See Ya Old House!

So if you follow me on IG you already know that my house closed escrow on Tuesday!

FINALLY

If you have followed here for a while you may have already seen some before and afters of my pad….but I thought I would give it one final farewell and pay it the respect it deserves.

Can I get a little sentimental for a minute or two??

This house was everything for me. You may or may not know my back story. If you do, then flip the page. If you don’t then sit down and let me spin you a tale or two about how this house happened to be and how it literally changed my life.

Warning, this post is LONG.

right, so…

When the Duck and I were young and careless, before we brought baby G into the world, we lived in sunny  Santa Monica California. Now if you live in CA you know that Santa Monica is both incredibly beautiful AND incredibly pricey. Because we had zero grip on reality and knew nothing but the life we had become accustomed to, we quite happily lived in a tiny 2 bed 1 bath duplex that was just big enough for a bed and a TV and was perfect for the two of us. We were comfortable with our boho chic, city by the beach lifestyle, and were cool with spending a small fortune to rent a box with a roof and an ocean breeze.

When we found out we were having a baby, we just assumed that our baby would fall in line with our way of life. She would be quite happy living in our boho shanty.  She would never know anything different…. so her life would be what we made it to be. We were living in some strange dimension where it was cool that our baby would have no place to run but in the streets and that it was totally normal that  the other moms in my prenatal yoga class had already signed their fetuses up for pre-school….Montessori of course. I mean who doesn’t sign there unborn children up for the wait list at a private pre-school that costs 15k a year??? right?

UM…..no

When she was about 3 months old, I lost my shit. Living in the small space and paying rents higher than anybody ever should for a box with a roof, I just hit my boiling point and decided we were gonna buy a house if it killed us. We had no money saved up, I was on a permanent break from work, and the Duck was away working tons. I was in lala land and I thought magically we would come up with a couple hundred thousand dollars to throw down on a slightly  larger box with a roof in the slightly sketchier side of town but still live in Santa Monica and still rub elbows with other non assuming boho fabulous people. The risk of getting shot was only 35% higher, but we would be fine!!! right?

UM….no

I am very ,very thankful to have parents that only want the best for me. I decided I would do the unthinkable at my age and call and ask my Dad if I could move back home. Being the sweet man that he is, of course he said yes. Within a week I gave notice to our landlord and we packed up and moved back home. I knew I wanted better for G and I knew I needed to make these sacrifices for her sooner rather than later. I only wanted what was best for her and I was happy to step outside my comfort zone to provide this. She deserved a backyard to frolic in, or a park within walking distance. She also deserved a free and safe education, and I wanted her to intermix with kids from all walks of life…not just the fancy pants crew. This way of life may have worked for the other families in our situation, but it didn’t work for us and I wanted more. The only place left in Los Angeles where this magical way of life still existed, where you could buy a home for under a million dollars and put your kid in a PUBLIC SCHOOL , was a little place called the San Fernando Valley, or more specifically… Calabasas.

The plan was that we were supposed to live at my Dads for about 4 months TOPS…..9 months later and I was completely discouraged and still living in one room downstairs at my Dads. I was riddled with postpartum depression (more on that for another post). and freaking out about not having enough money to put 20% down on a house. Everyday  I searched for a house to live and every day I found NOTHING. Well actually that’s not true, I found TONS but NOTHING we could afford. I made the decision that the only way we were going to be able to afford a down payment was for me to go back to work. Having decided before G was born that I would switch my career from Junior Designer to Stay at Home Mom, this whole going back into the workplace thing was a really hard and a very sad move to make… I LOVED my old job, but was so anxious about leaving my baby.. What was I going to do? The Duck was gone all the time, my Mom worked, My dad worked, and I needed to go back to work. I lived in someone elses house so it wasnt the best situation to have a nanny come and watch G when I went to work…nor did I want to pay for someone to come in and help, that would kinda defeat the whole purpose. I was a mess and overwhelmed with worry. Maybe I should have just stayed put in our box with a roof in Santa Monica.

My old boss Kirsten could not have been more amazing and flexible. When I called her and told her I was ready to head back to work she was really mellow about letting me come around nap schedules and when he could, the Duck would bring G to the job sites so I could breastfeed..oh did I forget to mention my child would not take a bottle?? Boob only, which meant Mom only. Working mom took on a whole new meaning for me. Anyways, I worked and did it all and we managed to get enough money together with a lot of help from my fam .

As I continued to search in Calabasas, it started to become more and more apparent that we were going to have to move to a close but different zip code than I had originally hoped. While searching open houses one day I randomly stumbled onto a little purpley gray ranch style house with an overgrown front yard, There was a man in the driveway putting up a for sale sign and I slammed on the brakes and asked if we could come in. It was horrible, and it was perfect.

The yard was big, the bones were good, and the price…WE COULD AFFORD.

I was beyond excited. The duck was in another country and I was frantically texting him pics. I wanted this house, I saw us in this house and I was desperate. We made an offer and they accepted. In September 2010 we bought our first house and all was right in the world. We borrowed money, we were broke, and we hadn’t slept in months, but we had our first house and we were gonna make it our own. When we started to renovate is when I decided to start my own design blog. I wanted to document the process, and even though I loved my job with Kirsten, ultimately I wanted to maybe have my own clients and my own company but I lacked the confidence to just leave and start a new. Well, the day came about half way through my remodel, when my old boss came to me and said…and i’ll never forget “Amber honey, you need to be doing this on your own…you don’t need me”. I was scared SHITLESS. She was setting me free to be on my own. What was I going to do ? I was comfortable in my job with Kiki, and I had bills to pay.. I just bought a house and I basically just got laid off…in the nicest way possible of course, but still… FUCK!!

You would have laughed if you saw the extent I went to to try and get the most bang for our buck. The duck and I did so much DIY our knuckles were bleeding . We tackled projects by watching you tube videos and reading the internet for hours. We had NO clue what we were doing without the help of pricey contractors, but I knew how to design and I had a credit card with a big limit so I maxed those suckers up and prayed the phone would ring for jobs..

Well, it did and here we are. I have a company, and a shoppe and a career…..and I say the house had a lot to do with it all. Without the content to blog about, without a platform to really show off my personal design style, and without a blank canvas to do my thing, where would I be?

It all comes back to the house.

So after the longest blog post in the history of Amber Interiors, I would like to add a big thank you to my Mom for stepping in when she could and helping us with G so that I could go to work and start this crazy career of mine. Also for lending us money so we could fulfill our dreams while you went without for a bit. My Dad for letting us live in his downstairs for almost a year, then helping us with the full remodel of our house, and his endless support and praise . My husband for being patient to see through this lunatic vision I had of turning the crappiest house on the block to the best house on the block, then selling it for a profit in only 3 years. And to Kiki (Kirsten my old boss) for “letting me go” to do my own thing and being a constant source of inspiration and my mentor.

If you have not bailed on this long-winded novel then here is a little image recap

SEPTEMBER 2010

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DURING

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AFTER

014-Amber

ambersmp_113$!900x

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166-Amber

ambersmp_095$!900x  (photos by Bryce Covey for Style Me Pretty)

And then… The night we Left

photo 2 copy

photo 1 copy

See ya house, Thanks for the memories

xo

48 thoughts on “See Ya Old House!

  1. I loved this perspective into your personal home-owning journey. I’d love to know what pushed you guys to move and rent now that you’ve left? If you feel so inclined to share for the snoopy stalkers ;)

    Best of luck with the transition and new chapter!

    • Hi, I love my snoopy stalkers! Nothing weird and shady, we moved simply because we had the opportunity to sell our house for a price we just couldn’t turn down. Eventually we will do it all over again.!!

  2. Love your story – always amazing to hear what happens when we follow our instincts and change our lives in ways that are unthinkable and terrifying. We should all do it more often.

  3. Now, I’m super curious as to why you left! Feel free to tell me to mind my own beeswax ;)

    AND good for you for doing what felt right and necessary, even if it wasn’t what you first thought you wanted! Not the easiest thing to do.

    • Hi!
      I realize I forgot to add this tid bit of info. We basically got an offer we couldn’t refuse. Someone wanted to purchase our house as is for a price we just couldn’t turn down. PLUS we needed more space. As my biz grows, I outgrew our tiny office and needed more space. also I would like to do this again….but as a flip so that I don’t have to live in the construction.

  4. Amazing. Great read. As a fellow Valley girl/person I can so totally appreciate this. We moved into a great house built in the 40′s with a not so great school and then used my parents zip code for the good school. It can be done!!!

  5. What a great post. Thank you for sharing your story! Can I ask where you got your Morovian Star pendant? Love it. Thanks, your style is amazing!

  6. Congratulations Amber. Such a mix of emotions I’m sure, but so many great things ahead! Can’t wait to see the progress on your new place!

  7. So inspired by your story, and I relate in SO many ways its not funny. Thank you for your honesty and openness, I think so many moms from our generation can relate to this story! I cant wait to see where this takes you.

  8. love your style. you are a cool and down to earth chic. so happy for you and your hubby. hard work and determination can get you everything you want, you just cant be afraid to get your hands dirty and take a leap. thank you sharing your life’s work. you give me inspiration and great ideas ;)

  9. Amber, thank you for the INCREDIBLY inspirational post!!! You have no idea how much this hits home and makes me feel so inspired to go for it and face my fears head-on like you did. Thank you, amazing!!!! <3

  10. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your story. I have been reading your blog since the early days… didn’t know the back story and it gives me great hope with my DIY house. This post made you very relatable and I have to say as much as I was cheering for you before, knowing how hard you have worked to make this all possible makes me want to cheer you on all the more. Thanks for letting us all be a part of your journey!

  11. Thank you so much for sharing your story as well as all the amazing before and afters! My husband and I are in a similar position that you were once upon a time with G. We have a 10 month old and are quickly outgrowing our tiny apartment! Thanks for being inspiring as well as relatable! Amazing before and afters!

  12. What an inspiring story! You were so brave and allowed life to take shape for you. I don’t know if I could have done it. You are a rockstar and look where it’s lead! Good for your for listening to your heart and allowing yourself “to be seen”. On to bigger and better things my love. Stronger and wiser. Xo

  13. Love this post and hearing your backstory…reading this makes me want to pick up my blog again and get to work on my own home! You are such a talent and a constant source of inspiration. cheers!

  14. This was so inspiring to read. It’s pretty much what I would hope would happen to me. Only I’ve never started a blog! I’ve been working on my seventies ranch for the past eight years and love how far it’s come. I love your aesthetic, thanks for the background story.

  15. Oooooo, love this Amber!! Thank you for sharing your tale! It really is inspiring. I was wondering where your first house was, bc you mentioned Calabasas Anyway we live close to there and all this time I thought you were in LA/OC and I’d love to know if you were or still are a neighbor!

  16. For reals?! I’m soooo excited! We are about 20-30 min north in Santa Rosa valley (it’s in between TO, Moorpark and Camarillo). It’s the country….or as courty as you get in SoCal! We found a foreclosure that we couldn’t pass up a couple years ago and we are slowly renovating the whole thing! It’s an 80s ranch house (kinda), two story, blah blah blah…still have four bathrooms to gut, a master on suite to design and build, an upstairs to redesign (bc we are nutty in the head and want more kiddos!!) and a kitchen to gut and expand. Not to mention the backyard we’ve dreamed up. (Insert heart attack here!)

  17. I feel so stupid for saying this, but I’m really going to miss pics of this house. When I saw on Insta you were selling it my immediate impulse was to head straight to CA and buy it, furnishing etc included, naturally. I can’t wait to see what you do with your next place! You’re just fab lady, so inspiring. It’s actually really nice to see you were nervous in the beginning of your business too.
    K, probably the longest comment ever,
    Suffice it to say
    Thanks! and Yay!

  18. Holy crap! Do you know I’ve been following your blog for awhile now, love your sense of humor & even link to you from my site? And I had NO idea you used to work for Kirsten till this post. My brother in law works for her. I just started my blog a few months ago and he said “you know the girl that worked with my boss has a blog, yeah I think she’s pretty popular”. Yeah dude I’d say so;) Small world, love your blog. Congrats on everything.

  19. Pingback: 5 Great Interior Design Blog Moments in 2013 | The Estate of things

  20. Such a great post — thanks for sharing this story with us! You made that house sing like no one else could…I love every inch! And your bathroom layout is a ringer for my kid’s…now I know it CAN be grand someday!! xo

  21. Hi,
    Just wanted to chime in and say thanks so much for sharing! I am an aspiring interior designer and your story was so inspirational for me, as I try to figure out how to navigate a new career choice… Thanks for putting it out into the universe!! Katie

  22. I love the rugs you use in your homes. Where do you get the,? What type are they? Love that pouch too on the med with the Moroccan blanket. Please let me know.

  23. Amber! Just found your blog; this was the first post I read and your story really hit home! My husband and I recently just bought a house, I just left a corporate position to just start my own interior design & art business and I feel completely vulnerable, excited and freaked all at once! YIKES! Thank you for this post as it serves as a reminder that the road to success can often be bumpy, but those that persevere and stay on it succeed! LOVE your blog and will now follow your AMAZING work.

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