Twenty Seven and a half years ago, we bought a large neglected estate in Larkspur, Ca. At the time it was rented to 12 rock musicians, one of whom was living in the greenhouse outside. In spite of the black painted everything, kicked in paneling, mirrored ceilings, orange shag carpeting in the kitchen, stuffed iguana in the refrigerator and appliances from the turn of the century, we loved it! Once you pulled back the floor to ceiling disgusting curtains there were 3 sets of sliders leading to a large veranda. The ceilings were 20′. It had a two story brick fireplace and the living room was huge. Outside on the veranda, you overlooked the two story teahouse, moon gate and reflecting pool. There was also a gazebo on the hillside. Everything was in disrepair. In spite of all sorts of advice not to buy it, we did.
The neighborhood was ecstatic! They went from 12 rock musicians and lots of dubious activity to a couple with 2 small children. We were instantly popular! We spent the next 25 years restoring, maintaining, updating, gardening, you name it. Every weekend. We poured our hearts, souls, and lots of money into it.
In 2005 we did a big remodel. It was supposed to be done in stages, which would have been very smart, but all that got tossed out the window when the cabinet maker, who was in high demand, had a window where he could start our kitchen. The kitchen was being moved from one end of the house to the other, so it was a big project. Meanwhile our contractor had started the master bedroom. Oh boy, pretty soon it was all happening at once! We were, as it turned out, in over our heads. Debt up to our eyeballs! When 2008 hit, boom. But oh, my kitchen…
We sold our house in 2011. We knew that sooner or later we’d sell it as it was a maintenance nightmare. But it was very emotional and hard! Have you ever staged your house to sell? Well, check your ego. The stagers will gently let you know that you have no taste, and if your furniture were used the house would never sell, ever. I think they used one or two of our pieces, so we had to store everything else!
2011 was the bottom of the housing market and our house, being very unique didn’t sell. We took it off the market and a couple weeks later got a call from a realtor representing a couple from New York with 3 children who fell in love with it from afar. They came out to see it and gave us the great compliment of saying it was even better than the pictures. Sometimes online dating works! They bought it.
A long story to get to the real story! As bad as the whole experience was, the people who bought it are wonderful. We have stayed in touch and see them when we go back to CA. In November we got an email saying they would be out of town over Christmas and if we were coming to CA to see our kids, would we like to house sit? Yes!
But wait. Could we go back and actually stay there? Would it be weird? I am here to tell you, you can go home again. I was nervous but it was wonderful. They haven’t changed anything we’ve done and I felt like I had never left. The owls are still hooting in the early mornings, and it is quiet at night. Our son and wife and grandson came up for two days and stayed with us there. We had a big family dinner with them, our daughter, son-in-law, the twins and his parents. It was like old times. That did make me a little sad. We saw all our neighbors. Why did it work? I think we were free to just enjoy the place without all the responsibilities that went with it. I have finally moved on! It took a few years, but it now feels good.
Do you think you could go back too? Any experiences? I’d love to hear about them!