Sunday, May 16, 2010

Transformations Begin

When we bought the house it was unpainted.  As we prepared for the painters, we realized it was more unfinished than we thought.  The siding was dirty and less than half the caulking was complete.  There were missing trim pieces and damaged areas as well.  Andy went to work fixing and finishing trim and I literally washed the entire exterior of the house, garages and barn.  It was as if the siding had sat in a mud pit prior to being installed - perhaps it had.  It was during this process that we fully realized the enormity of the task at hand- "the dream".  At times, the thought of renovating this behemoth into an inn seems impossible.  As I scrubbed and climbed ladders in what seemed like endless torture, I kept reminding myself to keep my eye on the ball and how all this will be worth it when it is done.  This thought occurs to me quite frequently after the last 18 months - and currently we are only just beginning the interior! 

Here are a few Photos of the house at pre-purchase and after painting in May - June 2009.  (And for those of you wondering - yes, we hired painters.  We are not that crazy!)One of our main targets for renovation was the main entry doors and columns.  The house was trying too hard to be a 'craftsman' without really succeeding and we felt that a more rugged country style vernacular would fit the area as well as our theme for a 'French Country Style" Inn.  But, more on that later.

This is the entry courtyard. We selected colors based on inspiration from a trek we took in the Alsace region of France in August 2007. The homes were darker colors, almost blending into the landscape. It is really cool to see the house from across the valley now - instead of a white beacon of unfinished glory, it looks like a clump of trees!

After looking back at these photos, I sometimes wonder what we were thinking. The romance of the offer and purchase - were we blind?! Look at this place! But, then as I look around and see the transformations, I keep telling myself to believe - to just keep going!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

No Contingencies

The lower price on Craig's List came with one very important catch.  The offer had to be 'no contingencies'.  Since we did not have a pile of cash just laying around, this meant making an offer and assuming that we could list our house and other property, successfully sell both and close on all three deals in the same time frame.  With the economy crashing around us, this seemed daunting.  I called my mother up and remember telling her what was happening and feeling a sense of frantic panic unlike ever before.  I was freaking out.  This was a really big moment in my life and I was very aware of that.  She calmly told me to just believe that things would work out, not to be afraid and conservative - the way Andy and I usually were - and just take the risk.  I hung the phone up and remember gathering some candles, turning on Enya, searching for anything symbollic of spirituality that I could find in the house and sitting in my living room staring out the window, trying to clear my head and listen to my heart.  It was pretty amazing because as I sat there everthing became very clear to me.  I actually remember hearing in my head a voice that spoke to the house in which I sat "You have been a wonderful home, a great house, but it is time for me to go now."

I called Andy up at work and told him we were going to work with my step-sister-in-law, Kelly (newly in the real estate business) and put the properties on the market.  These would be Kelly's first listings.  It could not have been worse timing though for her as she and her family were just about to leave for a vacation in Disney World.  So, I worked with her and her mentor to accomplish the listings.  Within a few hours, both properties were live on the internet.  I drove down to the office to get Andy to sign some paperwork and as I was getting back in the car, my mother called.  She and my stepdad Ken had decided to buy our cabin property!  Wow!  I just sat in the car in disbelief.  By the time I got home, there were two appointments to show our house - the next day.  I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off - cleaning, arranging, decorating - how do you get a house ready to show for sale in a day?!  So, the next day, these two couples toured the house.  By the end of that day, we had an offer from one of them!  Unbelievable.  Andy and I could barely handle how ridiculously crazy this all seemed.  So, that weekend we started to plan in earnest what all this meant - selling our home- the home at which we were married in the back yard 10 years earlier.  The idea of sorting through everything, packing, moving to Oregon, finding an apartment, what to do about work - what would they think, it was frankly overwhelming.