One Foot In and One Foot Out

birdhousesLife is full of unexpected twists and turns.  By the time you’ve aged up enough to understand that these are the events that create growth opportunities and keeps life from becoming boring routine, you know that the anxiety which always often accompanies these circumstances is something that will eventually work itself out.  You won’t be hyperventilating forever and you will eventually get a solid night’s sleep.

We are preparing to downsize.  ‘We’ is me and my husband of 35 years (well, 37 total if you count the two years we were together before we got married).  Downsize doesn’t refer to our weight (although we could both stand to drop a few pounds and likely will be at optimal weight by the time this particular adventure is over).

We thought we’d be downsizing twelve months ago, when we sold lots of our furniture, packed up 50% of our household clutter goods, hauled it out to our oversized garage, and then paid a professional stager to come in and make our home look beautifully appealing to ‘the masses’, all in preparation to list our home for sale.

But the most unexpected thing happened.  We listed it with a highly successful and well-known listing agent who taught us a huge lesson:  No matter how highly regarded a listing agent is, they are really NEVER working for you, the seller.  SELLERS BEWARE!  That’s all I’m going to say about that (unless you give me a glass of wine, and then I’ll tell you the whole outrageous story).

So, long story short, we UNlisted the house, yanked out all the staging and decided to stay put for a while to re-think the entire adventure. I got a whole bunch of new furniture out of it, so really it was okay.

We raised three children in this home.  And none of them live here any longer.  All of them wish we wouldn’t sell, because for them, this property is home.  But in 37 years, hubby and I have had many homes (9), all over the country, as relocations were part of the career building. And before that, I had a childhood that included several major moves around the country.

Our three children weren’t born here…they were born four states ago, and also had the experience of relocation as they transitioned from Denver (Colorado) to Los Angeles (California) to Santa Fe (New Mexico) and then to a little town in Ohio for just thirteen months, before finally coming to this lovely community just over the Golden Gate Bridge north of San Francisco.  That was fifteen years ago.

Now it’s just the two of us rattling around in here.  We don’t spend time outdoors on the property, on a substantial upslope with terraced back to 419gardens  and meandering pathways. We don’t use 50% of the main house.  And it’s spacious with soaring ceilings, far too many walls of glass windows and lots and lots of stairs.  To bring groceries in from the car, I have to climb far too many stairs to get up to the kitchen.  The cottage, which sits over our huge garage and which we’ve kept fully furnished and fully equipped, does attract some wonderful paying guests, but WE have to look after the business of it all.  WE have to manage the bookings, the cleanings, the contracts, the little details.  True, it’s been relatively easy and we’ve met some lovely people from all over the world who’ve come to stay with us at the cottage, but…it’s time.

While we’re still functioning young enough and alive healthy enough to take on another adventure, while the house is still in fabulous condition thanks to our ongoing and neurotic attention to the detail of it all… it’s time to move on. Let another family treasure this amazing place that we have lovingly renovated and cared for over the past 15 years.

front stoneMy husband holds a California brokers license, and even though his business has nothing to do with residential, we RE-listed the house five days ago under his own license. I built a website for it, posting a ton of photos and explaining the history of the property (the house was built in 1918) along with the various ownership transitions.

In just five days, it’s been ridiculously busy with property showings and it appears we have garnered serious interest from a variety of potential buyers.  There’s no way of knowing how many (if any) offers we will be receiving in the coming days, but if the past 48 hours are any indication, I suspect we will get at least one and very possibly several offers.  I hope so.  I’ve had one foot in and one foot out for a full year now.  I’m ready to take my other foot out as well and simply move on to our next adventure.

Really, it’s time.  Will I miss this place?  Sometimes, probably I will.  But quite honestly…not so much.  I love what we DID to this place, how we morphed it to become OURS.  I love the memories we MADE in this place.  But, there are more memories in the making…and I will morph the NEXT place into a home that’s ours, where new memories can be made.

Home is where the heart is.  And over my lifetime, I’ve learned to be adaptable. We’ve never once failed at making a house a home.  I’m ready to renovate, to take on another project, to see what our next chapter has in store for us.  The possibilities are endless…it’s exciting.  It’s daunting.  It’s not dull.  It makes for great adventure.  It’s life, and best experienced with both feet in.

Time to Turn the Bend

Image I feel like I’m living in an Architectural Digest catalog and I can hardly believe this is my home.  Cary, our stager, has done an amazing job at transforming my warm and inviting home (ala Ralph Lauren style) into a brighter, lighter contemporary expanse with an appeal towards the more youthful and hip Mill Valley home hunter.

Having put 95% of our household goods into storage (READ: packed tighter than a tin of sardines into one half of our own garage, with the overflow packed into our crawl space that was recently built into stadium seating), we are now living with our ‘must have’ worldly goods.  These include the obvious: clothing hung in our thinned out closets,  personal necessities, a 50% stocked kitchen, and a handful of furniture pieces that Cary incorporated into her staging design. (I’m shocked we even had a handful of furniture pieces WORTHY of being used in a staging plan)

We are now living amongst white upholstered sofas and chairs, a heavy (but sleek) wooden  black laquered dining table surrounded by 6 leather-cushioned/cane-backed chairs all sitting atop a woven sisal rug, vasts amounts of floral displays sitting on end tables, coffee tables, and other specifically selected niches.  Our kitchen now boasts a display of my favorite Barefoot Contessa cookbook which is flanked by some fancy bottles of expensive imported water on one side, and bottles of fancy imported olive oil on the other.  Our walls are adorned with original oils, framed by contemporary wooden borders, depicting images of California beaches and other serene, daydream-like images.  Our master bedroom has been transformed into the type of relaxing retreat we only experience in a 5 star hotel suite.  White linen drapes trim out our large glass doors, and they flow downward…pooled onto the carpet, as if an ocean breeze might gently billow them further.  Our Cal-King bed now is sheathed in a blue and white duvet with matching layers of pillows atop more pillows.  Two   chairs, slip-covered in the same white fabric as the furniture in our living room and sporting matching pillow decor to our bed, beckon a potential buyer to relax with a great Kindle read.

So, now that our home is about to be showcased to the world (and I do mean, to the world…The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Marin Magazine, Christie’s International, etc.)  I sit here taking it all in.

I wonder if our beloved yellow lab will mess with the masterpiece. The market has clearly heated up, creating a frenzy over any property in decent shape.  I wonder if we will be fortunate enough to receive multiple offers.  I wonder if we’ve over-anticipated, under-estimated, or over-looked the reality of the Mill Valley buyer sentiment.

And, when we do find our buyer, I wonder where the hell we’re going to go next.

I’m ready to move on to our next chapter.  I’m not sad to be leaving this home.  It’s been great, but it’s time to turn the page.  NOW is the time.  This home is ready to showcase. We’ve repaired, remodeled, re-landscaped, and completely reinvented a property which had been sadly neglected for decades, until we came along almost 15 years ago.

Our adventure is about to begin… the big reveal is just 48 hours away, when our listing agents (yes, a team of two) will host our first open house.  A property website will be launched in a matter of hours, and a 6 page glossy brochure will be available to all lookie-loos who come to see.

Let the games begin!