This Ol’ House

There are many beautiful homes in and around Tacoma and some of my very favorites (and of course I may be a little biased) are in the North Slope Historic District.  As an owner of a really old home I have to keep reminding myself that with all the beauty and history, there is this one really big thing that often looms in the corners of every square inch of my property; it’s called MAINTENANCE.

Now, I’m not trying to scare anyone away from buying an older home because I am a serious lover of anything old…except milk.  I am, however, here to inform you of some things you may want to be aware of when you fall in love with something that is, well, how do I say it?  Okay, old.

Here are some things that I have found to happen to these awesomely charming homes or more specifically, a home built in 1905 that I knew I just had to have (like a pair of black patent leather pumps with red soles):

Settling:  Think of it like an old man with a cane who is slightly hunched over—it’s old, and it will possibly slope a little through time but its pillars are an amazing support.

Plumbing:  Again, think of it as an old man…yes, the pipes leak a little and may need to be replaced at some point but thank goodness there are replacement options.

Heating:  This one is interesting so think of it as having a huge trash bag full of dollar bills and then opening the bag on top of the Space Needle and watching that money float away in every direction.  If you are familiar with landmarks around Tacoma, then play the same scenario at Stadium Bowl.  Houses simply were not insulated well, so planning a budget for energy efficiency is a must and a heat pump will definitely pay for itself.

Windows:  Ah, the question that always arises with my clients—should we replace the windows?  Wood wrapped windows with the original ‘wavy’ glass are hard to come by and there are restoration companies around Tacoma that focus specifically on preserving these.  Now I may sound like a grandma but they just don’t make them like they used to so please try to save them…. and on a personal note, if you are on a historic register, you most likely are not able to take them out—and the window Nazis are everywhere.

Electrical:  Fact:  it will have to be replaced for insurance as well as safety reasons.  The old knob and tube, while fascinating to look at, will need to go.  Look at it this way, when the original system was put in, or even the ‘updated’ one from the 50’s, we didn’t have microwaves, TV’s in every room, massive stereo systems and stoves that could cook five turkeys, two chickens and a whole side of ribs.  If you can’t do it all at once, try a couple rooms at a time.

Paint:  I guess the best way to describe this is like having a manicure:  it takes constant maintenance to replace the chipped polish and sometimes just putting a new coat over the old coat may just make it worse. Oh, and make sure you do it at the right temperature and right time of year because it may dry wrong and we all know how that turns out on our nails….yikes.

I know this may seem like a lot, but if you truly love an old home, just be prepared to care for it and give it the attention it deserves.  Inside those old bones lies a lot of history, craftsmanship and memories.  And as far as mine is concerned and when all is said and done, I love this ol’ house.



Ok, ok! I know you’re used to snappy posts about what we’ve been up to Around Tacoma but it occurred to me recently… if I didn’t already LOVE Tacoma and all the cool stuff we find to do around here, what then?  So I went looking and boy, did I find plenty!  Right here on the internet!

I know, you’re saying “Naw, you really found information on the internet?”. Really, I did!

Besides all of the fantastic blogs published by the many opinionated Tacomans out there, I found a plethora (cool, I got to use that word in a sentence) of super stuff about our city and all around Pierce County.

I will never have to say “Hmmm… what is there to do this weekend?” again and neither will you! Here are just a few links to local pages….

Have Fun Around Tacoma – The Linnie Sapphire

The Three C’s of a Craftsman

If there’s one distinguishing architectural style sprinkled all around Tacoma, it is the Craftsman. This type of home became popular between 1901 and 1930 and has a unique structure which tends to accentuate the living area.  Many are known for their fabulous woodwork and exposed beams and tapered square columns.  To find one that has not been modified or remodeled is rare, but when it comes around, it truly is a thing of beauty. 

This beauty can only be described in what I like to call the Three C’s of a Craftsman:  Cozy, charming and cute.

Craftsman homes are a popular and attractive choice for buyers because they are cozy with a big “O.” They tend to be smaller with most of the living space on the bottom floor.  There are often little hidden nooks with a lot of inconspicuous storage spaces accentuated with authentic leaded stained glass windows.  These little nooks make great sitting areas with an accompanying reading bench—or if you want a place to hide from the parental units.

The second C for charming, starts with curb appeal.  Craftsman homes simply ooze a certain pleasantness from the street.  The front porch is comfortably wide–perfect for a few Adirondack chairs, a small table and a great bottle of wine. Other distinguishing features include deep overhanging eaves, exposed rafters and hand-crafted stone and woodwork.

Charm continues on the inside with either soft or hardwood floors, decorative staircases and a kitchen that includes a delightful breakfast nook.  Back in the day, there was not a lot of room for the family to gather, so breakfast nooks became popular as they were a great use of the corner space and well-lit as most are under the bright light of double hung windows.

The final C is for cute.  After all these years in the real estate biz, I have to say that if we were playing Family Feud and had to pick the right answer with the question: “What one word describes a Craftsman home?”  Nine out of 10 Realtors surveyed would say… CUTE.  There’s really not much more to say… really.

Well, one more thing.  The Sapphire Real Estate Team can bring the three C’s to you.  We’re just one phone call away!

The Sapphire DIVA – Karen

Savvy About Split Level Homes?!

Split-level homes seem to be underappreciated but I am going on record to say that the split level of the past is just that…the past. Splits used to be about convenience; when you entered the house, there was either an upstairs or a downstairs. They were tight in the entry and exposed a not-so-nice feng shui. 

Who likes to come home after a hard day’s work, open the door, face an opposing wall, squeeze in with the groceries and then remember the kitchen is upstairs because you took the wrong stairway? Nobody.  Well, I’m here to tell you the split is back and, like the old Virginia Slims cigarette ads, “It’s come a long way, baby.” 

There are more than enough split level homes around Tacoma and many have been tastefully remodeled for today’s conveniences.  Take for instance our listing at 1712 S. 52nd Street.  This beauty has been completely remodeled and features an open entryway leading up to a generously sized living and dining area.  And check this out:  there are NO walls creating a cramped corn maze between the kitchen and dining area!

The kitchen and baths have been gorgeously remodeled with tile and granite and are accentuated with brushed nickel accessories.  There is new carpet throughout and an over-sized laundry room.  There are four nicely sized bedrooms and an enormous yard for kids to play, dogs to run or lots of backyard BBQ’s.  The house lives larger than its 1464 sq. ft. and it’s anxiously awaiting its new owners.

Oh, by the way, this home is what we in the real estate world call “turn-key.” You turn the key in the door and you move in.  It’s really that simple. 

So there it is; a brief on the split-level.  Don’t let it fool you; this style of home is making a comeback and of course I would love to talk more about this home but hey, I’ve gotta split. 

The Sapphire Diva, Karen