14: The Hunt

14: The Hunt

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

The Hunt

I work on the assumption that a house is successful if it’s pleasant to live in.

~Alexandra de Garidel-Thoron

“Hey, Karen — I love what you’ve done with your house!” Pleased with my friend’s compliment, I smiled and looked around my living room, enjoying my new color scheme. After all, Max knew his business as a successful real estate agent.

“You really have an eye for color and a knack for transforming an ordinary home into something warm and inviting. What do you say we go into business together?” Max continued. “I know I can easily sell this house and find you another one to fix up — something that just needs a facelift. Then when you’re done with that one, we can do it all over again. It will be a great money-making proposition for both of us!”

I looked over at my husband, David, curious to see his reaction. After all, he was the handyman. It sounded like fun to me but how much fun would it be for him?

With a shrug of his shoulders, David replied, “Whatever makes you happy, honey, makes me happy.”

Before we knew what hit us, the three-bedroom ranch-style home was sold to the first prospective buyer, giving us just thirty days to find another. How hard could that be? I loved to house hunt.

But, alas, at the end of thirty days, we found ourselves storing all our household possessions in a friend’s barn, borrowing a camping trailer from another friend, and heading for a nearby lake to set up home for the summer with our four kids, ranging in ages from six months to six years. The kids loved swimming in the lake and digging in the sandy beach. They didn’t seem to mind sharing the double bed at the end of the tiny trailer as the four of them lay crossways together. Our bed at the other end of the camper was the converted kitchenette table.

As the hunt continued, the summer days rolled by and lake living, with a community bathhouse and campfire cooking, lost its appeal. David also didn’t appreciate his hour-long commute to work in the city. I decided we would never do this again. The next house we bought would be for keeps.

Three weeks before school began, we found a quaint two-story, dormer-windowed, Cape Cod-style home — only two blocks from the home we had sold! With just the right paint and wallpaper, I knew I could enhance its charm. Once more I delighted in digging through piles of wallpaper books, scouring through myriad color swatches and designing window treatments to create the precise effect I had visualized. And, once again Max “oohed” and “aahed” as he admired the transformation.

I was excited about discovering my talent for “decorating on a shoestring” with pleasing results. “Now, don’t get any wild ideas about selling this house,” I exclaimed. “The dust has hardly settled.”

“I’m here when you’re ready for the hunt to begin again,” Max said with a grin. “We really do make a great team, don’t you think?”

I was convinced that wouldn’t happen anytime soon. After all, I was just beginning to enjoy the finished product and the fruits of our labors.

Then, with just a stroll around the block, it happened. There it was — my dream home — being erected on a neighbor’s vacant lot. As I meandered through the rooms of the tri-level home, I could envision my family gathered around the kitchen table in the spacious kitchen, watching TV and playing games together in front of the brick fireplace of the family room, entertaining friends and family beside the massive living room fieldstone fireplace and enjoying dinner around the table in the formal dining room under the sparkling crystal chandelier. And, for heaven sakes, with four bedrooms, we wouldn’t have to think of moving ever again. It would be our home sweet home!

As the contractor explained he was building the home on spec, I thought, how perfect is that! All I had to do was decide what I wanted for final colors and finishes and someone else would do the work. Even David should love that idea! Better yet, the kids wouldn’t have to change schools, only their bedrooms. And, the nest egg we had put together from the profits of our real estate endeavors with Max would handle the down payment.

With David’s familiar words, “whatever makes you happy, makes me happy, honey” ringing in my ears, Max put a “For Sale” sign in our front yard one more time.

“My family will think I’m crazy selling and buying another house so soon after moving into this home,” I told David as we looked out the window at the real estate agent’s sign. “Let’s not say anything yet.”

“Well, Karen, it won’t be long before they’ll be coming to our house for Thanksgiving,” he replied. “We’ll have to tell them sooner or later.”

“Let’s make it later,” I retorted, wanting to postpone it as long as I could.

The week before Thanksgiving found us settled into our brand new home, complete with all my decorating touches. Still struggling with how to share the news with my family, I suddenly came up with an idea. After all, they really didn’t need to know until the very last minute.

As David basted the turkey one last time, the doorbell rang. “Surprise!” I sang as I opened the door and greeted my astonished family clutching the directions we had taped to the front door of the former Cape Cod home.

After the initial shock wore off, Mother hugged me. “This is the perfect home for you, Karen. Does this mean the hunt is over?”

I smiled and thought, of course! But then again, who knows! For a bona fide house hunter, is the hunt ever over?

~Karen R. Kilby

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