Sunday, April 29, 2012

Home Sweet Home

So. A few weeks ago I mentioned here that I have some big news to tell you. Honestly, I couldn't wait to tell you!

We bought a house. Now for many of you buying a house might be something quite normal. It is not for us. We grew up in a culture where the majority of people rent the place they live in, mostly apartments. For us, owning a home never was a priority, we were quite happy with our rental situation.

Over the years here in the States (yesterday exactly 11 years ago we made the big move from Germany to California) we looked for a home on and off. Our wish was to stay in our neighborhood because it meant that the Geek could walk to work and we only needed one car. This, of course, always limited our search. Finally, house prices were so incredibly high that we could never commit to such a big investment and change to our life. We were happy with renting.

Last November, however, this changed. On a Sunday afternoon we were on our way to the park when we saw an "Open House" sign on a street close by. As we usually do, we just went out of curiosity and, I suspect, because the thought of owning a home was lingering somewhere in the depth of our hearts. The house we looked at that afternoon was a gem. It looked like nothing from the outside, and inside it was bright and colorful (an artist had owned the house) with a gourmet kitchen and a huge beautiful garden.

We didn't get that house. But it had sparked something within us that led us to contacting a realtor and start a serious house hunt.

Oh my!!! At the end of our first outing with our realtor we already found THE house. At that time, however, we shied away from the price. A week later, however, the price was considerably lowered and we took Kaefer there (we couldn't buy a home that she wouldn't like). Just like her parents, she fell in love with it at first sight. So we made an offer, right before Thanksgiving. And waited.

Well, the house was pulled of the market... There went our offer, our hopes. It was a huge disappointment, although we told ourselves that there certainly is another home out there. Somewhere, there is the place that is meant for us.

Winter really is not a great time to look for a home. Inventory was low, most of them were short sales or foreclosures, a few regular sales. Nothing came even close to the home we fell in love with. It was depressing and frustrating. An emotional roller coaster. In the end, all of us were waiting for "our" house to come back on the market.

In March, we got notice from our realtor (who had stayed in close contact with the representative of the bank which by now owned the house) that the house would come back on the market very very soon. We decided not to go on vacation over spring break - you see, we really wanted this house. It came back on the market right during spring break. I won't tell you of the hectic few weeks that followed, the entire process - but, since last Wednesday, when we got the keys, it is ours.

Our home.

It is an older neighborhood with houses mainly from the 40's and 50's. The homes in this neighborhood are all very individual, no cookie cutter, and there are all sizes of them. It seems to be very mixed, and that is exactly what I like. It has lots of mature trees - right next to our home is a huge live oak that is about 250 years old as one of my new neighbors told me. He also told me that the wild turkeys often hang out in the redwood trees right across the street. Oh what fun - I love wildlife (as long as these turkeys don't come into my yard and rip everything up!). I already met some of my future neighbors. They seem to be very sweet.

The window and the open door downstairs to the left belong to my studio - yes, I'll finally get my own studio!

The kitchen - this was our compromise since I had dreamed of a big open kitchen. Well, I didn't get that, but I am fully happy with this one.

The family / dining room

The master bedroom. There is a second smaller master bedroom which will become Kaefer's room of course. She is super happy to have her own bath and walk-in closet (and I'm happy, too, because she has to clean it as well!)

The view from our bedroom

 And this, my friends, will be my studio. It has excellent light and a door to the garden. Eventually we will probably put a glass door in or cut a window in the existing door.

 The garden. I'm planning to get rid of most of the lawn (at the front as well) and have flowers and perhaps a cherry tree there. This, of course, is a big project and will take some time. Yesterday I already planted some veggies in the raised beds that are there.

I cannot finish this post without a few words about our realtor, Toni D'Angelo. Honestly, she is the BEST realtor in the world. Quite frankly, without her expertise, knowledge,  negotiation skills and feeling for people we wouldn't have gotten this home. She was always there with advice and encouragement when we (well, I) felt depressed or frustrated about the entire house hunt. It helped that she has a good sense of humor and we just clicked. She had listened to what we were looking for and she never ever showed us a house in a neighborhood we didn't like. When we had questions - she was there to answer them. Simply put, she is an amazing woman.

When we entered our home first time as its owners, we found this in the kitchen - left for us by our realtor. Sometime soon, there will be a pink dogwood in front of our house.

Now comes the fun part of de-cluttering and cleaning, and eventually moving. There is some work that needs to be done at our new home before we finally move in. Slowly slowly we're occupying our home.

By the way - we still will be a one-car-family. The home is further away from work, but the Geek has decided to bike every day. That will be an excellent workout!


JoZart Designs said...

Oh Carola, I am so so pleased for you and your family. How wonderful it will be to own such a lovely place. I sincerely hope you will be very happy there and spend many many years in your new home. It does seem to be fate and I did enjoy reading the story of your path to it.
Lots of love Jo x

patty said...

Oh, Carola, I am so super-duper excited for you!!! This is great news!! We have bought and sold many homes (some as rentals) and I totally get how emotional it all can be. We also have a realtor who is a personal friend and that can make all the difference - so great that you got an exceptional one. And the studio!!! This is so awesome - have fun moving in and don't stress. It will feel completely overwhelming at times, but it will all get done eventually... just enjoy and CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Lynn Cohen said...

Yippie! Congratulations! Bravo! So happy for you and your family. Owning one's own home is a huge deal. Yours is super! Love the hard wood floors in the kitchen area. Love that you have a studio! What was that room used for before do you know? Perfect for your needs. Is it detached from the rest of the house? And lovely plans for the yards/gardens front and back.

I was 47 when we bought our first (and only) house. It was exciting when we realized that to rent was more or as expensive as a mortgage payment then. I added a couple hundred dollars to it each month and in 21 yrs paid off a 30 yr mortgage. I hope you can do the same. It's fun living in a paid for house too (at my age now)...
again, so excited for you. enjoy enjoy enjoy the whole process. I remember walking around mine when new and wanting to hug it. Really! I did. ;-))

Cynthia Schelzig said...

wow, you did it...looks like a great place to call your own. Have fun packing and moving in. Love the post below about your sweet.

Kay L. Davies said...

Congratulations to the three of you, and I know you'll be very happy, with your own studio, with two ensuite bathrooms—just super!
I hope the new people in your rental house enjoy visits from Geeda, however.

Christine E-E said...

oh... I am so excited for you & the fam! I know your house will be a fabulous reflection of your artistic spirit, creativity & filled with great karma for the years to come.
And, to have a studio! how cool is that!!! I'm envious, I must say... but I'm not doing much art these days... perhaps when I retire.
What sort of projects will you complete before moving? painting? flooring? window treatments? or just a nice cleaning job?
Can't wait to see more pics as you settle in.
email me your address?

seabluelee said...

Carola, I'm so happy for you! I wish you many years of joy as you live in your new home and stamp it with your own personalities. It looks beautiful, spacious and light-filled. And your new studio space is just gorgeous!

Maria Ontiveros said...

Congratulations! We saw our house when we first started looking, but it was tooo expensive. Several months later, things changed in a lot of ways (we found out our condo was worth more than we thought, for instance), and we were able to buy it!
We still love it.

gina said...

Congratulations, Carola! This is so exciting -- your new home is beautiful! I wish you much happiness in your new nest! Your story did make me feel a bit jealous, as we have been looking for a new home in Berkeley for almost two years. (We want to be near our daughter and grandchildren.) Five offers and misses and we are still looking. Maybe May will be our lucky month!

Kokopelli said...

Jackpot, Carola! Das ist ja ein tolles Haus. Mir gefällt vor allem die Gartenseite und der tolle Ausblick von dort. Gratuliere!

Ginnie said...

I am so thrilled for you, Carola. I have been part of the house-buying process 7 times in my adult life. It is an emotional roller-coater, in most situations, but one that ends up being very satisfying. I love that you had a GOOD realtor. YAY!

Deborah Tisch said...

My heartfelt congratulations on your new home, Carola!

Maery Rose said...

Congratulations! It looks wonderful inside and out. I love the plans for your yard. I have similar dreams of getting rid of the lawn and replacing it with gardens and fruit trees. But yes, it will take time.

Rhonda said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You will be able to do whatever you want to it! How exciting. I know you, the Geek and Kaefer will create many happy memories there. :-)

Stephanie Amos said...

Carola! I just wanted to stop by and thank you for checking out the blog hop! I'm glad someone else feels the same way I do about the color orange! AND congratulations on your beautiful new home! It's a gem! I'm sure you will enjoy many years of making wonderful memories there. =)

foxysue said...

Dear Carola,

I am so pleased for you and thanks for the tour, it looks perfect, in the UK yours would be considered a large detached, very desirable! I remember one of my first comments to you was about your rented home saying 'wherever you hang your hat will be home', so I hope your hats will be hanging here for many happy years! x

Darla said...

I'm late in getting to this post but I couldn't be happier for you. It is a beautiful home and will be more so once you move in I know.


Silvia(Barnie) said...

Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum neuen Haus :) Das sind tolle Neuigkeiten und ich freue mich für dich und mit dir. Viel Spaß und Kreativität beim Einrichten.

Frida said...

Herzlichen Glückwunsch! I hope you will enjoy your new home :-)