Houses & Homes

A Modern Dream

So I’m out here in San Diego taking a week or so off as a post-graduation celebration. I’m flipping through iPhoto looking at photos from the past year and realize I how much that I haven’t shared in my blog. This is a fun one…

Late last fall I discovered an unfinished contemporary house near Camelback Mountain near Paradise Valley. I was immediately curious about the home. Based on the weathered construction materials, the house’s exterior looked as if it hadn’t been touched in about a year.

After doing some research, I discovered that the home was in foreclosure and would go up for public auction late in the winter.  It appears as though the property was purchased at the top of the Real Estate bubble and the new owner decided to do an elaborate reconstruction to convert the traditional ranch home into a modern house. My guess is that he got discouraged with each month—he was pouring out tons of money during construction, all the while the housing market was crashing down around him. So he stopped making his payments and walked away. He left behind his half-finished dream. A dream that few people could understand.

Could this be my next house? I explored the property and made note of what was left to be finished. After running the numbers, I knew what price-point I’d have to get the house to make it a sound investment.

What it could become? I imagined a two-story extension (left) to balance out the imposing volume of the 3-car garage (right)

I was discouraged the week leading up to the auction when the bank released a very high starting bid for the property. It didn’t make sense for me to go to the auction if the bank was convinced it needed to make that much to make up for their loss.  I expected the home to go up on the block and not get any bids. Then a month later, the bank would adjust the price down and put it up for auction again. Maybe then I could pick it up?

Long story short: someone paid top-dollar for the home. I have no idea how the new owners could possibly finish the project as a strong investment. I wish them the best. Honestly, shortly after the first auction I got caught up in the business of graduate school and other investments. Although the dream never materialized, it was still a lot of fun.

Photos of Good Architecture

I enjoyed spending snapping photos of cool houses and buildings here in North County San Diego over the past couple of weeks on our Christmas vacation. The first photos in the gallery below are snapped from a book I got from the Encinitas library. (The book is called the Not So Big Remodel, an edition of Sarah Susanka ubiquitous Not So Big series about home design.) The rest of the photos are from residential and commercial buildings I’ve seen around town. What does these buildings have in common? They all make me happy.


This last photo is epic. I went shopping on December 22. I scored the most awesome parking space. Ever. There are 1000s of cars in this parking lot, and this parking space was closer to Crate and Barrel than the handicap space. I didn’t even know those spaces existed! I was so thankful that I took a photo to commemorate the event.

New Modern in Arcadia

Several years ago I spotted a “for sale by owner” sign in front of a cool modern home in Arcadia probably built in the early 1960s. The real estate market was white hot at the time, and I knew the home might get torn down to make room for a palace. This bothered me because the mid-century modern homes are the most visible and livable old homes in Phoenix. I called the homeowner and discovered that the house was in fact built by a well known Arizona architect (Beadle?) many years ago.  I also found out that the home was out of my price range, so if the home would be restored it would have to be done by someone with more money. Within a couple of months the home was sold and a construction fence soon went up.

The photos you are looking at below are of that old home became. It has some styling inspired by the mid-century modern homes, but doesn’t stay confined by the original home’s lines. It’s better looking and more livable than ever. (And now it’s definitely out of my price range.) I’m sharing the photos here on my blog mostly because I like looking at ’em.