The Reno Begins!

“You have to go wholeheartedly into anything in order to achieve anything worth having."
--Frank Lloyd Wright

Though I'm sure it's cliche to begin this type of discussion with a quote from an industry icon, I just can't help myself! Wright's words neatly summarize why I believe daunting projects aren't always a stupid idea. The "anything" in this case is a renovation on our family's pseudo-child, also known as the white house at the end of the laneway. We think it's destined to be our forever home.


In a way, the whole 'forever home' notion is right up there with 'soul mate' in the hierarchy of dreams or desires we, the starry-eyed (or self-deluding!), believe are worth chasing. I'm pretty sure this has little to do with white picket fences or sprawling estates; rather, it is the simpler idea of just carving out your own special nook somewhere--a place to build memories.

One thing about nooks in Victoria? They don't come cheap. Wherever you choose to buy in this city, it's inevitable that plenty of time, patience, money (and some wrinkles!) will factor into the process. We searched for nearly two years--casually, at first, and then with the kind of unapologetic aggression that makes Tonya Harding seem ladylike. I couldn't even tell you how many days we spent refreshing the real estate listings an embarrassing number of times, or phoning our poor realtor at odd hours because 'a new one just came up!' I'd sometimes catch myself muttering profanities while reading the slew of news articles about Victoria's supposed shift to a buyers' real estate market. That was one party to which we were not invited.

The long process was frustrating and thrilling in equal measure, particularly the emotional highs-and-lows of our three bidding wars. Losing out--or, as in bid#2, winning and then uncovering too many problems with the house--left us as deflated as our daughter's week-old birthday balloon in the corner of the living room. We wondered if it would ever happen for us and hoped that our growing impatience wouldn't result in a hasty decision (and subsequent re-naming of this blog to, "WTF Were We Thinking?")

But then--at last!--she arrived. The house quietly hit the market one morning last December. We were among the first prospects to view it and, oooohhh boy, what a different duck she turned out to be.

Successfully marrying original 1930s cottage charm with the brute minimalism of a 1960s reno is no easy feat--and the house failed miserably in that regard. Elegant copper embellishments and quaint, up-turned gable roof lines clashed disastrously with endless fields of mint green and red carpet, a blocky sunroom cantilevered off of the left side of the house, a maze of ill-positioned closets and hallways, and heavy-handed application of the purplest wallpaper you've ever seen. In your life. Ever.

We're actually glad that the house hadn't been touched in 50 years, for despite its oddities, it was well-built, well-located and hadn't been structurally bludgeoned by overly-ambitious do-it-yourselfers. As they say, she had 'good bones.' We're also pretty sure that the nastier aspects of the house helped our cause by scaring off buyers leery of a big project.

Somehow, some way, we won bidding war #3 (thanks, realtor Ross!) and now, the house is ours. I hope you'll follow along on this little reno journey and share in our ups-and-downs. With the help of the immensely talented team backing us--and perhaps some luck--our forever home awaits us in the coming months. For now, I choose to be optimistic about our chances.