Spanish Shabby Chic
It’s been so hot in the last two weeks that I’ve decided to follow my bliss and share another passion: nesting in our new crib. After selling our house at the beach three years ago, it took us almost a year to find our next home. The “right house” meant a fixer-upper with good bones and a great community of like-minded people. Joni Mitchell said it best about L.A. when she sang, “they paved paradise to put up a parking lot.” This sentiment has unfortunately moved into residential properties, so much so, that old houses with tons of character are gutted and synthetically styled to create an upscale lifestyle. The question us, how do you create an authentic atmosphere when bling is king? Our search felt a little like looking for a needle in a haystack.
After growing up in Venice, and Toby in west London, we were looking for a laid back community with creative brothers and sisters and a great school. A tall order. Thankfully we found our house. A Fixer-Upper indeed. Check these photos out. The house used to be a Casino. During our first viewing, the owner lead us through rooms with gambling tables, video games, pinball and slot machines, on to a bedroom called “The Bordello,” then down a hallway, cheekily pointing to massive red chair which he called the “BJ Chair.” I can assure you, he did not mean blueberry jam, and that is precisely the reason why the house stayed on the market for over a year. Understandably, people just couldn’t get past the tiger stripe carpet, freakey deaky energy, and schizophrenic interior design. Never mind the “party hearty” stories that came as part of the viewing package. Needless to say, an entire field of sage was needed to smoke out the funky spirits.
Pre-renovation: the “Casino”
Almost famous: the “Bordello.”
Fast forward to two years later, and the house is now a home. It’s been a hectic year: renovating on a shoestring budget, going to college full time, blogging, and transitioning our son from preschool to kindergarten. Lord a mercy! We are by no means finished with the house, and that’s the fun part. The creative process is to grow into the house, rummaging through thrift shops and flea markets, finding pieces that are cheap yet charming. Every stick of furniture is either second hand or found on sale. We will seriously wait months for a rock bottom price. If we come back and it’s gone, shoot, it wasn’t for us. There is most certainly a rush when I enter a thrift shop. You have no idea of what you’ll find, and that’s the thrill. I actually feel good when I leave empty-handed because after years of doin’ the dang thang, I know what to buy and what to leave behind after buying shiznit that’s not useful. If I don’t need it, the bad boy stays on the shelf. Period. And so goes the life of conscientious editing.
Favorite deals in the dining area: $10.00 Knoll chairs and a $12.00 chandelier. Yeah baby!
Formerly a hallway, with the erm, blueberry jam chair. Now a blissful bathroom.
The once dark and dank movie room now doubles as a family room
A place to play and dream.
This was by no means an easy process. Toby, Jake, and I camped out in literally every room, waking up to builders demoing every morning for months. There is nothing cute about shoveling, sweeping, dusting, and vacuuming the detritus of a building site each day before you go to bed, but it was worth it. We had our work cut out for us, and we took one step at a time. By golly, I do believe we’ve been spat out from the other side of the barrel of a thunderous wave. Jake’s first day of school was this week, and tears flooded my eyes as we walked through the gates to his classroom. If you’ve ever read my “About Me” page, the fact that I made it through so many obstacles and now we’re able to give our son a home and a lovely school is such a victory. Every single challenge has been countered by an experience of growth, and I am forever grateful to be living my idea of the dream each day.