Friday, February 3, 2023

Putting down roots

In May 2022, as I was getting ready to leave one job and start another, we closed on a condo.

The hunt was long and the market was working against us. Prices were inflated and the interest rates were climbing. The amount we sold our Florida house for – a 3-bedroom single family home with a garage and a pool – was the listing price for most small condos in Seattle. Depending on the square footage and the neighborhood, we could afford one or two bedrooms, but every time we put in an offer, someone else had a better one, and the place would get snapped up.

It felt like déjà vu. We bought our first house at the height of a housing bubble, too.

The search was frustrating, but we finally found the perfect spot for us. I fell in love with a condo in a 9-unit building in Wallingford. We, for once, had a competitive escalating offer to put in. Unfortunately, the sellers went with a lower offer that waived the inspection.

I was heartbroken, but we carried on. Just before putting in an offer on a place a couple blocks away – we were literally within hours of submitting the paperwork – our realtor learned the contract had fallen through, and the condo was ours if we wanted our lowest bid.


We switched gears, hustled on the paperwork, and got it submitted that day. The next morning, on May 2nd, we went under contract. On May 23rd, we closed.
The condo had a lot of work to be done, but it was the kind of work I was excited to undertake. I could picture exactly what I wanted. We had a cute little place to truly make our own!

We had our little studio until the end of June, so we dove right in on the renovations. I took a week off between leaving Job 1 (May 27) and starting Job 2 (June 6); what I'd meant to be a vacation week ended up being a week of hard labor. (No joke, I really love knowing I built my desk and our dining chairs, that I helped lay the floor and put up the backsplash.)

Here was our list for the makeover: 
  • Vinyl flooring throughout the main rooms (this meant jackhammering up the remaining tile in the kitchen and foyer)
  • Carpet in the bedroom
  • New countertops in the kitchen
  • Kitchen backsplash
  • Refinish the kitchen cabinets and changing the hardware
  • New vanity in the bathroom
  • Updating the light fixtures in the living room, kitchen, and bathroom
  • Replacing the toilet (we want something more modern)
  • Install glass doors on the shower
  • Install closet doors in the bedroom (we have no idea why they're missing)
  • Plants!
Hey, I said it needed some work!

We hired professionals for very little, and did the rest ourselves. And of course this list doesn't include various other things, like organizing the closets, mounting the TV, and getting our new furniture situated. And, you know, packing and moving.

When we bought the place, it was freshly painted, including the concrete floor. Very modern, but very not us. I had a vision, and I told Matt multiple times to trust it.
I saw this cute little setup and thought: this place is meant to be ours.
As we worked and went back-and-forth to the studio, we filled our cars a bit at time to slowly begin the moving process. Our new place is only about 15 minutes from the studio, so the only time we needed help was when it came time to move the mattress, which was the last thing on our list.

By the time we fully moved in, we'd finished most of the major projects. We had all our furniture, too. This was our first time really buying our own furniture – in the past, we'd happily accepted hand-me-downs from family. It felt wonderful to choose what we wanted, to finally discover our own tastes, and to create a cohesive look that wasn't a bit hodgepodge.

Little by little, my vision came to fruition. At Ballard Consignment, we found the round glass dining table I'd been imagining in my head, and it was marked down from $400 to $250. (Gotta love a deal!) I barely had to convince Matt to get on board with navy blue chairs. (Gotta love when the vision aligns!) After hunting around we found our dream couch – a huge sectional with a pull out bed – and despite everyone warning me that furniture would be delayed, it was delivered earlier than expected. (Gotta love a big box store!)

We got a great deal on kitchen appliances to replace the originals, which were probably from the '80s.

Basically, things came together quickly and beautifully, and soon we had our place. Our vision realized.

I'll share more before/after photos room-by-room over a couple posts, but I'll leave you with a sneak peak at the chaos.
Moving day!
I am so happy to have a permanent place in Seattle. We're really lucky we were in a position to buy when we did, and for me it makes all the difference in making this city feel even more like home.

More to come!