the home that i bid on last week (and lost — boo hoo) had the most beautiful kitchen. sleek Carrara marble countertops and backsplash — and deep, almost-navy gray cabinetry. it was stunning. i could have cooked in there a whole lot! chop onions ’til i’m sobbing? no problem! alas, it is not to be, but it’s definitely got me considering that kind of makeover should the home i finally find need a renovation, and it’s entirely likely it will. a lot of the places i’m looking at are fixers, with ahem — atrocious looking kitchens. but thankfully, there’s plenty of inspiration out there on the interwebs these days — so i’m keeping track of my dream kitchens on pinterest, and in my imagination — here’s a few dreamy ones.
i don’t know how many of you have purchased your own dream homes, but those of you who have, probably know that it can be a truly challenging process. there are soaring highs — when you find a home you really love and decide to make an offer; and some pretty low lows — when you get outbid or lose a house for any number of reasons. it’s a process i’m learning to be patient with. and regardless of the ups and downs, i am learning a ton, and it makes me feel a new sense of confidence about being an adult. i’ll be honest, i’ve never been really great with money. i’m a hard worker, but i’m not sure i’ve ever made my money work hard for me — so learning about the home buying process is empowering to me and makes me feel like i have more control over my future. and that feels great.
i’m learning a lot from trulia where i keep track of the current market on daily, even hourly basis if i really go on a mad house hunting binge. the power of internet sites like trulia have been invaluable to me, especially house hunting from a distance — i’m here in san francisco, but moving to L.A. means i need to be as competitive as i can be, and watching the housing market and keeping track of what houses are going for in the neighborhoods i like has been really helpful when it comes to making an offer and knowing the value of homes in the surrounding neighborhoods. if you’re looking to buy a home, and especially your first home, here’s a few things i’ve discovered along my way:
1. keep track of the houses you’re interested in online, and even ones you’re not — knowing what ‘comps’ (comparable houses in real estate lingo) in the area are going for is really helpful when it comes to making an offer on your dream home. you can keep track anyway you like on trulia’s boards and i keep track of homes i’m following by neighborhood, and even when they’ve got offers pending i can watch and see what they ultimately sell for.
2. find a realtor you trust. one that you have been referred to by friends in the area, and one you have a comfortable and honest rapport with. it’s important because, trust me — you’re going to be driving them nuts with questions and you need someone who keeps you sane, and is patient and kind — never pushy. i love my realtor and i joke that he’s almost like my therapist, always there for me when i get panicky about making offer, or seeing a house that’s just come on the market. they will be your trusted advisor, so be sure you feel good about them. good communication and mutual understanding and respect is key.
3. your realtor should also have a good relationship with other realtors in the area – after all, they all work together to make the sale happen. your realtor’s relationships with listing agents can be so helpful when it comes to making an offer on a home, and getting that offer seriously considered. it can also be very helpful in getting the inside track on how high your offer should be, so you can stay competitive in the real estate game.
4. get pre-approved for your home loan before you even start the hunt. this is a big one, because in certain markets things happen fast. if you have to wait to get approved for a loan you could miss out making an offer. my realtor referred me to a home loan officer who worked with me to get me pre-approved for my loan very quickly. so get your ducks in a row — have your financial papers, like your current bank statements, pay stubs, last two year’s tax filings ready to present (PDF’s are usually fine these days), and anything else your loan officer needs to get you approved to start getting serious about buying a home.
5. write the sellers a letter. a very personal one — tell them why you love their home, why you should live there, and a little bit about yourselves. whether it be sharing your family, pets and life goals with them — get honest. i’ve created a pretty PDF with photos of myself, my pup Lucy and my interiors — I want to demonstrate to them just how much it means to me to buy their home. selling your home is emotional, and buying certainly is, so i think it’s important to make yourself ‘real’ — not just a dollar figure on an offer. it might not always help, but it can’t hurt, either.
6. try to remember that you’re buying a home to suit your future needs, not just your current ones. look for homes that you’ll be able to grow into or shrink into as the size of your family expands or contracts. consider other factors such as maintenance, HOA fees, your commute to work, school districts, yard size, neighborhood safety, walkability, and yard maintenance. maybe you don’t need a yard today, but in a few years, maybe you’d like to adopt a dog or plant a big garden. for me a yard for lucy (and myself!) is crucial, especially in L.A. so that factors big into my considerations. think about what you really want out of a house. it’s a big investment, so you should get what you want without too many compromises. every house has its positives, and its drawbacks. find a good balance.
7. lastly, and this one is so very tough for me, but try not to get too emotionally involved with a house before it’s yours. i’m so guilty of this, but i’m trying really hard to learn from the heartache that can cause. finding a home that’s right for you takes time and it’s best to try to keep slightly detached. me — i like to decorate and remodel the place before i even move in, and that’s a lot of head spinning in the middle of the night that’s really not necessary. yes, it can be fun for a bit, but i recommend trying to keep a practical and healthy distance if at all possible. and if you can’t — well just comment below and we’ll commiserate together. xo, victoria
yesterday i had the most delightful pleasure of visiting Wilma’s World — which in reality is actually ceramicist rae dunn’s beautiful, light-filled studio in west berkeley. wilma is rae’s sweet pup — a jack russell terrier, and she’s inspired rae’s first book, Wilma’s World: Good Advice from a Good Dog. When Rae and Wilma met in 2005, their worlds were forever changed. rae’s book is a small glimpse into her special world with wilma — where life is simple and full of joy, and adventure is around every corner.
i’ve long been a fan, so it was such a pleasure to visit rae, a California native artist, who discovered clay by accident in 1993, and it slowly took over her life. her studio is just so stunning, and i couldn’t help be inspired. Her own inspiration comes from the earth, and she finds beauty in simple shapes, natural forms, and found objects. In the same way that it was in clay where rae found her creative voice, it was in Wilma where she found her heart. her charming book of photographs shares the wise insights of wilma, who reminds us to slow down and see the beauty in simple things. Wilma’s World features photographs rae’s taken of wilma for years, catalogued into this lovely book and hand-lettered with wilma’s clever and insightful witticisms. if you’re in the bay area, you can meet wilma and rae at their book signing, this saturday, march 28th at george in san francisco, 4 – 6pm. thanks so much for the tea, and the wonderful visit, rae + wilma!
spring has sprung — so it’s time to get outside and embrace it! the lovely folks at papillionaire bicycles invited me to share their vintage-inspired dutch style city bikes with you, so i thought it was the perfect opportunity to create my very own easter-like parade. i’ve had this idea floating around my brain for a while now, and i knew the ideal person to bring my vision to life was kiana of tulipina floral design, so i turned over the wicker bike basket and let her work her magic. then i asked cindy loughridge to cruise around the neighborhood with me, so to speak, and capture the beauty of my papillionaire bike in all it’s spring glory. everywhere we went people stopped us to ask what we were up to, and admire my beautiful bike — so much fun!
i chose the sleek black sommer style bike with a leather seat and grips — i liked its ‘beach cruiser’ style and upright sitting positioning — making it a really smooth, easy ride through the city streets. but you can build your bike anyway you like — you can customize the color, accessories to important stuff like the number of gears best for getting around your terrain. Papillionaire Bicycles was founded in Australia in 2009 by Alan Caras, he was soon joined by his sister, Nicola Baker. together, their aim is to integrate bike-riding seamlessly into your everyday life, Whether you’re in jeans, a dress, a suit or flip-flops, they want to make riding a Papillionaire easy, clean and fun — bringing classic European design to the streets of the United states and across the globe. Drop into their Brooklyn location, check out their dealers, or visit them online — they offer free shipping across the U.S.
• photography by cindy loughridge for sfgirlbybay.
let’s go to funky town, shall we? let’s get down and eclectic! i love decorating with a bohemian, cultural, ethnic vibe — and these spaces definitely have that going on. filled with vintage furnishings, fun, bright colors, and great textiles paired with unexpected patterns — like beautiful area rugs layered over tile floors. i love all the added plant life in some of these rooms too — bringing the outdoors inside creates a really welcoming and comfortable feeling. i’m just love this funky look!