I’m such an open book if you meet me in person, so I forget that not everyone knows everything about me (admittedly I’ve become more guarded on the internet since the internet became full of trolls that can derail my day). I get the same questions all the time in person, so I figured I’d answer them here (assuming you might also be curious about these things). Each of these could be their own blog posts… ask questions in the comments!
Do You Still Have The Mountain House? Will You Eventually Sell It? Do You Like Renting It Out To Strangers?
Yes, we still have our mountain house in Arrowhead and it’s rented out year-round (mostly on weekends) when we aren’t there. I can’t imagine a world where we sell this home (the only reason I foresee doing that is if we really financially need to) and we plan on living there 1/2 the year once the kids are in college (while it’s high elevation and gets cold, it’s super sunny, so close to LA, and we loved living there in the winter – jumping in the lake every day, playing in the snow, etc). While I truly love living here in this home in Portland – I love being so close to my best friends and siblings and have an awesome community up here, Arrowhead is so special to me and even if we had endless money I wouldn’t change that house – its location and layout is perfect (Ok fine, maybe being on the lake would be nice but I’d want to be really set back to still feel quiet and private). If you are looking to rent up there for the winter I’m telling you that our house is extremely family-friendly because it’s on a quiet flat street, has 50 acres to play/hike/sled/build forts through the backyard, has a play attic + bunk room, and has a fenced-in flat back yard (this is very rare up there – so many hillside houses stacked next to each other with only decks or lower yard that are disjointed from the main floor). When we are there we rarely need to get in a car – we just walk or bike to the lake, hike out the back door when the kids get restless and the faux pond/stream (less than 14″ deep) keeps kids occupied with frogs for HOURS. When we moved up here and started renting it out (late 2021) the house was booked solid and the rates were high because so many people and schools were still remote so families would come up from LA to get a change of scenery. It’s slowed down because so many jobs are back to in-person and also because the competition with luxury houses up there has exploded. Four years ago there were only a handful of design-forward homes. Sure, there were thousands of vacation rentals (and some so fun/cozy/eclectic) but if you wanted more of a curated experience in a nicely designed home, it was harder to find. Now there are probably 20-30 that I would love to stay at. This is obviously great for the overall community – as it has become more of a destination. Our property management company To Dwell Here manages many of them and they are all awesome (with the BEST customer service, IMHO). But as a mom, I promise that ours is so easy to “group parent”. It’s just so safe, easy, contained, and yet so spacious, and quiet with so much to do for ages 2-16 (and you can walk to the beach club in the summer). Anyway, that’s my plug (especially for winter when you want to play in the snow without having to drive to a sledding hill). The proximity to LA is also incredible – under 2 hours. So yeah, we still have and love this house and while we didn’t go down for Christmas last year we won’t make that choice again and we have three future trips already booked. It’s just so hard to beat life in the woods near a lake and a year-round adventure and Christmas-themed amusement park 🙂 And yes, I love renting it out – I get to read the guest book with people having SO MUCH FUN and enjoying the hell out of a house that I poured so much love into. If it were just sitting there I’d be sad (I understand this is specific to my personality and not everyone would want this). Also, I think a lot of that has to do with Marie and her team which keep it extremely well maintained and protected, and the guests have all been super respectful.
What Is One Design Choice You Would Change About The Farmhouse If You Could Snap Your Fingers?
That’s an easy answer (and one I might execute this summer). I really wish we had taken the paneling in the living room up to the ceiling, not stopped at the windows, and created so many lines and breaks in a room. I want to just have a more cohesive flow. We have extra paneling so we could do it, but we’d have to pop off the trim piece that meets the window sills because that one is shorter (not a full board). Also, if we took it up to the ceiling it could look odd for one board to be more squat, but maybe just leaving the trim/sill that continues throughout the room and just apply the paneling above it. Could it look totally fine and perhaps quirky/intentional? And then if we are going to put new paneling up and we have to paint anyway then yes, we’d repaint a slightly warmer white (I love the cool white in the rooms with a lot of natural light (like the sunroom, mudroom, and even the kitchen). It’s gorgeous in the living room when there is snow outside reflecting inside, but otherwise, I want it warmer. The reason I haven’t done it yet is expense and how disruptive construction is to our lives, so I might time it with the 2 weeks when we are OOT and Gretchen can project manage. There are a million other little changes, but none that feel so daunting to change as this. Stay tuned 🙂
Is a Soup Cookbook Really Happening?
Yes! But not right now. I have no doubt that it will happen (even if I self-publish) but this year already feels so busy and I’m big on extending my timeline in life in order to enjoy the present so this is a 2025 or 2026 endeavor. I have a really good unique idea for it and I’d partner up with a food blogger or chef (I’m not pretending that I’m an incredible cook or any sort of expert, but just a huge soup enthusiast and home cook with a lot of soup passion that can bring a new perspective to the pot). It’s a whole plan/thing, but I’m not pursuing it right now because I know that it would happen and then I’d drop other balls and disappoint my current commitments (or be too busy to enjoy my own life). So stay tuned, and meanwhile, I’ll be souping! Some of my favorite soup recipes are here and here.
What is Up With The Other House On The Property?
One of the biggest draws of this property (amongst many, honestly) is that there are so many “outbuildings” – aka projects forever. One of them that we’ve barely shown you is the original farmhouse, an 1850s kit house that is DRIPPING with charm and also totally falling apart. We have always planned to restore it, but we need more time to A. know what we want to do with it and B. save $$$$$ for what will likely be a very extensive remodel (it doesn’t have plumbing, electrical or HVAC… sooo…). Somedays I want to just DIY it over 5 years and learn how to do all the things, other times I know that is totally unrealistic and I get excited to hire a team to really execute it professionally and well (there is a big cost discrepancy between the two “plans”). Doing it right with a GC and team could easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and we just can’t do that right now – emotionally, mentally, physically, or financially. So that’s another “think about it in 2025” conversation. Meanwhile, we are tackling the garages/sheep’s barn this year so that we can move all our storage from the kit house into the garages and get ready to tackle it in a year or two. As the kids grow up and we think about how we want to use this property as a long-term investment I think more clarity will come as to what this building needs to be.
Do You Miss LA?
I deeply miss my close friends and after a recent friend tragedy, I miss it even more and plan on more visits this year. Besides that, I miss the food (so healthy, so many vegetables), the weather (duh), but mostly my friends, my team, Arrowhead, and our Los Feliz home (I loved raising our babies in that home). I have a lot of nostalgia for the 12 years we lived there – It was full of chaos and at times I felt like I was drowning, but along that came the sense of opportunity and ambition/hustle that is so part of the LA culture which was undeniably a large part of my success. I also really love and miss playing with our kids outside year-round. Oh, and it’s MUCH easier to create content there (the best light year-round, almost always good weather and longer days in the winter). But no, I do not wish we lived there anymore and I LOVE living in our community in Portland, near my oldest/extremely close friends who feel like family and my actual family. As much as I can appreciate the years of hustle, we sure do enjoy a much slower life in a way that feels far healthier and more sustainable for us long term (especially me). There is no perfect place to live and no perfect life, so all you can do (if you have the privilege of choice) is to get as close to aligning with your values as you can. And when the rain doesn’t stop here, for days and days, I just remind myself about the traffic in LA and how debilitating it can be in different ways (and let’s just say I’ve booked a few Arizona trips this winter). So we traded traffic for rain and we are happy with that trade most of the time 🙂 (Portland does have some traffic, but not where we live and it’s NOTHING compared to LA, FYI). It’s hard to not want to be here when you see your kids feeding pigs and alpacas at 7 am before we walk to school 🙂
Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Living Room Update – AGAIN – Our New Sofa, My Dream Floral Chaise And The Pop Of Red I Always Wanted In My Life