Hi everyone! Now that you’re all caught up on me and Bendik’s lives, I wanted to write about the thing that currently occupies 99% of our mental energy (the other 1% is taken up by opinions about Beat Bobby Flay episode outcomes): our house in Norway!
Last summer, I was browsing house listings in Norway (just for fun, I told myself) and found one that piqued my interest – it was a renovation project in Bendik’s dad’s neighborhood, in the “village” of Siggerud (which is what I guess you could call it? it’s not a town, but more than a neighborhood), a 20-minute drive from Oslo. Bendik grew up in this neighborhood, which is in the forest (Østmarka to be specific), situated right on a lake (Bråtatjern). It’s quiet, feels isolated (but is so close to the city for when you get bored), and is full of happy, friendly neighbors. All the other houses I’d looked at before were either in weird locations, or were super expensive and still needed work. This house seemed perfect for us! It looked old and rundown, but because Bendik and I are obsessed with home reno shows, I wasn’t daunted.
(The house, from its original listing! I thought it was super cute and cabin-y, and a good shape to work with.)
I casually dropped a link to the house listing in our family group chat (and just said something like “huh! interesting!”) – and from there, we went from 0 to 60 REAL QUICK.
Bendik’s parents checked out the house and thought it had great potential – plus, it got sunlight all day! We suddenly started having some very Real Conversations about whether we might actually want to go forward with bidding on the house – could me and Bendik afford the mortgage? How much would we have to spend renovating it? Are we ready to move to Norway in the first place??? But we all felt confident that this was a good buy and a good move, so we put in a bid! A few days later, we found ourselves in a dreaded bidding war, which is not something I would wish for anyone to endure. Even though I told myself I wouldn’t be sad if we didn’t get it, I had already started Pinteresting ideas for the living room, the bathroom, the kitchen… so I was ready to be massively disappointed. But one afternoon, as I was on BART going to the office and Bendik was in NYC presenting to a client, our parents gave us minute-by-minute updates on the bids, suddenly dropping off for a few minutes before I got this message:
And just like that, we owned a house! Is it insane to buy a house without ever setting foot in it? Yes. We are wild. BUT, we figured that it was a 100% renovation either way, so ultimately what we were paying for was the property and the foundation, so everything was going to be changed either way.
We had to wait almost 5 months before we got to step foot into the house! It was agonizing looking at the same 15 pictures from the listing over and over again, trying to piece them all together to understand what it really looked and felt like. But the night we arrived in Norway, Bendik’s parents took us to the house, where they had built a fire in the fireplace, and we got to see the beautiful view from the living room window for the first time.
(It was sooooo koselig sitting in front of the fire for the first time! This fireplace will go, though!)
Over the next few days, we returned to the house to take photos, come up with ideas on how to use the space, as well as meet with architects and contractors who bid on the project. We wanted to get started as soon as possible!
I filmed a tour of the house in its “before” state (warning: it’s 10 minutes long and my voice is extremely annoying, but Bendik is a super entertaining Vanna White):
The house was built in the mid-60s, and has basically remained untouched since. I kind of like the retro, stuck-in-time feel – you can tell it was someone’s home, and was extremely customized to their somewhat eclectic tastes.
Some highlights of the house as it currently stands:
(My favorite room in the house, the cloud room! It sadly will be completely torn down. But we’re going to cut out a chunk of the AMAZING wallpaper and frame it! It will probably hang in my office because Bendik hates it so much.)
(The current living room, complete with a pea-green ceiling which all of my friends have begged me to keep… which I absolutely will not. It’s kitsch, but not something I can live with forever! Literally everything in this room is gonna go, from the admittedly awesome wood paneling to the worn-out hardwood floors and the weird robot-looking fireplace.)
(My future office, current murder dungeon.)
(The previous owners LOVED statement wallpaper! This is where the “master” bedroom will go, minus the faux-brick wallpaper – not pictured is the one wall with carpet-like wallpaper. Choices.)
We had a great time meeting with all the contractors and architects! Each person we talked to had great ideas on what to do with the house, but we ultimately went with Ana, who really impressed us with her creativity and understanding of what we wanted out of the house. She “got” us and our “vision” (or lack thereof) – she had a good idea of an effective way to rearrange the spaces and additions we could make.
Here are some initial drawings of the house, which are very much subject to change.
This is the top floor!
The bottom floor! (The “Mountain Room” is quite literally a room with the mountain in it. It’s part of the foundation of the house, and basically all it can be used for is housing for spiders and maybe storing a few bottles of wine.) The offices will also be smaller guestrooms, probably with futons (but comfy ones, I promise!). Actually, the thing I’m most excited about for the house is my office! I have a very specific vision for it… but am open to whatever for literally every other aspect of the house.
This is ideally what the house would look like with a wraparound deck and carport!!! (Bendik LOVES the show Mega Decks so is fantasizing about having his very own mini-mega-deck.)
You can check out my Pinterest board for our “house vibes” – it’s basically 100 versions of the same concept, including a velvet couch, which Bendik says no to :( But it will give you an idea of what look I’m aiming for.
For now, we’re still working on finalizing the design of the house before submitting it to the county (Ski kommune) for approval. Where we live is actually a protected area (kind of like a national forest?) so we’re somewhat limited in what we’re allowed to do with the house. We want to add a couple of windows, which requires approval. The deck seems like a longshot to me, so I’m not getting my hopes up. We’re not sure how long the submission/approval process could take, but we’re really hoping to get started on work before we move out to Norway. We’ll live with Bendik’s parents while it’s being renovated, so I don’t want us to overstay our welcome too much :)
I’ll plan on posting more about our desired ~lewk~ for the house, plus any updates on the building process! It’ll be super fun to look back on these posts someday and be shocked at how much the house has changed! I’m gonna miss how “interesting” it looked, but will be very grateful for my subway tile and farmhouse sink. AND DISHWASHER. Oh my god all I want in this world is a dishwasher. Soon!!
(Our house is in the center of the photo, above the orange roof! We have a fantastic view of the neighborhood and surrounding forest.)
For now, I’ll continue to Pinterest and dream about having a double vanity. Hopefully by this time next year, we’re living in our li’l dream home! :)