet I'd be looking for a hidden secret room if I owned one.

Hell yeah! He sounds great! Let's look at what he has made together:

outside of home with red door and split levels
Screenshot: Zillow

From the jump, I'm feeling great about this. The house appears to be situated in some sort of ravine, with the driveway and walkway to the front door serving as a bridge. This is an exciting entrance to a house. It's not common, I'm sure because it would be very excruciating and expensive to fix, but isn't beauty worth that sometimes.

I do not love the peach and red color palate, but I have been wrong before. Let's go inside:

entryway with red door and framed children's art on the wall
Screenshot: Zillow

Already, I am all amped up. There is very little I love more than children's art. There is a form of art that is only made by children who have dexterity and have not been forced by boring art teachers to beat every interesting thing out of their creations that rivals most art I see in museum. I think children's art should be hung more frequently. It deserves it! And it's inclusion in this listing right by the front door gives the house a homey and comforting feel that I'm not sure would exist without it. The materials in here could seem cold without it.

Here's the main room:

big open living room with cross beams, a fireplace, and a patterned wall
Screenshot: Zillow

Damn! I am horny for this room! Look at it! It's beautiful.

First we have an entire wall of windows. I love the way these huge panes of glass are separated by thick framings like the outdoors is art. That's very nice. And I like how many different wood grains are going on here. They are all from the same family clearly, but the wood on the wall with the bar is lighter than the copper above the fireplace, which is lighter than the wooden beams. That subtle contrast is very fun.

The carpet, I will keep because it is a fun color, and I love to have fun. Likewise for this sick modern wallpaper behind the dining room table. Here's another angle:

same room from another angle: showing a slat wall

If there is one mid-century modern design style that I am dying to make a comeback, it is slat walls. We recently built one in our house (it does not look this good) and it is such a fun thing to have. You can hang art on it if you want, and it creates a division of space without breaking any of the light. I'm also obsessed with this stoplight-ass light fixture.

But I would put a bigger table in here. This is a house that should be ready to have a party at any moment. The punch bowl should stay out.

Here's the kitchen:

kitchen with dark cabinets with white pulls
Screenshot: Zillow

This is the least fun room in the house. What if, one color! That's my idea. But otherwise I love it. I know that everyone is obsessed with painting their wood cabinet fronts right now, but sometimes the majority is wrong!

Here's another angle of the kitchen:

another view of the kitchen and patio
Screenshot: Zillow

It feels to me like this little counter to the left could be built out into more of a bar area, which would be fun and exciting. The people who lived here must have had a good amount of their stuff removed for staging, because unless this corridor is a lot narrower than it seems in this photo, I can't imagine not having a little table in here as well.

Look at this whimsical art they've chosen. Owls! Aspen trees! If this was your house, and you need friends, I am available for friendship!

Here's a bedroom:

bedroom with tufted wall and plush carpet!
Screenshot: Zillow

Look how wide the wood is on that paneling. You never see that anymore. Now all the wood paneling you see is the same width as the wood on the floor. Boring!

Also there is an exciting slat wall outside. I love this house. It's so much fun. Here is the bathroom:

bathroom with yellow counter
Screenshot: Zillow

"I'm having a hard time telling if the bathrooms are carpeted or if it's some funky tile or vinyl," Chris said. "If it's carpet, that would have to go, but I hope it's not because the colors and pattern are super fun and I'd want to keep it."

That's a great point, Chris, but I'm pretty sure it is vinyl, and I also would like to keep it. The color blocking of the yellow counters with the orange cabinet with the floor is so fun. The only thing I don't like are these giant white tiles that have clearly been added in renovation. Grow up! Add back those tiny pastel tiles. Everyone likes those.

Here is a family room:

big family room with giant leather couch
Screenshot: Zillow

In here, I do not like the carpet. It would simply be too boring for me to live with this carpet. And it seems kind of strange to put a rug on top of carpet, so this will have to be ripped up. We will live.

Here's another room:

bedroom with tree wallpaper
Screenshot: Zillow

Even though I do not like the tree wallpaper in here, I am obsessed with how well-committed this house is to maintaining a sense of whimsy. Look at the little flags hung above the bed. Look how the long curtains hang. This is fun! Here is another bathroom:

bethroom with white counters
Screenshot: Zillow

Again, we have the same vinyl flooring, but a more boring surrounding. Because the upper cabinets are white and the tub is white, I think that wall with the window could stand to be a color. But otherwise, I love how much storage there is in this house. Every room has cabinets to hide things in, and (as someone with so much stuff) this is necessary.

Like, look at these built-ins:

study with large wood panelling and built ins
Screenshot: Zillow

I would love to have these. I wish I had more to say about this house, but for the most part, I am just enjoying looking at these photos. Everything seems like a room I could love living in. Even this room, with its dreaded drop ceiling and curious wall axes seems salvageable.

This next room is the only space I have some concerns about: I don't love the painted CMU blocks, and I also don't love these exposed beams because it looks like it would get cold in there. I do, however, think it would be convenient to have this full squat rack in your house, so you never had to leave.

weight room with red door
Screenshot: Zillow

Finally, we will take a moment on the balcony outside the kitchen:

big patio with two chairs!
Screenshot: Zillow

Isn't it lovely? I imagine you can hear the birds, and maybe the creek. I imagine that in the winter you can hear the crunch of snow. I imagine that my coffee would taste better out there, and my life would feel full.

"Overall [this house] gives me happy house vibes. Maybe it leaks, maybe it doesn't, it would be worth the risk for me," Chris wrote. "It's happy, the house is happy, I can't imagine not being happy living here."

I agree, Chris. I agree.

This week's house has been listed on Zillow for $419,000 for eight days. If you buy this house, please invite me over. I want to touch the house.

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