How Granada House Became

Predictability is a tricky thing. If you ask me, most things in life are unpredictable. When we are kids, we don't really have too much control - we live where are parents choose to live and mostly do what they would like us to do - so we don't even think about how to predict. I realize that the fact that I was raised internationally would predict the fact that I would forever be filled with wonder about the world. In a word, wanderlust probably defines me. But I could not have predicted what that would mean for the future and how it would impact my life. I should have predicted that I would take the opportunity to travel every chance I got and squeeze in a study abroad experience wherever possible and choose to live in a foreign country after school, but I didn't predict how the places I went and the people I met would shape me in adulthood. I should have predicted my restless spirit and unease about staying in one spot, but I could not have predicted how hard it was to find a 'home'.

Now let's throw something else into the mix, another person. I sometimes like to tease my husband Kyle that I always thought I would marry a foreigner, ie not an American. Yes, I am an American but since I was not raised in this country of liberty I never thought I would relate enough to another American to marry them - especially one born and raised in a very small town in Oregon. It just so happens that this Oregon boy was the 'black sheep'. He knew that he was not meant for just this small town, but that there was a huge world out there to explore and he decided it would be his mission in life. He wanted to explore so badly that he lied on his Spanish placement test so that he could study abroad in Argentina, even though he spoke very poor Spanish and the entire semester was to be conducted in Spanish. As they say, where there is a will there's a way.

It just so happens that as Kyle was returning from this semester in Argentina and I was leaving for a semester in New Zealand, we crossed paths. Our future together would be molded by travel. We reunited after I returned from New Zealand, but not for long. After a year, Kyle would move to Costa Rica while I finished my final year of school (which would also include some solo time in Argentina). He returned from Costa Rica in time for me to graduate, but it was not in our future to stay stationary. Two weeks after my graduation, we moved to South Korea to teach English. Neither of us had ever taught, neither of us had spent much time in Asia, neither of us knew anyone there, but the fact that it meant another chance to live abroad? We were sold.

I know what some of you are thinking. Some of you already know the international side of us and our love for travel. Some of you know how we met. Some of you know all the places we've been and all our crazy stories. What does this have to do with our house? Well neither of us could have predicted that we would ever find a place we even remotely wanted to press pause and 'settle' in let alone purchase a home there. We had to first come to the realization that one of the things that we most loved about travelling were the people that we met along the way. Yes, you see amazing places and 'wonders of the world' when travelling, but most of the things that stay imprinted in your memory are not what you saw but who you were with. We didn't want to be the bohemian travelers of our families forever (although there are days I still long for this), but wanted to create our own place. A place that we could welcome others from all over the world and give them the type of experiences that shaped our past travels. In sum, the best hosts for travelers are travelers themselves. Travelers want someone open and friendly but most importantly genuine. When you are with people you know you can trust, even though technically they are strangers, your time travelling will be much more enjoyable.

It would be a bit overwhelming if I spewed out our entire history of moving place to place, but the important thing is somehow the road led us to San Diego. San Diego encompasses the best of Southern California living - the weather is perfection, the beaches and terrain are beautiful, and the people are down to earth. I should note that we aren't really experts on all of San Diego, our bubble is specific to one small area of San Diego - North Park. North Park was first put on the nation's radar when Forbes included it in the best 'hipster' neighborhoods in the county. I'm not really going to get into defining the term 'hipster'. We could probably get in a never ending discussion about what a 'hipster' is, just as we could talk about if God is real... We knew pretty soon after we moved here and rented a house that this was the place to actually put down some roots. If that means we are super liberal hipsters in your eyes, so be it. Although I still don't really know what that means. We just like quirky and interesting people that are passionate about life and the world and there are a lot of those people here.

We were about six months into renting a house in North Park when we decided to be renegades and start doing something 'illegal' - welcome strangers into our home to stay with us. It was so crazy at the time! I remember the night Kyle sat me down on the sofa and said 'so there is this thing called Airbnb and you can rent your spare room to travelers. Want to do it?'. I thought he was mad at first, but then realized we had both stayed in numerous hostels and bed and breakfasts throughout the world and it would be pretty fun to switch roles and become the hosts. That is how it all started - when we started to welcome the world to us. It's hard to even remember what it was like to welcome our first guests. I'm sure I probably rearranged and fussed with everything in the guest room to make sure it was absolutely perfect. Now it's all a blur. At that house, in our spare guestroom, we welcomed over 50 guests. We loved hosting so much that when it came time to buy our home a few blocks away we actually remodeled a random outdoor patio building into a custom vacation cottage in the backyard.

Welcoming strangers into your home often turns into meeting amazing people that you end up being friends with. We were hosting a German couple in our rental home when it was time to move into the new place. They loved living in our crazy house with our crazy pets so much that they actually moved with us to the new place. Not only did they move with us, they actually packed up and moved almost the entire house while we were out of town attending wedding. So if you open up your home to travelers, you might end up with some Germans that move your house for you. At one point during those first six months in the new home, we had 'the German' living in the sun room, two girls (Illinois & Zimbabwe) in the spare bedroom, and another friend living in the cottage during renovations. Every time someone moved on, there was someone waiting to take their place. When the German finished his studies and moved back to Germany & the girl from Zim moved back home, a South African was there to fill the void. When our friend in the cottage found a permanent place to live, a guy from Seattle that was into urban farming moved in and helped transform our place into a producing homestead. Then the guy from Seattle moved into the house and we started officially renting the cottage on Airbnb. While he was still living with us, a friend of a friend from China moved into the sun room. Eventually he upgraded to the bedroom when it became available and the girlfriend of 'the German' returned to inhabit the sun room for a few months. Just this week, our 'resident Chinese' moved back to China and all our spare rooms are now vacant for the first time in history.

All of the people that have entered our front door have shaped our home. This house has never been just our house and we hope it never will be. All of these travelers helped us realize that we can grow roots and yet still be connected to the world. They are also the ones that christened our home 'Granada House'.

2015 Goals for Granada House

Last night Kyle set up a little bonfire and we cozied up with some wine and a notepad. We wanted to take a moment to write down every little project we wanted to do to the house in the next year...

Sometimes when people are looking for houses (and I am an expert in this, after all I regularly have House Hunter watching sprees on Netflicks), they want something that is already perfect. Something where the walls are painted the right color, the yard is manicured and pristine, the kitchen is shiny and new. We, however, didn't really want that. We wanted an old Craftsman home. A home that perhaps didn't have holes in the wall or a caved in roof, but also didn't have someone else's perfect kitchen. We have a soft spot for our old sloped wood floors (yes - a marble will roll down our living room), crooked door ways, not to mention I have a major soft spot for all the original door knobs. When I open a door, I think about all the other people that have turned that knob in the last 97 years. I happened to be watching a House Hunter episode last night in which the lady hated claw foot tubs. Hate claw foot tubs???!? Our claw foot tub is the pride and joy of the bathroom and taking a bath in it is the best.thing.ever.

While we love all the original character, there are things we are constantly improving on. In the last year the interior walls were repainted and the backyard was  given an overhaul with a chicken area, a garden area... Oh, and don't forget the Granada Cottage. That was the major renovation project of 2013-2014! When we bought the house it was the number one priority so we could return to welcoming airbnb guests. There are still a lot of things that need to be done. So far in 2015, we've had the moldings in the house repainted a nice clean white (they were a dirty looking yellow color) and that has already made a huge difference. Each time we talk about the house, we think of more projects. I truly think the best part of owning an older home is celebrating its past and traditional features while putting your own stamp on it.

Here are a few house project goals for 2015:

1. Paint the exterior

Right now, the house is beige with periwinkle blue trim. While it isn't the worst color combo in the world, it isn't really us. We have been thinking about having the house painted this year. We are thinking grey base, white trim, with either dark grey or black accents in the windows. We love color so we will have colorful plants and porch furniture & accessories to balance out the neutral paint job. Here are some of my favorite inspiration pictures:

2. Bathroom refresh

At some point our kitchen needs a total overhaul. We just aren't quite ready to tackle that beast of a project! In the meantime, I would love to do a little refresh of the bathroom. The last owners did a good job of updating it yet keeping it in style with the house. However, I would love to do a paint or maybe wallpaper change. As well as give the clawfoot tub some resealing love.


I know what you're thinking... more shades of black & white?? If you have been to our house, you would know that it is full of colorful furniture & art work. With a small bathroom space, I am leaning towards keeping it crisp and clean. Just can't decide whether that means grey, black, or this fun wallpaper by Abigail Edwards.

3. Create a bedroom sanctuary

We fell into that typical homeowner rut where everything takes priority over your bedroom. When we moved in we quickly repainted the guest bedroom to make it an inviting space for guests, yet we have never touched a space we spend time in. Mismatched wall paint, mismatched furniture, no curtain or doors on closet - that gives you an idea of what the space is now. It does have a headboard Kyle built with pallet wood and has two custom bronze lights also built by Kyle. It also has dreamy faded grey sheets and crisp white bedding. It is time to bring it all together and give it a fresh coat of paint and finish accessorizing. I love the idea of a dark blue or turquoise wall color - do we just paint the wall behind the headboard or the whole spaceÇ

Already all just these projects alone seem like a lot of work, and they are the easy facelift ones. Just need to pick out the paint and make it happen¡ There are some not so fun projects such as new gutters, fixing the yard drainage system... One of our other big goals for better curb appeal other than having the exterior painted is to have the landscaping redone. We have tried do to little things here and there to improve the front yard, yet it usually ends up looking mismatched. I think for once we might need to hire a landscape designer to help us bring it all together.

I am excited to accomplish some of these goals and look forward to sharing the progress with you. Would love any and all feedback¡ Such as wallpaper bathroomÇ Hmmmmm...