Our Ojai Fixer

Hola friends!!!  I’m sure you gathered by the post title – WE ARE MOVING TO OJAI!  WHAT!?!  I know.  I KNOW!  We sold our house in San Diego, and we were shopping for another when I happened to cruise up the coast mentally to my dream town, Ojai.  It’s the town I’ve been trying to get Lou to move to since we left LA in 2012.  Tucked into a valley surrounded by foothills and mountains, it’s a magical little place that has had my heart since I first visited during my time at college in Santa Barbara.   I spotted this house and sent the listing and a few others to Lou and our realtors, just asking WHAT IF?

I was absolutely SHOCKED when Lou’s response was that he liked this house, that we should go see it.  I was already pretty attached to the idea by the time our realtors got in touch with the seller’s realtor and was a bit gutted when they told us it had gone under contract within 2 days, and had multiple offers over asking.  California real estate is BANANAS you guys.  We decided to put in a strong backup offer just in case.  And the next day  we got word that the investor who had made the original offer had backed out and it was ours if we wanted it. (!!!!!!!!)  So just to recap, it was Wednesday when I threw out the idea of moving to Ojai and by noon on Thursday we were under contract for a house we’d never seen.  Craziness to the max.  HA!

That Sunday we drove up to Ojai to see the house, meet with contractors, have the house inspected and spend a little more time in Ojai to be sure we were making the right decision.  It didn’t take long for us to know that our instincts hadn’t failed us- we still love Ojai and the house was even better in person.  Well, the house is in crazy disrepair actually, but that’s what we’ve been looking for- a house we can make entirely our own.   And we see soooo much potential with this sweet little mid century ranch house.

Many of you know all of this, but just to recap…when I started this site in 2011 we lived in LA.  In 2012 we moved to Palm Springs to try out life in our favorite vacation town in a beautiful modern dream house.  After living there for 2 years we realized it wasn’t going to work being so far from the beach and friends, so in 2014 we moved to San Diego.  We looovvveee San Diego and the beautiful Spanish house we transformed in our time here.  BUT.  It’s expensive and we’ve had many many conversations about where we could go to have a slower pace of life while we raise Teo.  And so, Ojai is next.  In case you’re counting that makes it four towns in seven years.  OMG.  Hopefully we love life in Ojai as much as we think we will!  We’re ready to really settle into life and stop the chaos of moving.  We don’t regret any of the moves so far though, each has served us so well and it’s been a great adventure!  So if you’re considering trying out a new place to live I say go for it!  Life is short and there’s no way of knowing if something will work if you don’t try it!  Of course if you’re thinking 4 moves/towns in 7 years is legitimately INSANE, I kind of agree with you too.  HA!

So, are you excited to see more of this house and hear what we have planned?  You do know I’m going to be a sharing fool while we go through the renovation and design process, right?  It’s an absolute dream come true for us, to take something old and unlivable and give it a new lease on life!  We’ve got BIG plans for this place!  And I think it’s going to be sooo fun to share the renovation process with you all and hopefully inspire your own project houses!

Click through for a quick BEFORE home tour and read a bit about what I’m thinking going into the design process…

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Our San Diego Final Home Tour

Hi friends!  Well, the papers are signed and the ink is dry- we sold our home!  It’s very bittersweet, this is my favorite place that we’ve ever lived.  The home itself is wonderful but more importantly it’s the first place where we’ve had an actual community and it changed our lives entirely.  A few days after moving into this house we found a pink flamingo in our yard with a balloon and a note inviting us to go door to door to find the person responsible for putting it there, and promising a prize when we did.  We were SO SUSPECT!  WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE we asked each other.  A few weeks later the woman who lives directly across the street, Bev, knocked on our door with homemade pesto and sausage to welcome us to the neighborhood.  She said “No one has ever taken so long to come to collect their prize before!”  HA!  We were definitely not accustomed to friendly neighbors and we took a moment to warm up to it.

But warm up we did.  Bev hosted movie nights in the canyon, a large projector set up and an open invitation to the entire neighborhood.  She hosted block parties and rented a bouncy house for the kiddos.  She introduced herself and us to every single person who walked by our houses.  As the weeks and months passed we found ourselves friendly with nearly every neighbor on our street and many more from the surrounding neighborhood.  Now more than a couple of them have become close friends.  And neighbor friends, in our experience, are another level of friend.  At least ours have been.  They’ve taken part in our daily lives, we see them nearly every day even if only for a two minute catch up chat.  We share all aspects of life together.  We’ve met each other’s extended families, we love and look out for each other’s children.  It allows for a closeness that seems difficult to achieve without proximity.  It feels somehow closer to family than friendship.

It’s hard to express how this changed our lives, but it had a profound impact on our happiness.  We went through some very challenging times in this house, primarily surrounding my health, and our neighbors helped carry us through it.  I remember coming home from the hospital with Teo just raw from trauma and bursting into tears each time I saw one of their faces.  They took care of our animals during my month long hospital stay, they drove me to my doctor appointments so that Lou could stay home with Teo, and they surrounded us with the love we so needed during that time.  I am not sure how we would’ve managed without them.

All of this is to say that I now know that this is the way I want to live.  Here, in another house, wherever we may land in this lifetime.  I want to meet the people living around us and I want to get to know them.  We may not have a ton in common, they may not, at first appearances, be “our people” but I know well that that means nothing.  They may, like we were, be skeptical about neighbors who push to be friendly.  But like Bev wore us down, I intend to wear them down.  I’ve got big plans for delivering cookies and meeting everyone, hosting neighborhood parties and recreating this at our next house.  I’ll report back on how it goes- wish us luck!

Now, I want to share our final home tour (these photos were taken by the talented Amber Thrane on behalf our amazing realtors at Shelter Residential and I love that although the house is styled for showings and the sale, it wasn’t as fussy as it would have been had I been styling it to shoot.  Meaning, it’s closer to what it looks like regularly.  And at the very bottom of the post are the before photos.  And honestly having someone else’s perspective on the house was SUCH A TREAT!  I fell in love with it all over again when I saw the photos.  We didn’t spend a ton of money fixing this house up- paint, light fixtures, and few cosmetic updates here and there- but it looks like an entirely different place.  It was such a fun project for us and I like to think we breathed new life into it!  I’ll always be a little gutted that we didn’t get to remodel the kitchen and baths (I had already mentally designed them and it’s a bit sad that I won’t get to see that vision come to fruition).  But the next owners will carry the torch for us and I know this house will be loved and appreciated for many years to come!  I included links to past posts of the house and it’s so fun to go back and see the progression of the house!

I’ll share more about what’s next for us and why we decided to leave this beauty very soon.  Until then, go make friends with your neighbors if you haven’t already!!  xx- Sarah . {all sources listed below}

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DIY Daybed

Hi friends!  I’m excited to pop in and share a little DIY with you today for the daybed we built for Teo’s room!  This was born out of need and budget restrictions, as many of the best things are!  We wanted a place for all of us to hang out in Teo’s room, which has become our favorite room in the house, and we wanted something that would eventually be able to transition to being his bed.  We also didn’t want to spend a ton of money on it because….well, we didn’t have a ton of money to spend on it.  HA!

We built this easily in a few hours for under $300, which in my humble opinion is not bad for a piece of furniture that could very well last for the rest of our lives!  And we’ve been loving it ever since.  It’s perfect for snuggling up and reading books, Teo loves monkeying around on it, and we’ve all had a few cozy naps right there.  I am going to do my best with these instructions, but a DIY queen I am not.  That speaks to how easy this was to create but also, I sat there for ten minutes asking myself “How do I say screw in the screws” without sounding like a kook?!  So I did my best, but if you decide to tackle it please read through and make sure you understand beforehand.  And I’m happy to answer any questions you have if they come up, so hit me up in the comments if they do.  Instructions after the jump.  Happy DIY’ing!!!!  xx- Sarah

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Living Room Refresh with St. Frank

Hi friends!  I’m popping in today to share an update on our living room… the baby proofed, textile-rich haven that we collapse into after a long day of toddler chasing that I love so much!  This room has been mostly the same since we moved in four years ago and was starting to feel a little stuck to me.  Does that happen to you?  It had also become impractical for our life with Teo.  That copper coffee table may have been one of my most favorite pieces of furniture ever but the reality of a toddler running around it and the risks involved sent my heart racing every time we were all in the space together, so I knew it was time to replace it with something more family friendly.  Our pillows had about 6 years of life under them and were starting to really show the wear and tear, so I figured it was time to refresh them as well.  And lucky for us St. Frank came to the rescue with their new line of customized textiles and their gorgeous fabric by the yard!!!!

My favorite way to update a space is to replace the throw pillows.  Ok, I may have an addiction to throw pillows.  We have more than I care to admit and I shuffle them around from space to space when I start to feel like a room needs mixing up.  But it’s seriously the BEST way to make a space feel new without having to make a major investment or replace furniture.  And so I landed on these pattern-full beauties from St. Frank– which are seriously the most high quality pillows we’ve ever had.  And because they now offer customized orders I was able to order them the EXACT size I wanted.  Such a major win for my Type A decorating self!

Which brings me to that ottoman, another major win.  I knew I wanted something friendly for a toddler to climb on and something that would bring pattern and life to the space.  I also wanted it to be a bit smaller than what we had so there would be more floor space for play and so that when we remove the section of the couch to fit the most enormous Christmas tree we can find into the room, the coffee table will still look right.  Designing your living room to accomodate for your Christmas tree is normal, yes?  HA!  Anyway, I searched high and low and came up with nada.  I knew I had to do something custom to really get what I was looking for.  And this fabric from St. Frank had my heart from the moment I spotted it.  My dear friend at Nok Nok Living came to the rescue and helped me design/produce what I was imagining.  A padded, oversized, family friendly piece that would carry us happily through Teo’s childhood.  I don’t feel like we’re sacrificing AT ALL in the design department- it’s a real beaut and so perfect for this season of our lives!  Head over to St. Frank to peep their entire collection of my most favorite textiles, wallpaper and fabric by the yard– and while you’re there check out their art and curiosities too (warning: you will want EVERYTHING).

Click through for a full list of sources.  Happy decorating!!!!  XX- Sarah

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WELL PLAYED CB2, WELL PLAYED

I have to admit, I love a big box store.  I think it’s incredible to source vintage pieces and I love the idea of filling a house with lovingly acquired pieces collected over a decade from travel and flea markets and estate sales.  But the truth is I am far too impatient for that, and stores like CB2 are killing it these days, and also the flea markets in southern CA are $$$$$ (or at least the pieces I always want are kidney-sale inducing).  I woke up to one of CB2’s promotional emails the other day for the Fred Segal collaboration and I couldn’t click over to view the entire collection fast enough (lots of these pieces are from that collection).  Fill our house with these organic modern pieces, please!  Please???  See more of what I love at CB2 below (ps not sponsored just normal super fan/compulsive decor shopper activity)  Happy decorating my friends!  xx- Sarah

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Oh hello!

Hi friends!  I don’t want to jinx myself but lately Teo has been sleeping from 6 pm to 6/6:30 am. TWELVE SOLID HOURS.  Do you know what this does for our lives?  EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!  Seriously.  Every single good thing possible.  He’s been sleeping through the night regularly since about 6 months old when we sleep trained, but he was always an early riser.  6 am feels like sleeping in for me and I swear I have a new lease on life- like sign me up for a marathon and can anyone recommend a babysitter in San Diego so Lou and I can have a date night and do you think I should write a book now with my newfound mental energy but also why does daylight savings have to happen?!!  HA!!!!!  Hopefully the amazing sleep continues.  BUT…. I woke up at 4:30 today.  He slept until 6:30.  WHYYYYYY LIFE?!

On the bright side I had a bit of time to do some interwebbing and look what I found!  This gorgeous house renovated by Kyal and Kara, an Australian design/construction duo.  I don’t know for sure but I think they may be Australia’s future Chip and JoJo.  That sliding door- that’s the kind of thing my indoor/outdoor living dreams are made of.  Pretty wonderful, right?  Pop over here to see more of this inspired house!  I hope you love.  xx- Sarah

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