I have been meaning to write this post since I started this blog. The story about our house is a good one, but not one that anyone would have guessed would’ve ended this way.
I grew up in this house. My parents bought it in 1970 on a whim. My mother was just out and about, picking my sisters up from a birthday party when she first entered this house and caught sight of the view from the kitchen window. She was instantly in love. When the host told her they were about to put the house on the market, my mother rang my dad, and later that night both families were sitting around the dining room table, finalizing the details of the sale.
I have wonderful memories of growing-up here – roaming free in the backyard, once dense with oak trees and magnolias, watching all the teenage baby boomers playing kick-the-can in the street on warm summer nights, my dad making wine in the garage, roller skating on the (then) terrazzo deck with my father’s jazz music serenading me through outdoor speakers.
But what’s most interesting about this story is that my parents sold this house in 1983…and that my husband and I bought it back 20 years later.
As a ten-year-old, I was absolutely crushed leaving this house. My parent’s divorce paled in comparison to having to leave my beautiful childhood home on the hill. For the next two decades I had reoccurring dreams that we were moving back. Occasionally, I would drive-by, wondering who was lucky enough to be living in my house. Then one day in 2003, only a week after my most recent dream, my sister called, her voice trembling with emotion, “It’s back on the market!!”
Now you can imagine how the rest of that week played out.
Returning to view the house with my family was an absolute hoot. We were all so emotional driving up the hill – what would we find? But the minute we walked through the front door and saw that NOTHING had changed, we burst out laughing and a very loud, free-flowing conversation punctuated with ear piercing screeches and OMG’s followed. The dark tile flooring, the grass wallpaper in the entry, the stone fireplace, and even the cartoonish wallpaper in the hallway down to the basement that had a perverted old cowboy chasing a naked barmaid, among other ridiculously tasteless and cliché old timey western vignettes. (BTW, my father still insists to this day that the wallpaper was my mother’s choice… yeah, right.) The house just had not been touched… even down to the kitchen my mother had so lovingly designed – it was all still there.
At the time of purchase, we were child-free and moving from the city. We couldn’t believe we owned not just a house, but a house with off-street parking, our very own washer and dryer and a yard with our very own trees!!! The first few days here were surreal for me, but after that it just felt like our new place.
As if all of that wasn’t dreamy enough, remodeling was an absolute dream-come-true. We took very careful care to restore certain aspects of this California ranch home, to bring modern tastes where appropriate, and to accentuate the innately beautiful features this property has to offer. My greatest joy came in selecting all the finishes: ones that gave a nod to the house’s mid-century roots, while simultaneously pulling it into the modern day. The walnut details speak to it’s 1950 construction, the terrazzo in the master bath echoes the original terrazzo decking. Items like the Jack-n-Jill bathtub and the yellow vanity in the guest bath were kept and restored.
Here is the kitchen remodel in stages, all taken from the same spot (and with a couple chicken shots thrown in at the end):
My love of gardening stimulated all sorts of change as well. The yard had been neglected for years and was mostly covered in ivy when I returned. We cleared it out and planted 34 trees, many of them fruit bearing: olive and figs, persimmon, pomegranate, lemon, apple, peach, lime, orange, and pear.
Before (above) + after (below) - we lost the oak in a storm a few years back.
We always used to say “They are going to have to bury us in the house.” As if all the above wasn’t enough to keep us here, we have been blessed with the best neighbors, and now good friends. I’m still in a bit of shock over the whole change of events and heart – we, somewhat spontaneously, decided we’d love to take on another project close by. We didn’t look hard, but we did find something that also seemed perfect for us, just in different ways, and now we are looking forward to our next adventure together.
Tomorrow is moving day. I am not nearly as stressed about the move as I am the fact that we will no longer have an incredible vegetable garden rich with red-worm-infested, nutrient-rich soil that faces south towards the mountain with All. Day. Sun!! In these last few weeks of almost complete blog neglect, I keep asking myself: Is it even fair that I call this spot Suburban Homestead when I will soon be living in a subdivision that does not allow chickens, and on a property where I’m struggling to find a sunny spot worthy of a vegetable garden?
We shall see.
We take with us incredible memories of starting a family in this house; of late-night dinner parties with the doors and windows wide open, of the annual neighborhood Easter egg hunts in the front, the spontaneous picnics on the lawn, and the gathering of good friends and family in the kitchen and living areas. But something tells me that this house holds a lot of the same for the next family who lives here. I’ve already had the pleasure of meeting them, and they are everything I would have hoped for in a new owner to my childhood home.