Renovation Update: 8 Weeks In and Demo is FINALLY Happening!

That blog post title pretty much sums up our progress on our Ojai fixer– ay yay yay!  But let me back track a little- to when we were looking for a house here in San Diego.  We stumbled on this house by Shelter Residential and were blown away by how bright and beautiful it was, and our minds basically exploded (emoji) because it was a flip.  I don’t know how flipped houses are where you live but here in San Diego they inspire fits of rage (mine mostly)!  It’s like the flippers all went to the same store and bought all of the same EVERYTHING (none of which happens to be my taste but that’s not exactly the point) and then they slap it together with shoddy craftsmanship and jack up the price a few hundred thousand dollars.  Um, NOT OK.  It should be illegal actually but I don’t make the laws around here unfortunately.  The photos in this post are from another house they just completed here in San Diego.  It sold very quickly because DUH but reach out to them if you’re looking or want to work together on a reno project, I promise you will want to make them your best friends and also sign up for any house they’re re-doing or hire them to design your dream home ground-up build.  With the amount of experience they have pretty much anything you dream up they can do.

You can bet we hightailed it over to see the house I mentioned at the beginning of this post in person and it was so well done, we were major into it.  Unfortunately it wasn’t in a neighborhood that would work for us.  So we reached out to Lauren and Ryan (the beautiful brains behind Shelter) and set up a time to meet with them.  By the end of the meeting we’d decided they were the perfect people to help us sell our house and buy/remodel our next house.  Little did any of us know this would lead us all to Ojai!  I am sure they’ve had moments of WHAT HAVE WE GOTTEN OURSELVES INTO but they haven’t let on, they’ve rolled with our craziness all the way up the coast to North of The Wall (aka Ojai, our town soulmate).

We probably never would have bought a house that needed as much as ours does (literally EVERYTHING) if we didn’t have Lauren and Ryan in our pockets.  They’ve held our hands through the whole process, they’re a go-between for us and the contractor, as well as any subcontractors.  They take all of my design ideas and help me figure out how to make them happen, recommend products when I find the most expensive thing and we can’t afford it, and kind of act as home renovation therapists too – talking me off the ledge when I’m freaking out because the reno costs have doubled what we were expecting when we bought it.  And the best part?!  They’ve become friends.  There’s nothing I love more than when a creative/work partnership becomes something greater!

There’s so much more after the jump.  Like really, A LOT more of this house and my rambling.   Have at it!  xx- Sarah .  {Photos by the lovely Amber Thrane}

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Polished Concrete VS. Maple Floors, Make up My Mind for Me Please

I spotted this house tour on Sight Unseen and was immediately taken with it’s clean modern design, and functional simplicity.  The neutral palette makes my heart sing.  And I couldn’t love the dining room chairs more- natural leather is one of my most favorite materials and it pairs so well with the concrete floors!  Which brings me to what this post is reallly about.  Concrete floors.   I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect maple floors for our new home and in my research found out that engineered hardwood floors are made with all kinds of nasty chemicals that off-gas and are a health hazard.  WHAT?!  Not all of them are so toxic, but the green products that I’ve found are twice as expensive as a comparable non-green option I had my eyes on.  I had my heart set on hardwood but now that I’m looking at this house I’m revisiting the idea of concrete.  We had concrete floors in our Palm Springs house and it was so nice- cool during the hot summer months and easy to keep clean.  Plus they’re pretty much indestructible- which is a big deal when there’s a toddler hurricane residing in your home.  It’s a completely different look than the light maple I was planning on but it’s verrrry tempting!  What do you think?  Should we splurge for the green engineered hardwood or save our budget for the million other things we could spend on in the house and go with beautiful polished concrete?  Anyone with kids have concrete floors and love or hate them?  I do have a fear about Teo bonking his head on the concrete.  Ughhhh.  Would love to hear your thoughts!  xx- Sarah  {photos by Pippa Drummond}

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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