Tomorrow we break ground on a project that in many ways feels like a lifetime in the making. First, a little background…
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved homes. I love the stories they tell, the people that gather there, the intimacy shared inside their walls, the secrets they hold and dreams realized.
When I was a little girl, I would walk through open houses with my dad and fantasize about living in many of them. Our house had green shag carpet, one tiny bathroom and a wood stove as it’s primary heat source. It wasn’t hard to dream. My mom hated walking through homes because for her, it was a reminder of what wasn’t possible. For me, it was just the opposite. What could I possibly dream up in a place where most of our time was spent and where the bulk of our memories were made? How could I create a space reminiscent of the most beautiful, warm and inviting homes I’d seen?
My husband and I begged, borrowed and might’ve stole, to buy our first tiny house in Seattle. It was a 890 square foot 1919 craftsman with two of the tiniest bedrooms that you had to walk through to get to the only bathroom. It was a perfect starter home and I loved it. Before we even closed on it, I snuck in and made our first Valentine’s Day dinner in the kitchen and we shared it on the living room floor with candles before quietly slipping out. I started and ended my first business there. It’s where we brought our first baby girl home. And where my mom told me she had cancer. It was my resting place when she didn’t make it. We called this house “Casa De Verde” and it served us quite well.
By the time we bought our second home, my style had shifted. It was 2006 and mid-century modern was just reemerging as a trend. I had a vision for a 1957 classic mid-century that hadn’t been touched since then. No one else was really seeing this house as a gem, but I was committed to it. It’s probably worth mentioning that I like a deal. This house wasn’t necessarily a deal (it was the height of the market), but it felt like the opportunity to realize the vision was within the realm of possibility at the price, aka, a deal. The kitchen included avocado green appliances that still worked perfectly. One bedroom was covered in Star Wars wallpaper (which I probably should’ve kept!), there was 3000 square feet of popcorn ceiling and an enormous classic 1950’s stove in the family room. We gutted this house, touching every inch by the time we were done. We moved in on my daughters first birthday and had our second daughter here. We called it “The Tree House” as it sat above my favorite park and was surrounded by lush evergreens. We could’ve lived in this house forever if it weren’t for my constant house itch and strong desire for my own bathroom and a killer view.
And thus began my “forever house” search. I hate that term though. It implies I will die in this house. I’m 40 and not ready to think about that, nor am I ready to say I’ll never move again. But, I wanted to find a house that we could live in forever, if we so desired. The house of my childhood visions and grandiose dreams. In Seattle, this is no small feat and I am an obnoxious perfectionist, an agent’s worst nightmare. We lost out on several homes to all cash offers that went for well over asking. Like any Seattlite looking for a home, I received instant market updates, checked my phone as I was rolling out of bed for new listings and then throughout the day. For the most part, there really wasn’t anything we wanted. I wanted something that was either already done (to my liking and preferably by a designer or fabulous gay men) or completely untouched. It needed to be big enough for my girls to have all their friends over and our friends too. We wanted to be able to open our home to our friends and family and make it a warm, fun, comfortable, beautiful space to celebrate.
When I told my husband I thought I’d found something that might work, he was traveling. He’s often traveling so this wasn’t uncommon, but in the Seattle housing market, it makes you dead in the water. The last house we put an offer on he never stepped inside. The best part of the house I’d found was the view. It had an absolutely gorgeous west facing view of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains. Joe came to see it at night and didn’t get a single look at the view. Without the view, the house is pretty much nothing. It was on the market for the first time in over 40 years with multiple offers. The couple was elderly and handicap. Handicap ramps are still everywhere and I have been taking my showers in a sit down tub for a year. But, he trusted me and we went for it. We knew it would be our biggest project yet, by far.
And that brings us here. We’ve been working on this project for a year with architects, geotechs, engineers, contractors, inspectors, surveyors, you name it. All without a single hammer swung. But tomorrow, we officially begin. This home already holds a lifetime of stories, but I can’t wait to see where this journey leads. To discover what memories will be made with this family, in these walls, old and new.