Whatever your preconceived notions of Nashville are, drop them. Sure it’s a little bit country here, and a little bit rock n roll. It’s been dubbed Nash-vegas by some and Cashville by others. It’s urban and sprawling and more New Yorkers than you can shake a stick at have decided to make it their home, but try as they might, it’s still the South, and Yall – they don’t do that down here.
It’s a design mecca, this sprawling little city. Not in the way others cities are with their interiors and home stores, and art galleries, and artisanal craftspeople expressing themselves with their jaw dropping talents. It’s in the design of their restaurants, and tiny boutique shops. It’s in the gingham wrapped cups of sweet tea they hand out as you breeze across the threshold. It’s in the beat-up old camper turned cup cake shop that’s been painted in such a happy, glossy shade of yellow you can’t help but smile. It’s the gritty and brass determination to make something shine on that patch of dusty earth.
Nashville is cool. There’s no getting around it. It’s a fresh reminder that the dimentionality of design is what keeps it fresh and interesting, and oh by the way – they have a spring here – unlike Boston.
I often feel like an arrow. While I am clear on the target I’m intent on hitting, it requires a pulling back, a pause, a refocused effort – a collection, a reflection, a question. Each time I sell, and prepare to buy again, the arrow quivers just a little less in its trajectory. This period of retreat is important to me, it keeps me grounded, it allows me to feel what I am doing, and prepares me to return, fortified for battle.
I closed on Halloween, rolled my suitcase and a bag down 8 blocks to my sister’s house and left the following morning for Mexico. San Pancho is a quiet little town on the West Coast, not far from Puerto Vallarta. I smile when I think of that city because it reminds me of The Love Boat, Captain Stubing who I actually waited on at Thompson’s Clam Bar in my hometown of Harwich, MA, in the nineties. I would watch The Love Boat and the Fantasy Island with Mrs. McLaughlin, while I was babysitting on Saturday night’s. The Love Boat always visited Puerto Vallarta. If Puerto V is the big city, San Pancho is the outback. Tucked away in the shadow of Sayulita whose popularity has grown since I visited 10 years ago. Tucked into a bay, it became famous for its surfing, and art community, and the undeniable hipness of its inhabitants and visitors. San P is its humble, quiet sister whose beauties and mysteries unfold with the passing days, and her softly spoken “buenos dias”.
Life here is simple. You need not guess at a person’s motivation. It’s beauty is juxtaposed with its grittiness. The dirt roads, and cobblestones, that are as likely to have a horse and donkey meandering through them as a honking car or motor bike. Absent are the rules and regulations that we organize our lives and priorities so carefully around in the States. Construction sites spill out into the street with nary a barricade or warning in site. It seems to say – “live free or die” without saying it at all, which really is a good lesson, regardless of where you live. Pride, and family, and preparation, and gratitude are in abundance. I think of my old yoga coach who would tell me to “try easy”. I push so hard, so forcefully. San Pancho allows you to pull back.
Here I have retreated. I have risen, and pushed, and pealed back, and exposed all of my flaws and insecurities to a people that will not judge me, because judgement is not part of their lexicon. I have lived under a GMO Free Zone for just a short time and the elegance, simplicity and vitality of the food has restored me.
I rose early, practiced hard, explored my artistic side, experienced the beauty of Gisella and Calista’s carefully curated hotel – rustic and refined, thoughtfully designed, suitably pancho. More and more, square foot, by square foot, I gain an appreciation for the artistic talent of others – even when the style is not my own. Hotel Ciele Rojo is exceptionally well executed, but those words do it an injustice – it’s designed with heart, and you feel the love when you are here.
See those Galbraith and Paul curtains hanging on the Lux Hold Ups Rods custom made in Brooklyn by female artisans – no normal flipper would ever buy those. The cost a quarter of most flippers total renovation budget. Don’t you just love them?
As I was preparing for a big real estate summit that’s coming to the city I came across some interesting sessions on social media, streaming, video production and branding for business. All things that are important to me. I should say – this is a corporate real estate summit, not a residential one, and it’s for my full time job, not my side hack. Still, by design, these worlds collide, and I learn so much from my personal ventures that contribute meaningfully to my work, and vice versa, that it seems perfectly simpatico. This research led to me googling myself, and to the discovery of a blog post for which I was the subject. Or, as I prefer to think of it… the STAR.
Farrow and Ball Wallcovering costs a fortune. It’s really art that I leave behind. I know not everyone will appreciate it. I did it for me.
Jon Gorey, the author of House and Hammer, took to debunking my junk in his article and making me look like more of a hasbin than a starlet. Hum! Using me as a cautionary tale to all those wannabe flippers out there, he suggested that my efforts (and yours by the way) would have been better spent sitting around on the sofa for the next 10 or 30 years and cashing in at the end, having foregone the hassle, and the hustle associated with my high cost renovations.
TV may make it seem sexy but it’s hard work. Even Chip is sweating there. A lot of sweet goes into it.
I must say that I have an appreciation for his style of writing, his clear understanding of the numbers, the risks associated with real estate ventures, and for his love of homes. Pay close attention to all that because it’s true! He says flipping is sexy – not true and that marble and Parisian chandeliers are not what the South End needs, or buyers necessarily want. That I suppose is simply a matter of opinion.
I spy a chandelier that still makes me smile.
I like saying “for the record” and “setting the record straight” but the truth is, the truth changes. My truth at this moment, and as I have recorded it, has always been this…to date that is, I am flipping homes – for me. Not for anyone else. Yes I want to sell them. Yes I want to make a profit. Yes I hope to use that profit to get ahead before I retire, but imbedded in those truths is something fundamentally more important that is driving me to renovate these properties. It’s my love of design and architecture and travel.
What Jon doesn’t know is that were it not for the sweat, and hives, and the sawdust, I would not have traveled to Paris every other year, a place that is so sublime to me it fills my heart with happiness. I would not have been to Croatia, Bosnia, Switzerland, Italy, Nantucket, Mexico, and on and on to so many amazing places where people of different cultures open ones mind to both how big, and small, our world is, and art and beauty sit side by side the dirt and grit of our realities.
Croatia. Look at that limestone.
Jon doesn’t know that I carefully plan each property based on a design vision that is like none I have done before. While I certainly learn things along the way, a trick here or there to make the process a bit more easy, or visually more appealing, this is not PS101. That Parisian chandelier was purchased for me, and boy does it have a good story. If I were only in this for the money, I would use granite, not marble. I would paint everything beige, not one of the dozens of refined and/or wild hues that my boyfriend Benjamin Moore has to offer. I would use Home Depot fixtures, make only cosmetic changes not improvements to the infrastructure (many flippers – though not all – like to keep there money right where they can see it – and that’s not behind the walls). There are so many things I would do differently if the only thing I was in this for was the bottom line. Bottom lines are boring. I never wanted to be a suit.
Thanks to No. 3 Venice is now part of me.
I’m as pleased as punch that someone wrote about me. As I said, I think Jon offers some very sound advice. Being covered in sawdust isn’t for everyone. You have to love it. If you are considering making a foray into the adventures of flipping, it’s important to go in with eyes wide open. Me, I grew up thinking everyone lived like this – you have a choice. Choose wisely.