A New Chapter

posted in: Experience, Experience, Seattle-ing, Traveling | 57

For the next three (six, nine, twelve?) months on Salty Seattle, you may be seeing less of this:

And this:

And this:

And instead be seeing way more of this:

Because after putting an offer on this five months ago:

We finally got word of a closing date, and it’s Thursday. As in two days from today. I have been reticent to share because at many points throughout the process of attempting to purchase this short sale property, not even Obe Wan Kenobi could provide any hope that we would get it.

Short sales should be called “long sales” because from what I’ve heard and lived, an excessive amount of time is the uniting thread that binds them. As the buyer, you are given a splintery stick, told to not-so-gently cram it into your preferred orifice, and instructed to ream repeatedly sans lubrication. All this is to say that you basically lose your rights and learn good and quick to squeal “how high” when the various banks, sellers, and agents on the other side of the transaction bark “JUMP”.

There are good deals to be had in the realm of short sales, but at some point you have to also consider the emotional costs. Not to mention the practical ones. Typically when someone is buying a home, they must operate within a certain timeframe because of things like selling or vacating their existing residence, their kids’ school year, obligations at work, et cetera. If you sign on the dotted line to purchase a short sale, make sure you can toss all that out the window.

And make sure you don’t mind losing virtually all negotiation power, because frankly, banks don’t give a damn. They are perfectly happy to let a property go through a series of would-be buyers over the course of months or years until someone comes along who is just sucker enough to endure the unending tedium of the process. In the case of this short sale, we “negotiated” with two banks, a third lienholder, and the sellers. By “negotiate” I mean, of course, begged them to please please take our money.

Hurry up and wait was never so applicable. Every time we had to sign something, we were given-literally- a matter of hours. Every time something fell into the laps of the seller and banks, we waited months for a response.

So why did we continue to say “thank you sir, may I have another” like slutty Mad Men secretaries? Because this house is (or will be) the fulfillment of a kind of dream for our family. There are five acres. Do you know how many chickens and ducks and sheep and goats you can fit on five acres? I’m about to find out.

The exterior of the house is copper. It will be like living in a giant Mauviel zabaglione pan!  It’s 25 minutes east of downtown Seattle, which isn’t much of a drive, but it’s a world away.I met a neighbor and started to ask if there were cool people who drink wine out there, but I was interrupted by the sound of a horse whinnying. I looked around wondering how a horse could fit into the tiny shop we were in, but she pulled her phone out of her purse and answered it just as the whinnying stopped. The horse was her ringtone.

It’s going to be hard to get used to not being able to zip to my favorite Japanese grocer, Uwajimaya, for produce, then Mutual Fish for seafood, the farmer’s market for butter, and the Pike Place Creamery for raw milk, but the princess in me will have to toss the tiara to the titmice.

I hope that within a few years, I’ll be able to grow/raise/make meat, eggs, produce, milk and butter. The roof of the house is designed to hold a load of nine inches of dirt across the entire span, which means it’s totally plantable green roof style. I thought about raising the sheep up there too so I could call it Animal-Style, but In-N-Out sent me a cease-and-desist because they are ninja clairvoyants. The five acres are heavily forested right now, but hungry goats and mindful clearing will help us carve out some pasture and orchard space over time.

The inside isn’t entirely finished, which means I get to design and build my kitchen the way I would like it to function. I’m inordinately obsessed with the kitchen above all because I relish the prospect of starting virtually from scratch and addressing all the little things I’d change about my existing cooking space. I’ve learned that I cook in zones rather than in the “golden triangle” that most kitchens (including my current one) are designed around.

The golden triangle refers to the triangle of the stove, fridge, and sink. That’s all fine and good, but it doesn’t take into account pasta-making land, where I spend about half my kitchen time, or the fact that different prep happens in different places depending on what needs to wind up where. Toss in modernist cooking tools like immersion circulator village, and this triangle quickly becomes a whacked-out polyhedron. So I intend to make sense of my cooking style and build the kitchen to serve it. I NEED a pizza oven. And a tandoor. And a combination steam-convection oven. Oh, and who could live without a built-in deep-fryer? A centrifuge would be nice…

Pipe dreams of the innocent and pre-remodel jaded, so cute, right? We’ve been through it before, but not to this daunting degree. We’ll see what the budget ultimately allows. I’m eagerly anticipating a tour of the Thermador showroom in California next week to check out the latest and greatest in kitchen appliances, so at least I’ll know my options.

Of course there is life beyond the kitchen, and I’m trying to focus on that, too. I really don’t care what happens to the rest of the house as long as I can make the kitchen a sanctuary, but apparently my husband and child need walls, floors, heat, closets, lights and bathrooms, so I’m taking them into consideration. The house is two stories and one section is round with a kind of turret on top. That means there is a round room on the main floor and one above, which is off the master bedroom. Naturally I think the upstairs round room should be a display center for my shoes, complete with a fainting couch in the middle.

And wouldn’t it be nice if the downstairs round room were only accessible via secret passage? I found a used priest confessional at a second-hand store and I think it would make the perfect passage.

You go in, kneel, and trigger the door opening. My husband humors me most of the time, but he doesn’t love that idea. He doesn’t like the coffin door option either. He thinks we should pick up a vintage telephone receiver to trigger a hinged bookcase, but I know we can do better than that. Suggestions?

I’m pretty dead set on the downstairs round room becoming our own personal “speakeasy” complete with a looping gramophone and lots of bathtub bourbon. In a real bathtub. With a mermaid in it who oozes the bourbon from her breasts.  Resale schmesale, right?

Did I mention there is a swing in the living room? I am not sure what the previous owners did with it, and yes, they have children, but still, I don’t plan to put my butt in it. Did I tell you about the time we went on a cruise and found out the week before everyone on the boat was naked the entire time? Every time I sat down to dinner all I could think about was whose arse juices had been there just a few days previous. I kept saying “I’ll have the nut soup, please,” but no one thought that was funny. The living room swing gives me similar ideas. Maybe we’ll replace it with my Aarnio bubble chair. It’s actually near-impossible to shag in one of those- too womblike.

There is also a limbed, dead tree that spans from floor-to-ceiling in the living room. If you have any suggestions on how to incorporate this with a modern design aesthetic, I would welcome them. I used to want to be stuffed and put on the mantle so my ancestors could change my outfit and shoes every day and remember Dear Old Nutter Linda, but now maybe I’ll amend my will to state that I’d prefer the taxidermist to make me into a corpse clamp so I can hug the tree for all eternity.

The next months will be filled with possibility, frustration, and excitement. I told my husband that we should sell our existing house to free up the budget, and live in a teepee on the property while we hammer and paint. It would act as a motivator to get things moving, and then we would have the coolest guest quarters ever, afterward. I don’t think he wants to hear any more of my ideas right now because he bought an extra large pack of earplugs at the pharmacy right after I suggested the tepee.

This is gonna be fun.

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57 Responses

  1. Your difficult assignment makes you confused and you don’t realize what to do? Take it easy and buy college term paper. It would surely solve your papers writing problems!

  2. Well, you may be correct.

  3. I remember when you first showed this interesting structure on your blog. Congratulations and best wishes for the long haul!

  4. [...] publications, and her persona and sense of style make her perfect for TV too. She is currently transitioning from city to country living, and her stories about this big change are something you won’t want to miss. Here’s [...]

  5. Congrats; this is so exciting! Your new home is beautiful. So sad that I missed meeting you at BlogHer Food but excited to see you next week at the Thermador event!
    Have a wonderful weekend and congrats again!

  6. Cathy Kelley

    Linda, I am sooooo excited for you! Sounds perfect! I hope the move goes well and your kitchen is better than you dreamt it could be….Cathy

  7. Congratulations! I can’t wait to see more pictures of this house!

  8. congrats! i can’t wait to one day do my own kitchen. i just got a part-time gig as a kitchen designer and working on other’s people’s kitchens (OPK) is torture.

    so glad you mention the “work zones” in the kitchen versus the “work triangle”. my boss is old school and firmly adheres to the triangle concept and it’s clear that he does not spend much time “working” in the kitchen.

    i dream of walk-in pantries with refrigerators, 6-burner cooktops, fryers, griddles, etc…

    congrats again and i look forward to the stories of the castle transformation!

  9. Bravo Linda, congratulations! It’s good news both for you and your family and the realization of your dream – and for us, readers, as we have countless wickedly entertaining posts coming our way. When things get tough or frustrating, please keep on writing, it’ll get the steam out!

    And 25 mins out of Seattle? I say it’s close enough so you can take your tiara out once in a while and go stock up on your favorites downtown. Good luck on this great, big and fabulous new project!

  10. pianotempo

    Congratulations! We are happy for you…but we will miss you terribly!

  11. So… you want to let me rent your current house? ;-)

  12. Congrats! You know I’ll back you up on the teepee idea.

  13. Great news Linda! Congratulations! Do you know what are you going to call it?

  14. The ensuing remodel should provide you with years of hilarious blog fodder. I hope you’ll regale us with the stories of your incompetent, butt-crack sporting contractors and goats that prefer your just bloomed, prize-winning azaleas to the foresty brush. Also? The speakeasy secret entrance trigger should be a marble bust of a bald man.

  15. I cannot wait to see pictures of the place!!! I sure hope you post some!

    Linda Reply:

    @Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca), I definitely will- just don’t quite have good ones just yet. I plan to show the process tho, good learning experience for all of us.

  16. Congrats Linda! This house is way cool and I am very happy for you. I hope you have as much fun with your 5 acres as I am having with mine :)

  17. Lauren

    Holy crao, this place sounds amazing! Congratulations and have fun remodeling!

  18. Congratulations Linda!! However, I’m kindof cringing at the idea of some of the things you may do with those farm animals. Salt-killed goat?!

    Linda Reply:

    @Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence, so funny you should bring that up- we were joking about it this weekend. The main obstacle as far as I can tell would be the fur and skin, so for now, livestock is safe.

  19. Woot. See ya Sat. GREG

  20. Congratulations! I’ll be happy to run a rosé shuttle to keep you well-stocked.

  21. Congratulations! This will make you just 20 minutes away from me, in my newly acquired 5 acre venture. Mine is also heavily wooded and now covered with chickens, goats, turkeys, ducks, and rabbits. May your new adventure be blessed by the homesteading gods!

    Linda Reply:

    @sustainableeats, You’re many steps ahead- please check in with super secret rural intel from time to time.

  22. This so super exciting for you! I am looking forward to hearing all about your new adventure. I am feeling the homesteading that is about to ensue in your life. I think that may be one of the best parts, other than having your kitchen be the way YOU want. Congratulations.

  23. This is so exciting! I can’t wait to see how many goats, chickens, etc. fit on those 5 acres! Though now it’ll be harder for me to crash your parties…

  24. i’m soooooo freakin’ excited for you Linda – i really, really am!!! i’ll bring a bottle of sparkly to christen this baby at the housewarming . . . damn, this is gonna be an adventure!!! (((hugs)))

  25. HOW AWESOME Linda! I knew when you posted the pics previously that this gem would be YOURS. I am so excited to see what you do with it. Selling RE for 5 years….your description of “short” sales is spot on. Glad you made it through the process though and are on your way to owning one heck of a wicked house!!


    Linda Reply:

    @Heather | Farmgirl Gourmet, glad you could sense it! I, too, did RE in a former life- what a world.

  26. CONGRATULATIONS!! I am so excited and so happy for you and for all the possibilities that lie ahead.

  27. How SUPER COOL!!! The house looks AMAZING!!!! Sounds like the previous owners had vivid imaginations and the ability to make it come to life too. Can’t wait to see how it evolves especially the mermaid….


  28. So excited for you LInda – will be following along every step of the way!

  29. Oh Linda pants! I am so happy and excited for you. Congrats sweetie.

  30. Congratulations! This is so cool.

  31. SO SO cool! I’m sure you already know this would be the perfect place for a MC reunion?!

    Linda Reply:

    @Lawyer Loves Lunch, best idea ever. Summer, 2013, MC Seattle, baby.

  32. HOT!!!! I knew this was destined to happen. This copper castle was meant to be yours! I can’t wait for home-stylin posts. You should hit up AptTherapy for a regular column, they love projects like this.

    Linda Reply:

    @wasabi prime, Good call!

  33. Hooray!

    When I come visit, can I stay in the turret?

    Linda Reply:

    @Andrew, of course, my love. as long as you don’t mind sleeping in a roomful of shoes on a fainting couch :)

  34. john v phipps

    I think I have something like this is storage.


    I am most likely never going to do that Steampunk cellphone mod that I have in the back of my head. I will gladly make a donation to the secret door project.

    Linda Reply:

    @john v phipps, a phone like that is super cool- love it. If we go that route you can bet your door will be the first one I politely rap on :)

  35. Yay! All of this sounds awesome. And I beg of you to keep the swing in the living room. Just have a rule that no naked butts get to touch it.

    Linda Reply:

    @Jeanne, maybe just a different swing that I can ensure is butt-free?

  36. Leave it to you; I’m expecting something along the lines of ‘How to Sous Vide’ a House.

    Very exciting times; I both do and don’t envy you but I do wish you the best of luck through the transition.

    Linda Reply:

    @Barbara | Creative Culinary, I know exactly how you feel. I’m alternating between great joy and great fear.

  37. Can’t wait to see the progress, Linda. And visit someday! :) ~jacinthe

    jacinthe Reply:

    @jacinthe, Oh, and frolic in the fields with the goats, and ducks, and other creatures!!

    Linda Reply:

    @jacinthe, all frolicking welcome!

  38. Congrats! Can’t wait to come chill with the goats! oh, and you…. The secret door in the house I grew up in (yeah, it was pretty much the coolest thing a nerdy 13yr old gal could want) opened by pushing a picture frame to the side…I’m thinking, depending on what you put in the frame, that could be a good option. I’ll let your overactive imagination run with that.

    Linda Reply:

    @The Gastrognome, Aah, so you think I should have people press on a penis?

  39. Trevor

    Exciting times! Sounds like a really amazing and unique place~

  40. Yay! It’s happening. I can’t wait to come visit. I’ll bring something to deep fry.

    Linda Reply:

    @Ashley, you got it, girl. Deep fry parties- here we come!

  41. How exciting! Congratulations!

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