Our last guests to Puerto Rico arrived on Sunday evening and they are enjoying the sunshine, warm temperatures and the beach to the fullest. My father said that it was the first time since December that they are not surrounded by snow… They are happy without the snow, and I am happy because my mother brought 4 new Swedish interior design magazines, Swedish sweets and cookies, almond paste for the Lent cream buns* and Prästost (Swedish cheese) for me (and O) to enjoy! We also got two cans of elk paté from Mrs N[eighbour] – not her delicious home-made paté because it has to be vacuum-packed for the US Customs but I am sure that it will be yummy anyway, and my father brought my black high-heeled winter boots that I had left in Sweden – maybe I need them in Brussels in April!?
Speaking of interior design, as you all know, we are soon moving back to Brussels and I am checking the house ads every day on the Belgian web-site immoweb.be. It is a huge difference between how a house for sale is being presented in Belgium and in Sweden. In Sweden almost all houses and apartments are staged / styled for a sale, photos look professional and the homes are de-cluttered to a maximum. The layout of the home is shown in a simple drawing – not so difficult to produce with computer programmes nowadays…
However, as I have already mentioned before, Belgian home ads are T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E: photos are blurry or just badly taken, no layout shown and the homes are most of the time not even CLEAN or TIDY in the photos! It doesn’t seem to matter if the home is being sold by a real estate agent or an individual, the photos are equally bad. Garbage bags in the middle of the kitchen floor, unmade beds with dirty laundry on the floor, cupboard doors open so you can’t see the room etc. And let’s not talk about standard… but we are willing to renovate and therefore try to see the potential in old homes without a proper bathroom or fitted kitchen. We don’t want to pay extra for somebody’s crappy renovation with flowery tiles and a cheap, unpractical kitchen.
I didn’t participate in the Show & Tell / Friday theme in January when one of the themes was “My dream room”, but the other day I saw a photo of a room in a Belgian house ad that could be made into my dream room – inspired by Desiree’s description of her dream room and a recent Ikea ad:
My dream room would be a so-called “sun room” or covered veranda. Here the sunlight would flow through big windows. [—] I would have lots of green plats in the room. Both big and small pots with different plants. Many beautiful orchids. Here I would have a really comfortable armchair placed centrally with a nice footstool. The room would also have a small sofa where you could stretch out to rest or lie and read. Some beautiful wicker baskets on the floor with gorgeous fashion and interior design magazines. Over the sofa I would hang some cosy blankets to snuggle up in when it is cold outside. A small table in front of the sofa where you could put a big tea or coffee cup. [—] This would definitely be a room to rest and to enjoy the peace and quiet. (from Desiree’s blog, January 14 2010)
This is the Ikea ad:
And the room in the house ad:
Can you see the potential? Too bad the rest of the house wasn’t very interesting… Or well, it could have had potential if it had had a garage / parking space, but it didn’t. To be able to park the car and not have to desperately drive around and around the block trying to find parking every evening is one of O’s requirements. One of mine is to have a metro station within walking distance (max. 500-700 m away). And we want a small garden.
We are not too stressed about finding a house, and will of course wait until we are back in Brussels so that we will be able to visit any potential homes. What is great is that we already know Brussels and we know in which areas we would want to live. After having studied the market for the last 6 months I think that we can recognise a good buy when we see it.
Update: I forgot to publish this photo of the Swedish visitors watching the Winter Olympics in the Caribbean…
*) We should make the Lent cream buns TODAY as it is Shrove Tuesday / Mardi Gras / Fettisdagen…