LA Move–House Dilemma

My Bathroom I'll Miss

I have never been a suburbs person. Especially a house/neighborhood that is newly constructed, sans trees and character. But now I find myself in a bit of a predicament with this LA move.

When Fia was 2 months old, we moved to LA for a few months. The house we rented on the Internet looked lovely but in reality was a terrible set up, especially with a baby. I was miserable. I couldn’t wait to get back to Brooklyn. So this time Phil is out there looking in person so we don’t make the same mistake. Especially because this time we’ll be out there longer–probably a couple years.

We need to rent a fully furnished house as we are leaving most of our things here in storage and subletting out our apartment. But in renting, we have some very specific criteria. I want it furnished to our taste. I would like to be in walking distance of something. I don’t want dangerous edges and crazy spiral steps/staircase like we have now.  And I want SPACE. Coming from a NY city pad, I’m allowed to be greedy with square footage.

Last week, after much debate, we had a friend check out a house. She gave it a thumbs up, but warned “It’s Ethan Allen-generic.” I decided there are worse problems to have and thus began to embrace the new me. I decided I’ll live like most of the country does, driving instead of  lugging a stroller and toddler down the subway steps. I won’t get a minivan yet, but I’m ready to live in a newly constructed house, devoid of character. And I’ll be happy about it, dammit.

As my Brooklyn friend Courtney said, “When you have a baby, character is the least of your worries. I wanted character and I have a 3rd floor walk up with no dishwasher or laundry. But I have antique crown molding. Give me a freshly painted white box to live in already!”

She makes a good point. And this house is at least in an old neighborhood, so there are trees. Plus, it’s a 3-minute walk to Griffith Park, which is one of the largest municipal parks in the country. Take that, Central Park.

So now I’m excited about changing my tune. I told Phil, “We’ll bring ourselves. And our art. That will give it more personality.” Plus, with a transsexual cat, Wayne Sanchez, how can you not have character?

Here’s the dilemma:

Yesterday, another listing came up that swept Phil away. It’s in the same similar neighborhood, but is full of old world charm. It’s almost like a cozy English cottage, albeit a big one. It has tons of character, and was built in the 1920s. Normally I’d jump on that, but I feel like, in my mind, I’ve converted to the other side–becoming a suburbs person–and now have to convert back.

I must digress and let you in on my little secret: I have this thing with kitchen sinks and bathrooms. I have such a high skeeve-out factor if they are not done well. If there is rust on the tiles or showerhead and/or if the grout is dirty or chipped away, I can’t handle it. I dread taking a shower and/or cooking. My stone bathroom with a rain showerhead was my best undertaking; my masterpiece in home design. In fact, it may be the most important material possession in my life. I know, it’s sad. Pathetic, actually. I’m going to miss it terribly.

The thing about Ethan Allen-generic is the new marble bathrooms make it feel like the Ritz-Carlton. Again, I’d like it to have a little more oomph, but at least it’ll be new and beautifully done. I know I won’t have the skeeve-out factor. My mother is shaking her head from her grave saying, “Honey, these are upper-class problems if I ever heard them.”

Phil assured me that the bathrooms in this 1920s place are big not gross, well done but old. I asked about the grout. He didn’t know. YOU HAVE TO LOOK! I exclaimed. I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning obsessing about it. I know, I need to get a life. Is it possible to be hypnotized to get over my fetish?

The kitchen is also a bit old. Again, lots of charm, almost like a farmhouse kitchen (which I love), but the cabinets look a little dingy and he wasn’t sure about the grout and area around the kitchen faucet. I begged him to go back today and take close ups. I asked him to ask feel the cabinets. Do they have film on them? Open them up. Are there spiders inside? Grease? He is clearly—and rightly—annoyed, but I can’t help myself.

I called the realtor and explained to her my problem. She confessed to me that she understands. She uses  Q-tips to clean her baseboards. I confessed to using dental floss to clean around my faucet fixtures. It was a bonding moment on the phone. She didn’t think I’d have an issue with the house but said she’d also take a closer look today.

Phil used the words “a magical setting” to describe the place. He said it’s like a gingerbread house, so cozy and rustic. And apparently LL Cool J just rented it, so how bad could it be? (Yep, gonna start name-dropping, like a true LA-er). I just want to ask LL what he thought of the bathrooms. But I doubt he’d take my call.

I really wish I could be there to weigh in.  We’re making the decision today. After he sends me the close-ups.

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