722 S. Opal Street 

1,571 sq. ft., 4 bedrooms, 2 bath, garage

Built: 1946

$149,000

Selling Agent: Melissa Norris, Selequity, 861-3268

Open House: Sat., Mar. 26, 1 to 4 p.m.

It's tough to find a house if you're a first-time buyer-especially if your funds are limited and you're looking for something with character that's relatively close to the downtown. Ten years ago, I was in the same boat, but the house also had to be an older fixer-upper within downtown walking distance. The obvious choice would have been to buy in the North End, but even at that time, it was out of my price range. So I ended up on the Bench- with absolutely no regrets-in a little bungalow just south of the train tracks and Depot grounds. I now consider myself a permanent Bench dweller and like seeing the changes and transitions taking place in the area. It's still affordable and full of homes in need of care and attention. This house on Opal Street seems relatively affordable and has had some recent work done to it, but still offers plenty of opportunities for those willing to give up some blood, sweat and tears.

The house sits one block off of Vista on the corner of Cassia and Opal. This portion of Cassia is relatively quiet, as most of it is in a school zone; South Junior High is just down the street. Opal is a short street lined with houses of similar styles and sizes; there are a few brick Ranchers that mix it up a bit. Two giant street trees (maple, I think) in the front yard stand guard over this modest little house dressed in white.

The small covered stoop, detailed with double square posts, is a nice touch. The front door opens to the living area-hardwood floors, white moldings and original windows trim out the space. There is a small dining alcove with windows looking over the front yard. One of the windows in the alcove has been replaced with white vinyl. (Yuck!)

The galley-style kitchen has been totally remodeled with new 12-foot-square beige modeled tile, white paneled cabinets and a grayish speckled plastic laminate countertop. It's not huge but seems functional-extremely functional, considering that all the appliances are included.

The two bedrooms on the main floor fall short by contemporary standards in size and amount of closet space-hawk the king size bed and second television and there should be plenty of room. The bathroom has been redone with new white fixtures and a simple cream tile tub/shower surround.

The basement is broken up into a number of smaller rooms. The listing indicates the house has four bedrooms; two of which would have to be located in the basement. I checked for egress windows-none found. There are high windows which provide some much welcomed light. The current owner built in a second bath-a good idea.

The single car garage is clean and functional. The back yard is enclosed with new cedar fencing-basically an empty slate. There are a few trees but lots of ground to work with-hardscape, landscape and probably room for an addition.

Pros: The house's simplicity and integrity. Some of the remodel I could do without, but it's cosmetic-nothing that can't be undone. Good things are happening to this area. Hopefully changes coming to Vista Village will be done right (architecturally) and businesses that reflect/respond to a neighborhood's needs will flock to the area. Four bedrooms are certainly doable, though enlarging existing openings for egress requirements is no small task. The additional natural light would be a big bonus. A buyer could move in and do nothing.

Cons: The tile. I propose a temporary moratorium on the use of beige modeled tile-enough already! I know metal siding is maintenance-free, but it smothers these simple older houses, stripping them of any character-defining features, especially at the windows and doors. I would have to rip it off-it might hurt initially, but a paintbrush in hand can be a wonderful thing.

"Home Sweet Home" features local, unique, historically or architecturally significant houses for sale. To suggest a house to be featured, e-mail editor@boiseweekly.com.

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