We're in a bit of a holding pattern over here for getting going on the renovations. Of course, that leaves me in a bit of a panic, because time is money and we're tight on both. To help ease my nerves a little, I revisited some of the awesome things I've found at the Dream Home, and wanted to share them and the story of the family who lived in this house with you.
Rarely in real estate do you make such an emotional and personal connection with a house. Too often, it's all business, money, negotiating, frustration and any number of crazy-making details. When I walked into the house and knew it was The One, I didn't know that we were about to connect with a wonderful family, and the memory of an amazing artist and mother.
You can see a few of her portraits here.
When we submitted our offer on the house, I included a letter that expressed our love of the home, and my intense connection with the art studio and intention to keep it and use it "as is." I'll spare you all the corny details, but let's just say there were way too many coincidences/signs/connections/kismet-kind of things going on with us and this house and this family. It was one of the nicest and most joyous real estate transactions I've ever experienced or heard of.
One afternoon, after we moved into our rent house, but before we closed on the new house, I took the kids by to drive past the house and visit the neighborhood (we didn't have a key to the house yet, and the kids had only seen pictures of the inside). We happened to pull up as Rosanne's son was loading some items in to his car. Without really thinking, I rolled down my window, called his name and quickly introduced myself and the kids (he and I had exchanged a couple of emails via our real estate agent). What happened next is a real estate rarity: he invited the kids and me in to meet his wife and father and to show the kids the house. We ended up spending almost an hour with them, hearing stories about the house and their family. They'd lived in the house for more than 42 years. Their son (the one who was there that day) was the same age our daughter is right now when they moved in. They bought the house, sight-unseen, from an acquaintance who drove all the way to Peoria, Illnois, to tell them about the place over the dinner table.
I ate these stories up.
Because we were able to get the flat file cabinets included in the sale of the house (I'm still swooning over them) the family decided to leave any in-good-condition supplies inside for me to use. WOW. There is every kind of paper imaginable, from vellum to mat board and more, as well as tons of vintage wrapping paper, cards and other supplies. It's dreamy. They also had several of her painted portraits that they left for me. I plan on hanging one in every room in the house if I can.
Probably my most treasured gift from them, though, was the collection of blueprints, flooplans and design research Rosanne created and gathered when she designed and built the studio addition to the house in 1977-78. Her floorplan drawings are amazingly detailed and so much fun to look at. As her husband of 52 years, Bill, said, "She really could have been an architect." Indeed.
I also came across a file folder case that was filled with file folders in which she collected magazine and newspaper clippings, brochures and booklets, notes and receipts for the addition of the studio. These items are priceless to me. On one level, I just love them for their vintage design and fabulous pictures. More than that, though, I love thinking of her going through the same kind of process I'm doing right now with the house. I'm collecting clippings, making notes, sketching cabinet designs, and it's almost eerie how similar our tastes seem to be.
I find myself simultaneously crushed that I was never able to know Rosanne, but also feeling overwhelmed with gratitude at the opportunity to get to know her through her art and this small collection of notes about the house. I also found many other treasures in the studio that I'll share here (with permission from her family) and as I've spent more time in the space and gone through these items time and time again, I almost feel like she's right here with me, guiding me in some way.
Why, yes, I have gone off the deep end! Thanks for asking!
But, really. Aren't these kinds of connections what life is all about? It is for me. I find great comfort and strength in getting to know this woman who shared so many of my life attributes (busy mom, husband going up into the big city every day for work, keeping art an important part of my life no matter what, creating a home that's comfortable for my family and inspiring to me...). This move was incredibly difficult for me ... until I "met" Rosanne. Thanks, Rosanne. I needed that.
I've posted some of the pics of the flooplans and brochures here. If you'd like to see more, hop on over to my Flickr set. :)