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Zillowing Out

A $589,000 House Where We Can Imagine Our Lives Differently

10:01 AM EST on December 2, 2023

artistic rendering of a two story house
Chris Thompson/Defector

In my family, we believe that buying a lottery ticket is always worth it if the jackpot is over $750 million. Will you win? Odds are emphatically no. But for a buck (or in the case of some lotteries three bucks) you can have a deranged conversation about what you would do if you became suddenly, ludicrously rich. We, being a trash bag family with no fancy behaviors or hobbies, love this game. Your first call, of course, should be to a lawyer. But then comes the more complicated question: how many people do you tell? You have to tell your spouse. That's spousal privilege. But do you tell the rest of the family? What if they all know you bought the ticket and are asking you explicitly whether it hit or not?

For the purposes of this game, we pretend that we do not know that winning the lottery almost universally ruins people's lives and makes them miserable. In fact, the most recent lottery ticket I bought while we were on tour with Normal Gossip ruined my day because something in my body thought it might be lucky and I did not want my life to be ruined. It turned out to be a dud like the rest of them. The plan isn't to actually win the lottery. In my case, I am buying the lottery ticket as an excuse to dream, to hope, to imagine a future different than the one that feels inevitable.

That's part of what Zillow is for too. We look at Zillow not because we are in the market to buy, or have the money to buy, or are even interested in buying a house in a market with a fucking 8 percent interest rate. Most of the time people are looking at Zillow out of curiosity and voyeurism and interest.

Reader John sent in this week's house with a note: "A nice thing about the current economic climate is that it makes buying a home seem kinda plausible if you ignore the whole interest rate thing. As a result, I spend a lot of time looking at houses in pretty places like Maine or Vermont so I can send them to my wife and say 'look, this is only twice what we could afford' even though we can’t afford half of it anymore because of the borrowing costs and also we would be very sad in these small towns unless we find a way to get all our friends and loved ones to move there with us."

I, for one, fully believe that it is possible to believe that all of your friends and loved ones will move somewhere with you. Famously, bullying works!

"My strategy is simple: first I look in a specific area that I'd like to live, and then after exhausting the options there I pan the map to other nice places, gradually becoming less restrictive on how much I'd actually like to live there." John told me. That's how he ended up looking in Montpelier instead of Burlington where he and every lesbian's Spotify Wrapped want to live.

The house John found is in Montpelier, Vt. It is three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a sick 2,048 square feet. It is listed for $589,000 and unfortunately under contract. But that has never stopped us before.

Let's take a look. Here is the entryway:

entryway with brick wall
Screenshot: Zillow

Wow, I am loving this already. I love a mixed medium, so the wood wall and the brick wall are really doing it for me. I also really appreciate a brick wall that was made before the standardization of bricks, so that now there are some really short skinny guys in there. I find that exciting. Unfortunately, living with a structural engineer makes me hyper aware of grout, and these bricks to me seem like they need to be re-pointed. Maybe they don't have to be because they are an internal wall?

The metal door frame I am certain is structural in some way because this looks like it used to be an external wall to me. But I find the metal door really fun and exciting! Contrast! We love it.

Here's the living room:

big living room with lots of light
Screenshot: Zillow

I am famously a slut for natural light, and this house is blessed with it. Look at these giant windows. Do I have an intrusive thought about throwing a rock every time I see a single-paned window? Yes, but that's not important here.

I love the raw wood window frames in this room, but the floors look too shiny to me. I don't like shiny floors.

Here's the dining section:

dining room table with overhanging light
Screenshot: Zillow

Yet again, I am begging the people of the interior design world to consider walls! This could be such a statement room if it had a partial wall with a pocket door between the living room and the dining room! But instead we have this drafty-ass great room with very few walls to hang stuff on. None of you ever agree with me on this take, but I am secure in my opinion.

I do really love the lamp above this dining table. The pulley system is really cute. Probably, this is from Schoolhouse or some company like it and is worth $782. Sadly, I want it.

Here is the kitchen:

kitchen with wood cabinets and big window
Screenshot: Zillow

One of my newer stances is that I'm over painted cabinets. Everyone thinks they're too good for wooden cabinets now! Every TikTok has girls, who for some reason own an industrial paint sprayer, coating their wooden cabinets in the same diluted olive green color. I do think these look pretty, but there is something so warm and inviting about wooden cabinets! I miss them.

That said, I do not love that the wood is the same tone as the wood on the floor. Kitchens should be tiled, both for easy cleaning, and water damage, and because it creates contrast.

Here's another angle:

another view of the kitchen
Screenshot: Zillow

I would like to cook here, I think. The ideal triangle exists here (sink, stove, and refrigerator are on different areas). I think two people could cook comfortably here, and that is beautiful to me.

Here's the laundry room:

laundry room with brick accent wall
Screenshot: Zillow

This is the kind of suburban shit that makes even the staunch city-dwellers question their commitment. Look at the size of the big beautiful washer and dryer! Look how much space. I imagine that if I lived in this laundry room, I would be a different person. I would put my clothes away immediately. I would never forget a load of laundry in the washer for so long that it became mildewy and had to be run again. I would be different, goddammit.

Here are the stairs:

staircase with open stairs
Screenshot: Zillow

I like these and think they are precarious in a fun way! Here's the hallway upstairs:

spooky hallway where the floor is a grate
Screenshot: Zillow

I know for a fact that my dog would not walk on those grates and she would be right. Why are those there? What necessity do these grates serve that could not be served by a solid fucking floor? I don't mind the metal as a contrast to the wood, but no one wants to walk on that. Even if I were not afraid of it collapsing, I bet the metal is cold and also uncomfortable!

Here's a bathroom on that floor:

big bathroom with clawfoot tub
Screenshot: Zillow

Beautiful. Let's play FMK. I will fuck the vanity mirror which I think is nice enough, marry the tub (obviously), and kill this stupid soup bowl sink. I have never understood the bowl sink trend and I never will.

Here's a bedroom:

bedroom with bed in strange position
Screenshot: Zillow

For a house with so many square feet, we certainly do not have them in this bedroom. I don't want to sleep so close to my clothes! I don't want to see my messy hangers, and I don't think the bed would fit the other way.

Let's look at another bedroom. Maybe this is an anomaly:

another bedroom with a small bed
Screenshot: Zillow

Ah. No it is not. This bedroom is also too small. It also seems to have a window to... another room, which is not exactly the vibe I am looking for in a bedroom. I cannot tell if it is because of the foreshortening lens or if this is reality, but this also looks like a twin bed. Maybe it is a full bed and those pillows are not extra tiny? Either way there is not a lot of room in here. Bedrooms do not have to be huge since you are only sleeping in there, but I think my hip would be bruised eternally from misjudging the distance between my body and that dresser.

Here's the primary bathroom and bedroom:

bedroom with bathroom attached with small shower
Screenshot: Zillow

"The bathroom with the bowl for a sink is probably big enough that it doesn't matter, but I've lived in small spaces for so long that I really dislike bathroom fixtures that are large and decorative in ways that aren't functional -- I need the counter space to put my contacts in," John said. Great point, John! This bathroom does seem to be very small to be the primary bedroom's bathroom. This shower is the size of some terrible closet. I hate it!

The primary bedroom is also small, though that at least appears to be a queen bed, maybe a king.

But where this top floor gets interesting, is on the other half. Here is what this floor looks like from the stairwell:

big open room with huge windows
Screenshot: Zillow

Over here we have an adorable sitting room. I don't do yoga consistently, but I would if I lived in this house and had this little iguana sun room to do it in. I love that it has windows on all sides and that (to my eye) it doesn't look like it would be incredibly drafty. Let's go outside:

huge beautiful deck
Screenshot: Zillow

I remember in the depth of the pandemic, dreaming of having a space like this: where you could garden, and sit, and get a little sunburn on your face from the recklessness of relaxing.

What a nice little top floor where we could hang out with our friends. Here's a broader view:

drone view of top floor of house with huge deck
Screenshot: Zillow

Okay, now I get it. This is a great house to fantasize about. We could fix her, for sure.

This week's house has been listed on Zillow for $589,000 for 51 days. If you buy this house, I am available to house swap in the months of July and August ONLY.

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