To Each His Own

21 Jun 2016


I'm so happy summer is officially here!!  Our kids are (finally!) out and it's getting HOT!!  If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed a post last week mentioning that we're thinking about selling our place ALREADY.  I've been too slammed to get a post out on it sooner but finally have a minute.

We bought our current home at the beginning of September, thinking it was somewhere we'd be for a couple of years or maybe even forever, though doubtful with our record.  (Keep in mind that we're also the people who said "2-7" whenever someone asked us how many kids we wanted to  have...  we're REALLY not big on strict limits for future actions and like to keep ourselves open.  We now have 4 btw. ;)

Anyway, David and I have been steadily fixing up the house (floors, doors, moldings, kitchen, library, living room, dining room, basement, attic, yard) and every few months we check out what's for sale around us online to see if there's anything cool and to see how our place compares to other properties on the market.

I often think about the a line in intro of my book, which I wrote while in my last house, asking myself if we found "love" in our house. And my answer was that you can't really truly love a thing, but that our {old} house was the perfect backdrop for the people & life that I love which in turn is its own kind of love.  And as we've lived in our new place, I remind myself of that -that you can't really love a house but maybe just life in it- and I just enjoy the days with the family, knowing that us being together & healthy is really what matters. But whenever Dave & I have talks about our place (I'm a decorator, assessing "home" is a constant) we remember the contentment we felt in our last place with an acre of land and a more casual house... and I know that while maybe it wasn't technically "love," we loved our last place as much as someone can love a thing and were so much more attached to it than we are to this one. 

When checking out the real estate market every couple of months, rarely do we find anything we love in the location we need (um, kind of never) and we go about renovating & doing our thing and enjoying our place, thinking maybe we'll stay for a good long while.  But last week we saw a house that got us thinking and really made us realize how hard we've been trying to love our current house.  I definitely squealed.

{The vibe reminded me of the vibe of the Parent Trap house}

 

 

As we renovate and lighten up our traditional cape cod, I see what this place can be and it's fresh and fun and unexpected, but it's us in a more buttoned-up house than our ideal house. I miss being able to walk outside from almost every single room. We miss the sprinting through the huge yard with waterguns / playing running bases and being able to feel alone outside. (We regraded our backyard & cut down some trees so we now have grass and a good little chunk of grass for playing but it's not the same as having acres.) We miss the feeling of being along outside. (Don't get me wrong, we adore our neighbors and the thought of leaving them makes me feel a little sad/sick.) But I loved being able to get up in the morning and go out to my backyard garden in my pjs and wander and do my thing, or playing in the sprinklers with the kids in suits. I'd live in the country if I could but most of our work is in the city so we need to be in a convenient spot.

{Our back yard}

 

{Our newly renovated living room -not quite finished.  The littler kids probably use it more than any of us to read/ play during the day...  We'll have drinks in here with friends but of course we all end up in the kitchen or outside.}

We've asked ourselves in the past why we even live in the Northern Virginia / DC area. The biggest reason is to be near family. I grew up here and I'm lucky enough to have my grandparents, my mom, step dad and little sister living nearby, and aunts and uncles and cousins not too far away either. We love the weather, the land, and being near so many great things for the kids too. But there are other places that appeal to us more- places geared more towards outdoor activities/ water etc.- though none of that really wins out over family.

{A pic I snapped driving home from the airport the other day}

I feel like there's a cyclone in life with kids that's all too easy to get swept up in- school, sports. activities- that just makes the time fly away and you get left with very little quality family time at the end of the day or month. Some people enjoy it, but we don't love it. As our kids get older and become involved in more activities, we see that it's going to be really hard to get to be together on the weekends and not have to split up to become ubers for our kids. The urge to slow down is a constant one. I love being busy and crazy with things at work but need that downtime with family in the off-hours and want us to all be together while the kids still want it. Nightly family dinners help for sure, but feeling alone outside is where it's at for us. Our dream vacations are always being alone somewhere beautiful. We don't necessarily seem like it at first glance but we're kind of secret barefoot slow-living hippy free-spirited farmer/gardeners at heart who need to be near the city for work and family and generally just enjoying what the city has to offer.  

 

The house we found was everything we wanted and we made an offer but another bidder got it.   (After days of thinking on it, our house sale contingency scared the owners away sadly...  they were afraid we wouldn't be able to sell our house & the deal would fall through...  It was hard for us to swallow because we sold our last two places for over asking at the open houses and hope to do it again, but how can you really explain that to someone?)  We're a little bummed but we trust that things will work out and something better for us will come along.   What we did get out of the situation was the realization that a move is coming.  We don't know when, (remember 2-7 kids, not many definites here) but there's no more pretending we might stay.  We'll be in the same town so no school switches or any of that which makes finding a property with land really tough, but the house we lost opened our eyes and we've got a goal  And our next move may not be our final one...  We've thought about how great it would be to move until we had no mortgage and that's appealing too.  And then again it could be final if we love being there enough.    

We're going to continue to finish our place- bathrooms attic/loft windows still to go!-  and I'm going to do it the way we want in terms of style/quality/function because we don't know how long we'll be here and because- though it'll technically be a "flip" - the level of quality typically associated with flipping is not what we're about and I don't want to put work out there that we're not proud of.  It's a little nerve-wracking to go about it this way (WE HAVE PAINTED WHITE FLOORS & A VEGETABLE GARDEN FOR A FRONT YARD!!!) because we're not appealing to the "everyman/woman" buyer, we're going for someone who appreciates our look/taste and wants it.  And that's scary!  I'm feeling a little better because our agent came over this weekend for an assessment and fell in love with the floors / garden/ personal choices etc. and doesn't want us to change them for sale, but like every time we've had a house on the market I'm going to worry until it's sold.  I don't think we'll furnish it and decorate it as fully as we would have if we were staying because I don't want to buy things that fit perfectly here and won't work elsewhere, but I will get it feeling good and shoot a lot of the house with Helen Norman, our photographer.  

{Our range hood is finally in and we're only waiting on a couple of lights to arrive to be completely DONE!! Can't wait to share pics with you.  We've been loving cooking here and eating at the massive island.}

As we talked about making yet another move, our families were in shock, not understanding how we could move again so quickly/ how we "thrive in chaos" etc. and it was a really good week for David & I just taking a real step back and looking at who we are and we voiced what we've always sort of felt, which is that we don't really like to cater to conventions when they don't make sense for us.  Throughout our life, we've been making calculated moves that freak out our family or seem crazy to others (we got engaged when I was 22 and married a few months later/ I started a business rather than working for a company/ bought and sold multiple houses in short amounts of time/ had more kids than the American "norm"/ Dave quit his job to come work with me in interior design full-time, etc.) and we're realizing now that we sometimes veer off the conventional track, and that we're okay with it; more than that, that we love it.  All of these moves have been the best of our lives and have brought us fulfillment, adventure and happiness.  When I met David I felt that no one in the world could understand me like he did...  and I think I was right, but that's okay.  

{Dave & Gisele}

I'll keep you posted on our progress... we may finish the house and put it on the market without finding another place first (like we did last time) or we may wait a while and enjoy ourselves a bit until we find something else...   We'll see where things take us!!! 

On a different note, I am really excited to share with you that we were selected by Washingtonian Magazine, along with Kelly Proxmire & Home Polish, As "Washington DC's Best Interior Designers"  and voted "Best Interior Designer in Northern Virginia" by Northern Virginia Magazine.  When I started the business eight years ago, I really thought it would be a side thing and am kind of still surprised every day that we get to to this full-time for our family business.  Meghan Short, my (very camera-shy!!) amazingly talented right-hand woman/ designer for LL&Co. and David work like crazy behind the scenes to keep the machine running and I love them both to death and am so proud of our little team.

 


 

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