Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Reveal of Our Chatsworth Charmer

Our time in Montgomery has come to an end.  So many memories and experiences were made in our six week detour that we wouldn’t trade for anything.  A serendipitous detour that led us hundreds of miles away in a completely opposite direction from initially planned.  While we were there we cherished quality time with family, made some incredible new friends, spent time with some old friends, took a walk through civil rights history, and even caught a glimpse of the President and his family for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery.  This visit to Montgomery also presented us with our first opportunity to get our hands a little dirty since hitting the road with our very first investment property. 
We found this home via an auction website, and completed the purchase virtually sight unseen.  Not something we would normally do, but we were familiar with Montgomery.  Jaime grew up here and I lived here for a few years, and we were able to get some eyes on the home before bidding, (thanks dad!).  The neighborhood was great, the school district was highly rated, and with some words of confidence from our eyes on the ground we began the bidding process, and came out as the highest bidders just shy of our pre-determined top price for the home.  Soon after, we began the long trek from Texas to Alabama. 

Our first order of business upon arriving was of course visiting our new home.  At first glance, the house was hiding behind years of overgrown shrubbery, a few missing shutters on the side of the house, and a weed infested front yard.  It was a full brick home, which was great for the steamy Alabama summers, with a carport and side parking pad.  The exterior trim paint was an odd plum-ish color, as was the front porch which we determined after maneuvering around the 10 foot tall shrubs.  Years of grime had collected on the driveway and walkway leading to the front porch. 
Overall, though, we could all immediately see the potential in our Chatsworth Charmer.

These front exterior fixes were thankfully all cosmetic and could be easily handled.  First things first, we had to uncover the home so it could actually be seen from the street.  We spent an afternoon removing the once beautiful shrubbery.  The intention was to attempt to salvage some, but the years of unmanaged growth and neglect had caused the majority of the smaller shrubs in the rear to partially die off.  In the end they were all removed, and it turned out to be a great decision. 
Under the direct supervision of their grandfather, Tyler and Haley reconstructed the front garden area with some beautiful flowers, new shrubs, and of course some fresh mulch. 
Tyler diligently worked on pressure washing the driveway and walkway.  Our family Picasso, Jaime, added a brilliant beige color to the front porch and exterior trim, giving the home some new life. 

Around back was not much different than the front, but right away showed some promise.  The yard had a full privacy fence, a screened in porch, and a large storage shed that was already wired for electricity.  The landscaping, although overgrown, was pleasantly surprising with some beautiful azaleas and even a pomegranate tree. 

I had a lot of fun working in the backyard, especially adding the new paver patio.  Although there was already a small existing patio, we felt it was important to offer some additional outdoor living for the new homeowners to enjoy on those Alabama evenings.  Some color was added with a stone garden area, a birdbath to enjoy the local wildlife, and we completed the outdoor living area with addition of a fire pit for a little extra charm.


The inside of the home really needed very little throughout the main living areas.  It featured some beautiful hardwood floors throughout the dining room, formal living room, and bedrooms.  It even came with two inch blinds throughout.  The light fixtures had previously been updated as well. 

I really wish we could take more credit for the way these main living areas turned out.  A little cleaning and some fresh paint throughout really made these areas sparkle. 

Now on to the kitchen.  Kitchens sell homes, so we struggled with which upgrades to do here while staying within budget.  At the forefront of the dilemma were the cabinets which were oddly hanging over the peninsula.  While the floorplan was “generally” open from the kitchen to the informal living area, these cabinets restricted the view in such a way that it essentially made a wall. 
The kitchen already came equipped with some relatively new white appliances, minus the refrigerator.  And it appeared that the existing countertops were in decent shape.

That said, we made most of our major changes here in the kitchen.  We started with the purchase of brand new stainless steel appliances.  Also, despite the risk of repairing the entire ceiling and eliminating cabinet space from an already small kitchen, we made the decision to remove the cabinets that were creating the barrier between the two rooms.  With the addition of the stainless steel hood, I feel this project turned out looking great and really opened up the floorplan. 

After some serious tile and grout scrubbing, the Chatsworth Charmer project was finished out with some stunning granite countertops adding tremendous appeal for the next owner.

And that was that!  After six weeks, our project in Montgomery had finally come to a close with the official listing of the home on Monday by our local superstar agent Kitty Wasserman with Capital Realty Group, River Region.  Chatsworth is priced aggressively, and even before listing, we had already received some interest.  Hopefully this is a good indication that we will get a quick sale. 

But, just as quickly as the Chatsworth Charmer project has ended, a new chapter is already in the works!  I write this today from the beaches of Pensacola, Florida…an amazing location to begin our next project, which we close on this week.  Meet our “Bayou Bargain”!

We have lots of exciting things in the works for this project, and it has been hard to contain up to this point!  This time, we hope to bring you our progress through video!  That’s right, it will be our own personal spin to many of the renovation shows you already watch.  We are excited to open this new chapter, and especially excited to have the opportunity to share with all of you! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Change in Direction

What happens when you don’t follow your original plans?  Well, for us, you end up in Alabama.  I’m sure those of you following along are wondering, WHAT in the world are we doing in Alabama?  Aren’t we supposed to be in California by now?  We should be.  We could be.  But we aren’t.  We started off eight months ago out of North Carolina and not only are we ONLY fifteen states in, here we are in the complete opposite direction of our original plans.  Why?  We threw out our original plans.  We threw out our milestones.  We threw out any limitations.  We threw out our timeline.  We left those things back in Texas on the side of the road.  We decided to embrace this life and roll with it.

When we started this nomadic lifestyle, Tom and I promised ourselves one particular thing: that we would open ourselves up to this experience, what God has in store for us and any and all possibilities along the way.  We wanted to be flexible.  We wanted to take opportunities as they presented themselves to us.  We wanted to see what doors opened up along the way as we let go of fear.  We wanted to live by faith embracing the unknown.  Originally, our thoughts consisted of treating this journey as a year off to see the country.  This mentality would allow us to see how we liked being on the road and what the kids refer to as being a “homeless family.”  (Which always makes me laugh.)  But, somehow Tom and I knew deep down we were going to be hooked to this new simplistic, adventurous way of life.  So, we had already talked about more long-term plans to support our nomadic lifestyle when we were ready to do so. 

We were sure that Texas would be the perfect location to do several things.  It was a pivotal moment in our travels.  First, we could establish our residency, since we sold our two homes in North Carolina we had to pick a state to call home.  What state would be better than Texas?  They have a club setup for RVers that full time just like us.  Plus, calling ourselves Texans just sounds cool.  Second, we could reassess our goals and whether this travel thing was really for us.  Third, if it was for us and all was going well, we could commit to buying an investment property.  With its many cities and opportunities, we felt Texas would be a great place to do all of these things.  When the beginning of the year came around, Tom and I were more than ready for the next step.  We had just sold our second home, so we began house shopping in between adventures.  It was time to stretch our dream in a much larger way.  It was time to make this full time travel thing a long term reality.   

On our route, our next stop would have been Big Bend National Park.  Instead, we found ourselves on our way to a new destination—Montgomery, Alabama.  Well, you probably don’t need me to tell you that Montgomery is nowhere near Big Bend and probably not the most desirable place to visit if you are adventurous like us.  And it sure doesn’t take us out west to the destinations we have been craving.

Sometimes on this journey we call life, things happen that you can’t quite explain.  We like to refer to these particular occurrences as none other than a “God thing.”  Something that happens through strange circumstances with an underlying reason that you can’t quite see at the time.  As you are making these huge life decisions, you can’t even explain what is possessing you to walk in that direction.  Everything about this whole scenario was none other than illogical.  I guess this is where faith comes into play.  

So here’s how it went down.  Tom and I had started searching for properties like the crazed real estate junkies we are about two months ago.  We actually had offers in on two different properties in Texas.  Neither one panned out.  For some strange reason we decided to look in our old stomping grounds just to see what might be available.  We take our property searches pretty seriously and we like to keep an eye on real estate across the country.  This is our passion and what we love—auction properties and foreclosures that have sat empty ready to be brought back to life again.  Of all places, I pulled up my old hometown of Montgomery in what appeared to be a moment of pure insanity.  However, in my mind, there was no way we would actually find a home there.  It was obviously just for fun and giggles.  As I pulled it up on my laptop you can only imagine my surprise when my eyes hit the auction page.  There she was.  The cutest little home in a nice and very familiar neighborhood.  It appeared to be in great condition outside of its vacant status.  It was begging for someone to come and bring it back to life as it sat empty and lonely.  What were we thinking here? 

It soon dawned on us that this would mean driving halfway across the country in the opposite direction and taking a huge detour from our original plans.  With our reasoning of “what’s the worst that can happen,” we pursued this purchase and decided to delve into the unknown.  The next thing we knew we were bidding on this property.  And then, next thing we knew, we were the highest bidders.  And, then it happened.  We had bought a home in Montgomery, Alabama.  The only thing left to say was, “Kids, what do you think about heading to see family in Montgomery for a few weeks?!”  Surprisingly, they were thrilled!  So, off we went on a new type of adventure.  The adventures of “house camping.”
The Devoes on the Roll have a brand new mentality.  Our travels are so much more than a planned route on a map or a period of time exploring the country.  Our journey involves so much more.  This way of life is just that—a way of life.  Adventures come in many forms and we are living the ultimate adventure.  From seeing National Parks to flipping a house, there is no telling what is in store for this crazy, unstoppable family of four. 

We have plans to continue traveling, but we don’t always know where our travels might lead and that is perfectly fine with us.  We plan to work hard, play hard and see what incredible things are ahead.  And, maybe, eventually, we will make it out west.  The truth is that it doesn’t matter!  We will eventually see the entire lower 48 and it doesn’t have to be on our timeline.  There is something to be said for living life with a little spontaneity.  This life of twists and turns is unpredictable, but we know God has his guiding hand on us the entire way.  And, so, on we roll.