Seduced by a servery

The past couple of weeks since my love and I decided to buckle down and start looking for a house have been interesting to say the least.  There are other adjectives I would use to describe the models we’ve seen. Claustrophobic. Tiny. Accessible via many stairs. There was one place that didn’t have a bathtub. Granted, it had a shiny tiled shower big enough to help pay the mortgage by doubling as a car wash. But with no tub, I wondered where would one eat one’s ice cream after a really bad day.

Through these experiences, I’ve learned a new language. “Ample storage” means there’s a slanted closet below the stairs. “Open concept” means there are no closets. “Urban-style” means it is a closet.  And close to shops and services means your bedroom faces a 24-hour gas bar and convenience store, with a sign that’s actually big enough to have a closet.

Perfect for those middle of the night cravings for beef jerky, a Slurpee and an oil change.

I’m not deterred yet, not even close. We just got started. Some of the places we think we’d like—as least the way they’ve been described —haven’t been released yet and there won’t be models until next spring. That’s fine, we have time. No point in rushing a decision until we’ve seen all there is to see.

And then there’s the house my love found.

It’s not in one of the neighborhoods we discussed. It’s not in a place either one of us ever thought of living (although until seven years ago, I don’t think we ever thought of living in the country either). At roughly 900 square feet more than our current home, it defies the idea of downsizing. It’s from a high quality builder that my love has been crazy about since they were my client about 25 years ago—Bo, our dog at the time, was in their ads—and admittedly, it is pretty nice.

Too nice for us, I told her.

It passes my basic criteria. City water and sewers, sidewalks and streetlights? Check. It’s in a suburb—albeit at the wrong end of town, it’s west, we like the east—with good access to public transit and any shop or service you can think of. There are more than enough bedrooms so I can have a private office again.

“I wanted you to have enough room to work,” says my love. If my work was building Lear Jets, I’d still be fine.

And it comes with a lot of other stuff not on the list. Anyone’s list. At least anyone not of the manor born.

Half the basement comes finished, which means there’s a whole other half we can fill with boxes and broken things and stuff we won’t use for years…maybe never. It comes with a family room off the kitchen, a breakfast bar and an eat-in kitchen plus a formal dining room, which is exactly what two people who generally eat weekday dinners off trays while watching the news—unless it’s corn on the cob or spaghetti or something equally complicated—need. And it comes with a servery. Otherwise known as a butler’s pantry. Which I originally thought was a place to keep your servants. Turns out it’s just a little hall from the kitchen to the dining room that has a counter, a set of cupboards and an optional sink. Good thing, because don’t have any servants at the moment. I may have to get some –I hate to see these amenities go to waste.

We may go look at a model. Or at least something much like it. They have one with a formal living room too. Just in case the servants want to have someone over and need the space.

It’s a mistake, clearly. That’s never stopped us before.

It’s also a good 10% over budget. But given what we’d get…I prefer to say, it’s only 10% over budget. And really, what’s that over 25 years?

Didn’t help that a tiny condo way out of town came up to the same price. No storage, no basement. No servery.

See how it happens.

This weekend, I wouldn’t be even the slightest bit surprised if we find ourselves in the models of not that house, but the bigger one like it. Perhaps if I pretend not to see the last few feet of room and shut my eyes tight when we get to the living room, I’ll get a sense of the one we like.

Those builders know how the game is played.

But in the meantime, we are tag-teaming every builder in town, calling about prices and emailing for plans and combing websites for new developments. The stack of expensively produced, highly photo-shopped brochures and sales kits on my office shelf is getting higher.

Thing is, I have a feeling I know where we’re going to end up. It’s not built yet and there might be too many stairs, but I felt comfortable in the neighborhood. And I like the sales woman—she was about my age and a straight shooter and did everything she could to give us a sense of the place without having plans. And noted that if we didn’t sell our house in time, the company was also building the same models in a future development a little further east. They don’t that very often; they want to sell you something now.

We’ll see. The plans are to be released mid-October. They’re four floor brownstones, small, inexpensive and have an office and powder room on a separate main floor. Perfect for seed. Two big bedrooms, a nice kitchen and a reasonable sized basement. Good location. City water and sewers, sidewalks and streetlights.

And absolutely no sign of a servery. Or the servitude that I expect would come with it.

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