In case you blinked and missed it, we moved to a brand new mid-century modern house—and city—four weeks ago today. I know, I know, it still has taken me by shock even, how quickly it happened. And so I thought you deserved the full story.
We returned from our Christmas trip to Georgia on a Thursday. On a Friday morning, I got an email from Zillow with new house listings in the area we were targeting. I’ve been casually looking at said emails for months now, but usually a quick scroll produced no viable contenders—we’d come to terms with having to build, which was our 2020 plan, once we realized our dream mid-century modern house did not already exist—because if we’re going to buy another place, it’s going to be exactly what we’re looking for, no ifs, ands or buts.
But on this day, that wasn’t the case. No, on this particular day, there was one, a custom cedar home in MCM style that was almost the exact layout we’d been lusting after, so I sent it to SVV, and he said, “we should go see it!” I knew the realtor, so I texted her and asked when she’d be available.
“There’s already three offers on it, and we’re not accepting anymore after tomorrow at 5pm,” she told me. “Are you free today? I’m out of town, but I’ll see if someone can show it to you this afternoon.”
WHAT?! It had been on the market for less than 24 hours! And it was two days after Christmas! WHO BUYS A HOUSE TWO DAYS AFTER CHRISTMAS, I ASK?
Regardless, while I figured there was no way we’d be able to swing buying a house on the fly like this, we scheduled a viewing for that afternoon at 1pm, simply out of curiosity. It had been right at five years since we bought our condos in Nashville, and I’d done zero house viewings since then. This is not the norm, for me, for SVV, for Ella. We are not casual house-hunters. We are people who houses seem to find.
What I didn’t want to do was fall in love with said house—because, well, see: three offers already—but I knew the family who had originally built it in the 90s and, thus, knew it was a solid house that had many of our prerequisites. Ranch-style, one-story. Around 3,200 square feet. Four bedrooms, two of which would make great offices and the other two which would be master suites at the opposite ends of the house, and three full bathrooms, as well as two half-baths. On an acre-and-a-half of land with a great layout for a back deck/entertaining space. And best of all, close to all my friends, my parents and my sister. And yes, we fell in love with it.
What ensued was the most stressful 48 hours to date.
We made an official offer on Saturday morning after talking things over with our financial advisors (my sister, my brother-in-law, my parents) and figuring out if it was even feasible. It was, but only just, and the scary part was figuring out what to bid. We knew there were already other offers on the table, and that it was a very quick sale so we had one chance. And in the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, we were not “throwing away [our] shot!” So we picked a number well over list price, extended an offer and crossed our fingers.
In the end, there wound up being nine offers. I thought there was no possible way our offer would get picked. The following 24 hours felt like an eBay auction where you are glued to your computer screen until it ends, hoping no one outbids you at the last second. But the following afternoon, just 60 hours after we knew this house was even an option, we got the call.
And now, we own a new mid-century modern house.
I’ve never been this excited—at least not in years. And before you all hit me with a barrage of questions, I’ll answer a few of the most asked ones we’ve been getting so far:
Cool! Tell us more about it.
It’s an open floor layout with up to 20-foot ceilings in the great room and has a TON of natural light.
Before we even moved our furniture in, SVV had already set up his plant nook—with plans to adorn the rest of the home with greenery.
It’s got a gigantic three-car garage, including a separate workshop, for him, and so much closet space for me.
In fact, not counting coat closets and a massive utility room, I have THREE walk-in closets (that’s right, I said I; you think SVV’s getting any of that closet space? not a chance!). And a pantry! Something we also didn’t have at the old house.
Compared to zero closets in the Victorian, it’s basically my dream situation. Obviously, those wire shelves are going to have to go, but that’s why I purchased The Home Edit’s new book and all the food storage canisters from the Container Store.
But your Victorian! It’s a dream home! It’s so perfect! How could you leave it?
It was perfect for us … until it wasn’t. We lived there for almost seven years, the last three of which we’ve both been working out of the house full time. The first four, SVV worked in my dad’s office and I worked several days a week in Nashville, so it wasn’t as evident this wasn’t a long-term solution for both of us until 2016 when we ramped up Odinn Media and made it both of our full-time jobs.
When you live somewhere AND it’s your office, you quickly realize the frustrations are tenfold. In a dream world, we’d rip the 1905 addition (the entire backside of the house) off, start anew and raise the roofline. In a dream world, we’re also millionaires. So until the former and the latter both happen, it was just going to be too much of a financial challenge to get the old lady up to speed. It’s a great home or a great office, but not both at once if that makes sense.
Why did you decide to move?
Three reasons. First, see above question. The house just wasn’t working from a home office standpoint, and we were starting to tire of living in a construction zone. And we were beginning to feel claustrophobic, despite it being 2600 square feet (those boxy rooms, though, y’all). Case in point: My “office” was a small corner in the dining room.
Second, we wanted a more progressive community where things were happening. I missed having a social life when I wasn’t in Nashville, and already in a month at the new place, we have friends and family dropping by almost daily, for a drink, just to say hi or because they’re curious about the new home. I hope this continues after we’re no longer the new kids on the block!
Third, I mean, have you met my niece? Enough said. I joke that we bought this house to be a mile from her.
So … you’re going to sell the Victorian?
No! Absolutely not. I would cry so hard if we parted with this old home—not to mention, we’ve put SO much time, money and resources into fixing it up that we’d never make that money back in the area in which we live. One thing I haven’t talked about on this blog a whole lot is that over the past five years, we’ve been investing in real estate as a retirement plan and have collected a couple of rental properties to help us out in old age since we’re both self-employed and even contributing the max amount to our IRA annually isn’t going to make us flush in cash should we ever retire at, oh I don’t know, 85.
So the Victorian and Myrtle, the house we bought last year near us, will become a part of that portfolio. Right now, we’re finishing up a few key things on Myrtle, then listing her as a commercial rental property in Manchester starting May 1. For the Victorian, we have her all cleaned out and staged as an Airbnb. We have renters this weekend, then renters for two weeks in June, then we’ll be listing her commercially, as well, beginning July 1. For now, we’re hoping to get a law office or real estate firm in there for a minimum of three to five years. A lot of people say we should turn her into a bed and breakfast. It’s not out of the realm of (far-off) possibilities, but for now, the area just isn’t where it should be in terms of drawing tourists, so we’ll leave that investment for when new politicians who care about Manchester’s growth get elected into office … someday (hey, a girl can dream, right?).
Is the new property a fixer?
Oh, you know it is! It would be far too easy on ourselves to buy something that’s ready to go. But SVV pointed out that our superhero power is finding distressed properties at a helluva deal, putting a lot of TLC into them, then increasing their value. We already got the Cedar House for about $75,000 less than she’s currently valued, and with everything we plan to do, I have no doubt her value will only increase, particularly in the area we’re in (right off a golf course, in the best school district).
Originally, we were holding off on moving in until we replaced the floors in the entire home. The parquet was just a bit much for both of us, particularly with all the cedar. But we priced out the options, and seeing as they ranged anywhere from $20,000 to $96,000 and we don’t have that kind of money (*gulp*), we decided to just move in and figure it out later.
And you know what? I’m so glad we did. We’ve bought nothing for the Cedar House so far other than basic necessities and small things like cabinet hardware, but with our furniture and some rugs in there, the parquet is a lot less glaring and I’m actually starting to like it.
The one big roadblock is the fact that the previous owners had let the house fall into disrepair. For example, a water heater leaked on the side of the house with our master suite and the two offices, and they never bothered to fix it. They just ripped out the floor and left it as is, so we’ve got nothing there right now.
As soon as we find parquet to match, though, we plan to refinish the floors on this side of the house.
And, you know, do a half-million other things like stain the exterior, landscape, redo the deck, replace the kitchen countertops, rip out the tile and add parquet there too, paint the cabinets, etc. etc. etc.
The back patio is something I’m really excited to tackle as we’ve never lived in a place with patio furniture capabilities, and this one has potential!
But the big thing to note is that it’s completely livable and gloriously comfortable, something the Victorian wasn’t really in the midst of all the tough renovations.
Golf course, huh. Will you start playing?
I do have clubs, so maybe! We were country club members when we first moved back to Tennessee, but traveling so much, we weren’t using our membership as we should, though we’re toying with the idea of rejoining as social members. Once we rent out the investment properties and build back up some capital, we’ll probably get a golf cart, as that’s how a lot of people in our area zip around. Plus, we both have clubs and golf shoes, so might as well take up a new hobby in all that free time we have, right?
But what about your murals?
In case you missed it, our public-benefit art company DMA-events is moving ahead full force this year. We actually just launched our murals website, which garnered a lot of interest from new artists, and we’re in talks with at least half a dozen talented muralists about various walls and projects, we have applied for several grants and are a finalist for two (so far), and we’ve got so many irons in the fire, I can’t even begin to tell you what a big year in might be for our little mural passion project.
We have a few smaller murals that are going up in the next week or two, and we forged a great relationship with Manchester Parks and Recreation and want to continue to help them build out the greenway mural trail we launched with the American Eel and Dragonfly murals. So we’re not going anywhere, really, and we’ll always own properties in Manchester, so we’ll keep those ties.
So … that’s it. That’s our big news. Are you shocked? Did you see it coming? I have to say that even I didn’t. Within 24 hours of seeing the house, we’d made an offer and gotten into a sort of bidding war; 24 hours after that, our offer was accepted. It is, indeed, the most spontaneous thing I’ve done in my 36 years and completely unlike when we announced we were moving from California to Tennessee the day we moved cross-country, even though we’d known personally for nearly a year.