I took a field trip with my mother-in-law, Zee, yesterday (which explains the tardiness of this week's Perspective) and was reminded once again, that homes come in all shapes and sizes. Zee lives in a very sophisticated all-level condominium in Petaluma, which she has eclectically decorated (that's more easily done when you've spent a lifetime collecting and working in antiques). I adore everything in Zee's home, which compasses "his and her" slipcovered wing back chairs, a painted English postal box and an eight foot library table, above which hangs a massive antique clock. Zee innately knows how to put a home together and has always done so beautifully.
This trip; however, was to introduce me to her friend, Pat, who lives in Calistoga (an equally talented and powerful woman). Pat had lived outside of Paris for many years and like Zee, she too has spent the better part of her life collecting and dealing in antiques. Since I am planning my first trip to Paris this summer with my twin sister, Jill, Pat had some tips to share with me about navigating my way through the stalls and vendors while we are there.
Pat and her husband have crafted an intimate Tuscan Style home complete with lavender gardens, pink rose covered balcony, French pebble courtyards and even a sweet rental cottage out front. One very large room essentially makes up the entire first floor which holds a Parson's table, several gorgeous armoires, an Irish pine dresser, a group of pen and ink sketches and an inviting linen couch. Well-loved books and magazines are earmarked and stacked on side tables and foot stools throughout the house. It is old-world perfection and absolutely charming.
My own home is a rustic red shingled farmhouse (with the emphasis on rustic) that holds a combination of Flea market finds, store bought furnishings and fresh cut flowers in old dented silver trophies. But what really attracted me was the stone and wood gazebo out front on which I have planted several clematis vines that bloom prolifically in spring. (Is it crazy to buy a house for a gazebo? Maybe.) With expansive gardens surrounding the home on all sides and majestic Redwoods that stood long before Piedmont was officially formed, I can putter in the soil to my heart's content (and do!). Homes come in all shapes and sizes - and so do gardens.
This year I have helped clients buy smart starter condos, sophisticated Bay view homes and large family estates in styles that have included everything from cottage bungalow to Spanish Mediterranean, from Storybook Tudor to Modern Contemporary. Each has been as unique as the buyers themselves. Given that we live in communities where very few homes are identical (and if they were at one point, time and renovations have left their indelible mark) every property I sell is different from the last, which makes my job endlessly fascinating and rewarding.
No matter the price point, the specific "wish list," or the internal or external motivations of each buyer, it is an honor to shepherd my clients into their next home (or their first!) the next transition, the next opportunity, or the next phase of their lives. Now how great is that? (pretty darn great!)
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.