House Beautiful

Tag Archive for 'covet living interiors'

We Bought a Fixer Upper!

Ladies & Gents, Gusses & Geese: we have just this afternoon signed our lives away on THE biggest gem of a can of worms of a dreamboat you’ve ever seen:

…in the cutest little postcard of a mountain town there ever was (we live in Crested Butte, Colorado).

{ image via here }

{ image via Travel Crested Butte }

The property is comprised of a 1200 SF front house built in the 1800’s (the white stucco part) – currently not *quite* what you might call “livable” (hey man, floors – who needs em??), and a 1700 SF addition (the wood siding part) built onto the back that was framed & roughed-in in the 80’s, but then was left unfinished & hasn’t been touched since.

The back house addition looks like this inside:

As for the front house… llllisten: if you thought Karrie’s house we renovated 5 years ago was a primitive “before” (#casacovetliving)…

…then hold onto your shorts cuz that was the Four Seasons compared to what we’re delving into.  The term “Fixer Upper” doesn’t *quite* do justice to this little historic, circa 1880’s beauty which currently lacks living room floors but is chock full of blue midcentury plumbing fixtures, velvet-clad walls and serious quirks. Therefore, I contacted this plumber near me and had them inspect the plumbing. They had it done in no time. Visit indianaleak.com/plumbing/drain-cleaning/ for more information on plumbing repairs. And while it may be short on ceilings (they’re just over 7 feet downstairs), it’s high on charm (great bones & lots of tongue-in-groove walls and gabled ceilings), high on endless potential and SURE to be high on cans-of-worms.  AND WE COULD NOT BE MORE THRILLED. Don’t worry for our safety in this old house, we’re installing new locks with help from professional locksmiths dublin. Here, I’ll hit the highlights for you:

Entryway into Living Room

Living Room

Kitchen

Goosie in said kitchen

Sunny little breakfast nook off the kitchen (you better believe imma repurpose that vintage pendant light somewhere)

Downstairs Bath (and currently the only bath)

Velvet Walls for the Win

Upstairs Master Bedroom

When Chris & I first saw this house come on the market, it was last Fall right before our (2nd time’s a charm) wedding, and we remember thinking: “WOW.  Tons of potential, tons of space… ho-ly &$#@ (!) – tons of work.”  We would’ve moved on it then, but we were in a pressure cooker otherwise known as trying to execute a destination wedding with 75 people during a global pandemic, with ever-changing rules (and a crazy DJ who lost his marbles and I was certain was going to call the 5-0 on us, cuz he had already called Gavin Newsom… can’t make this stuff up)… so it was just too overwhelming to do all the things at once.  Plus, there was this problem: “Exsqueeze me, I’ve just spent our down payment on bougainvilleas and booze.  But MAN you should’ve seen my jade velvet tablecloths!  Do you accept handshakes & Monopoly money as a form of currency?”  HAAAAAAA.

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And so after our insane wedding (which I loved SO MUCH and I wouldn’t take ONE SINGLE PART OF IT BACK – NOT ONE!), there we sat – just sweating while we watched the market tick up & up, and were racing against the clock so we could jump in before it was all out of our reach.  Crested Butte is a dang gem, but it’s no longer a hidden one: it’s actually referred to as “the last great mountain town in Colorado,” and people used to always say to us: “What do you guys DO that you get to live in this place full-time?”  It’s true that Winters here are not for the faint of heart – they are brutal and unrelenting…

It’s also true that you’re sure to stand in line for at least 1 hour at the Post Office at Christmas time, which melts my brain… and that we are a far reach from the big red bullseye (closest Target is 2 hours away).  But if that’s the worst of it, then yo – I’d say we’re in pretty good shape.  This sweet, belongs-in-a-Hallmark-movie small town is stunningly beautiful, with an abundance of nature that is largely untouched and still wild… it always feels safe (I think maybe someone borrowed someone else’s townie bike to get home from the bars last Summer, then returned it the next day, but that’s about the worst shenanigan I’ve heard of going down here), and it has THE most magical Summer & Fall.  M-A-G-I-C-A-L.  I tell you what – they just don’t make towns like this anymore.

{ via } – photo by Morgan Rachel Levy

Anyhow… the ski resort here was bought by Vail a few years ago, which drove up the real estate market a sniff, but I swear when COVID hit, sh*t went bananas and all bets were off: everyone and their mom’s brother’s uncle’s cousin figured out that they, too, could live here and work from home.  It was (and is) like a real-life game of Monopoly – or a group mud wrestling match – or that scene from Far and Away where people were hustlin dem wagons out to the frontier and staking their claim on anything they could… and we were about two shakes from being totally out of luck and either having to rent forever, or having to move out of town.  Every *single* house that hits the market in this place (as I’m sure is the case in all resort towns) has multiple offers, almost always cash offers, and almost always over asking price.  HEH?  All I could think was: dang, is a tiny roof over our heads such an astronomical ask? I don’t know if we can run with the big dogs.  Where do the Muggles go?  This is us btw.  We are muggles.

And then, our little gem came back on the market one day in late January, and we walked a few blocks over from our house to view it with our (most AMAZING realtor, without whom we would’ve been lost) and good friend, Jesse Ebner of Signature Properties & her husband Dave…

…and as Chris & I stepped into the little front living room with no floors, sagging ceilings and not ONE extra ounce of space for even a fart, we both said, almost in unison: “OMG I love it.  I am NOT scared.”

We raced in an offer the next morning, and knowing it was a huge Hail Mary and that we probably didn’t have a dog in the fight, I wrote a letter that I asked Jesse to enclose with our offer.  I introduced myself and Chris to the sellers, told them we were locals and both business owners in town and that we wanted our kids to know what it was like to grow up in a place like this.  I told them we wanted to raise our family in this house and that that was our intention not to do a quick flip or turn it into an AirBNB, but to live in it full time and lovingly restore it.  I told them why we loved the house so much – that Chris loved the Norwegian-looking historic exterior of the front house, that I loved the sunny breakfast nook, the gabled storybook ceilings upstairs, the imprinted concrete driveway, and the big yard for Goose.  I told them I was a designer and that I loved renovations the most, because they’re always a puzzle to be solved and there is always a reverence for the history of an older home.  I told them we knew they probably would have tons of other offers, but that I wanted them to know how earnest we were… and that we had every intention of getting to the closing table (the house had 2 contracts fall through previously).  And so we sat on pins & needles for 2 days, and then Jesse FaceTimed us: “YOU GUYS ARE BUYING A HOUSE IN CRESTED BUTTE!!!” – not the finest glamour shot of either of us but the happiest snap, in the interest of documenting…

Chris was all calm and collected and sat back and goes: “….whooaaaa, this is so awesome.” And I go… something like this:

GIPHY via Jay Versace

The road from contract to closing, however, had more ups & downs than the Vortex at Kings Island (Burris kids get the joke BURRIS KIDS GET THE JOKE!!).  You know what’s NOT for the faint of heart?  Getting a jumbo loan for a pair of 1099 employees on a historic non-conforming property, during COVID.  I swear, I couldn’t buy a dag gum pair of undapants for the last 45 days without the underwriters asking me who/what/where/why/when I bought em… then there’s more shenanigans like: “Because of COVID, we need to make sure you’re still employed, Stephanie, as of a few days before closing so could YOU send us every.single.piece.of.paperwork you have touched over the last 10 days” and I thought my brain was going to explode. I was like: “Mr. Underwriter, I am so overly employed right now that I don’t know how to stop what I’m doing to create a paper trail for you but OK FOR THIS HOUSE I WILL DO IT.”  The only thing more fun than that was trying to get insurance on a house built in 1880 where they ask you 20 ways to Sunday: “And tell me again, when was the last time the roof was replaced?”  And I would just snort laugh and go, “I think in the 90’s!”  THE 1890’s, THAT IS – fbdsafhdkshafkdhahfkah.  Anyhow – by some miracle, we made it (!) and she’s all ours.

In the interest of getting a jump on permits and everything else e.g. appliances that are backordered until the end of time, we’re already pretty neck-deep in planning (I may or may not have already done most of the CAD drawings for what we want to do… #SQUEAL).  I will be blogging & Insta story-ing through the renovation process (and another medium that’s in the works that rhymes with schmboob schmtube), so I hope you guys can follow along through all the twists & turns (and cans of worms) that are surely ahead!  I mean, how does my favorite saying go??

“Pretty sure “What the hell?” is always the right decision.”

WE ARE SO EXCITED.  So is Goosie:

Up next week: Renovation Plans!

Pop Quiz: what should the hashtag for this project be???  Doing a giveaway for whoever manages to come up with the best one!  Stay tuned via my Instagram page for details.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

Good Things { November 2020 }

Welp, here’s at least one thing we can all agree on: QUESO IS DELICIOUS.  This recipe is from Pinch of Yum – lemme know how it is if you try it before I do, but I’ve had really good luck with her stuff before.

While we’re getting fatter just sitting here looking at stuff, I am taking this Blackberry Thyme Brie en Croute for a spin at our next suppa party.  Cheese is never a bad idea.

This Penny Morrison fabric appears to be discontinued, but I’m still lusting after it.  Big luscious drapery panels (???) – yes please.

New Favorite Podcast = Wine for Normal People.  We binged it recently a few weeks ago with the same fervor as we would a new season of Stranger Things.

Is there anything sweeter than an old golden??  ANYTHING IN THIS WHOLE WORLD??  …OH, GUSSIE!  (ps these photos are by Dai Chan – beautiful pics of his pup here).

I just found this pic on my phone when I was on a plane yesterday, bored to tears and deleting old photos, which made me cry when I saw it.  It’s my sweet Daddy and Gus.  My Dad LOVED Gus…  LOVED.  You know if you follow me on social media that we are obsessed with and adore little Goose, but man.  They are all such little individuals and such people.  There will never be another O.G.

Our officiant at our wedding (who is a close friend of Chris’) a few weeks ago spoke about Gus, and the life & marriage lessons we could all take from him for a large part of the ceremony.  I think people assumed we fed him the lines, but it was a surprise to both myself and Chris – and there was not ONE DRY EYE IN THE DAMN HOUSE.

photo by Anni Graham

Also had these as our cocktail napkins.  I had a lady named Alicia on Etsy make them (she was wonderful) – I sent her a picture of Big Gus and she sketched it out and it was printed on them in copper.  My baby boy was there, everywhere – on the napkins, in the sermon, in my heart… everywhere.

Favorite kind of mani – besides the vanilla kind I usually get (Bubble Bath!) is a half-moon mani like this.  Makes the grow out easy breezy.

The perfect green!  Belongs in my future house somewhere – butler’s pantry, a vanity or a laundry room.  Ladurée in Paris.

Really pretty exterior brick & paint combo.

This hexagon mosaic pattern is pretty specific, but man it’s rad.  Via Rebecca Atwood’s Insta.

Love this for Fall.  Source unknown.

I’m all about staple shoes, and here they are.  I can hardly find these anywhere, except maybe on Poshmark or eBay, in a size 4.

I do other peoples’ kitchens for a living, and it may be my most fun room to do, because it’s like a portrait of the homeowner you paint via the combination of finishes, materials, and the way it functions.  This one is by Jessica Helgerson (credit:  for AD), and I audibly gasped when I saw it.

Favorite parts include:

  • the hand painted floor, which is a big commitment in a space like a kitchen – where doodles can’t easily be un-did – but in this case, I feel like it is what makes the space, but it definitely has a more timeless quality than so many of the patterned floors I’ve seen.  The terra cotta color is rich and warm, and becomes a neutral in the space and another layer of texture.
  • the Rocky Mountain Hardware brass apron-front sink, which I’ve been trying to get into someone’s house since the beginning of time (it was in this doodle back in 2014), and
  • the Lacanche range.

 

If I were doing it, I would probably have swapped out the freestanding island for an antique shop counter, like this one from Field & Fort in Santa Barbara:

And I would make room for (I can do this, because this is fantasy land and I’m the mayor) my two favorite Italian 1950’s vintage pendants that I picked up at Hollywood at Home a few years ago – almost identical to these: 

Anyhoo.  Since now we have the wedding under our belts, it’s about that time to try to settle into a house.  We love our (operative word: little) cozy place in Crested Butte, but we’re tinkering with the idea of either building (which is not a speedy process here) or buying a resale that we may have to do some work to (and knowing me / us, nothing will be the way we want it so I’ll have to turn it inside out).  Building costs are also bananas in this town… and I would almost equate trying to nail down subcontractors to herding sheep, but that hardly cuts it; it’s probably a little more like trying to nail molasses to the wall.  IT’S OK I’LL FIGURE IT OUT.  Anyhow, I’ll have to write a separate post soon to share all the fun stuff we wanna do, and then imma hafta figure out how to stretch our budget from stale beer to bubbly champagne so I can include all the highfalutin things we want.  But while I’m at it, here’s a wallcovering I die over slash MUST HAVE – via Nicky Kehoe.  Looks like William Morris but can’t 100% place it.

Also die over William Morris’ Pimpernel in Fig / Sisal.  It’s elegant, it reads old world and timeless but can also read modern, depending on what you put it with.  And it feels in motion, which I love.  The combinations in each colorway are also stunning.

Waiting with baited breath for Carolina Irving’s new release of “Delos.”  Spring 2021.  Have my hand on the buzzer à la Family Feud to use it on one of my fave clients’ dining chairs or counterstools.

I saw this Royal Cauldon Dinnerware pattern at an antique store on our mini-moon and I stalking it hard trying to collect it.

I could keep hunting that, or just blow my future kids’ college funds on the Oriente Italiano collection, which is so beautiful it’s stupid.  I’ll gladly eat trash scraps under a bridge on those plates.  jfdlsjfkdsjhakjfhdajkhakjha

How cute is this dress?  It almost looks like the maternity version and the inverse of Julia’s dress from the polo match in Pretty Woman.

Also, these pearl studs.  OMG I have to post something about Def Leppard or a t-shirt from Goodwill stat before I go straight snooty sorority house meets Golden Girls right in front of your eyes.

Here’s one of my fave new (old) songs:

 

I pride myself on lots of things, but one of them is sniffing out (get it?) the best candles for every season.  I’ve ordered a few brands into the shop (and returned almost all of them) – because sometimes they have a good nose (e.g. when you lift off the lid and sniff them in the store) BUT so many times, then they don’t smell the same (or smell at all) when they burn, which has to the ratio of the actual oil to wax that the candlemaker uses.  Anyhoo – one line I kept is NEST, which I carry exclusively in Crested Butte, and also 1 flava-flave from 1 other line.  Here are my 4 favorites for this time of year:

1 – Ethics Supply Co, Black Elk Peak, $38.  Has a woodsy, cozy, almost spicy scent to it that I think works great during the Fall but also into the holidays.

2 – NEST Holiday, $42 for the regular size, or $68 for the 3-wick.  A holiday classic!  So good, and the box is gorgeous for gift-giving.  I have both sizes in the shop.

3 – Thymes Frasier Fir, price varies per size.  Smells like a Christmas tree, but super potent and super delicious.  Only one I don’t carry, but the nice lady across the street (Elena / Casa Bella) does.

4 – NEST Moroccan Amber, $42 for the regular size.  Kind of a warm, vanilla & amber, fireside, more gender-neutral candle you can burn year-round, but great for the holidays, too.  I have been surprised how much I love this one.

Comment on this post or email me at stephanie.m.ballard@gmail.com to order!  Or just pop in the shop sometime!

Speaking of the shop – I have made a lot of custom ottomans for it in the past few years, but I’ve never seen an ottoman I’m more obsessed with than THIS one from House of Windsor by Windsor Smith.  Even Chris Driscoll lost his mind when he saw it.

How pretty is this for a stacking band?

Maybe I’ll add it one of these days?

Saw and screen shot this ages ago on Sally King Benedict’s Insta Story – cuz that is a BOMB STACK.

How dope is this Bolivian Frasada I picked up at Porch in Summerland (Santa Barbara) during our honeymoon?

Speaking of… I referenced it before, but our 10.22.20 wedding was insane.  I-N-S-A-N-E.  So magical I don’t have the words to describe it.  Will also have to post about that someday soon (lots of pics on Insta and in this highlight), and tell you about everything from mind-bending drama like the time my one-time DJ called Gavin Newsom (as in the Governor of California, on the phone) about my wedding, to mind-blowing wedding cake aka the time we flew in the orange shebert cake from Cru Cafe in Charleston.

We mini-mooned in Santa Barbara & Paso Robles – also must write out recs for those.  Also must book trip back ASAP.  My, I’m making myself a fat to-do list for a lazy Sunday.  Santa Barbara in particular may be tied with San Diego for the places my soul was meant to live.

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Here’s one rec for your Thanksgiving Day table: we had a few favorites from Paso, but Adelaida was our fave vineyard, and this is my fave wine for the price point from them.  My favorite wine altogether is the 2016 Syrah, but this one is a fraction of the cost, still delicious, but a really good table-drinking wine.

Also, the 2017 Lazy Creek Pinot Noir slays.

I also totally want to blog (soon) a Registry List with our favorite things we got (plus favorite kitchen stuff we already had), and a few tabletop mock-ups, so remind me to do that.  All of this (except the silverware, which is vintage – and which we used at the wedding) can be ordered thru yours truly.  What I love about this set-up is how versatile it is.  I have a few vintage and/or colorful tablecloths that all of this plays so nicely with.  You could also totally change up the napkins and the glassware depending on the season / what else you have happening chez vous.

PS these were our tabletops at the wedding.  CAN YOU EVEN HANDLE IT.  Photo by Anni Graham.

The patina on this antique piece in an entryway by Amber Lewis is perfection.

Well friends (!) thanks for letting me brain dump all over you and all over the interwebs on a Sunday afternoon. Gotsta scoot to do precisely this:

I for sure blabbed about what to blog about next, but what do YOU guys want to hear about?

xoxo,