By Hannah Lindoff

We are now in the throes of winter, that cold, dark stretch of the year where the holidays lie behind us and spring is beyond our frozen grasps. I’d like to go home tonight, park in my heated garage, kick off my boots in the mud room and sit so close to the fireplace that my eyelashes are in danger.  But I won’t be doing  that because my house doesn’t have a garage, or a mud room, or a fireplace.  Nor does it have a spiral staircase, a cozy window seat, stain glass windows, and there’s no secret passageway.  In fact, our house doesn’t even have a real yard.  It’s amazing how many elements of our dream house my husband and I put aside when we bought our house.  However, we couldn’t be happier.  Once we realized that our starter home would be limited in accouterments, we were able to focus on the elements that mattered to us.

Our major consideration was location.  We both work downtown and didn’t want a long commute.  Yes, we are spoiled Juneau folks and if the windows of our car have defogged before we’re done with our trip, obviously we’ve gone too far.   We looked at some wonderful downtown houses but those in our price range needed a lot of work.  It sounded romantic and fun to fix up an old home at first, but ultimately we had to admit to ourselves that we didn’t have the time, money or skills to put too much work into our house.

As our search wore on we found two houses of the same square footage for roughly the same price about two blocks from each other in the Mountainside neighborhood.  One had a flat yard and a garage; the other, with no garage, was basically perched on a cliff but had a breathtaking view.  We hesitated for a moment, thought about not shoveling snow off our car in the morning, thought about growing flowers in the yard and our dog playing in the grass, but we could never really move away from that view.  On clear evenings we see the sunset over the Chilkats.  We see the tide come in and go out in the channel, watch airplanes land and admire the lights from the traffic snaking around the wetlands.   It is always 10 degrees warmer in our house than any other house in Juneau; if there is sun, it pours into our tiny home all day.

When our baby was born we easily doubled the amount of time we spent in our home.  It’s been a challenge because our house is small and we’ve reorganized several times to make room for baby furniture and toys and to keep things safe.  We’ve given up on far-fetched plans for house accessories, such as adding a wood stove or putting in a stained-glass window in the kitchen and garage and the fireplace remains just a happy daydream.  But as I’ve taken in our view hundreds and hundreds of times while rocking the baby to sleep, I haven’t missed a spiral staircase once.

Hannah Lindoff grew up in Juneau and returned to the community after graduating college.  She now lives with her husband Anthony, daughter Marigold and dog Haagu on Mountainside.  Hannah can be reached at