Posts Tagged ‘alma project’

Alma Project Update + New House Inspiration

Monday, June 9th, 2014

So there’s good news and bad news on the housing front. Let’s start with the bad, or shall I say, the disappointing setback. You may recall I was given the task in February to furnish a house for our local COTS (our charitable efforts we dub the Alma Project) and I embraced the challenge and off I went thrifting for the cause snagging furniture to use for the project. Then two months ago, I was asked to hold off on any further improvements because the city that owns the house was all of a sudden considering selling it and four others instead of extending the long term leases to the transitional housing program.

There were many meetings and pleas before the city council to not sell and to continue to foster the program which transitions people from homelessness back to society. Two weeks ago we were told despite the protests that the city decided to sell so the disheartening news is the houses are no longer available for the program. I’m really saddened by the situation, but we’re determined to find other houses from private donors to lease to program, I’ll keep you posted if any land in our lap. Many of those thrift store purchases I’ll be selling and donating the proceeds to COTS but two I’ll keep for …

dashed line

…the good news, at least for us, which is that after a long and arduous search, Matt and I found a house to buy and last week it became ours. First I should say to those who have asked, no we are not moving!  We love our current house and its location. I have no intention of redecorating it, I love it the way it is, and we have absolutely no plans to leave. This is the tale of our search for a second home to upgrade and renovate.

We’ve always loved architecture and remodeling, we spend a lot of our time discussing how to improve homes, spaces, and yards, and what we’d do if given the opportunity with a particular home which is why we set out to buy another house. I haven’t taken official “before” pics of the home we bought yet, I will soon, so meanwhile here’s our story mixed in with some inspirational images for the upcoming remodel.

global inspired entry

So as you know Matt is a real estate appraiser and broker and together we have fixed up houses and condos within our means since the 2000s and even expanded and remodeled our primary residence beginning in 2006. But after the recession hit it was game over on investing for awhile while we waited for the market to stabilize. Real estate has been volatile for years, hitting rock bottom everywhere, but now in many communities the market is showing signs of appreciation.

We haven’t bought real property since before recession, we decided to wait instead and save our money and invest when the time was better for us. We paid off our debt and started placing money into a savings account every month.

tiled staircase christine markatos

Of course it’s important to have diverse investments but we love real estate the most for the simple reason you can fix it up, put your personal stamp on it, and then sell it for profit in a good market or hold on to it as part of an investment portfolio. It’s what we do best, he’s the appraiser, I’m the decorator, both of us are DIYers and together we decide what fixtures and finishes work best in the renovation process.

We almost bought a house in Salt Lake City with my sister last year, but then they found one on their own, we were thrilled for them, so we turned our attention back home to California. And for six months we tried to purchase real estate in our own backyard.

*Ahem* That was maddening, to put it lightly. In much of California, it’s a seller’s market again. We looked at over 50 fixer upper homes for sale in our budget and made multiple offers on homes within 20 miles of our current home. None of our offers were ever accepted, we were outbid every time by all cash buyers and we just couldn’t compete.

It was extremely frustrating process that we endured for months. As nice as the weather is out here, what’s true is that California real estate compared to the rest of the nation ranks as the least affordable.

stylish loggia southern living

So in order to buy, we had to change strategies.

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Thrifting for the Cause

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Hello everyone, I hope you’re relaxing on this three day weekend here in the States. We spent some time on Saturday in San Francisco at a friend’s wedding and enjoyed an evening stroll, it was unusually warm and we walked through a neighborhood filled with homes with classic architecture, it reminded me I really need to photograph some of those beauties in the various neighborhoods soon.

Last week I did some serious treasure hunting at thrift stores for a great cause. We’re so excited to be jumping back into our philanthropic efforts with the Alma Project. Last week I met with the Director of Housing for our local Committee on the Shelterless and the request was a big one: furnish and decorate an entire house including a family room, dining room, and 4 bedrooms by early summer. [For those unfamiliar with our Alma Project efforts, you can read all about our remodeling projects here.] For me, there’s nothing better than decorating with style on a budget for our favorite charity so I wholeheartedly welcomed the challenge! 

This home’s purpose will serve single adults transitioning from the homeless shelter so the need is for double and twin beds for each bedroom. The Angel of Amazing Thrift Store Prices was hovering over my shoulder as I hit up my favorite local stops and scored some really great finds. (For locals, the Sacks on Liberty Street in Petaluma has some great scores from time to time.)

price tag

I explained the cause to the manager of another one of my favorite thrift stores, the St. Vincent de Paul in Rohnert Park, CA and he gave me a bigger discount on a furniture sale so I saved a ton by being in the right place at the right time. 

I bought two blonde wood full/double headboards, one for $10 and another for $13 – the one in the rear is a basic wood headboard that I will either upholster or add molding to similar to the ones below.

jenny lind style headboard

 headboard makeover options

tobi fairley / ana white


The second full headboard is a Jenny Lind spool style with spindles that will look fab painted a bright color or perhaps something more neutral or even just white. 

aqua painted jenny lind

land of nod


I could not pass up this four poster bed, I think some Restore-A-Finish will bring it back to life. After the discount this was $40, which is such a deal given that similar pineapple finial poster beds sell for hundreds of dollars at auction or in antique stores.

pineapple finial antique poster bed


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