What you think is happening is happening. We bought a new house. And I’ve been dying to tell you. I always feel like I’m cheating on you when I don’t tell you, in real time, when huge things are happening, but when you are in escrow to get a house you REALLY, REALLY want, you get so nervous that something can ruin it. So you sit there for a month, crossing your fingers, closing your eyes, praying that just because you can’t find a w-2 from 2012 that things won’t fall through. But we got the keys on Monday, its officially ours, and we have to be done renovating by December 15th.
You have so many questions I know. I’m here to answer all of them.
It’s a 1926 English Tudor in Los Feliz. It has 4 bedrooms and 2 (kinda) bathrooms. It’s so charming and wonderful. I must tell you the story. It’s kinda like The Notebook, but for real estate.
I woke up on a sunday morning and got an alert from all my real estate apps that there was a new house listed in our range in one of our neighborhoods. I looked at it and immediately, IMMEDIATELY, told Brian it was OUR house. I text my best friend the listing and she called me immediately and said “SHUT YOUR MOUTH, I was thinking about that house this morning, my ex-boyfriend almost bought it 10 years ago for us. I was laying in bed thinking Why can’t Brian and Emily just find a cute old pretty house like that one.”
Crazy. And then we realized that our agent worked at the same company as the selling agent (Nourmand and Associates). It seemed meant to be.
So we went to look at it later that day. It was a hectic open house because good family homes in Los Feliz don’t come up very often and when they do they get swooped up by all cash offers. We loved, loved, loved it. We immediately asked the agent if we could do pre-inspections the next day (so we could take off the inspection contigency) as we knew it was going to be competitive. They said yes which basically means that if we didn’t get the house or if we didn’t want to put in an offer after all, that we would have lost the cost of the inspections ($1200). We took off the appraisal contingency, too, meaning that we felt confidant that it would appraise for the price we were offering (we did). We knew we were going to compete with all cash so we were trying to look as enticing as possible. We promised them the easiest escrow of their lives (which we wrote in a letter and maybe I gave them my book …) and we told them that we wouldn’t ask for credits despite it inspecting good, but not amazing (listen … it’s 100 years old).
That Friday, despite the cash offer, they accepted our offer and we were in escrow. Thank you so much, former owners of our dream house, for taking our loan offer over an all-cash. I know all-cash can be enticing so thank you for having the faith that we could pull it off.
Now we have a new house.
You have so many questions. Lets get into them
Didn’t you just buy a house? Did you always intend to flip it?
It’s been 2 1/2 years, 3 by the time we move out, since we bought our house and yes we always knew that we weren’t going to stay long term because of the lack of yard. We absolutely did not flip our house. And I’m not saying that in a defensive way, more that I love this house and I don’t want to disgrace it with that word. We thoughtfully designed, renovated, loved, updated with quality finishes and materials, and lived in (and have now outgrown) our home. We are selling it, but no, this a not a flip and there is nothing cheap about this house, its finishes or my love for it. She is a pretty lady, not a flip.
Had we been looking for a while?
We had been looking for 3-4 months but not too seriously – maybe since March. If/when a house popped up that checked a few of our boxes we would go look at it.
What were our boxes?
We had 7 ‘musts’ and we really wanted a house to check off at least 5 of them.
1. We were desperate for a backyard. We both grew up with tree/grass backyards and while you certainly don’t have to have one in order to have a good childhood, Brian and I both want our kids to be able to explore nature and feel independent in a safe space without us (read: if they are in a safe backyard we can relax a bit). The backyard is for them to play, but more for easing our lives and having our weekends be so much more relaxed. It hasn’t helped that our local park has been under construction the last 6 months. So we have to drive 15 – 20 minutes to a park every weekend, and through juggling 4 naps between both of them, potty training, etc it’s just made us even more exhausted. We have dreams of being able to just open the doors from the family room to the backyard and our kids having freedom to play with us, without us or with each other without having to carry them down 26 stairs and load them into a car every single time they needed to get out energy – which for a 2/12 year old boy is a lot.
2. We wanted an old house with lost of projects (no recent flips) but with good bones and lots of character. I didn’t want anything generic, instead something that had potential to be stunning but would give me the projects (content) to do myself.
3. We wanted to be able to walk to cafes/parks/activiites. Friends of ours that live in our new neighborhood say they go weekends without getting in their cars. We didn’t think we were going to be able to afford Los Feliz. It’s historically insanely expensive and we were looking really hard in Eagle Rock, thinking that Los Feliz wasn’t an option. But almost all of our best friends live here so I was so excited at the prospect that our kids can go to the same school. (By the way if you are wondering how we got this house, it’s because it needed so much work but was already expensive so no flippers/investors wanted it but very few families wanted to deal with updating it – so we were in the unique position of being willing to pay a little more knowing that it’s my job to fix it up).
4. We needed at least 1800 square feet or 3 bedrooms. Our current house is 1900 + the studio downstairs (it feels sooo much bigger than 1900). We were fine with that size, although bigger certainly would be better (more stuff! more content!). The new house is 2200 square feet although it strangely feels smaller, probably because its so much less open.
5. Good indoor/outdoor flow is a must. It’s Southern California for gods sake … see #1. Just having a backyard wasn’t our only dream, we wanted easy access to it so that we didn’t have to choose when to go outside, that it would always be an option for the kids with or without us. There are only a couple months here where we would need the doors shut (summer) so I had a dream of every morning just opening the doors and saying in my most Julie Andrews-a-la-sound-of-music-way ‘Go forth children, and play safely while I drink my coffee, snap and read huff po’.
6. I need good light or the ability to have good light. A dark house I can not have both for work and for my sanity. We are willing to put in windows, but some houses still don’t have good light even with lots of windows.
7. We really wanted to be in a good public school district. This could have been Eagle Rock. South Pasadena, Los Feliz or Silverlake but we really want to send our kids to public school as long as we can (in case you are interested in what that means, the Jr. High and High are good but a bit overcrowded so while I do want to make it a goal to help solve that problem and be a part of the change, I also can’t for sure promise myself or the world that we won’t make a different decision for my family in 10 years…)
That’s about it. I know that sounds like a lot of demands but it really wasn’t. Personally I wanted a really different style house than we had but was certainly open to midcentury if it checked off all of those boxes (I’m so excited that its a tudor). We mostly just wanted a happy house that could suit our insanely busy family. A house that with a yard and less stairs could make life less stressful, right???
What will we do with our current house?
Sell it. I want to renovate the new one before we move in because living in a construction zone with two tiny kids is a terrible idea, and our mortgage is way lower than renting would be. We’ll put it on the market in Mid-October, because we want to move in early December.
Are you selling all your furniture and starting over?
I really want to be a normal, not-insane person, I DO. Of course I’ll keep most of my art, most of my books and favorite things and some pieces of furniture, but yes, I will probably over the course of the next year, as I go towards the more classic style, sell some pieces and start fresh. There are some that we physically can’t move into the house – the sectional (there is no family room), our living room sofa (since we’ll only have one living/family room it needs to be more comfortable than that and more traditional in style), our dining table (wrong shape and we may not even have a dining room here) and a handful of other pieces. I’ll keep my leather chairs, the wood dresser, my nightstands, and most of charlie and Elliot’s furniture … actually wait, not charlie’s dresser or shelving … and he probably won’t sleep in a crib for much longer … — but I’ll be tweaking the design to be more traditional/classic over time. I’m dying to see if our bed can fit in our new bedroom because it is huge but I love it so much (reveal of our bedroom next week). The string art, for instance might not have a place (maybe Elliot’s room???) but the blimp and all my paintings will hopefully make it in (strangely little wall space and very little storage or shelving).
The point is – I’m bringing the pieces that I think can transition easily into a classic/modern/family/young/tudor style but not the pieces that can’t as easily or just don’t fit physically (like my sectional).
What are you renovating before you move in?
Watch the FBlive today at 2pm to find out but as you can imagine we want to do as much as we can afford now, so that we can avoid prolonging the process and living in a construction zone – but the short answer is refinishing/replacing the floor, renovating the kitchen (how? it’s so tiny? make bigger? get rid of dining room?)
Will you flip this one or stay in it for a long time?
We aren’t the kind of people that really make long term decisions but glue-gun to my head I’d say we’d stay here til the kids are 8 and 10 and then probably upgrade to a house where we all don’t have to share 1 bathroom.
Oh right. What are the drawbacks?
No house is perfect. One of the things we didn’t prioritize and decided to sacrifice was a ‘master bedroom suite’ or hell, even a dedicated ‘kids bathroom’. So yes, all four of us will be sharing a single bathroom upstairs. There is a powder room downstairs and a previous owner put in a shower mostly to probably be able to call it a “4 bedroom, 2 bath”, but it’s small and need some help. The bathroom situation isn’t awesome.
The other drawback – serious lack of closet space and storage. This one was harder to deal with as I like my stuff. I’m not a total clothes horse, but I’m a girl that likes fashion as much as other women. I’ve already gotten rid of almost 1/2 of my clothes (stay tuned to hear about what I did with them) and we are looking into where we can possibly add a walk-in closet but it’s not going to be big if at all. These old houses have teeny tiny closets, like 18” deep and only two of them that are 20” wide. It’s not going to work with modern life and how people live these days but there is definitely not an obvious place to put in a closet OR a bathroom, for that matter.
The other drawbacks to normal people would be that it needs a lot of work – there are only 2 outlets in each bedroom, the electrical needs to be updated, all the floors need to be refinished and potentially replaced, all the windows need to be stripped and painted, the kitchen needs to be gutted, the bathrooms need total renovation and the backyard/courtyard needs landscaping. There are some other boring things like we have to remediate a small wall downstairs that had mold due to drainage issues and then of course fix those drainage issues. And tent for termites. And fix the chimney …
It’s a Betty White – she ain’t young, but she’s awesome, beautiful, so full of youth and life. It just needs someone to bring it out and I am happily that person.
I know that I’m lucky that my job is to create content for you by designing my own house. I honestly don’t know how any of you accomplish any home projects. It’s so hard to pull together a house and took me 2 1/2 years with our last one and i’m a designer!!!
Oh. Are we sad to leave our old house? YES. Well, I was. When Brian first said that we should start looking for a yard I was almost a tiny bit heartbroken (even though I historically have always been the one to find the next project). I have worked so hard to make this house what it is, and I’m finally, FINALLY proud of it. We just finished the exterior!! Charlie and Elliot have only taken 4 baths in their new bathroom!!! But slowly I got excited and knew that we wouldn’t find a house that soon and that even if we found one we would probably have to renovate first. I even wrote this post, about how we were going to finish everything so that we didn’t have to do everything the second that we move for the new owners and instead to it for us now. Thank god I did that.
But this house, our old one in Glendale, is so full of happiness and love and such good memories. Every now and again I get grumpy about certain things but whenever we come home from a “Vacation” I would walk in and sigh with a oh thank god we are home, followed up with a I love this house so much. By the way I hereby announce that “vacation” will be in quotes until we are able to relax on one.
I’m so excited. i’ve been pinning and staring at photos all day every day. I’m excited for the design, the house but mostly the family life that its promising.
I love that all our bedrooms are upstairs together – it feels safe. I love that there is a playroom off the kitchen. I love that you can see the whole backyard from the living room, dining room and potentially even the kitchen. I love that there is a courtyard right off the dining room (which might just be turned into a large eat-in kitchen) for family dinners. I love that every room has great light. I love that the yard has huge mature trees to provide shade. I love that there is a guest suite in the basement that I can design for family to stay comfortably. I love that we can walk to both Los Feliz and Silverlake restaurants. And it’s a relatively flat walk whereas our house now is down a steep hill and back up. I love that it’s an English Tudor and that I get to experiment in a style that I never have before, and learn so much about it and about myself as a designer along the way.
You guys have told me (both in stats and in writing) over and over again that what you love are makeovers, specifically in my own house. I know i’m lucky. I won’t let you down. I’ll be transparent, give you lots of process, numbers and fully document my failures as well as successes. Brian’s video production company is busy and booked, but you know that we’ll be documenting everything.
So yes. It’s happening. The next chapter. A more english, classic chapter. Like Dickens meets Nora Ephron. One filled with a little more visual drama, but less family drama. More antiques, less midcentury. More classic, less trendy. But most importantly, more, more, more content for you and fun/love for me and my family.
I’ll break it down room by room with the rough plan, but if you want to see the full tour with my off-the-cuff thoughts and feelings watch our FBlive today at 2pm (it stays up forever, but when it’s live you can ask questions and we can answer – be sure to like my page).
It’s going to be amazing once its done. Hopefully we can get in by Christmas and host the holiday party of our dreams.
Thoughts? Feelings? Questions? Do you think we are insane people??? Can you believe that we have barely finished our house and are moving into an insane project house???????
I am excited that you will deal with small closets and maybe share some ways to tackle them. That’s all I have and they are bursting and in need of creative remodeling. But I don’t know what to do. I will miss your house which I think is beautiful, but on to the next chapter. Good luck!
Will live vicariously through you! Want to move very badly, but now is not the time…so I’ll enjoy your updates! This house is a beauty! The potential gives me goosebumps! And…What are your fave real estate apps? (Just cause we can’t move doesn’t mean I don’t obsessively check!). Are those kitchen cabinets not at a right angle or is that my imagination?
Yeah, that one corner of the kitchen looked so angular that I was wondering how you could even open the drawers or cabinet doors!
So exciting!! I can’t wait to follow along and live vicariously through you 🙂 Especially excited about the different style/design.
The house looks amaaaazing. I’m super jealous 🙂 and can’t wait to see your new projects. And no, it’s not insane, enjoy the adventure 🙂
wow, you are definitely insane! But, after seeing all of those pictures, it seems completely understandable, your new house is gorgeous!
As a fellow designer, I am looking for my first home and I have to say I’m feeling all your feelings with you (though less of the sadness of leaving, I’m so over my apartment!). I’m getting swallowed in the “potential” of every house I look at and immediately start designing the spaces in my head. I can’t wait to see what you do with a traditional home style. Best of luck on the new adventure!
Congrats! My husband and I grew out of our first house within two years and we don’t even have kids! Moving to the new right thing for your family definitely doesn’t make the old house a flip. Congrats on the new yard and new design chapter!
Congrats! My family just closed escrow on our new (dream) house, and our story is similar to yours – I wanted a mid-century/custom/vintage house with good bones (no one else’s flip), something that needed work but not a tear-down, big yard with a pool, and high beam/open ceilings (our house has TWO rooms with this feature, double-score!), and a big lot in a more rural setting (we live in San Diego). We had been looking online (only, hubby wasn’t ready to start house hunting…b/c he knew once he gave me green light I’d be Game-ON/10000 MPH even though I told him I want a specific house, and they only come along every few months, and we had better be ready to be hunting for at least a year). Sure enough, the day after I got the green light to house-hunt, I met my agent at a house I had been eyeing online – fell in love, called/dragged my husband over pronto (who exclaimed after walking through “Yeah, this is NOT it”), I continued to verbally share my vision with him (the house was priced to leave us money on the table for decent renovations), we each went back to work,… Read more »
Congrats! I can’t wait to see what you do with the place. I’bve been slowly chipping (and rechipping) away at my house for years, but can’t afford to go fast or do tons so I love watching you renovate your space. I’m so excited; sort of like Jessie Spano, but without the pills.
So excited for you! This house looks absolutely incredible! I’m on the edge of me seat waiting to see what you do with it!
Haha, er, “my” seat…I’m not a leprechaun.
haha! you had me at leprechaun
HAHA, I really wish you were a leprechaun. I’ve never been able to really dominate in that demographic. 🙂
wow wow wow! i am so excited for you! I know that some designers have bought homes to ensure that they can have content for the blog. i know for you it’s a happy medium where you legitimately wanted to move to a neighborhood that was right for you and the kids, and it just so happens, it’s gonna give you all sorts of content. I’m excited to see how you grow and evolve with this style of house!
Wow! I can’t wait to see what you do. This is exciting. Midcentury modern is great, but I love this style more. So happy for your family. The backyard will be a game changer.
I love your new home and I can’t wait to see what you do with it!
Congrats, Emily and family! It’s a beautiful house and I’m really excited to see the new, non-mid century style unfold.
Oh, what a beautiful house! Those windows are wonderful! As far as the small closets/lack of storage are concerned, it’s actually a blessing in disguise: this way you will tend to edit your stuff more often, keep less stuff and be more mindful of what comes into the house. We live in an older home with teeny tiny closets (and bathrooms, too) and have found that it has helped enormously in avoiding that trap that you can easily fall into – having tons of stuff that has to be dealt with. Congratulations!
Best of luck Emily! Your new house is so charming. Looking forward to seeing what you do with it!
Wow! this is so exciting for you all! I’m really looking forward to future posts! We currently live in a home that needs help in every way 🙁 It drives me a bit crazy trying to list the work that needs to be done. Can you please share your thoughts on how you will organize the priority list of things to do and the rationale? By the way, I wish we lived in a market where houses are just scooped up so quickly. That must be awesome!
I’m a quiet reader, this being my first comment. But this post just makes me SO happy! I can truely sense your excitement over this house, and I agree, that this home was meant for your family! I’m so excited to follow your journey as you put your personal stamp on it! Congrats!
That house!! Beyond beautiful! Although the kitchen is tiny I would be tempted to keep it as is it’s so adorable and retro. How do you do it all??
It’s disturbing how excited I am about this – so happy we get to come along for the ride!!! This blog has been consistently GREAT in the past year or so and I can’t wait for more.
I love the house and can’t wait to see you tackle a new house in a different style! Will we get to see the full exterior of the old house when you put it on the market or have moved out? I’ve understood the need for privacy thus far, but I’ve always been so curious as to what your house looks like from the street, especially when you make reference to the exterior being finished.
YES. I actually wrote a whole post about the process and its REALLY GOOD. It took me like 15 hours to write (plus all the photo prep time, etc) and I chickened out from posting it. As sooon as we put our house on the market and we move out then i’m posting it. I let a sneak peek of our new house up but I think that will be it. Not that if you were crazy you couldn’t find it ….
Awesome! Can’t wait to see what you do for the kitchen and I love the direction you seem to be taking on this house – right up my wheelhouse! Congrats to you & your family.
I can’t tell you how excited I am for this! This house is BEAUTIFUL. I can’t wait to see the modern/Spanish/traditional/Emily styles combine into one design.
I’m a long time reader but this may just be my first comment because I’m just SO EXCITED to see this house come together! [It helps that I also just bought a home and have a little one on the way so I’m thinking you’ll have some great ideas I can use since my style is more classic than trendy 😉 ] Congratulations!
Congrats on the new house! We live in an older home with tiny closets and one bathroom. With a 15 year old, a 9 year old and 7 year old, sharing a bathroom can be challenging, especially when we host-but we LOVE our house, so one bathroom doesn’t seem like such a big deal.
My mom always says “when you finish your house just as you like it, you’ll move.” It holds true in my experience, so I’m not surprised about the timing at all 🙂 Congratulations to you- so exciting.
So exciting!! Congratulations! And no you’re not insane – it looks like a stunningly beautiful and happy house, and why not want that for your family!? I’m excited in particular at the style of house and therefor the renos to come. My own house is more farmhouse/traditional and while I’ve grown to LOVE the mid-century style, it doesn’t quite fit in our space..so i’m looking forward to seeing what you do in the new house and what might be more applicable to my space – thank you in advance :)! Enjoy all the pinning and planning to come!
I love it! Congratulations!!
CONGRATULATIONS! I’m so happy for you all! The house is gorgeous, and yes, such good LIGHT!
Can’t wait to follow along on your journey. I personally like more ‘classic’ décor so it will be fun to watch your interpretations of that.
I am so, so excited to see you do more traditional spaces! As I get older I’ve realized traditional is what I really love/what feels the most homey to me. But I have a hard time in traditional spaces drawing the line between lived-in/comfortable and cluttered/over-stuffed. Can’t wait to see what you do!
Best. News. Ever…unless of course the commute is too far for Nanny Sylvia to drive, and she’s looking for a new family to work for…that would be the best news ever! We’d snatch her up in a minute!! Congrats on that new, gorgeous house!!!
Just seeing the title and not reading the post, I was sad! Now i’m super pumped to follow along on your new adventure! Would be interesting to know how you manage renovations/regular jobs/family life. Excited for your family! Thanks for being a graceful inspiration!
Sooo excited! We live in a historic neighborhood too and I can already tell that there are going to be tons of ideas that I’ll want to steal from you!
Congratulations! I’m so very happy for you and your family. Cannot wait to learn from you as you learn. Love the bare bones of this house and I’m sure it will be spectacular by the time you finish it.
Emily, I’m so excited for you and your family! What a blessing. Also, I’m excited for me! We bought a nearly 100 year old home about a year ago and I have often wished I could find more ideas for how to keep every moment of it’s grace and charm but also give it the warmth and good cheer of a lived in family home. I can’t wait to see your process and ideas. Most of all, congrats to your family!
Congratulations! It will be so wonderful for the kids to have their outdoor space to grow in. I’m so excited to see a different style that’s more fitting of a lot of east coast homes (including my own) 🙂
What a beautiful new home – congratulations on your purchase. I am sure you will do amazing things and I look forward to following progress. As you say, lots of lovely new content for our viewing pleasure. Thank you!
Living in the UK where we have abundant original Tudor, I am curious to see what this Californian interpretation will end up looking like. (In the 1920s/30s the UK went through a phase of building “Mock Tudor” housing – but these buildings look very different to your new abode.)
I love the roof line and the way the tiles are laid. I’m curious as to how much of the original building / interior you will keep (character) vs. ripping out the old and replacing with the new. The kitchen and bathrooms certainly need updating but wouldn’t look out of place in many British homes! We are not ones for hiding our plumbing behind plastered walls. When I was at school we still had toilets where we pulled a chain to flush!
Good luck between now and Christmas – and thanks again for sharing .
We are going to keep AS MUCH AS possible. There are some things that i’m like do i love that (ironwork) but then I’m like, no, emily, its original … leave it alone!!
yes! I was confused at first, seeing a 100yr old house in California being described as “English Tudor” when I am used to that meaning homes built in 16th century Britain. I am not familiar with this reproduction style at all, it even seems to have some spanish elements maybe? The curved cement work in the bathroom? So excited to see what you do with it- it’s going to be just amazing!
Hey I’ve told you this before followed your career since design star if you want it bad enough you can achieve it.congrats see you in NYC on 22nd
I’M SO EXCITED!
You do such beautiful work anyway, and I love your current house, but mid-century isn’t something that works at all in my (east coast colonial) home. So I can’t wait to see your twist on more traditional and I can hopefully get all kinds of ideas and inspiration!
Woo hoo! Congratulations!
Can’t wait to see. 😀
So exciting! Congrats 🙂 Excited to see what you come up with in this new house/new style. Yay!!!!!! Happy projects Emily!
CONGRATULATIONS!!! How 100% exciting first for you and your family, and second for all of us who come here everyday to see what beautiful/creative/smart things the EHD team has come up with. Lucky us! I’d say lucky you, but it’s obvious that you have worked very hard to create your own “luck”, so instead I say keep on kickin’ ass and taking names!
Great for your family, doesn’t it seem insanely wasteful to get ALL new furniture. Please do more segments like Sylvia. Less is more.
If this wasn’t my job, yes it would be. But its portfolio work and teaching a new style is kinda what I do for work. Besides, I’m not throwing things away, I promise 🙂
Thrilled for you and for us – the new direction matches what I like much more closely!
Hooray!!!! So excited for this exciting transition for your family. I cannot WAIT to see what you do with a Tudor! That mature landscaping is beautiful–and the little niches in the walls are just so cool. Congratulations!
I’d noticed all your traditional home pins lately but I didn’t realize you were selling! Can’t wait to see what you plan to do!
Ahhhhhh!! I’m SO EXCITED to see what you do with a completely different style…that will be so fun! And yay for a yard! Congratulations on everything; can’t wait to hear more.
I am so excited to see how you update your home and the awesome antiques you find! We are updating our 1970s home and it is slow going with kids. But love my home more and more as we slowly make progress. Having a yard you can send kids out to play in is magical!
I used to live in a 1926 English Tudor, with a layout and features much like your new house, and it. was. magical. I miss that house every day!!! I hope your new home brings you as much joy.
I am so excited for this (and for you). My husband and I have two kids the same ages as yours and are moving to Seattle next summer, and we just realized that we can actually afford to buy a house (our first!) in a neighborhood we love with great schools, so as we look forward to beginning that adventure, it’ll be nice to see you taking it on a new house ahead of us 🙂
Oh my goodness, I am beyond excited about this, but also terribly jealous! Why can’t I have an 1920s English Tudor (but in Canada, please!)??
I am so looking forward to watching you make this house your own! Good luck!