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…
Let’s start with the basic house stats:
1571 sq ft, plus an extra large garage on an 8,700 sq ft lot
3 bedrooms, 3 baths
Built in 1960 and from what I can tell, mostly untouched since. It will need all new systems (electrical, plumbing, HVAC, furnace), the pool will need to be re-plastered and new pool equipment installed. There’s a crack in the slab that will need to be repaired. We’ll sink a big chunk of our budget into things you won’t be able to see. BUT, we’ll also be updating every single surface of it- so allllll of the fun stuff too! Ok, now for the tour!
We’re hoping to vault the ceilings and take down all the walls in the living space to create an open floor plan, which will allow us to expand the kitchen and add a large island, and then divide up the rest of the space into dining/living spaces. We’ll need an engineer to dig into the project and tell us what’s possible (anything is possible with enough money but when you start removing supporting walls you can run into expensive challenges so we may have to compromise in the end, but we’re hoping we can swing it!)
We love the giant sliders that go out to the backyard and the fireplace lines are classic and timeless (although the stone has to go for our purposes…more on that later!). That popcorn ceiling though. No bueno.
Beside the kitchen is a laundry area and a small bathroom that I forgot to photograph. We’ll be reconfiguring that space and hopefully adding a bit of square footage from the garage to create a proper laundry room and a flex room. I imagine the flex room will become either a playroom or an office space, depending on what we decide works best when it’s finished. It will have a closet though so it could be called a bedroom, which is great for resale (not that we intend to sell it, but it’s good to always have that in the back of your mind when doing a project like this unless you’re 100% sure you’ll never want to sell it).
This bathroom is a challenge… it’s narrow and small, made worse by the large vanity. I think we’re going to keep the footprint of it the same for budget reasons (it’s more expensive when you have to move plumbing around). But we should be able to make it feel larger with some different design choices and modern updates. The bathrooms are going to be as budget friendly as possible for us so that we can *hopefully* splurge on custom cabinets or really nice windows. All of this is very TBD while we work out numbers but these are the things you have to think about when you’re renovating a house that needs EVERYTHING and you don’t want to overspend.
The bedrooms are very basic and for now our intentions are just to redo floors, windows, drywall, etc. Nothing major happening in these two bedrooms.
The master bedroom has a funky vanity in it, and feels a bit small. We’re going to add doors to the backyard and reconfigure the vanity area to create a walk in closet and expand the master bathroom. There’s a strange amount of wasted space in this house- like the entire area behind the vanity. You’d think that it would be a closet you’d access from the bathroom or something but it’s not. Just drywalled air. haha!
I think the words that came out of my mouth when I saw the master bath were OOOF. And then Ay yay yay. Its small and cramped and the layout is weird. We’ll be reworking this while also trying to leave the footprint as close to possible so that we don’t have to move too much plumbing. I can’t wait to see this transformed because I think it’s going to be incredible!
Doesn’t that pool look so inviting?! Not yet. But it will! A replaster and some pool equipment and just add water it’ll be good to go! We’ll have to cut back the sunflower garden and redo all of the landscaping. The front exterior needs some serious tweaking as well and I have a plan in mind, but I’ll save that for down the road as well!
OK, that’s the house! What do you think? I wish I could do one of those Instagram story surveys to see how many of you think we’re bonkers. Or maybe I don’t! HA! Either way, this is happening and we couldn’t be more excited! I so hope you’ll enjoying following along in this adventure with us and if there’s anything specific you’d like to see or read about during this reno process… please chime in below! XX- Sarah