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House Hunting

House Hunting: It’s DONE Y’all

Now that the house purchase is complete, we will happily be bringing the HOUSE HUNTING series to a close.
(… until Sarah decides to move again, which could happen any minute knowing her crew.)

But as for us, let’s have a cheer since we are donezo! I’ve never been more grateful.

The news came in last Friday that we officially closed (10 days and ten thousand headaches beyond our contract close date.) We were pulled through the mire a bit on the nuances of lending protocol, so it was hard to feel anything more than mere relief. The champagne is still chillin’ in the fridge.

Thank God for our real estate agent, Joyce Gottlieb though, who I can’t recommend enough. She was super savvy and tough as nails on hard core sellers and less than stellar funding agents. God bless her! I wish I could buy 50 more houses with her.

So, here we are! We own a home, and it’s literally a fairytale of an entrance. It’s like the Southern California version of the little cottage in the woods that lured Hansel and Gretel. Though I promise I won’t be tossing any children into cauldrons up in here.

storybook front entry

In slightly anti-climatic news, we agreed to allow the sellers to remain in the home for an expressed 30 day period after the closing. We heard that we may have access as soon as next Friday. Fingers are crossed for that, since I’m chomping at the bit to get inside and I’ve already purchased a gigantic piece of rattan furniture (a total wacko thrift store score cause that’s how I roll) for some of the SoCal style that this home calls for.

I can’t wait to style the newest batch of TEOT Pillows on it.

Until then, I have upwards of 200 cellphone photos to pour through, but I cannot WAIT to get inside the emptied out version of our new home, devoid of the Safari-luxe style of the sellers, and onto a blank canvas. I’m starting to brainstorm a bit, and so far my fantasies are a bit unbridled. Dude already said no to a swinging hammock in the Sunroom. Please let his mind be changed.

This is the future hammock room. Upon close inspection, I realized that this room has been sponge painted… and it made me laugh because it’s hideous and horrible and just weeks ago I was trying to convince everyone that this faux finish deserved a new reputation. I still believe it needs a new approach.

Sunroom at shaniqua

Sunroom at shaniqua 2

But for this room, I’m contemplating paying some homage to my southern roots, and painting that beadboard ceiling a plantation porch blue, as seen here.

Of course, I don’t even know what we will put in this room if not a hammock. It will take some living in this house for sure, to see how we spread into these spaces. We clearly do not need multiple dining tables as the current homeowners have. Boy, I can’t wait to open all of those windows and capture the ocean breeze as it creeps up the canyon! We’re only 3 blocks from the Pacific Ocean!

Another space that I’m all geeked about, besides the dudebar that I shared with you last week, is the art studio. I’m not sure how this coin landed on heads, but Heffe volunteers up this extra space that was carved out behind the garage to me and his sweet daughter, my right hand / partner in artistic crime, for our studio. Again, once we start living, we’ll see what the living brings… but I’m thinking this is TEOT headquarters for sure, especially since the demand for more pillow inventory is upon us. Can’t wait to build out some storage shelving, a little spot for photography and of course a desk and inspiration board to tack up all my fancies. One day, we’ may even carve out a spot for a pottery wheel. #dreamsarefree

shaniqua art studio

art studio 1

Maybe we’ll get adventurous and take a sledgehammer to that bathroom too!

The short story version of this home, and how we were able to snag it in this redonk market is that it has some structural issues that were scaring buyers away left and right. The sellers had been under contract more than a handful of times and each time the deal got away from them when the buyers discovered undisclosed information about some settling that has occurred over the past 50 years.

By the time we came along, the seller’s agent was shoving engineer’s reports and buyer inspections into our hands at the mere mention of possibility. You may recall that I started swooning and acting like a maniac over this home back in Feb. I practically tricked Jeff into going to see it since it was listed as a 2br and we needed no less than 3 for our fam situation.

Between the fact that the home was falling down a hill and its lack of legit bedrooms (despite its rather large footprint) we wrote it off.

But we just kept coming back to it, and as born witness on this very blog, we had a heck of a time competing with all cash buyers on every other house that we put a bid in on. So, along with our genius agent, we submitted an intent to purchase at a price that we felt accommodated the worth of the home taking into account the massive repairs it warranted. So basically, we got what we felt like was a deal, and they finally got to sell their house, albeit not for what they thought it was worth. We had several consultations with structural and geological engineers, and all of the reports were studied until we found some peace in the risk of buying a home that is settling into the ground. And we went for it.

Anywhozitz, that is behind us! YAY.

Here is a look from the master into what was once a third bedroom. The seller had converted it into the mister’s dressing room and office by opening the wall with an arch. We feel that we can easily close this up and bring the hallway door towards us to reclaim that space for one of Heffe’s youngins. Word on the street is that this will be an Xbox dungeon for gamers only. I can’t wait to find out if I’m going to have to walk by closed doors, or if we will be able to satisfy the carnal need for Call of Duty decor without compromising aesthetic palpability. We shall see.


There will also be a struggle with the built-ins, and I would love to hear your opinion. Part of me wants to remove them completely. They are uber traditional in stature , and they are taking up the only good portion of wall that we have in the whole living room. Meanwhile, our only choice for mounting the largest tv of all time is either within the shelves of this monster, on the fireplace (where there is currently no mantle) orrrrr we have discussed a hidden screen/projector combo.

built ins at shaniqua

This is the room it sits in.

living room silver spring


This post has grown so long, I won’t launch into the landscaping and my dire hopes to claim some access from the garage into the foyer, nor will I bore you just yet with manometer readings and what a settling house on the terraces of the Pacific Palisades really means for the structural stability of this home if we indeed ever get rain again here in Southern California. We’ll talk about that another day, I’m sure!

But thank you so much for bearing with me and for allowing me to relish in this excitement. It’s truly an unbelievable house and I’m so excited to see how the dude, the homies and I turn it into our home! <3

For more pics of the home, see SILVER SPRING & DON’T JINX IT.


House Hunting: Don’t Jinx It

storybook front entry

I’ve gone a little silent on the House Hunting front for a bit. I think that the dude wants me to keep quiet about it, in case something terrible happens, but WE ARE IN ESCROW.

My fantasy home with the blue window panes is our home!

Holy crap, I can’t believe it. I will be sure to do some storytelling as we get settled, but this is where we ended up! We’re pushing paper and giving the homeowners time to get packed up and moved out!

It’s so close that I can taste it.

gate and birds of paradise

perfectly framed bonus space in kitchen


love the blue windows

living room silver spring


UPDATE: This House Hunt DONE Y’all.


House Hunting: The Renovation that Never Shall Be

Are we all getting bored of this house hunt yet? Lord knows I am.

The last offer was void of the normal adrenaline rush. I mean, it’s always a roller coaster, and believe me — when the news came in that we had lost, again (to all cash offers, again) there was a reaction that bordered on intense…

Suffice to say, we’re over it. With this home on el Hito, we wanted the house hunt to be done. With each offer – we feel less and less emotion about the actual house and more and more emotion about the damn pursuit just being over, so that we can get to the part where we are living, cooking,  training a puppy, organizing a garage, and setting up our play areas.

So, we didn’t get it and there was some frustration, but then we immediately bounced back and moved along, and we just keep going back to the faith that what is meant to be will be. Perhaps there is still hope for my blue paned fantasy home.

At any rate, during the time between when we put in our offer and when we found out that we didn’t get the home – I started to brainstorm the renovation that would be needed. Here is the inspiration board that came together.



House Hunting: It Goes On and On and On

Remember that house I said we could flip… the one that I said I felt little emotion over. I could live there or not… 

Well, we threw our hat into the ring with an offer. It’s not very much unlike the other home on the same street that we recently put an offer in on. It’s missing a few features, namely the larger corner lot – but it also has a few characteristics that we prefer.

Interestingly, despite the similarities, this home scored pretty low on our scoresheet system. Transitioning from “meh” to brainstorm mode has been interesting. I went to view the home a second time and it was great to get a bit more time inside to wrap my head around the space. The homeowner has lived there since the home was built over 40 years ago. It’s in pristine shape but her touches from 90s are a little distracting.

The upside in all of this is that we’ll have a fun renovation to follow here on the blog if we can land the deal. So, here we go again, with fingers crossed.

Here is what she looks like.


House Hunting: Determining Priorities with a Scoresheet


We hit the open house circuit this weekend. The home pictured above is the only interesting Palisades home in our budget range to hit the market since we learned we lost out on the last interesting home that hit the market. What a game this is! This open house was a busy one, there are far more buyers than there are homes at the moment.

My approach has changed. I have just about zero emotional interest in this home, but if we live here, that will be fine too. I told the dude tonight as we were swapping our thoughts on its merits, “I’d MUCH rather flip this home than live in it.” If I were just flipping it, I’d know exactly what choices to make when swapping out the carpet and the awful 1997 kitchen cabinets. To live in it, I can’t identify what to do as easily.

But we can get into flip fantasies another day.

I’ve received enough questions about the scoresheet recently, to feel confident enough to share it with you now. I believe this has been a godsend as we navigate through our process. Here is what it looks like, including the most recent home, pictured above. Her 52 point score might indicate my lacking lust!

House Hunt Score The Estate of Things

We know that compromise is required when it comes to our budget and our options. So this list items might seem silly at first glance, but here’s my thinking.

First, I listed out EVERY little thing that we could think of that we cared about, from the Must Haves to the Would Be Nices, and I even included some of the dreamy things, eg Seven Wanders Brewing , which will accommodate the dude’s obsession with homebrew, and Room to Park the Camper, which is my obsession with our poor derelict vintage shasta camper that is waiting for us to have the space to fix her up. Suffice to say, we thought of everything we wanted.

This led up to something like 32 variables for our house hunt. (32 variables we would never bore our realtor with, but nonetheless each one affects our thought process for every home.)

After that, I made up this formula that is perhaps genius, perhaps arbitrary (I never know with math) but the idea was to prioritize each item with a scoring system 1-5 per line item. Toggle your priorities from 1-5 until your final score equals up to 100. We did it this way:

5 = Must Haves
4 = Strongly Preferred
3 = Preferred, Could Live Without
2 = Would be Nice
1 = Only in Dreams!

We each went through and assigned our own values. Now, I’m not going to hide the fact that this part freaked me out. Because initially – and probably without thinking about it too much, the dude prized his Pew Room (which he where he gets online with his dork friends that he has worked with all day long and together they save planets by killing robots and dancing the safety dance on top of these jetskis that hover, aka “hoverskicraft….“) above having room for all of us plus future family growth. Pssshhhh.

When I confronted him about this, it was like a scene from The Last Man on Earth except not anywhere near funny. Just totally man v. woman. We worked together. It’s hard to see the future.

So, that’s it. Once we had that all numbered out to 100, we pulled out the maxes, to make sure we could see a combined score that represents the uncompromisable differences between the two of us – and now we have a system where for each house, based on a yes or no – it spits out a score for me, for him and for the compromise to see how each home stacks up to others.

The other El Hito, (the recent home with the double white doors that we put an offer on) was a tie score for both of us and a solid B grade overall. So, you can see why we were so into it, and bummed when our offer fell through. We know that we don’t need an A+ because yeah, sure not everyone gets to have all of their dreams come true all of the time… But at least we know we are looking for a passing grade! And I’m thrilled that we can more easily see why when one or the other of us is really into one.








House Hunting: Onward and Up the Hill

Front Door from inside

After driving through Topanga on the way home from Soccer the other weekend, Heffe and I played a little game of guess how far from the PCH our most recent house interest is. I was sure it would take ten to fifteen minutes to cruise up the hill, but he was right. It took no more than five. And what we found up there was an incredible little neighborhood, and a promising home for sale.

The neighborhood, known as Marquez Knolls, features a slew of perfectly pristine midcentury ranch homes of varying affect. The ocean and horizon tilt and turn with the curvy roads and rock outcroppings jut out of a hill lined with the pinot vines of a hilltop winery. It all makes me feel real excited about puppy walks and nearby trailheads.

Palisades Hillside Winery

I made my way over to the agent’s open house on Tuesday to test our assumptions, and found it to be pretty feasible. We immediately scheduled a second tour for Heffe. There are 4 legit bedrooms, a lovely walkway that I immediately noted would be ideal for outdoor entertaining and it all sits on a rather large corner lot. The home is perched well above street level and some old dowdy hillside bushes. Taking advantage of the yard space will require some creative thinking. Even our agent commented that the current landscaping needed a deep rethink. I’ve pulled a Google streetview for your reference and for mine!

corner lot


The home was built in the early seventies and has a unique blend of midcentury ranchalow with a Metrie-like door and a funny little courtyard alongside a Spanish style roof with archways here and there. This mix of style has an eccentric quality that I feel will play well to our sensibilities and is decidedly SoCal. A mix of Italian marble and porcelain tile on the floor are my least favorite feature and luckily Heffe agrees that a new hardwood floor throughout is a worthy pursuit.

We scored the home with our handy house hunting score formula and she is a solid B. She will be an A+ once we have remodeled the master bath and added a backyard shed for art and homebrew hobbies.

We are currently holding our breath for news on the offer we put in. Inventory is still quite low and thus we were one of 9 offers made. We will know more soon. I can already tell you that I am wrapped up in ideas. If it falls through, there will be despair. What a wicked game this has been so far.

Here is a little tour via MLS. The pictures piqued us initially but they really don’t do the home or the hood justice.