Haven’t We Done This Before?



Today, I have a totally non-kitchen related “life” update for you guys. Well, this story involves a kitchen, but not in the way you might expect.

You see, 2Chili and I both work in the Seattle area, but for the past few months we’ve been living solely in Bend, Oregon. We sold our Seattle house earlier in the year, and wanted to try living at our vacation place full-time.

While this was ideal in so many ways – we absolutely love Bend — we found ourselves in Seattle a lot, staying at hotels, and flushing cash in a non-tax deductible way. It was pretty clear we needed a permanent residence in the area, much as we’d like to not have such a residence. We are still happy we sold our other place, for a long, long list of reasons, but, we knew it was time to re-enter the market and have a “new” home in the area.

Enter “The Idea”

Friends that know us well seriously doubted our ability to stay out of the Seattle real estate market, mostly because we are known as the “remodelers.” We are fixers, and we don’t like to pay for other people to fix up for us. The Seattle market is very spendy, as most large West-coast cities are, and our “Eastside” preference only ups the price tag more. The only real way to afford a home around here is to find one in need of help and, well…help it.

imageWe have gutted two homes together, and I was pretty dead set against doing another one. So, “the idea” was to simply find a nice condo and make that our landing pad while in the area for work. Simple in concept, this proved to be very difficult. We just couldn’t swallow paying the price required for a nice high-rise condo. They are the price of a regular home (or more) without the privacy of a regular home. I guess that’s why the Jeffersons were so happy to be able to afford to be “Moving On Up/To the Eastside/To a De-Luxe Apartment in the Sky-high-high.” Those deluxe apartments are expensive!

Beaten down after shopping for a few weeks, we were on the verge of doing nothing. But then, while in town on business, 2Chili stumbled upon a unique property that had been on the market for exactly one day. An architect by trade, he knew it had potential, emailed me the listing, and made an appointment with our realtor to see it right away. One thing about buying and selling quite a few properties over the years is that we have a realtor we can call on a whim and she will be there!

Enter the Drama

No matter what people say, it is no longer a buyer’s market in the West! It is most definitely a seller’s market, with properties in certain imageprice ranges getting 4+ offers on the day they are listed – a present-day land rush!

Thankfully, this unique home had one major drawback, and it was something we could deal with – the kitchen is tiny. I’m talking studio apartment tiny. You have to suck in your belly to open the stove tiny. Not fit for your tiny grandma tiny. Oh, and dated too, but that is to be expected.

To us, this was great news! A house with potential that had some major drawbacks; surely that would detract other buyers, right? No, not so much. We wrote up a full price offer immediately only to find out there were other offers coming in. It was a long 24 hours to our expiration deadline before we found out that the sellers took ours…for no other reason than because it was full price and first.

I won’t get into the trials and tribulations that have taken place on a daily basis since our offer was accepted, but I will say I don’t know how realtors, mortgage brokers, or escrow agents manage to keep calm in this very crazy and irrational time. What a rollercoaster! Getting this deal done really came down to the wire (uncomfortably close down to the wire!) but I think know it will all be worth it in the end.

Drumroll, Please

So, what does this unique home that needs to be remodeled look like? Like nothing we have ever worked on before. It’s an authentic mid-century modern that has not been touched since it was built…in 1961.

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And here is the teeny tiny kitchen. Don’t you worry, 2Chili has a big plan and an even bigger  sledgehammer. This will be a killer kitchen in the end (and it won’t be in the same location).

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I am pinching myself a little bit. Our last home had a winter view of a lake and the Cascade mountains, but the limbs of the trees were always there, reminding you that they would be full with leaves come summer. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would own a home with this view. It is absolutely too good to be true. View homes do not come up very often, and when they do, they come with untouchable price tags.

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But you see, the house didn’t have this view when we put in the offer! It had a view, yes, but not this exact view. The power lines you see front and center were covered by trees – so much so that we didn’t know they were there – and at some point the city came along and pruned us a much better view. Hooray for power lines! (In case you are wondering, that is not Seattle – but  rather its sister city Bellevue, which is located to the east across Lake Washington.)

And that, my friends, is the story of how and why we are back to dual-location living. I expect I will be a little less frequent with posts on the blog, or at least a little more “spurty” for a while. You’ll probably get more recipes during times when we’re in Bend, and more commentary during times when we’re in the Seattle area. I suppose I will blog the kitchen remodel – who among us doesn’t like to watch someone transform a kitchen?!

Thank you for letting me share this awfully wordy story, and for understanding if the blog frequency decreases a bit for a while!

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