Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Awesome finds at the Dream House

Lighting booklet

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.

Looking in to the breakfast area.
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.

Color brochure

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.

Newspaper article from 1972 about closet design

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.

File folders of renovation notes from Roseanne

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. :)


  1. It's so great when you find a place to live where you feel so at home! It sounds like this house is perfect for you. My previous house had a sea view. It was such a treat to have that view every day, in any kind of weather. I really miss that.

  2. I got goosebumps when I read your post about Rosanne.......Your new house is awesome and I will be following your blog with avid I'm just nosy:)

  3. What a great idea to write a heartfelt note with your offer! Moving into a new space is one of life's biggest stressors, even when you love it so much. It's nice that you can mitigate that with such sentimentality for the space, the family and the life they had there!

  4. What an amazing way to find a new house and have all that good karma, or whatever you want to call it, come with it. A true gift.

    I'm so happy that this has made your transition go smoother and make you feel better about being here.

  5. very cool story...thanks for sharing. my family and I just bought a midcentury home in seattle...and feel quite the same to have been blessed with a connection to the sellers whom allowed me to purchase their mom's 1952 black head singer to keep in my studio as a keepsake of the home!
    you're absolutely right....these unplanned connections are what life is all about!
    cheers, tyler

  6. What an incredible gift, to have the chance to know so many intimate details about the woman who created and occupied the space you now inhabit. In a way, you have become a curator or caretaker of all that she so loved and thereby giving it new life and expression.

    Every single time I pick up the embroidery you sent to me or select a new thread from the palette the original owner so carefully arranged, I think of her - wonder who she was, what she was like, what she loved to do. I will finish the embroidery for her.

    I look forward to seeing what you and Rosanne do with the studio.

  7. Oh, Rachel! What an incredibly special experience! I agree that connections like these are for sure what life is all about. I'm glad this crazy, stressful time is also one of love and magic.

  8. Cold chills and a few tears! What a beautiful beginning in your new home!!

  9. We put a contract on our house without ever seeing the inside. We just knew no matter what it was like inside we had found our home. It was a hot mess and everyone thought we where nuts. We have haven't regretted it for a minute, not one minute in 12 years, even if it could have an extra bathroom!

  10. What a wonderful post Rachel. I love seeing all these images and hearing the stories just as much as you must have heard them yourself. Thanks for showing us, cant wait to hear more.
    P.S. Don't know what would excite me more, a new cool house or loaded flat files!!!

  11. this is so wonderful! the house is truly amazing + dreamy for sure! i just found your blog today + can't wait to come back to see what amazing things you do with this gem. such a great story. what a lucky girl you are!


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