Both my husband and I love Northern California and the Central Coast of California. When we first got married, San Francisco is where we planned to eventually live, but according to my husband, our house is located in the closest suburb of San Francisco we can afford. We are in Southern California. But he is right. California real estate is always outrageously priced in comparison to other parts of the country, and to get me the nice size yard I want for my little urban homestead, San Francisco isn't a place we could afford to do it.
|Our little house on move in day, April 1997.|
Our real estate agent understood we were looking for a big yard in a good location that happened to have a house attached. It took us nine months to find it. Don't get me wrong, we wanted lots of other nice stuff, like original vintage tile counters, hard wood floors, a fire place, and hopefully three bedrooms, but the decent sized yard was at the very top of our priority list. I had my heart set on creating the kind of yard my grandmother had had back in Southgate with all her fruit trees and veggie garden. Over those nine months, the housing market was heating up and recovering after a long down period. We did find a few other houses with nice sized lots in our price range, but each time, there were multiple offers over the asking price or it was sold before we submitted our offer.
Honestly, I hated this house when we first saw it at an open house. It was stuck in the late 1970s or early 80s, and I am a mid century/ 1940s vintage girl. The second owner, Rosemary, did some home improvement projects when she first bought the place in the early 1970s, but almost all of it reflected her love of a country looking decor. After those improvements, she never went back and updated before listing the house for sale, two decades later. At one time, she must have really loved faux wood and wood paneling. It was everywhere. There was a wall of wood paneling in the front bedroom, faux wood throughout the laundry room, faux wood paneling the 1/2 bathroom, more wood paneling the living room, and last but not least, cork paneling in the middle bedroom. Some of those rooms also had an accent wall or two with floral 1980's wallpaper. She replaced the original kitchen tile counter top with a faux wood formica pattern counter top. Very little of the 1940's charm was left intact. The yard did have a couple of trees and lots of grass, but the fences were falling down and termite ridden and italian cypresses kept the sunlight from getting into the from windows. The red wood pergola patio cover was also on it last leg. The original hall bathroom seafoam green tile had been replaced with a bland looking white and beige solid surface tub surround. One of the rooms had vinyl faux wood laminate flooring glued down on top of the hardwood. It also had old fashion western saloon doors between the kitchen and dinning area. There were half length wood shutters throughout the house. We disliked a lot of these decor changes made to the 1940's house, but none of it was permanent or impossible to change back to the original period.
|The 1/2 bathroom sink, stuck in the 1970s with wood and fake wood everywhere|
It really was an truely ugly house, but it had a lot of other things going for that made it easy to look past its surface faults. There were nicer and bigger houses out there, but they all had smaller yards or bad locations. The house had an extra bathroom, a cavernous 1/2 bath by 1940's standards. The bathroom was a big plus after having only one bathroom for the first 5 years of our marriage. If Hanbury House had not had that second bathroom, we probably would have kept searching and never made an offer on the house. It had a third bedroom. Most houses in our price range only had two bedrooms, and we were planning to start our family. We peaked under the corner of carpet and the original red oak wood floors were still there. However, nothing could be done about the tile. The yard was big by Southern California suburban standards and had an interesting shape with a big shady tree. It was around the corner from a park. It was on a culdusac. It was in walking distance to lots of little antique shops, a post office, a hardware store, a library, a grocery store, a library, and a drug store. It was 100 yards to the park with a duck pond. Being in walking distance to so many nice services and places would benefit our lives. We were sold. It was all about location. We figured we could make the house the home we wanted later on as money and time allowed.
|The urban duck pond around the corner from our house. A bunch of pelicans stop by for a visit. In the spring, we get lots of ducks nesting in our front yard garden because of our proximity to it.|
Unfortunately, the first year was spent updating the inside, and we had to save up a little more before we could start working a little on the outside. In the mean time, we enjoyed our location. Building the garden had to wait until winter of 1998.