New Home. New Lessons. New Love.

Falling in love at first sight is something we all know a thing or two about. You know the signals. You meet someone for the first time and your heart leaps, something feels right and everything about the day suddenly feels joyful.
I felt these exact emotions when I saw a 1980s garden house nestled in a cul-de-sac in the Santa Cruz Valley. I’m not sure if it was the acre of land surrounding the tiny space that made my pores raise or the vaulted cathedral ceilings that made my lounge area feel sacred. I was experiencing a whole bunch of things, in any case,  I walked out of the space after seeing it for just 30 minutes, called a loan’s officer at Republic Bank and exclaimed:
“Let’s do this!”
Two months later, with walls torn down and reconstructed, with my never-could-I- imagine -walk-in closet and purpleheart floors rooted in strong, childhood memories, I feel happy, nervous, scared, joyful and at peace. Crazy right, to think of all these emotions existing at the same time? But yes, they sit side-by- side and if it’s one thing we all know about love, it’s how certain and unsure it can make us feel.
I am grateful to be able to take a home that already had poetry in its bones and do justice to the vision that its previous owners had. I have been really careful to renovate it in ways that have made it mine while respecting the charm of what makes a garden house unique, that is, the ability to make the outdoors and indoors merge into one zen-like space
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During the renovations, I learned a lot of things about myself. My architect and project manager, Anthony Salandy (if you’re doing anything with your home this is the guy you should call) kept throwing me phrases that forced me to think about my relationship with space, money and energy. I call them Tony-isms and if you’ve ever bought a property and given into the renovation bug, then all of this is going to be familiar.
Are You Greedy, Judette?
This question was a game changer for me. Anthony and I were standing in the zen den one evening and I was being whiny, wondering if the space was big enough. Anthony paced the room. “Judette you have the courtyard here, the garden is right here and with a few steps you ‘re in this spacious lounge. What more could you want, are you greedy?”
This Tony-ism stopped me in my tracks for one reason only. It reminded me that gratitude is important when renovating because it forces you to focus on the beauty of what you already have without looking for the extras that are, at most times, unnecessary.
I didn’t need more space in my new bedroom when in fact I had given some of it up in order to get a more spacious closet. Yes, I had a smaller bedroom but the room felt more serene. By staying true to the room’s size, style and scale I carried through with ideas that saved me money, time and pressure.
Am I greedy? Of course not! The answer alone was enough for me to visit the site every two days during the renovation with a sense of joy and thankfulness and with a feeling that all of what I had, was more than enough.
You have the money?
When you’re renovating a home and everything is being ripped apart and there is debris everywhere, it’s easy to just keep adding things to your to-do list of things that you maybe didn’t think of at first. “Why wait?” you’ll tell yourself, “do it now so you won’t have to deal with the mess again in the future.”
I uttered that line countless times along the way and I was definitely guilty of tacking on a few extras as Anthony and I got deeper into this project.
His question about money reminded me that budgets guide dreams.
When I move into my new home, I will not have a properly functioning kitchen because I chose to add gorgeous purpleheart floors throughout my lounge, kitchen, bedroom and dining room and I didn’t have the money for both.
I will have a ten-foot dining table but not a carpet underneath it. That costs a pretty penny and pennies add up during a renovation.
All the things I eventually went up in price for were items that were practical. Anthony recommended eaves to prevent any rain from seeping and eventually destroying the wooden floors. It wasn’t in the original budget but I said, yes.
He suggested adding modern lighting to the lounge area, I said no. I preferred to use the money to recommission the pool which was part of the original budget.
A renovation is an exercise in compromise, Truthfully, in the end, there’s always going to be something else you could do when renovating, but trying to stay focused on your original plan is super important.
Here are more questions to keep your budget in perspective. Think about how do you want to live in your home? What makes your day-to-day tasks easier? How do you function in your space? What’s important to you? In the end I didn’t deviate from our original plan too much and that saved me money to add to the second phase of our project, the content studio
Tape measures don't lie!
This is the final Tony-ism that I learned. Anthony always walks around with a measuring tape that he whips out of the pocket of his Bermuda shorts, settling any differences with a flick of his wrist, a tug on the tape, and measurements that dictate what we create.
My closet space got a major upgrade in size (I needed that extra storage), and my dining room grew by about 5 feet thanks to the relocation of an outdoor sitting area (hello friends family!), and we were able to keep the dining chairs I ordered online which I originally thought were too small for the table but were not. Of course, this is after Anthony whipped out his tape. Facts and numbers matter in a renovation. It makes you certain and that’s a good feeling when changing things in your home.
One more week to move.
With one more week to go, It’s crazy to think that I’ve been living out of boxes for 2 months, that I’ve missed Christmas, that my creativity is not great (because I use my space to write, think dream, do) and that I’ve eaten more Ramen noodles than I care to admit (my kitchenware is all packed).
Yet here I am, moving day is next week and all I keep thinking is it’s been worth the wait.
I’m anxious to settle in, to light my taper candles at night and turn up the music or wake up to hot chocolate, step into my courtyard and listen to the woodpeckers rioting on the majestic tree outside my door. I can’t wait to have Forwad Forty dinners and parties at home or have you access the content studio (phase 2 of the renovations) for your own productions.
This space feels like forever, a feeling you can only hope for when love walks your way.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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14 Comments. Leave new

Jeanelle munro
January 26, 2019 12:34 am

Love it, can’t wait to see the Completed Project!! Congrats on your new home.

Forward Forty
January 26, 2019 1:29 am

Thanks so much, it’s going to be a lot of love / work in the process.

Ff serenity palace/ chateau

With regards to the lighted hole in the wall in your bedroom, make it a reflective glass on the outside, this way, you can still enjoy the light in the day and no one will be able to see inside only themselves

Forward Forty
January 26, 2019 4:18 am

What a great idea! Thank you Naya and those names too.

Marion Paula Schwachenberg
January 26, 2019 9:01 am

This is great! Congrats on your new home. Now I feel for a house renovation project of my own!
Looking forward to more update on your beautiful dream space!

Nicholas Campbell
January 26, 2019 6:09 pm

Ahhhhhh screams lol

I love it Judette. Definitely you.
I can literally can see you in that courtyard just sitting creating content.

More screams lol.

Forward Forty
January 31, 2019 8:41 pm

You and Anderson must come over, I’ll call and we will have a lime.

Rachel stampfli
January 27, 2019 2:07 am

What about doing a modern stained glass art installation. Light enjoyment of art and your privacy maintained.

Forward Forty
January 31, 2019 8:42 pm

Rache, what a fab idea, and you know true friends don’t have to wait for an invitation. I’m moving in next week so you must come over. Can’t wait.

This space is excellent. It really gives me inspiration. In regards to the light hole, you can use tinted glass. The person would see a mirrored image but you can see clearly see outside.

Forward Forty
January 31, 2019 8:40 pm

Thanks so much Simone, seems to be the popular tip and I’m loving it.

Gillian caesar
February 4, 2019 12:24 pm

COngrats on your beautiful home and sanctuary judEtte!!! It is A blessing to be surrounded by naTUre in the way that you will soon be. Hope you are Including a water feature within your courtyard. That would Just add to the Tranquility and ‘greeness’ of the space. Continued successs and blessings.

Katyan Roach
March 4, 2019 2:03 pm

So very happy for you judette!

Forward Forty
March 10, 2019 4:16 pm

Thanks so much Katyan

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