Here’s something a little silly on a Fun Friday.
I get asked this question a lot by my clients – “What are you looking for in a house?”
I’m an open book, both on this blog, and in person. People know I live in a condo, and that one day, sooner or later, I’ll be buying a house.
People always want to know what I’m looking for, so I figured this would be a fun exercise…
Another question I’ve been asked lately: “What’s with this ‘Fun Friday’ thing you’re always referring to on your blog?”
I wouldn’t say “always,” but yes, I tend to think of Friday as a more relaxed day, and the topics on my blog are often more relaxed too.
Monday’s blog post is often something big and bold that I’ve pounded hours into over the weekend, as is Wednesday’s. Friday’s blog, since it’s only up for one weekday, is often a bit silly in nature. Not to take anything away from the folks who come to the blog for “MLS Musings” or “Photos of the Week,” not to mention a fun video, but that’s just the Friday theme, if you will.
When I went to Leaside High School in the early 1990’s, by the time you finished Grade 9, there were “enriched” courses available to students who, like me, enjoyed studying, had no friends, and didn’t party…
In Grade 10, they offered “Enriched Math,” which I thought would be really cool.
It’s too bad that in 2018, they’re doing away with enriched courses, in attempts to make everybody “equal,” but that’s a topic for another day…
My Grade 10 math teacher was a man named Mr. De Piezza, who offered us ways of thinking that we had never thought to explore. It simply changed the way I thought about math, and learning in general.
Most Fridays, instead of teaching from the text, or simply moving on to the next chapter or next lesson in line, he would look to do something different. And he referred to this as “Fun Friday.”
I remember one exercise where we were exploring probability, and while we know that the chances of flipping a coin and having it turn up heads, or tails, is 50%, he wanted us to see how we get to that 50%. How many sequences of ten flips come up with 9 heads and 1 tails? Or vice versa? Picture 30 kids in a classroom, with hundreds of pennies, flipping coins and scrawling down results.
For some students, “Fun Friday” was a day when you knew you wouldn’t have a test, or be stressed by the lesson, or really have to do much. But for nerds like me, it was a day you just knew you were going to learn something cool.
Anyways, that is the origin of my “Fun Friday” saying.
And when a couple of different clients recently asked me what I was looking for in a house, I figured it would be a Fun-Friday kind of blog post.
There are a lot of things I’d look for in a house, like just about every buyer. Some things I’d compromise on, some things I wouldn’t.
Some things are necessities, and some things are fantasies.
But explaining how many bedrooms I want, or whether I want a garage – that’s boring!
As a fun exercise, I thought I’d sway a little more toward the fantasy angle, especially because so many of my ideas are exactly that.
And while I could probably rattle off a dozen things I want in a house, if you know me by now, you know I’d rather spend an entire blog talking about just ONE feature.
One feature, eh?
Any guesses off the top?
A garage with power-tools?
A garden for my green thumb? Maybe some organic kale?
What about a kitchen island facing a Wolf range?
A steam shower? A sauna?
A backyard football field?
All good guesses, they would be.
But aside from the necessities, and if we’re just playing for fun today, one of the things I’ve always fantasized about is………
…………..a wood-paneled office.
I don’t quite know what draws me to this.
Maybe it’s the idea of having my own “lair” or “domain.” But I also want a man-cave (a close 2nd place), so it can’t be about having my own space.
Maybe it’s about efficiency? Being able to work from home, and feel like I’m still in the office? I think I might be on to something there.
I’ve been in my current condo now for seven years, and save for the first six months when I worked in the “home office” I had set up, I’ve always worked from my dining room table. As I type this right now, 12:31am on Wednesday night, I’m sitting in my half-broken, much-sat-upon chair that is also seven years old, and is probably the best $150 I’ve spent in a long time.
But having my own office, in my home? That would be awesome.
The kids can come knock on the door, quietly, respectfully, and in a 1920’s voice, perhaps even with a hint of a British accent, ask, “Father, may we speak with you, if only for a moment?”
I’ll remove my spectacles, put my pen back in my ink quill, and say, “Yes, children you may, but let’s do so post-haste as father has important work to be done.”
Then they’ll ask me if they can attend the sock-hop, or box social, or whatever gathering is afoot at the local broo-ha-ha, and I’ll tell them to ask their mother.
Then, it’s back to work for me.
Yes, that’ll be the day…
I’ve accumulated a few photos from MLS of wood-paneled offices I like.
Here’s my favourite thus far:
Great colour, two windows, and I like the built-in shelves.
I have a lot of art, which you may call “chachkies,” but I need somewhere to display it.
Every piece of art I own, has meaning. Think about that painting you bought from a street vendor on your trip to South America back in 2009, and had framed in the shop around the corner from your home. That piece is special to you because you remember where you were when you bought it, who you were with, and why it appealed to you.
I dream one day of having a wood-paneled office, just like the one above, and unpacking all the pieces of art I’ve accumulated over the years, and deciding on where each piece will go, is going to be like Christmas morning for an adult.
Behind the desk in that photo above has to be home for a very strong piece.
A defining piece.
I already have mine picked out…
One of my best friends was married in 2013, and for his bachelor party, we drove to Detroit to watch the Tigers play, then Chicago to see the Cubs, then Milwaukee to see the Brewers, and then flew home.
After we left Wrigley Field in Chicago, we were walking through town, back to the car, and we saw a shop that was sort of sports memorabilia, and also antiques.
We went inside, and it was fantastic.
I’m a huge collector, as some of you know.
My brother, father, and I collected sports cards in the late 1980’s when the boom was big, and although most of that stuff is now worthless, our 1930’s and 1950’s hockey cards remain a fantastic collection. In the past four years, my father and I have started going back to the semi-annual expo to see if we can add to our sets.
In this Chicago store, there was all kinds of sports memorabilia, but also newspapers galore.
The moon landing, the Kennedy assassination, D-Day; you name it, there was an authentic, mint-condition newspaper being displayed.
I walked through the store like a kid on Christmas. I’m a sucker for anything old; anything vintage.
The store owner looked like he had to be in his 90’s, although maybe the stress of the near-1oo-years between Cubs’ World Series wins just made him seem that way.
I asked him, “What’s the oldest newspaper you have in the store?” And he thought about it for a while.
He then said, “It’s not on display,” and I figured it had to be special.
He walked over toward another counter, reached underneath, and pulled out a very large, flat wooden box. He opened up the lid and blew off the dust like something out of a Scooby-Doo cartoon, and the hinges creaked.
He pulled out a newspaper that was in plastic, and turned it around with both hands in an understated, unintentional, television-like reveal.
It was awesome.
The newspaper was from 1863, right in the middle of the U.S. Civil War.
Depicted on the top-half of a horizontal side of newspaper was the Second Battle of Winchester, which took place in Virginia. It was a hand-drawn sketch of the battle that was so incredibly detailed, I could almost see the despair in the eyes of the Union soldiers (they were slaughtered, FYI).
The newspaper was in absolutely incredible shape for something 150 years old.
But it wasn’t until I saw the date that I was really enthralled: June 23rd, 1863.
And what day were we there, in this man’s shop, in Chicago? June 23rd, 2013.
What are the chances?
Exactly 150 years later, to the day!
I immediately decided I had to have this piece.
I asked the old-timer how much he wanted for it, and he took a long inhale. “I’ve had that for……let me think now…..probably close to fifty years,” he said. “Picked it up at a flea market down south in the 70’s if I recall.”
I had no idea what this was worth, but I had pretty much decided I was going to buy it.
To my amazement, he said, “I think I’d have to have…….proabably…….one-twenty for it.”
One-twenty? Dollars? Really?
I’m a collector by nature, but this isn’t my field. I know it’s “just” a newspaper, but it’s 150 years old, and I don’t imagine there are a lot of these kicking around. I suppose just like any asset, or any home out there, it’s worth what somebody is willing to pay for it.”
“I’d be honoured to buy this piece,” I told him.
And I handed over $120 USD with glee.
We left the store, and one of my buddies said, “Dude, you could have worked him down! He’d probably have taken sixty bucks, man! You know 100% he’d have taken a hundred.”
I told my friend that wasn’t the point. I negotiate for a living. I’m sure I could have got the piece for less.
But I respected the man who owned it, how long he’d had it, and the mere existence of his store – a throwback to days past, in a world where very few people care about old newspapers, collectibles, antiques, or vintage items.
I wouldn’t dare insult this man by haggling over twenty dollars.
In the end, I got a photo of he and myself, with the newspaper, and his shop in the background.
As soon as I got home from that trip, I went up to Bayview Avenue to see my “frame guy.”
“You have a ‘frame guy,’ seriously?” I’m often asked by those in my office. But yes, I have a frame guy. A necessary ally for an amateur art collector.
To frame a piece of art – cheap or otherwise, is a job unto itself. The right mat, the right border, the right frame. Colours, thicknesses, and what type of glass?
When the piece was finished, I looked at it for a few minutes, and then put it back in the brown paper wrapping.
It’s been in storage for five years. I haven’t seen it since.
But I knew that one day, when I bought a house, and if I had a wood-paneled office – this would be the perfect piece to display on the wall behind my desk. Feel free to read into the imagery however you want; perhaps I don’t even understand the reasoning myself.
So yeah, call me crazy, but one of the things I want in a house, more than anything, is a wood-paneled office like the one above.
Here are a few others that I’ve seen on MLS over the years.
I like this one here, but I really want the window to look out front, not to the sideyard:
This one below is beautiful, but a little too “much,” if you will:
There’s also no window in the room, which I think is a deal-breaker.
I mean, it’s not a deal-breaker, since this is a classic case of “beggars can’t be choosers,” but that might get a wee bit stuffy.
The desk is also way too small – it’s a glass table with a few items on it. This reeks of staging.
I love the double doors though, as well as the ceiling detail.
This one below is more my speed.
It’s a combination of the very first office, and the one we just saw:
Ignore the colour of the wood, because I think that’s the camera.
I love the window behind the desk. In a perfect world, I’d have two windows next to the desk, like the first photo. But I don’t want the desk facing the wall like in photo #2.
I love the shelving on the right hand side. I can’t tell you how many pieces of art (aka chachkies…) I could display on those fifteen shelves.
I would absolutely love a wood-burning fireplace! That would be unreal. I’m not a fan of that gas/electric unit on the left, so I’d get rid of it. And the wall-mounted TV would be a distraction from all the really important things I’d be doing, and world’s problems I’d be solving, sitting in that chair.
This one below just doesn’t “do it” for me, you know?
As in I can’t quite put my finger on it, although I do like the chairs.
There’s a desk in the middle of the room, but it’s across from a built-in desk in the shelving. It doesn’t feel well-planned.
And again, the desk is sideways to the window, which I don’t like.
I don’t even know what to make of this one here:
I showed it to a colleague of mine in the office, and he said, “Two desks? Eh? Eh???” and winked. “Business partners?”
I absolutely love the huge window though.
I think if the fireplace wasn’t there, you could move the desk in front of that space, ditch the second desk, and it would look just like the first one:
Except it would be twice as big…
So there you have it, folks.
What’s wrong with a little day-dreaming on a Friday?
Call me crazy, but hot-damn do I want a wood-paneled office in a house one day.
I know it’s the long weekend and many of you have already checked out, but if you feel like playing along – let me know what cool, different, or fun feature you would want in a house.
And if you have a wood-paneled den, send me a photo.
Have a great long weekend, everybody!