|This is an office/bedroom. I don't know |
about you, but I don't think I could
close my eyes in a room like this.
|Whoa Nelly! Norwegians have a peculiar sense of curtain-style. |
They also loooove their natural wood paneling.
|A really lovely home (and out of our price range). |
Take note of the white paneled walls and ceilings, wood floors,
fireplace, and stairs (all very common modern design).
In this blog entry, I may come across as a spoiled American brat. What I hope to really convey is simply cultural differences of expectations and cultural norms of homes and the real estate market. Also, as warning to my father, who used to warn me, "don't be snide, Emily," I get a little snide. Or snarky. Take your pick.
Our lease expires at the end of June, and at that point we will leave our lovely look-out "på toppen av Birkebeinervegen" and rejoin the common folk on the valley floor in Lillehammer. It was nice while it lasted. I take that back. It was simply lovely while it lasted. We have enjoyed a spacious, light-filled, well cared for home, with superb access to the woods and to our barnehage, and space for child and four-footed friend to romp.
So, in the meantime, we've been house hunting. We have decided to buy a home for a number of reasons. First of all, it is nearly impossible to find a house to rent in Lillehammer. And frankly, we need a house. With a large dog, a kid, and a houseful of furniture that we brought from the US, a 2-bedroom apartment isn't going to work. Second of all, we plan on being here for a minimum of five years, and with that length of time, it makes sense to buy a house vs. rent. And thirdly, it's simply a matter of feeling "settled" in the community. We want to give Norway a real chance, to live life like it's for real, not like we're just squatting here for a few years. Having our own place to put down some roots will allow us to feel more committed to our experience here.
But house-hunting in Norway has not been an easy nor a very enjoyable experience. We are just coming from a different culture, with different expectations of design, layouts, use of space, etc, and it takes some adjusting. So, really, this post is not at all intended to offend my Norwegian readers. . .
Norwegians love wood, and most walls are covered in paneling, either natural wood color or more recently painted white. Often times, the paneling extends to the ceiling, and often the floors are wood, too, so some rooms simply scream "WOOD!!!" The product sheetrock does not seem to have hopped the pond, maybe because of the plethora of wood here, so walls are either the wood paneling or this textured fiber-board product, that generally indicates the home has not been updated in the last 30years.
|A tasteful living room (in my humble opinion), with the wood |
paneling painted white on ceiling and walls.
Bathrooms. First off, they often lack a bathtub, and have just a standing shower. In my mind, this is not ideal with young kids. I want a tub to bathe my child in. Sometimes, the shower is simply a drain on the floor, with a curtain around it. Most bathrooms are tiled from floor to ceiling, but the cupboards below the sink do not extend to the floor, but instead are anchored to the wall, and lifted off the ground by 6 inches or so, so any accumulated water might dry and drain. On a positive note, many bathrooms have heated floors, to evaporate the water off the floor (and keep your toesies warm on cold Norwegian winter nights). The main bathroom is often larger than American bathrooms, because they also host the laundry facilities.
Living rooms: nearly always have a fireplace in it, and larger homes seem to have two or three "sitting areas", or congregations of chairs/sofas (as our current rental does). Smaller, newer homes have a combined living/dining area, that feels a little tight to us, as our 3-year old begins to take up more physical space.
Kitchens: open floor plans are not very common, and kitchens seem to be closed off from the rest of the house with a door. Often a small table is squeezed in, even in the narrow galley kitchens. Refrigerators are small, sinks don't have disposals.
Bedrooms: often are very narrow, barely wide enough to fit in a single European bed (which are more narrow than American single beds). Rarely do they have built in closets, so many have purchased stand up closets that are cheaply made and semi-permanently installed, often with floor to ceiling mirrors. We’re also finding many homes that have 2 bedrooms on one floor, and a 3rd on another floor. But (presuming we have a second child), who wants to sleep on an entirely different floor than your young children?