We bought a new house! I’ve been dying to tell you more about it after I briefly mentioned it here, but it’s been such a whirlwind. While I’m SUPER grateful and excited about it, can we be real? The house buying process is like WHOA. But let’s focus on the good, shall we? Here’s a peek at it now (we’ll call these the “before” photos)…
You may be thinking…
Don’t you already have a Palm Springs house?
Yes, we already have a house in Palm Springs that we have LOVED living in it for the last four years (FOUR YEARS!!! How did that happen?). We’ll be listing it for sale soon and I’ll be sure to share photos, but here’s the deal. As you know, we love Palm Springs so much that what was once meant to be a weekend house turned into a I-never-wanna-leave-this-place house. We were spending most of our time in Palm Springs, and increasingly little time in Beverly Hills. Given that, and that we both work from home and run my business from home, we needed a bit more space. Plus, that house is already decorated and there are no more projects to do. We wanted some fun do-able projects. Another motivating factor: My health stuff (see here, here + here). I’ve been unable to eat out or travel as much as I’d like to, so we realized that in order to socialize with other humans (aka friends and family) that we needed to bring the party to us (game on!) and wanted a place with larger kitchen, more entertaining areas and plenty of space for overnight guests.
So you bought one of those cute mid-century house like the ones you always post?
Not exactly. Where we ended up is so unexpected that I’m still surprised. As you know, there’s nothing I love more than going to open houses in Palm Springs. It’s SO fun. You get to see so many amazing architectural gems and I love sharing them on Instagram. We always assumed when we bought a different house someday that we would end up in one of those houses, but when it came down to it, for the price we were looking to spend, none of them had the space we were looking for. Most were the same square footage as our current (first home) or just a little more, but for more than twice the price.
Okay, so what kind of house is it?
It’s a Spanish-style house! I know. Built in the early ‘80s, which is not known as a historically interesting time architecturally. But the space won us over. Plus, I realized that many of my favorite – and most iconic — places in Palm Springs were Spanish-style exteriors: The Parker, The Viceroy (nee Avalon) but with midcentury décor. Thanks to Jonathan Adler and Kelly Wearstler, I realized I could create my own midcentury-modern interior if I wanted, to give it that Palm Springs feel. And that excited me a lot! The possibilities are endless and I am SO excited about sharing the decorating process with you as we go and getting your input along the way. I also think that this style of house, currently more traditional, is one that more of you likely live in, so it will be fun to share takeaways on how you can add that Palm Springs style to your space, no matter where you live. And I like the challenge and adventure!
How did you find it?
It’s kind of a funny story. We were not actively looking for a new house, but have loved going to open houses for years now for fun. I joke that it’s not my favorite hobby, it’s my only hobby. Seriously, I’m obsessed. One Sunday a year and a half ago, we were driving around and there was an open house. Fred Baby asked me if I wanted to see it and I was like I guess. There was no yellow or pink door, no groovy breeze block, so I was just like If you want.
We went in to what we will call House A and the only thing that came to came to mind was Regis Philbin: It’s HUGE (said with a silent “h”)! As we went down a hall with 5 bedrooms, I literally said to Fred Baby, I don’t get it, you’d have to have like 10 kids to live here. Who is this house for?! Palm Springs isn’t known as a huge spot to raise kids and many retirees prefer to downsize. We just didn’t get it. I think we spent all of three minutes there and left.
Cut to six months ago. There was an open house right next door to this house. We’ll call this House B. We went in and were floored by the space, especially the double-height living room. It was beyond what we were looking to spend (not that we were looking period) and not in the style we’re typically drawn to, but we could see the potential. So much so that we set up a private showing, even though we weren’t really looking to buy. At the showing, there were lots of pros and cons, but again it was beyond what we were looking for. But over the next weeks and months, we kept talking about what it might be like if we were to buy it. It had been on the market for a long time already and the realtor said they would entertain any offers, so after another private showing and much discussion, we agreed if we could get it for a much lower price than asking price, we would go for it.
Our good friend is a real estate agent, so we worked with him to submit a lowball offer. Apparently too low. The homeowners didn’t even counter our offer. We felt like we were on a bad episode of House Hunters! Of course we were hoping they would counter back, we’d meet in the middle, and then call it a day, but if life happened like we expected that wouldn’t be much fun, would it 😉 Eventually, we increased our offer a little and wrote a personal letter explaining why we loved the house.
They didn’t even counter back. Which annoyed the you know what out of us, but we kept telling ourselves not to take it personally. We didn’t want to pay asking price because we knew the house needed a good amount of work, and that would have put us in an uncomfortable situation.
But once you put in a bid, even though you tell yourself not to get emotionally invested, you can’t help yourself. I was already imagining our Christmas tree in the living room! So then we started pondering if we should pay closer to the asking price. Mind you, we drove by the house every day to see it from the outside and debate the pros and cons (and by debate the pros and cons I mean dream of what it would be like to live there). Note: Nobody was living there — the owners had it as a second home. On one of these many trips, there was an open house for the house next door. It was the house we’d seen over a year earlier, House A.
It was the same square footage as House B, but listed for a lot less. A-ha, we thought Bargaining power! So we went in to scope it out to see how good of a comp it was. Well, when we walked in it was like a completely different house. It had totally been redone since we last saw it over a year prior. There were things we never noticed like an interior atrium and a huge partially covered outdoor entertaining area (I think they had covered those spaces in fabric last time, which is why we didn’t even notice them before and why we thought of it as dark). All of the bathrooms had been redone, the kitchen was new, and everything was newly painted, the whole shebang. Sure, it wasn’t what we would have picked out on our own materials-wise, but we could see the possibilities this time around. Suddenly, we were surprised at how much we liked THIS house. And it was substantially less than the one next door. We decided to put in an offer on HOUSE A.
At the same time, we went back for another showing at HOUSE B. If we were going to pay closer to the asking price, which we really didn’t feel comfortable doing because we knew the amount of work it still needed, we needed a much clearer look at what would need to be fixed/renovated/etc. Would we be able to live there without renovating — and be happy? We were starting to get the feeling the owners didn’t even want to sell the house. We’ve been in the same situation before (with a rental) and it’s just very frustrating and a waste of time. We do tend to believe in signs, and initially things kept bringing us back to that house, but suddenly we were getting a lot of resistance.
House A was now in our minds as well. And we were seeing a lot of pros. What to do? What to do?
It was time to figure out what we wanted and to make a decision. So we set up a viewing of HOUSE A, followed immediately after by HOUSE B. Fred Baby was hesitant about even seeing HOUSE B again because in our minds we’d let it go and he was afraid if we went back in, especially right after HOUSE A, that we would want HOUSE B. And really it was more money than we were comfortable spending.
So we went to HOUSE A. And couldn’t believe all we would be getting for that price. And since it has just been renovated, the fixes that we would want to make would be mostly cosmetic – paint, décor, things we could handle on our own. Sure, it wasn’t exactly the flooring and countertops we would have picked on our own, but it was totally livable and we could improve those things down the line.
Then, hesitantly, we went next door to HOUSE B. When we walked in, I was again taken aback by the living room and its double-height ceilings, and could envision Christmas in that room. But as we began to walk through the rest of the house, all I saw were flaws and all the work that would need to be done to get it up to shape. And it was the type of work where you felt like if you opened up a wall, you’d be afraid of what you might find. A potential money pit. Which made us super nervous. It was crystal clear that HOUSE A was the choice for us.
Lucky for us, the owner of HOUSE A was very eager to sell and we got a great deal on it (the price per square is half of anything else in Palm Springs!).
And while there’s a lot we intend to fix right away so that it’s more of our style – I’m looking at you brown accent walls, carpeting, and fireplaces, we couldn’t be happier to finally be in our new home and make those updates.
I don’t know if you believe in signs, but we definitely do. When we were trying to decide between House A and House B, we had offers in on both places at the same time. One day when I was taking a shower, Fred Baby came in to tell me the offers had been officially submitted. Even though we’d talked about it, I asked him to tell me again what our offers were on each place because it was all getting jumbled in my anxiety-ridden mind. So on the steamy shower glass door, he wrote the amounts, one beneath the other. As the steam dissipated, only one of the numbers remained. The offer for HOUSE A. If ever we needed a sign, we got one.
And it stayed there until closing day.
I’ll be sharing more photos and moodboards soon of what we’d like to do decorating-wise and I can’t wait to get your input! Since most of our furniture is being used for staging purposes at the house we’re about to put up for sale, we currently only have one tiny sofa, a dining table that’s too small for the room, two beds and two desks, which all looks pretty ridiculous in the new house, whose proportions are larger than we’re accustomed to. So this should be interesting…
Any questions, thoughts, input? Would love to hear! Tips on where to start when you have the whole house to decorate? I can’t wait to get some paint on those walls + know wallpaper and lighting will do wonders. Let’s get this party started!
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