With Escrow Closed, And Keys In Hand, This House Is Mine



Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while know that I’ve been on a sometimes excruciating eight month journey to find and buy a house. I’m happy–no, make that overjoyed–to report that my quest has come to a happy conclusion. Today I got the keys, and took a walk through what I hope will be my home for many years to come. And looking back to the want list which I initially gave my realtor, I’m pleased to say that this house ticks every box. It’s a vintage 1930 Spanish revival in a neighborhood of similar houses. At 1200 square feet, it’s a modest house indeed, but the perfect size for me. And at just over 100K, the price was nearly perfect as well. The back yard, large enough to be useful and small enough to be intimate, is already charming.

Of course, when you buy an 8o-year-old house, you’d better be prepared to have a long to-do list. And I am, but nothing about it seems overwhelming or likely to be very costly (I hope). It is clean and freshly painted and would be ready to move into if you really loved the institutional beige every room is painted. I really don’t, so add painting to the list. The experience of owning a home and making it my own is new to me, and thrilling, and I’m brimming over with ideas. Consider the photos in this post to be the “before” shots.  In six months or so I’ll post “after” photos to let you in on the transformation. Wish me well, and note that there are more photos after the jump.


Photos: Top–the facade is a bit stark, but I have ideas for warming it up. My thought is to replace the lawn and box hedge with drought-tolerant Mediterranean plants.  The house next door is nearly identical and likely built by the same contractor. Above: the living room as viewed from the foyer.



The kitchen is kind of basic, with cupboards which appear to be original to the house. Any ideas about how to make this kitchen both prettier and more useful? I'm thinking that my approach in decorating will be to enhance the Spanish revival style.

View of the back yard and nearly-new garage, which unlike the garage of a previous house on which I'd made an offer, actually has a roof.

View of the dining room through to the living room. Should the chandelier go or stay?

The two bedrooms are nearly identical. I wonder why the seller thought to put carpet over the hardwood floors.

It doesn't make for a striking picture, but the new tankless water heater is a nice upgrade.

This side yard was once the site of a narrow driveway leading to the garage. Since it's now not accessible to a vehicle, the nicely finished garage will serve as storage, a studio, possibly even a summer bedroom.

21 responses

  1. Congratulations, Gary! You have a small piece of the pie, California pie that is!
    I love stucco, and I love, love, love, the fireplace! And the yard, and you already have roses!

    Some people like to walk on carpet rather than hard wood floors especially in winter, something to think about.

    I would definitely keep the chandalier! Who doesn’t need some bling to brighten things up! I like eclectic design including well loved art work, found objects, thrift store rescues and wonders, garage sale finds, all coming together to create your own home. Enjoy the ride, and welcome home, Gary!

  2. If the chandelier needs to go…..I could find a spot for it……so now you know my vote….I would keep it. Jane

  3. Yep, love the front room, aaaalllll the light, the chandelier, and I even like the original cabinets (my first word when seeing that picture was CUTE!) but I know you’re looking for a different kitchen look. You’ve already got new windows, and yes, tankless. I got tankless put in last summer, tho they set my temp to 120º. I upped it to 125º but that’s hot enough for me. Anyway, CUTE house, UNREAL price (whodda EVER thought that’d happen in CA?!) and you’ll have it amazing in no time. Hope you’ll take down the gloss to flat or eggshell on the paint. I’ve got some great window coverings (assorted sizes and some would for sure fit) for your place that you might want to take a look at. Email me at mad4manhattan@yahoo.com

    I second the nice wording in Sky ANN’s comment, “Welcome home!”

  4. Congratulations Gary. The house looks wonderful. Can’t wait to actually see it.

    A different color paint will do wonders for the kitchen.

    Replace the chandalier with a nice Danish Paul Henningsen lamp.

  5. fabUlous gary! i love the chandelier but i can see i man be out-voted…i’d hold on to it, maybe the ‘summer bedroom’ will need a little glamore BUT if you don’t want it, I DO ;o)

  6. Congratulations on the new home! So happy for you and can’t wait to see more pictures when you’re “done” with it.

  7. Congrats on the new house, Gary! I love Spanish-style stucco homes. We actually have a few up here in the mountains of NC, but it’s clearly not the preferred style. Before moving here I lived in Miami, and there you find tons and tons of Spanish-style stucco homes.

    I vote to take down the chandelier. They are constant cobweb catchers. Besides, I’m not sure it goes with the look of the house.

    Re the kitchen: no room for an island? It looks kind of cramped. We had a kitchen somewhat similar in size, and it’s no fun for more than one person to be in there. You could always convert the garage to a kitchen if you want more space. Or is it too inconveniently located? (May be too expensive as well. We totally gutted and remodeled our kitchen, and that cost around $15K).

    Can’t wait to see the “after” photos.

  8. Hi Gary. I read your blog all the time but have never posted. I have been waiting with baited breath for your house to appear. Congratulations! LOVE the chandelier–you can work with it in any type pf decor. However, it is certainly up to you. Love your house–it will be so much fun to decorate–and that YARD–so much potential. Lorri

    • I love the chandelier. With an eclectic approach–one could decorate around it with any type of decor. It is up to you, ultimately. You could sell it on Ebay for $$$. Love your house. congratulations!

  9. Congrats on finaly finding your dream home! The house gardens look lovely! Have fun painting! 🙂 Me & my husband bought our dreamhouse 6 months ago. It is 200 m2. We also love it! Nice house! 🙂 Greetings from Belgium! 🙂

  10. Home Sweet Home ~ Enjoy your new home Gary!

    Check out the great! book by Stephen Ash: ” The Healing Home”,

    It’s written with a lot of love and care and is a very special book for you now that

    you have your first home!


  11. About that chandelier…now the community has me thinking about your options, and there are some great ones. I think Robert Starkey’s comment about the chandelier is right on. It is beautiful but doesn’t go with the period of the house, which is 1930 bungalow, I would think.

    Going online and just searching Amazon led to some great and inexpensive choices. With that great fireplace, and the feeling of the home, I would probably go with a hanging Tiffany style geometric lamp. There is a long time local artist in Woodside who will do a custom commission for you if you like. I’ll get his contact info for you, Gary.

    The suggested book, The Healing Home, may be at the library; it looks like it might be out of print; and it looks like a great suggestion. This is going to be fun!

  12. Thanks for all your suggestions and good wishes. I think the chandelier will go from the dining room, but it may reappear in the bathroom or whatever sort of room the garage turns into. Began choosing paint colors today. Fun and scary!

  13. Congrats, Uncle Gary! It’s been a while since I’ve been over here to check out what you’re cooking lately and just now discovered this great news. Yea! Moving in and fixing a place up can be lots of fun, despite the hard work. 🙂

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