Midcentury Dreaming

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts on the chevron floor angles and for the sweet well-wishes! I’m doing better, but still trying to take it easy until next week, when I’m having a second procedure done on my throat. It’s been nice to press the reset button a little bit and spend some much-needed quality time with my family. Thanks for hanging in there for me. :)

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Some of you may have seen on my instagram account that recently I stopped by to see a house that we almost put an offer in on, but didn’t. As much as I wanted to make a move, the timing just wasn’t right – the house went on the market a few weeks before Michael accepted his new job offer and before we had fully committed to moving to Phoenix. I wanted this house SO much though. I pretty much give it credit for getting me excited about the idea of leaving New York and buying a home. :)

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It was just what I imagined us buying – a completely original midcentury gem in a cool old neighborhood. Of course, these houses only come on the market once in a blue moon, so it sold in just a matter of hours for more than the asking price. I was heartbroken even though I had never even seen the house in person and we weren’t even technically looking at that point. But seriously. Check out that door!! So cool, so much potential.

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It never makes sense to go down this road, but it’s hard not to play the should have/could have/would have game with this house. I love the house we did end up getting, and in many ways our current house is a better fit for us, but it’s going to definitely be a different look when we’re finished with it than a midcentury house would have been. (Angie Hranowsky’s home comes to mind).

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Anyway, I decided to rub salt in my wound by driving past the midcentury house the other day. Turns out a flipper bought the house (GASP) and there were workers there ripping absolutely everything out. It was completely gutted, and all the kitchen cabinets and interior doors were being taken out just as I pulled up. The guys saw me poking around and admiring the pulls on two bifold doors and told me I was welcome to have them before they tossed the doors.

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My grandparents and my great grandma (the one from Sweden) both lived in really cool midcentury style homes in Arizona and I think this home felt a lot like theirs to me. Grandma Johnson had this really cool stone mosaic coffee table and these pulls reminded me of that table and the style of her home. But I can be stupidly sentimental about grandparents sometimes. It’s probably for the best the universe bequeathed these pulls to me so I can have a little something that makes me think of their homes, and thereby overcoming the temptation to buy the whole dang house when it goes back on the market in a few months. (I may have still called the flipper’s listing agent though, just for kicks) :)

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I’m sure some of you have a few good sob-stories for me about a home that you desperately wanted, but that just wasn’t meant to be. Dish!

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33 thoughts on “Midcentury Dreaming

  1. I am sure that your Midcentury Dream will be a reality one day. We live in a Midcentury home and love it. I would also love to find a farmhouse and create a mod zen interior. I love contrasts.
    Feel better. Sorry to hear about your throat.

  2. There is a house about a block away from my current house that I almost put an offer on. It had original leaded glass windows, and was just so so charming. I didn't put an offer on it because it only had space for one car and no yard whatsoever. Plus, it needed a new roof. A flipper bought it and ripped out all the old beautiful windows and installed off the floor vinyl windows…it looks so bad now. And it broke my heart.

    I love my house. However, I walk down that block almost daily and everyday I lament the loss of those beautiful windows.

  3. Oh, do I ever have a story about missing out on a house!

    My husband and I found and fell in love with a home (to be our first home). We had been preapproved before our daughters' premature births and resulting medical debt, so we ended up losing the house when our financing fell through. It was gut wrenching.

    Fast forward six months, the new owner called me and asked if we still wanted the house. She explained that she had purchased it as an investment property but was hitting obstacle after obstacle (tenant never moved in, tenant needed to suddenly move out) that made her believe that she bought the house for the wrong reasons. She was friends with the previous owners and knew our story and she "knew" that the house belonged in our family.

    She owner-financed us (in what our attorney considered to be the most straight-forward and honest seller financing he'd ever seen) and she basically gave us a new start.

    Three years later and on the verge of refinancing to thank her for her gift, we've poured more love and work into our home than I imagined we would. Because of the circumstance, our home is truly a project of our heart and I feel so fortunate to have such an amazing second chance.

  4. Oh, ouch. I winced when I read the word "flippers." I hope they at least keep the updates in the spirit of the house's architecture.

    I wrote a post recently about the house we missed out on. We had an accepted offer in, but our house didn't sell so we couldn't move. It was a beautiful old house, all original woodwork, high ceilings, walk-up attic…I still miss it. It sold not too long after our deal fell through and I really hope the new owners aren't in there putting in a cheap kitchen and painting the woodwork.

  5. The only house I've ever been in love with is the one I'm currently living in. My husband and I had a very low budget and had seen many horrid options. As we were walking through our house every room made me want more, and by the time we were done even our realtor was jealous and wished he lived here. It still needs some work but it is a beautiful little bungalow with great original architectural elements and stained glass windows. I can't imagine ever moving!

  6. Yes, I am going through it now. The dream house is under contract and we are waiting for a job offer. Praying that the contract will fall through. :) May shed a couple of tears if we don't get it, It is a midcentury dream, too. When I saw it I couldn't eat and my heart started racing.

  7. Yes, I am going through it now. The dream house is under contract and we are waiting for a job offer. Praying that the contract will fall through. :) May shed a couple of tears if we don't get it, It is a midcentury dream, too. When I saw it I couldn't eat and my heart started racing.

  8. Ugh yes – we went through this back in April, then again in July, then again this month – all for the same amazing house. I shouldn't have been looking in the first place because we really weren't in the position to buy and it was a little north for our commute to Manhattan & Brooklyn (it was up in Westchester County). But I saw it and fell in love. In April it was way out of our price range so we let it go and the realtor said they had lots of interest. In July I decided to see if it was still for sale and it had dropped by 125K!!! Called immediately and again, the realtor said there was a bidding war over asking price if I was serious about jumping in. Again, we weren't really ready. Being the sadist that I am, I looked again a few weeks ago, and it had dropped another 15K (it was basically down a 3rd of the original price) and again, the realtor said they were just about in contract with someone else. We knew it needed work, but it was such an original home (literally, one of Frank Lloyd Wrights apprentice's built it for himself) I know we will never find another one quite like it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed the sale falls through (isn't that terrible) and we can scoop it up as a weekend home that we can leisurely update. Only time will tell!!

  9. Oh man! That has to be hard!

    If it makes you feel any better I think the mid-century feel is sometimes limiting…there are only so many things you can do to a house like that and still keep true to its architecture. With your house you can go in almost any direction you want! :)

    Hope your throat procedure goes well!


  10. i hope you go see the house when it is back on the market and post some interior pictures so we can see if they did the house justice… i doubt they will!

  11. I have so many stories about the "one that got away." It would fill two pages. The main "one" was on a lake on a golf course a short sale sort of thing for $305 a flipper got it and from the looks of it cleaned it up staged it put in some tile and re-sold it for $478….. ouch.

  12. When I was house shopping a few years ago, one of the houses I looked at was like a 70s time capsule. I still think back to that house and the fun I could have had with it.

    What made it special, instead of a 70s nightmare, was that it had been impeccably kept. Everything was pristine, good quality, and a really functional layout. Plus it had a giant utility sink in the garage. I can live almost anywhere if it has a giant utility sink.

    I still decorate that house in my head. It just deserved to be spruced up and featured in some way.

    Also, it had electric blue astro turf on the front porch which I nearly pulled up just when I toured the house!

  13. I found the "one that got away" sold to a property company (aka flipper) and for in our price range! It was a beautifully refinished Victorian in a historical district. It was in foreclosure and the bank was eager to sell it. We just weren't ready to buy yet and I am soo sad to see such a beautiful home go to someone who most likely will destroy it (company has a history of doing so)!!!

  14. There is a brick house across the street from mine that went on the market a couple of months after I bought mine. It is nearly identical to mine except that it is brick, has a garage and a fireplace, all things that I desperately wanted when looking but settled without. To add salt to the wound, that house sold for less than I bought mine for, and I have to look at it every day and wonder what could have been. I just hope that it had termites or something awful. There has to be some good reason I am in my house instead.

  15. I hear ya Jenny. We looked at some great mid-century houses in LA and ended up with a fabulous tudor. And then moving back to the east coast we have a dutch colonial. But one of these days I swear I will live in a mid-century house or build an open modern house for myself. I love both houses we've bought but still have that hankering…

  16. When the MCM I wanted was taken off the market I wanted to cry big fat tears. Even though we had decided we weren't going to buy since we were only going to be in San Antonio 3 years, I was bummed. Then I called the real estate agent just to check and it hadn't been sold, just taken off the market because they had a hard time selling it. So I contacted the owners and they agreed to rent it to our family for 3 years…which is how we've had the privilege of living in this dreamy space that I love. Sorry, this story has a happy ending.

  17. yes to the sickening feeling. it just happened on Sunday. we waited too long to make an offer on a lot we wanted, and it sold only two days before. i'm praying that it falls through….

  18. I do hope they do the house justice! You'll have to let us know how the flip looks. If it's bad, then maybe you'll be motivated to 'save it.' Ha!

  19. Hi Jenny, since you have Swedish ancestor it could be fun for you to know that you have an enthusiastic follower here in Sweden! Thank you for an inspiring and charming blog! Magdalena

  20. Oh, I so understand – we moved last summer, and instead of trying to buy, we decided to rent. The neighborhood where our kids are going to school is packed with midcentury homes, and we're watching like hawks for our next house! The apartment is a pain, but the timing is SO hard with a move, especially when you move from out of state. Having lived for several years in a faux colonial, I vowed NEVER AGAIN and we decided to take the interim step instead of making a quick decision in a tight market.

    Your new home is really unique and beautiful – I'm amazed at how much you have accomplished, and by how clear your vision is already for how you want it to be. Hope you feel better soon – you deserve some down time, I'm just sorry it took a health crisis to make it happen.

  21. I can relate to being so sentimental about grandparents. In my opinion one can never be too sentimental. Question: do flippers ruin houses/apartments in New York like they do here in AZ? Hope you are feeling better.

  22. Years ago, my parents looked at a house that they absolutely loved. When they decided to put an offer on the house, the realtor told them that someone else already did. Well the other couple got the house and my parents continued to look, but they compared every house to that one, which had everything they wanted. One year later, the house was up for sale again because the husband's company transferred him to another state. This time, my parents wasted no time putting in an offer, and they got the house of their dreams. Sometimes things are just meant to be.

  23. When we were shopping for a home we found one we loved–unfortunately it was 10 thousand over our budget, didn't have a fenced in back yard, and had a tiny garage.
    We wavered over putting in an offer, and while we were waiting someone else's offer was accepted.
    Fortunately we found a house with a huge kitchen and a fenced in backyard in our price range. We love our house now, but we did drive past the other one just this weekend!

  24. So difficult to have something you love be just out of reach. We live in a home in Ct that my husband and i both liked a lot when we bought it 15 years ago, but we wouldn't say it was our dream home…. which was just out of our price range and too far from the train stain. Although we frequently drove by the remodeled 1800's farmhouse located in the next town over and wondered what our lives would be like had we bought that house,, we never regretted purchasing the home we bought. We recently completed a 1.5 year long reno and now the house we liked is the home we want it to be w/ all the family memories to boot.
    I love what you are doing to your new place! Isn't it wonderful to have choices?

  25. I almost wanted to cry when you said they were tearing up this beautiful house. People have no style anymore. Everything is cheap and from a superstore it seems. I wish you had bought it!!

  26. ugh that is so frustrating! I cannot believe they're ripping it all apart, are you sure you'd even want it if it goes back on the market with a complete renovation?

  27. We admired a house up the street from us for years. On nearly an acre atop a hill with ocean views, the house was designed in the 30s by a famous LA architect for an old Hollywood director's mistress, so it had fabulous history. We put in an offer that was accepted, but it was during the economic crisis in late 2008 and we started to worry about the expense. In the meantime, the owner (a niece of the original owner who'd died) took an all-cash offer from the home's neighbor, who razed the entire house and built a tennis court. Heartbroken, even five years later.

  28. Hold on, what? You have moved to Phoenix? I haven't caught up on your blog for soooo long, I seem to have missed something important here! I just came today to do some research on the critter spray gun you recommended since I bought it and am about to attempt my first project with it!
    We moved from VA to AZ (Gilbert) last November and have spent the last year getting to know the area and settling in. I also scoured the mid-century listings when we were moving and dreamed of finding a gem, but it wasn't to be.
    I'm sorry to hear you haven't been well but glad to hear you are getting better!

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