Ariana & Sam: Cozy in Kenmore
Ariana and Sam started out looking for a rental. Then, they decided they should buy a small starter home. They ultimately landed on a large home they will grow into. You don't always know where you'll end up when you're on the house-hunting journey - but it's pretty clear that Ariana and Sam are in the perfect place for them. Read on for an interview with Ariana about their experience.
What led you to make the decision to buy a house?
Sam and I had been talking about getting our own place for a while and started looking into renting and realized that rent even in areas that I didn’t want to live was still $800. And I realized why pay that amount when you can pay a mortgage? I initially thought of it kind of jokingly, not thinking I could really afford a house. But after saving up for a year, it was feasible.
What were you looking for in a house?
What I initially started looking for and what I wound up with are two completely different things. I started out thinking I’d want something tiny, like 1200 square feet, something I’d only live in for a couple years. And here we are - this house is 1700 square feet and I will be here for a while.
One of the biggest reasons I had trouble finding a house was that I wanted an eat-in kitchen. I grew up with an eat-in, and I didn't realize that they are somewhat difficult to come by. But I like preparing food and sitting down and eating it in my kitchen. Not a lot of homes in Kenmore have an eat-in kitchen.
Were you only looking in Kenmore? What did you like about Kenmore?
We looked in the general vicinity, like in the town of Tonawanda...I did venture out into Amherst once but we were pretty desperate at that point. Kenmore is where I grew up, and I love it here. My parents are just a few blocks away, which I was very nervous about initially but I hardly even see them. I just like Kenmore. Sam grew up here too.
Tell me about the house hunting process. What obstacles did you encounter? How long did it take?
We looked for a year and a half. Me being picky was biggest obstacle. I had something very specific in mind. Again, the eat-in kitchen requirement easily took a third of the homes out of the running.
The other part of it was that we bid on probably 20 homes and easily lost, just because it was so competitive. Someone would come in with a cash offer, no contingency, no inspection, stuff like that, and we wouldn’t even be considered.
What in particular stood out about the house you chose?
Structurally it is sound. It was just impeccably maintained. The couple that lived here was here for almost 50 years. The husband was a handy man and he did everything and just maintained it perfectly, which is ultimately what you want in a house. They took really good care of it.
I also thought it was beautiful architecturally - I love all of the arches. It just had some features I hadn’t seen in other homes that I really liked. I remember when were first looking at it I saw that bay window in the front and I thought, “oh, a Christmas tree would look really nice there!” and, well, now we've got a Christmas tree there.
What changes have you made to the house since you bought it?
We ripped up two floors of carpeting and went to hardwood. We painted just about every single room in the house.
We also installed windows over the fireplace. That was a funny story because Kenmore homes are all essentially built the same way, every house on the block looks the same. And they all have these two side windows, and our house was the only one that didn’t have them. The room was really dark and I didn’t understand why. There was wood paneling over the fireplace that I knew I wanted to take down. One night I had an exacto-knife in hand and climbed up on top of the fireplace, and I told Sam, “this is happening, so get on board.” So we took down two layers of wood paneling and there were window frames underneath - no glass, and they weren’t insulated. So we had windows installed and the siding on the house cut to fit the windows. I’m really happy with them.
What do you love the most about your house?
It’s cozy. We’ve been sitting in the sun room and watching a Christmas movie every night and it’s just so nice and relaxing.
Do you have any future plans for your house (such as an addition, a remodel, etc)?
We’ve talked about putting a bathroom in the first floor. Just a little half bath - we have a couple closets that could be made into a bath. The wallpaper in the stairwell is coming down and we’re going to put some statement wallpaper up.
And the backyard - we’re thrilled because this backyard is a completely clean slate. I look forward to the summer so we can fence it in, put a flower garden in around the perimeter and raised veggie beds.
What do you wish you had known when you began the home buying process?
I had a million people telling me to be patient. But I was so impatient! And they were all right, this house did eventually come along.
What is the best part of homeownership? What’s the worst part?
The worst part is the surprises. Like when the sump pump and hot water tank went within two weeks of us moving in. The best part is that at the end of the day, it’s yours. You can make it anything you want. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and I’m proud. I’m proud to own it.