Life As I Know It: August 2020

Lifestyle Blogger Stephanie Hill shares Life As I Know It August 2020 edition on The Style Bungalow

It all started roughly two years ago when my fiancé and I had “the talk.” You know the one where you discuss marriage, kids and goals? I knew, deep down, a proposal was on the horizon just not quite then. There was a lot of, “So what type of ring do you like?” to “What does your dream proposal look like?” Naturally, the next question that ensued was, “Where do we want to live?” 

My fiancé grew up in Miami. He left for ten years to attend college in Connecticut, pursued his career in finance then finished business school in Chicago. Five years ago, he returned to Miami to be closer to family. Three years ago, we met! 

I, on the other hand, have spent the past 10+ years in West Palm Beach, which is roughly one hour north of Miami. To some, we’re in a “long distance relationship,” but to us it felt pretty normal. I kept my apartment (click here for more!) in West Palm Beach while we upgraded his apartment in Miami to accommodate the both of us. Each city has its pros and cons. West Palm Beach is more affordable, absolutely stunning and incredibly charming but also very small — whereas Miami is expensive, brimming with activity, new restaurants and above all, closer to family. Nevertheless, we remained open that the best opportunity would present itself and decided to begin our house hunting process in both cities. 

What was on my “must-have” list? A historically designated home with good window light. In other words, a really old home from the 1920s, which is fairly common in certain neighborhoods across South Florida. My fiancé just wanted a house with good bones. Initially, he didn’t care about the style, only that it had updated electrical, plumbing, impact windows, new roof, etc. However, over time he began to see the value of buying a home with old charm, which seems easy to find, right? 

Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.  

I’ll spare you the number of homes we looked at (bless our realtor aka my best friend: Jennifer) along with the 100+ questions we grilled listing agents with. For example, “Approx. how much will this home appreciate in value in this neighborhood over the next five years?” on top of your standard, “When was the roof updated?” and “Is the electrical cloth-wired (common in old homes)” to “Is there a crawl space?” in the event that the home had foundation issues. Clearly resale value is important to us.

Pre-pandemic, we’d attend open houses for fun. One time I accidentally mixed up the dates for an open house and knocked on the older, Cuban gentleman’s door. He lived alone and did not seem to mind, and politely let us in any way. His late wife’s pictures were everywhere, including her clothing, which remained in perfect condition on her side of the closet. While the house had loads of potential it was a complete gut job. My fiancé looked at me as we quietly walked into the backyard and gently whispered, “Absolutely not, amor.” Once, we stepped outside the property he proceeded to explain the intricacies involved with taking a house down the studs. Tackling a renovation, that large, wasn’t for us…at least not for our first home together.  

Nestled in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in South Florida, with mature tropical landscaping, and loads of charm…we stumbled upon our (now) home. “It’s great,” my fiancé said, “but small.” The house, a historically designated Spanish-style bungalow from the 1920s had everything my fiancé wanted (impact windows, new electric, plumbing, etc) as well as pristine hardwood floors, tons of natural light and architectural plans to expand. We fell in love with it and put in an offer fully expecting a counter at full-price — but they accepted! And just like that, we became homeowners. 

We never anticipated our first date leading to marriage. We also never anticipated this happening so soon. 

I’m a firm believer in the saying: “What’s meant to be is meant to be.” That doesn’t mean I sit back and let life happen. I’m very motivated to make my dreams come true and chase them every day. But there’s something to be said about doors opening. When my friends ask for dating advice, I say the same thing… “You’ll know it’s right when it’s easy.” The same principle applies to so many aspects in life, I believe, and feel strongly this home was meant for us because it just happened so naturally. The owners wanted the property to fall into good hands…the right hands.   

Style Blogger Stephanie Hill shares Life As I Know It August 2020 edition on The Style Bungalow

Stephanie Hill shares Life As I Know It August 2020 edition on The Style Bungalow

White tee (similar here), White pants (similar here, here and here), Tkees sandals, (c/o) Selina King earrings, Baseball hat (similar here, here and here)

As badly as I want to start adding my personal touch, we plan to live in the house for a while before making any big design decisions. We want to understand its flow, where we spend the most time and the ways the sun fills the house with light. I’m also 50/50 about hiring a designer. I’m confident I can do it with the right team of people. I also want to carefully restore the home back to its natural splendor, rework the layout a bit and add value without “adding square footage” right away. The house is in pristine condition, but it’s also lost some of its original charm, especially in the kitchen and bathroom…so perhaps hiring the right designer to act as more of a design partner is safest while I learn and gain more confidence. I would also like to start building a long-term relationship with the right designer…one that will follow us to our next home and thereafter. 

For now, all design elements you will see inside our home will be temporary until we feel comfortable moving forward with a renovation. We’ve painted the interior “Simply White” by Benjamin Moore, started to fill our home with a few vintage pieces from Offerup and eBay, and purchased inexpensive white curtains to hold us over. Please be patient (and forgiving) with us as we walk into this new chapter. Our home won’t look anything like my apartment (bye bye pink!) and will have a relaxed elegance to it, some texture, Spanish soul and classic beauty…like our many trips to the Yucatan where you greet guests barefoot, relaxed and happy. The square footage doesn’t matter to us, it’s what you make of it…besides, we like a challenge! 

In the meantime, be on the lookout for an apartment refresh! Over the past few months, and after spending so much time inside my home in West Palm Beach, I’ve come to realize that some of the design decisions we made a year ago don’t match my style today. Evolution is a great thing! But it can also be costly. I certainly splurged where I should have saved in my apartment redesign and skimped on quality when I shouldn’t have. And before you ask, “but what about your new house?” I’m still holding onto my West Palm Beach apartment. It’s become The Style Bungalow’s HQ, where my assistant (and I) work out of and our “home away from Miami,” whenever we feel for a change of scenery. It’s also a place I escape to when I need a creative recharge. 

Life As I Know It right now feels slightly nerve wracking, yet exciting. After what felt like grueling years of searching without finding, we’re elated to have officially made this Spanish-style bungalow our own little home, to kiss “long distance relationship” goodbye and to begin many firsts’ together. It’s the start of a whole new chapter…for us, to say the least. One where we’ll make lots of memories, messy but beautiful decisions and grow as a family…

Xo, Stephanie 

8 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.