from blue haus to pink haus

So after nearly 5 years at the Blauhaus (above), I have moved out of the University District. I’ll miss walking by Scarecrow and Fire Station 17, for certain, but what with Tubs having gone under, is it worth it anymore? Next thing you know, the West Side Story-esque, middle-of-the-street fight between smokers congregating outside punk/hipster dive bar The Monkey Pub and frat bar Dante’s across the street will never materialize. And with the changing of Pete’s Pizza –the Calzone King!– to Piccolo’s a few years back, the neighborhood has just gone to pot.

I’ll miss the blossoming cherry trees along that block of 53rd Street as well as the looming landmark tower of Saint Cassius Clay Catholic Church Blessed Sacrament Parish. It always looked ominously Medieval on a misty winter night with the full moon behind it. Mostly, though, I’ll miss that porch and, especially, the lovely people that made it home for so long. It was a house periodic, though not unusual, turnover of hausmates. After a few iterations in the last few years, we finally got a nearly ideal foursome together.

For the past year, since I started working in Fremont, I felt like I’ve abdicated my self-imagined throne as mayor of the Ave. Since I walked it at least twice a day from 40th St to at least 47th, I noticed all sorts of things about that street: little things, stupid things. Most interesting to me, though, was the upper (northern) portion of the Ave, above 50th Street. I’ve always adored the twin intersections of Brooklyn/50th and Ave/50th. They are busy corners with lots of action, good and bad. But the “headwaters of the Ave” as I called, with its continuing evolution, captivates me. I enjoy exploring new developments up there; they were somewhat beyond being oriented toward campus. They were “real people” living up there mixed in with the campus crowd. As a result, the Headwaters hosted Real People things like the Saturday Farmer’s Market or the dive-y Knarr tavern.

Down in the lower portions, though, it was more campus-town, with all the trappings that some with that designation. Largely due to school, I frequently ran into people on the Ave. Sometimes it was friends and/or colleagues, other times it was just familiar faces. Whether it was a simple nod and smile or a conversation, it felt genteel and right to stop and chat with people on the street. My job in Fremont took me away from that. Luckily, this fall I’ll be on campus again, which means that I’ll ply the Ave once again. Although I won’t be living nearby anymore, I’ll still walk the Ave like I own the place. If it’s good enough for Don Kennedy and that other absentee landlords, it’s good enough for me.

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I moved into the pink haus (as yet unnamed) at the top of August, just over one month shy of my fifth anniversary of moving to Seattle. My partner, K. had gotten a job back in Seattle and we decided it was high time to start living in sin. We’ve been trying to get the place unpacked and the second-bedroom closet room put in order. We’ll eventually decorate to give the place some soul.

Although it lacks a porch, the haus is downright cute. I’ve always been unable to trust places without at least two floors. Like the Blauhaus, this one has a “daylight basement” formed by the side yard sloping down to reveal a basement wall exposed to the back yard. Also, I remain on the odd side of the street. I’ve never trusted even-numbered addresses, either.

Although there is less space in this house, it is a very well layed out space. The largely unfinished basement has one finished room, a spacious bedroom. There is a laundry area as well as on open area with shelves on the three walls lining the front footprint of our part of the house. It is a perfect space for a downstairs office, one in which somebody would sequester him/herself to pound out the remainder of a novel or to bury oneself in mountains of photographs and documents. The stairs come down in the middle of space and are not walled in; I love love the raw charm of fully exposed stairways. I also like that the furnace and boiler are fully accessible and not enclosed. On the one hand, it conveys both an acknowledgment and a pride in the processes of modern living. To some extent, a basement ought to highlight the utilitarian beauty that a basement naturally possesses.

The upstairs, on the other hand, is nicely finished. There are hardwood floors. There is a nice, though smaller, bedroom, too. Being right next to the bathroom, we chose this room to be our closet room. K. and I both have lots of clothes and, especially, lots of shoes. Before moving, we decided that we would need a second bedroom just to house our wardrobes. With a little bit of construction, we’re almost done with it.

I’ve always thought that closets in most houses are utterly useless. They never hold one’s clothes just right and they are frequently afterthoughts. It would be better to give that space to the room and have people decide for themselves where/how to put clothes. they usually never offer good access or full views of your clothes. This last point is easily understood when a deep closet uses a regular portal doorway. One has to attempt to walk into a space that was not constructed to be walked into. But even closets with double doors or those cheap folding doors never seem to be adequate either. As a result, I have become convinced over the years that the only good closet is a walk-in closet. And in our case, that walk-in closet is the whole room.

As much as I am enamored with early 20th century wardrobes (especially Art Deco styled ones), and as lovely as they would look inside a walk-in closet (or a regular bedroom, for example), we just can’t afford them. So, for that reason, we built some utilitarian closet racks and shelves. Overall, a much better solution to sorry state of clothing storage in 20th century housing.

—[ View some pictures ]—

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