We've started to look at new houses again. We never stopped looking on the internet, of course, but after a brief flurry a couple of years ago we hadn't visited any, as we knew we just weren't ready to sell. Now it feels like we could if we found the right house, so our weekends are a mix of DIY and pottering around other people's houses.
We've seen three in the last few weeks - all lovely on paper, but not-quite-right in reality. The first was near here, and had lots of rooms, but they were all smaller than the rooms we have here, and some were very dark. It's the perfect house for someone though and is already sold.
The second we adored. Old and higgledy piggledy and cottagey, with lawns and vegetable beds and outbuildings, and not too far away from work. But again, the rooms were small, and an odd layout, and even I had to duck to go through some of the doorways. We would have made it work - but not for the price the current owners wanted. We've left that information with them and I don't expect to hear back.
Yesterday's house was pretty. We had an inkling it would be too small, and it was, although downstairs was more spacious than we thought. The garden though was lovely - but overlooked by the houses over the road, which hadn't been clear on the pictures. Having lived here, where the street runs right past the garden, I'm fed up of being watched while I potter.
But it's making me ponder on the intangible something we want from a new house, which is so hard to define. We tell estate agents we want somewhere detached, with a decent, non-overlooked garden with room for chickens, and a spare downstairs room to use for music - and those are our main requirements. There are plenty of houses that have those things, but they're just not right, for reasons we're finding hard to explain even to ourselves.
Maybe we don't have to explain. Maybe we'll know it when we feel it. Or maybe not - maybe there are many potential future homes that we would be very happy in, and the trick is just finding one we can afford that's close enough to work. We don't have an endless budget, after all, so we're unlikely to get everything we'd like in one house.
One thing we've decided that we do want, and that is quite hard to explain to estate agents, is hanging out space. We want to be able to have people sitting round the kitchen table, and still have room to make tea. We want to lounge in the living room and not feel like the walls are closing in. I'm thinking we may need something slightly larger than a teensy cottage (however cute).