Namasting to the Numbers God

Despite my best yogic efforts, and setting an appropriate intention this morning, I am no closer to knowing what the right number for this property should be.  Tick tock.  Should I drop my financing contingency?  Offer a lease back for 30…60….90 days?  Those, believe it or not, are the easy decisions.  It’s the number that is the tough one.

9 Greenwich 1

It’s in the details.

Offer too little and I’m out of the running.  Offer too much and I stand to make even less than on the last one.  And if I do get it, I just know I’m going to want to do it right.  The big stuff, kitchen – gut, bathroom – facelift, air conditioning.  Then there’s the small stuff that can add up big.  The doors – we’d need to part in sweet sorrow.  They were meant for a Cape Cod half house, not a South End Brownstone – hollow is not my color.  Then I’ll want the hardware, Olympia or Baldwin.  The floors need to be stripped and stained dark, the bedroom carpet taken up and replaced.  I wouldn’t even pretend to hide it from myself – I’d want Stark.  The closets, lordy I love a closet….so in case you aren’t hearing me, those would need to be changed too.  Then there’s the closet off the living room where traditionally a Parlor Level unit would have pocket doors.  I’d like to put a single murphy bed in there for guests when I’m lucky enough to have them.  It’s the perfect little boat cabin, and everyone knows boat cabins are expensive.

9 Greenwich 2

Sounds tres cher, because of course, it would be.  I hate leaving things undone.  It’s like wondering if you’ve left the stove on when you’re already halfway to Maui.  Can’t do anything about it, and still, it takes up valuable mind space.  I’m willing to bet that when this adventure is all over, I’ll have a list of all the things I didn’t do.  Maybe I should have set my morning intention on being at peace with all that I have done.

I think I’ll sleep on it.  Happy Sunday.

9 Greenwich 6

 

It’s a numbers game.

Did you say stud?  Why yes, take it all the way back.

Instead of the sound of sand beneath my toes, I’ll be listening to the sound of crunching numbers.  Instead of a cool breeze and an ocean view, I’m hitting the hot pavement, and investigating the insides of closets.  Since I’m not getting paid to be a life guard, this little life of mine will be spent in the city until I can get something to pencil out.  One can only hope that the cash buyers traded their Gucci loafers for a pair of flip flops and some cool shades, because losing really smarts like a bad sunburn.

Rutland 3

No explanation required.

One can so easily feel like they are drowning when you lose out to others.  When our survival instincts kick in, logic often seems to take a vacation – in a foreign land – where it doesn’t speak a lick of reason.  While I love a vacation, and not speaking the language can be a welcome break from reality, my bank account will demand an explanation for my rash and emotional behavior.  So, how will I keep a cool head as the bidding war heats up?  Good question.

Rutland 6

Kitchen Confidential

I’m beginning with some perimeters.  I am in the hunt for a condo that’s between $500,000. – $600,000. and in the low 800’s a square foot.  I plan to stick with what I know.  A one bedroom apartment in the South End.  Two properties were listed this week that fit within these perimeters.  They do now anyway.  What will happen come Monday when the numbers are tallied is an entirely different story.  The first is a wildly good price, but for a reason.  It really needs to be taken back to the sticks.  Even then, the best design can’t change the lack of natural light, and the narrow halls that make a gal like me feel claustrophobic.  I’ll pass.

The second is a corner building, on a quiet square.  Well kept, beautiful detail, untouched since it’s original conversion to a condo in 1986 – same Owner too.  Quite unusual.  This I pull out my pencil for, but when I do, I will be swimming out past the buoy.  No one will try to stop me.  Perhaps I should consult the life guard who’s in residence at The Ink Block.  Clearly I may need saving.  These waters could be treacherous.

Rutland Deck

On the bright side….

Marking the Milestone: Making memories

When I sold my first house, I promptly turned around and took two suitcases and headed to Switzerland and then the South of France.  It was two weeks of train rides, boat excursions, long car rides in traffic crossing from one country into another, and the celebration of a friends significant “round birthday” as a dear colleague of mine likes to refer to changes in decades.  I can tell you exactly what I read:  Night Film by Marisha Pessl, the Heidi-eque hillsides, and goats weighed down by cow bells, I can recall the wine bar in Geneva with a big smile on my face, the bats flying overhead while dining outdoors gazing at the Riviera below.  I can remember all this, but whole years are a blur to me.  It’s moments like these that mark time, and force it to stand still.  It is one of the reasons, I buy and sell, uprooting at a constant, and frenetic pace.  It’s these moments that mark time.

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At last … Soft Thunder … Stephanie Shank en route to Boston.

This flip, I am allowing myself to buy a painting that I have been wanting with a baited breath anticipation, ringed in a panic that someone else would buy it before I was able.  Wrong really to want a material thing so much you dream of it.  But Stephanie Shank – the Artist articulates the why of this haunting need.  Her art isn’t about some acquisition, some painting on a wall, it’s the embodiment of “raw emotion and the power of now”.  Yes, that’s what I’m buying….or I admit, without any guilt whatsoever – have already purchased.  It’s called “Soft Thunder” which is a title that suits me.  I’m all about the oxymoron.  I live in contradictions.  Why would anyone want to be stamped with just one label—so boringly limiting, don’t you think?

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Hearing the Grass . Stephanie Shank – www.stephanieshank.com

I can really fall into this painting.  It will be both the inspiration and the centerpiece of my next project.  Though I have never met Stephanie before, she creates her art in Arizona and I stumbled across it in Dallas, and it will find its way back to me via New Orleans.  Don’t ask.  If there was a straightforward way of doing something, I’d likely avoid it.  Nonetheless, I’d like to believe that it would please Stephanie that her vivid brushstrokes and passionate use of deep hues will serve as my muse.  So the planning begins.

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Splitting Time . Stephanie Shank . Brilliant!

 

It’s a Wrap

Thursday night I closed the door on flip 3 for the last time.  Cleaned, inspected, documented, approved, there wasn’t really anything left to do before the official close the following day.  No time for nostalgia. The Realtors and the new Owner wanted me gone, so I finished my celebratory glass of wine in its plastic cup, picked up my bag and left – just 8 months and 20 days after I bought it.

This was the fastest of the three flips, and the one for which I will net the least profit, but the timing was right for the sale. I felt it in my gut.  I priced it high and nearly fainted when I learned that I was offered $76,000. over ask.  Sometimes the universe looks out for you.  I’ll suffer the consequences of the quick turnaround in the form of capital gains.  Why they call it that I’ll never know.  It’s a capital loss to me, and I am the one that will feel it most distinctly.

94 Sale shot living

Still, to recap, I bought a chandelier in Paris, had it shipped, rewired, 94 Sale shot slimretrofitted the ceiling to support the crazy weight of the thing, and lit the place up like a Hollywood set.  I then painted it, and staged it.  That’s the long and the short of the effort.  So why did it go for so much more than I bought it for just last winter?  I have my theories; location, limited supply, location, unmatched architectural detail, and did I say location?
I’d like to think that the design and color palette had something to do with it too, but one can never really know.  This I do know, people hate losing, and if you’ve been outbid a time or two before, you become particularly disdainful of those that are winning.  Good and ready to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

94 Sale Shot kitchen

The new Owner and I both get to be winners in this game.  I am so happy that he got this lovely condo on a tree lined and much sought after street, and that I will now have the opportunity to start the search for No. 4.

94 Waltham sale shot deck

A huge thanks, once again, to my lawyer Sarah Ricciardelli of Ricciardelli and Small, LLP who ALWAYS has my back, and is super smart and savvy.  To my Realtor Alan Duggan of Compass who lets me do things my way, lent me that great mirror for “the show”, and with whom I am happy to report recorded his first sale at his new hotshot company!  To my movers – Humboldt Moving and Storage who allow me to “Relax and Get Moving”.  I barely give that part of the effort a thought these days.  Finally to my family and friends – particularly to Tiffany who, along with her boyfriend, helped me wrestle that damn chandelier down, and are always part of the sweep up crew – and to Joanne who wanted me to make sure you knew she brought boxes and tape….oh, and bubble wrap too!  I couldn’t do it without you all.  I send my deep gratitude.  xo

94 Waltham Sale Shot bath

Time to Kick the Sticks

On this old tent.  Though the metaphor isn’t exactly me, (it’s still cute) as I’m not much of a camper.  I’m more Glamp than Camp, though one wouldn’t know it with this lifestyle I keep.  It’s a lot of inconvenience, a good deal of sweating, a little nail biting, a few sleepless nights, with a little glamour sprinkled in between.  Clearly I can go a long way on a perfect moment.  When something that should by all rights, not come together, when all the obstacles have been crossed, when the plan a, b, and c have been put in place, shifted around, compromised, and still inexplicably it turns out.  Well, it’s sublime.  I live for it.

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But breaking camp is never that much fun.  I am always surprised by what I have managed to collect, this time in just 7 months, and how well I do, hiding it all away.  It’s not so pretty when it’s spread all out over the living room.  Nonetheless, I have a system in place which is incredibly efficient, and doesn’t involve Jo-Jo, my little sister clearing the shelves off into boxes and shrieking, “there’s no time to organize it – we just have to get it packed.”  Oh Tink, there is time, and I managed to get it done in a day.  Of course I will call on my favorite movers – Humboldt Storage and Moving Closing 2#howcanwereduceyourstresstoday.  It’s love.  I beg them with each move, I am part of their frequent flier club so we are well acquainted, to please open other divisions to manage the other aspects of my life, for which I am in desperate need of assistance.  Alas, they seem committed to sticking to this one area, that they are super good at.  I’d like to hold a grudge, but they are just too…too.  If you know what I mean.

So it’s true, I got a little restless.  I watched the market, and my gut told me to join in the fun.  This week alone in the South End 43 properties where reported on as having closed in the Spring Market.  10 of which went for over $1000. a foot, 4 over $1100., 3 over $1200.  That’s practically the definition of insanity, and I love a little insane when I’m on the selling side of the table.  I absolutely abhor it when I am trying to buy.

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If the truth be told, neither side of the tent flap is all that easy, and yet here I find myself again.  Until Friday, I’ll be on the inside looking out.  On Saturday, I’ll be the one looking – wide-eyed and all.  Wish me luck.

closing 4

A huge thanks need to go out to my Real Estate Broker, Alan Duggan of Compass, to my good friend and Artist John Vinton for loaning me the perfect painting in preparation for the sale, and to all my friends and family for putting up with the happy chaos which is my life.

 

Seeing Double

Seeing double in my experience, has never been a good thing.  It typically followed a night, where I might have accidentally had a glass of wine, or two, beyond my limit.  While limits can be soooo restrictive, there’s a reason they exist.  Regrettably I know why.  Believe me, I wish I was reporting that I’ve been on the receiving end of an eye-full, or two, of some mouthwateringly hunky cowboys, that were on the right side of the gene pool,  and decided to share those genes with one another, making the world a happier place.  Nope, I am reporting no such thing, only a mild headache and slight nausea.  Damn blurry eyed vision of the duplicate version.

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My most recent double take left me feeling just about the same way without the fun night that preceded it to soften the blow.  Before I explain why, I want to say I am happy for that beard donning, mountain man that’s made the city his home.  In this case made himself very much at home in MY old home.  He changed it all, or his Interior Designer did, save for my sad little window seat cushions wondering where all their beautifully complimentary friends took off to, leaving them behind.

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Milford Street . seen my way

I wouldn’t have even known, where it not for one of my friend’s ,who spotted it published in The Boston Globe’s Sunday Magazine insert.  There is was, all the sublimely calming Benjamin Moore Cloud Grey hidden under cream.  The sleek marble of the fireplace encased in a hewn wood, painted in the same color, my Arteriors Zanadoo Chandelier mysteriously missing in action.  I felt a little heartsick over it, which is so unlike me.  I barely give a backward glance when I turn the key for the last time.

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Boston Globe Magazine . seen another way.

Some of the sting most certainly came from being referred to as the “single woman” that lived there before, – “lots of feminine touches”.  Hum, I object.  Grey is a neutral color!  Now I could see him objecting to the pale pink – Benjamin Moore’s Bridal Rose, but in my defense most people thought it was white.  They didn’t even see that it was really pink. Everyone knows that pink light flatters – don’t they?  I giggle a lot as I write that last sentence because, please….I desperately hope that most people, particularly men, don’t know any such thing!  I am wondering what the heck the next Owners of Waltham Street will think of my Benjamin Moore, Lavender Ice bedroom.  It’s definitely girly.  Oh wait, I am a girl.

Ok, enough of all that carrying on, it’s all in good fun.  I am very happy that Luke has made the place his own. It deserves to be loved, and lived in.

Neutral Ground: setting the stage for a sale

Most Realtors will tell you that a staged house will sell more quickly, and for a higher price than an unstaged house.  They’ll also likely to tell you to slap on a fresh coat of paint, in a neutral tone.  Now neutral doesn’t necessarily mean white, but it sure isn’t navy blue or crimson.  Pale cream, gray, putty or espressos in their hundreds of variations will do, as long as it’s subtle.

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Benjamin Moore Neutral Colors

Why do they make these recommendations, and is there any real reason you should listen?  Well for one thing, no one wants to enter a home that is disorganized, or dirty. Clean it up, put it away, or throw it away.  If your Feng is out of Shui your bank account will pay.  As much as your heart warms over the Dutch Armoire your Aunt Maude left you, it’s oversized hulking expanse blocks the window and all the natural light that might otherwise stream in, and seems to be the only thing in the room.  This leaves little space for imagining yourself sitting in said room, reading a good book, while watching birds dig for worms in the garden.  Finally, if you’ve been in the space a long time, you probably stopped noticing that the kitchen cabinet door won’t stay closed, that only one electrical outlet in the bedroom works, and the pane of glass in your front window has been cracked since that Kentucky Derby Party where one of the horses – I mean house guests tried to persuade California Chrome across the finish line.  Fix it.  Unless your me, you don’t want your poor house to have a black eye (which I would take full advantage of, of course).  If you like money and don’t want to leave any on the table, that’s a pretty good reason to heed this advise.

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Cole and Sons . Malabar . New Contemporary

The color issue is a trickier one for me because while I agree wholeheartedly that going neutral is the safe thing to do – safe is so boring.  It’s much more fun to well, you know, have a little fun with color.  So in this instance I will say, “do as I say, not as I do.”  It really is the smart move.  I’d rather I suffer the consequences of my Peacock Feather selection than you.

Living WITHOUT Regret

Oh let’s face, we’ve all gotten it wrong a time or two before.  That dress the sales gal told you made you look fabu, but the only thing fabulous about it was your decision to never wear it again despite the cost.  The handsome chap who’s kisses made you weak in the knees, but who’s weak character you should have spied, days not weeks, into the interlude.  I can’t tell you how many sofas I have purchased only to have my eagerly anticipated, custom order arrive, and discover with tears of frustration, that it doesn’t look at all like the life changing coach on display at the showroom.  How is it possible to be so sure about something, and to get it so wrong?

 

coach

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Blue Jean Girl.

Prepare yourself for the cliques – Life’s too short to live with regret.  So what – you bought a dress that made you look short and lumpy.  Who cares you’ve kissed more frogs than princes.  Having the right sofa never resulted in familial harmony.  It is just a sofa.  Still, while we must forgive ourselves, it would be nice, now and again, if someone else would cut us a little slack for our transgressions.

RH

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Forgiveness comes…Restoration Hardware.

I am happy to report – someone will, or in this case, some international conglomerate of a retail store will.  Bet you didn’t think that was the direction I would be going.  It’s true though, Restoration Hardware has a policy, albeit a tight lipped one.  If you simply can’t live with that “mistake” any longer.  If you are considering buying stock in Kleenex because the river of tears won’t relent whenever you are in the vicinity of the offending object, attendez.  RH will take it back.  That’s right.  You heard me.  They won’t give you all your money, but they will give you a 50% credit.  And by the way, it doesn’t even have to be right away.  I am returning mine, 3 months after its arrival.

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I’m tickled pink.  That tiny bit of a swatch was never going to tell the real story, and the story is, it looks more like dungaree, than a sophisticated tweed.  I’m forgiving myself.  Oh there are plenty of other things I will beat myself up about, but getting half my money back for a future RH purchase isn’t going to be one them.  Sometimes you can get just the right amount of forgiveness to soldier on.

Stars and Stripes

Some things never get old.  Staring out at the ocean, a cold beer after a day on the beach, celebrating America’s Birthday with good food and friends.  In celebration…some of my very favorite quotes on independence.

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“The man who is aware of himself is henceforeward independent; and he is never bored, and life is only too short, and he is steeped through and through with a profound yet temperate happiness.”  Virginia Wolf

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keeping it real…perfect…living small.

“Unlike a drop of water that loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives.  Man’s life is independent. He is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self.” B. R. Ambedkar

“Our founders got it right when they wrote in the Declaration of Independence that our rights come from nature and nature’s God, not from government.”  Paul Ryan

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room at the Inn

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness….”  The Declaration of Independence

 

Hope you find your happy today.

 

Getting Edgy

Remember when coloring outside the lines was ok?  when your ocean was purple and your sky was rose and your stars shined gold with too much glitter and glue?  That type of creativity was trend worthy.  Shame on those teacher’s for shaking their heads no, for imparting their limiting beliefs.  I love a number 2 pencil but it will never replace a box of Crayola Crayons.

crayola

I can get lost looking at little kids art projects because kids do the most unexpected things, and the unexpected surprises and delights.  Have you ever noticed,  when you experience something like that….you feel younger, lighter, better?  I’ve done the math, more of the unexpected please, more of the happy mistakes.  More lost so you can find your own surprising twists on the traditional.

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Finding perfect in the imperfections.

One must not be afraid of the accidental or the unintentional – some of the best design details are just that.  As the “Manse” prepares to be jacked up, set gently down on a new foundation…it’s first for this centuries old gal, and get an interior reconfiguration and face lift, there is one detail I will miss and hope to convince the home’s owner to carry into the new design.  Whether it was laziness, or a simple oversight, the hinges were painted over in a crisp white.  When the door swings closed it reveals its original pink hue, it’s candy cane stripes.  It makes me smile and wish for that perky pop of paint on all my hardware.

Dare to color outside the lines.

While visiting my friend’s home in Marblehead last weekend I was reminded of her cleverness and that of her husband’s.  Don’t be too jealous, they are both brilliant Architects, so have loads of practice tapping into their inner child.  Remember what Malcolm Gladwell says – 10,000 hours, you too could get really good something, probably not as good as Brooke and Tom, but good!  So, what is this bit of cleverness?  They paint the edge of the door in a bright and bold pigment.  It’s beautiful.

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Cheers to the unexpected.