Brie's Southwest

I cannot believe that it has been more than two months since I last posted. This time has really flown by! The main reason is due to our new project. I am writing from my new home in Scottsdale, AZ. We are not leaving the Chicago area and business will be as usual. This is a second home and a future investment. It is kind of a risky time to take on this investment and is happening sooner than I planned but it was an opportunity I could not pass up. Once again, I am following in Dad's footsteps. Mother and Dad's Wisconsin home was a great investment and although things did not go the way Dad planned, the proceeds from the sale covered his memory care.

First, a bit about the history of the home. This is a patio home built in 1964 in a neighborhood called Golden Keys. The style is considered to be postmodern with a Mediterranean influence. The 1960s was a real turning point for architecture in Arizona, to this day there is a big mid-century modern presence in the Phoenix area. The builder suggested incorporating the Mediterranean style into this neighborhood to his architects after returning from a trip there. This neighborhood is very thoughtfully designed - cohesive in style but not monotonous. They are patio homes, connected by common walls on each side. For us, we are sharing one common wall with the neighbor to the east, while on the west side we share a wall with their garage. Sliding doors lead to the outdoor space in the back. My home is a split-level design with two bedrooms and a bath up a flight of eight stairs. The living room is slightly sunken and has soaring ceilings and a cypress-paneled wall. There was some remodeling done in the past ten years and the Arizona room was converted to a seating area and dining room. Adjacent to the seating area is the master bedroom and bath. The kitchen has an open feel and has an island, which is something I have never had before! Luckily many of the original features of the home have been kept. In upcoming posts, I will share more about the history of the home and my design plans.

My first trip to Arizona was three years ago. It had always been on my bucket list to go to the Tucson Gem Show and I finally did it. I visited Melinda and she kindly put me up. We drove to Tucson and stayed overnight. Luckily the main show I chose to attend is one of the very best. I could not believe the quality and the quantity of the jewelry I saw, I was hooked! It was there were I found the whimsical Thai jewelry and the amazing new Native American pieces. We went to another show which was indoor / outdoor and I found the bohemian Tibet jewelry which is still wildly popular. We took a day trip as well to Cottonwood / Sedona. The second year, I stayed for about ten days and my mother and Kuochun split the trip. I rented a mid-century modern condo in Scottsdale through Airbnb. Mother and I went to the Gem Show for part of her trip and stayed in a mid-century modern place there as well. The Scottsdale condo is in a fabulous location a stone's throw from Old Town, which is teeming with cool shops and restaurants. We loved the location, plus the car rental place upgraded us to a white Mercedes for no charge so we felt pretty cool! Last year we had just lost Dad a few months prior and I wanted to treat Mother so we stayed at an awesome townhome in Scottsdale for two weeks in addition to an extended Tucson stay. The Airbnb host in Scottsdale was amazing, it is what every host should aspire to from beginning to end. I believe we were only the third people to stay there since it was remodeled. It was decorated so cute with a combination of white and colorful walls with stencils. We loved our Tucson pad as well, another mid-century modern building with six units. It was not large but very comfortable and there was a world-famous diner and a great antique mall across the street. I would definitely stay there again.

Mother and I spent most of our 2020 time in Scottsdale looking at homes, this was all pre-pandemic. We met a pair of wonderful realtors who really took the time to make sure Scottsdale was the area we wanted. We traveled all over the area - to Phoenix, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Mesa and Gilbert which is up and coming. One home in Phoenix was designed by the same architect as Golden Keys and had a U-shaped kitchen with curved cabinets. It was so mid-century modern cool but I just did not care for the neighborhood or location. We really wanted to be conveniently located to the airport to cut down on travel time and close to the action so the searching confirmed the decision that Scottsdale was the place for us.

At the time, I loved the way the Golden Keys homes looked but there were none available for sale at the time. We drove all around the community though. There is another historical neighborhood called Villa Monterrey which has a great location. We looked at several homes there and made an offer on one of them. We got all the way through to the appraisal and the home did not appraise for enough. At first the sellers decided not to take my counteroffer, asking them to make up for the deficit on the appraisal. Later, they decided to take it but I had to decline due to the stay at home order and uncertainty of things with the pandemic. They did end up selling to someone else several weeks later. Looking back I would have been very happy with that home, it was move-in ready but it was literally only four rooms, not large enough for the three of us and two dogs.

I had put the home idea on the back burner for most of 2020 but was still keeping an eye on the listings. I found a great home come up for sale in Golden Keys. I got my realtors on the case and we made a full-price offer, which is customary here. These homes go like hotcakes because people from all over want to be here. The sellers did not accept the offer, I was second in line. In the meantime, a home came up for sale across the street. I hesitated for a day because it was more expensive and I was thinking it was kind of large but decided to go for it. It was a big decision to make to purchase a home sight unseen. We placed the offer and to my amazement it was accepted! There is a lot of competition from out of state buyers who can pay all cash so I did not think I had a chance. A couple of weeks later my realtor contacted me and said the deal fell through on the first home, the buyer was sick and could not purchase. I weighed the pros and cons and overall there were many more pros to sticking with the second home. It was the right thing to do as well, I am a person of my word. Even though it was more expensive, it was a better value as it was less per square foot. I proceeded on with the process. The home inspector said this is the best quality and most thoughtfully designed home of this era that he had ever inspected. The closing ended up being on my birthday which I thought was really cool. We were not able to come right away due to Rachel's wedding but we made the drive over three days and arrived on Thanksgiving Day. That trip will be a story for another day.

Fast forwarding to now, I am so happy things worked out they way they did. The location of Villa Monterey is better but the homes in Golden Keys are way more elegant and downright swanky! The whole neighborhood is so put together. The community pool is a block away and the clubhouse is Neoclassical in style. I told Mother I know we are not going to swim but we can definitely get some caftans and hang by the pool. Kuochun on the other hand loves to swim. There was an empty strip mall adjacent to the neighborhood but I am happy to see that it has just been torn down. I am not sure what they will be building there but it could be anything - housing, retail or restaurant. This location is just a little further from Old Town but it is only 5 minutes away. We have taken this time to get the home livable and we are there now. Definitely looking forward to the time where things can get back to normal and we can be more free to do what we enjoy - shopping and dining! Kuochun and Margot stayed behind to hold things down at home base and to stay safe during the pandemic and we brought Vivi with us.

This situation will work out well because when we are not as busy with estate sales it is the ideal time to be here. During the spring and summer when it is very hot in Scottsdale, we will be in the midst of the busiest time of year for estate sales. I brought along all of my jewelry which needs preparation for sale and I told Mother I am not leaving until it is done, once and for all! We have prepared so much already and I will be sending boxes of jewelry back to sell at the sales. I am excited to share all the goodies which include sterling silver and costume jewelry in a variety of styles. I need to get back to it so that's it for now, until next time!