A $1.5 million home going through a personality crisis
All week I struggled to write. Things that wouldn’t normally take me long to type resisted the impulse to emerge from the crevices of my brain. I adopted the method of rubbing my temples until a thought appeared, quickly diving after it to try and catch it, only for it to slip out of my grasp. Even this paragraph took me days. It’s hard to believe writing is worth so much effort when so much is so terrible. It’s frustrating to feel like you’ve already written all of this and it’s only getting worse.
I am writing this column with fewer rights than when I wrote it two weeks ago. It’s not like I didn’t know it was going to happen. Texans have been battling this coming tsunami for decades. The death knell began to sound a long time ago. And yet, Roe’s downfall was still brutal and crushing: watching a stripped fundamental right with huge public outcry, leaving only a very deep and very real despair. Before asking, I’m not looking for reassurance. I know there are so many people working so hard to make this country a better place to live. I know that one day hope will return, but for now desperation is still a legal feeling to have.
All this to say that it’s hard to get so excited about a beautiful or terrible home when many of those homes are now in places where triggering laws have already taken away rights from millions of people. It’s hard to stay focused on the minutia of a home when it seems like every day is worse than the last. But you have to look at a beautiful or terrible house because it’s that time of the week.
This week’s house was sent by Allison, who began her email by saying, “Check out this silly house.” Great lede, in my opinion.
Allison lives in Boise, Idaho, and she’s been biking in the desert (brave) and watching this week’s house for quite a long time. “This house is unmistakably silly from the outside,” she said. Unbelievable. Hate this. Let’s take a look outside.
This house is the first house in this column’s story that looked remarkably better after Chris turned it into art and almost made it disappear. Look at this monstrosity! No wonder Allison was mesmerized by her terrors.
It looks like three houses or a church, a suburban Mexican restaurant and a Dallas McMansion, all destroyed together. Looks like it was created on The Sims by someone who wanted to torture their characters. Almost none of these decisions go together. We have a large open yard in front of the house that looks like it can reach 120 degrees to the sidewalk as there is absolutely no shade. There’s a giant wall around this yard blocking the view of this weed (which probably requires a zillion gallons of water to stay green). The house itself is a yellowish cream, but has both regular shingles and red ceramic shingles. Only one window, for some reason, has a shade cover on it. The whole thing is overwhelming.
Allison also clarified that this “home is located directly on the true Oregon Trail, that is, surrounded on all sides by ugly desert brush,” making the decision to have that even more offensive suburban fake lawn. He won’t even survive! There are many beautiful desert houses. None of them look like this. Plus, Allison says this part of Boise sucks, that this house is as far from the good parts of Boise as possible within the city limits.
The real damning fact that Allison brought, however, is the time in the market. The Zillow listing says this home has only been on the market for eight days, but that’s a lie. Here is what Allison told me:
It is in this important context that I tell you that this house was put up for sale for a whopping $2 million perhaps two years ago. Every other structure in Boise, from the potato baron’s most expensive estate to the hollowed-out, rusty Mitsubishi Delica pickup truck carcass by the river, appreciated by 50% or more during that time. Here is the only house in the whole surrounding valley which saw its apparent value decline at this time.
To that I say: WOW! It’s not good! I’m extremely interested in this potato baron’s estate and also the van carcass, but for now we’ll stay here with the monstrosity we have.
This home has seven bedrooms, five bathrooms, 5,380 square feet. It’s too big. It spans four acres, was built in 1995 (a bad time for American homes) and is listed at $1,550,000. It’s too much money even for so many square meters. Let’s go inside:
This is already an immediate no for me.
We have a floor that appears to be made from no less than five types of wood. It’s impractical and silly. We have a wood trim that does not match any of the woods on the floor. The brick wall, which is certainly an intentional design choice for this space since it is not an old house, has been whitewashed. The peaked ceiling is quite nice in a 2008-Pinterest-jar-wedding-plank style. But even if I imagine this whole big giant room without any furniture, it’s hard to imagine how it could be made nice.
When I moved recently, I kept thinking about “charm”. It’s an elusive concept when looking for a place to live because it’s never a thing. A funny staircase could bring charm, or a strange stained glass window. Maybe pocket doors or a skylight could add charm. But the problem with charm is that it’s hard to inject into a space without bringing out how out of place it is. Charm is inherent, or it doesn’t.
What’s bad about this kitchen is that it’s both designed to be charming and to look like someone who tried to create charm and ended up with a mess instead. What are these stone borders! Why do these clearly load-bearing columns have both brick and stone? Why is this island the same size as the rest of the kitchen? Also why, in a 5,000 square foot house, is it a small open-plan kitchen? You could have this kitchen in any home because it’s not special and it’s small.
Here’s another angle:
At every turn, there is something terrible to observe. Now I can see there are also whitewashed bricks that look like peeking through the plaster of the walls. It’s stupid. You can’t tamper with history! You can only create something new and hope it will age into history!
The dining room is twice the size of the kitchen, so that’s something. And this living room is also a bit small for this size house. It’s also a huge missed opportunity. If I see correctly, it’s carpeted stairs leading up to the couch. This is the perfect opportunity to build a beautiful conversation pit! But that would require creating beautiful sofas and having a bit of imagination, which these people obviously didn’t have.
Let’s go somewhere else. Here is a room:
Thanks, I hate that! We’ve actually seen a few houses like this in this series where a bedroom has a weird divider wall in the middle to separate it from a living area. It does not mean anything. Does anyone know where the walls are supposed to go? Either things should be large pieces or they should be regular pieces. I don’t know what this is for. It sucks.
Besides having the biggest bed there is, this room also made a truly stunning decision to place the bed in front of what appear to be sliding barn doors. What’s behind? A terrifying secret? I’m afraid.
Here is the bathroom:
I love that this bathroom has two shower heads and two sinks. It’s quite luxurious. But what is this obsession with gray grainy wood? Why use it for a shower wall instead of… uh… normal tiling. The shower floor, for example, is a normal tile! It would be better. It’s also a weird bias I have, but I feel like if you’re going to have wood in your bathroom, it should be that nice golden wood that they build saunas with and not that wood strange gray. The vibrations are excruciating.
Here they are not much better:
Alright, I guess if you have 5,000 square feet, you might as well have a pool table. But couldn’t they have removed the cover for this photo? I’m always wary of a house listed with a photo like this where an easy change could make the space much more appealing. What else did they cut corners on?
I’m not thrilled with animal heads everywhere, but I don’t hate them either. If this room leaned into the dive bar vibe and maybe had a neon sign, and painted the walls black and added wainscoting, it could be a cool room. It would be a perfect place for the game big money hunter. Instead, it looks like a sad “man cave” (a term I despise almost as much as the concept) that was half-done.
Upstairs we have…whatever:
Another dining room? You shouldn’t eat food off the mat if you can help it. It’s very messy. This is also a very small complaint, but can you imagine paying $1.5 million for a house and getting not one, not two, but at least four boob lights? Look, here’s more.
WHY!? These lights are classic homeowner specials, just like painting a light switch 500 times. They exist because they are cheap and easy to install. They also exist, I guess, because people like to suffer and don’t want me to be happy.
This room also has all sorts of weird things that I don’t like: there’s this little door, this skylight that doesn’t even face up, these weird half cupboards with rods in them. Why is the top of this curved window so close to the ceiling. Who designed this house? Frankly, I’ve had enough! Everything here is horrible in a particularly boring way. Let’s go out and see what we can find:
Well, that’s the first decent thing we’ve seen so far. This large patio has a brick outdoor kitchen, odd “exposed brick” inlays, and plenty of patio furniture. But I like this big fireplace. It is very good.
But what are those funny little garage houses over there? They are strange, aren’t they?
Now that’s something! A wood workshop? You would think there would be more machines and tools, but I like the idea of these little garage spaces. Except that they are not isolated. I guess that means there are about four months of the year where you can be realistic. It’s also upsetting that everything here seems to be pointless.
I take that back. Nothing here is good. It’s a house where every attempt to inject charm into its creation has backfired and created a mess that’s not only impractical but also ugly. No wonder it’s been on the market for so long!
This week’s home was listed for sale for $1,550,000 for seven days. If you buy this house, I recommend that you bulldoze it and start over.