I’m turning 50 this year — on February 25, 2013 to be exact. Guess what I’m getting for this special milestone birthday? Yes, it’s a shiny new kitchen! (I’m ashamed to admit it, but that’s my existing kitchen in the masthead photo.) I’m sure you’re thinking that this extravagant present must have been months, possibly years, in the planning. But, no, that’s not how we do things around here. You see, for years, I expected that we would eventually move out of this house, and into something slightly larger, still in the same town, but not necessarily in the same neighbourhood. Recently, though, we’ve realized that our location is perfect, and that we need to stay as close as possible to where we already are. Before I get ahead of myself, let me explain…..
Like many women my age, I’ve been raising a son while coping with aging parents. In fact, between my husband and I, we’ve lost 3 out of 4 of our parents in the last few years. There has certainly been little time to contemplate a move. Meanwhile, our son has entered his teens, and high school, which has forced us to look ahead to his post-secondary plans. This, more than anything else, has compelled us to take a look around and think about where we want to live. High school students in our area take public transit to school, and — guess what — there are buses passing by the end our our crescent, and rapid transit lines whizzing along Yonge Street (a busy central corridor in our area) just 10 minutes’ walk away. So, we have realized that we are in an ideal location to meet our son’s transportation needs for at least the next 3.5 years. If he attends university in Toronto, which is a definite possibility at this point, then transit will continue to play a key role in our lives for at least an additional 4 years. Hmmm….. it’s beginning to appear that we are in the perfect location, if not the perfect house.
The approach of my 50th birthday also played a role in our decision to stay in our area, as we contemplate where we would like to be living in our ‘golden’ years (which, after my recent physical exam –with a doctor who seemed to delight in listing all the new tests I would be needing– seem to be a bit closer now than they were last year!) We can walk to a very nice shopping mall, and everything else we could ever want or need is within a 5 to 10 minute drive. Then there’s the hospital, only 10 minutes away, although I refuse to believe that either of us will need it more in future than we have in the past, just because we are aging. But, it’s there, just in case — better safe than sorry.
So, over the past year, we have slowly come to the conclusion that we are already living in the right part of town. Why not just move, and save ourselves the aggravation of living through a renovation? We have occasionally checked real estate listings over the past few years. Our neighbours’ homes have been selling for outrageous amounts of money, and we wondered what we could move into if we sold our house, too. It turns out that the homes that are just a little bit larger, in our immediate neighbourhood, don’t come on the market very often. When they do, they either need a major reno, or the reno has been done, and the house is overpriced.
Fast forward to January 2013. As I was trying to fall asleep one night, I redesigned our entire home in my head. (Decorators and designers do that, you know!) It included a new kitchen, a reconfiguration of the main floor bedrooms, and a gut job in the basement to accommodate a university-bound son. Next day, I shared my vision with Colin. He was impressed, and I finally felt that we could stay in our house if we could just renovate it to fit my vision. Colin agreed, but was non-committal on a timeline for actually financing a renovation.
The straw that broke the camel’s back came from our bank manager. When I dropped by her branch recently, she casually mentioned that our mortgage was eligible for early renewal, and that there were some new ‘packages’ that might be attractive if we needed some extra money for anything. That got the wheels turning, and after a quick discussion with hubby, Colin, we had decided to get going on our first reno. Of course, if I had known that we would be renovating our kitchen this summer, I would have started planning and sourcing months ago. Instead, here we are in February, with hopes of snagging a contractor and getting the work completed this summer, when we can cook outside and when our fireplace business is a little less busy.
Wish me luck!