Our New Home: 3rd Floor Victorian

See that window on the top floor, underneath the weathervane?


It’s the window to our new apartment, where we’re moving in 11 days.

On the right side of the house, off of our bedroom, is this magic little spot…


So if you’re looking for me this summer, I’ll be here, growing, watering, and rearranging plants, reading, sipping coffee or grigio, writing, hosting candlelight dinner parties, and trying to stop Cleo from escaping off the edge or jumping on the rooftop. (Joe’s got big plans for Cleo-proofing this space. So far they involve a lot of chicken wire.)

Okay, we also plan to do a lot of Portland summertime things like picnics, outdoor live music, festivals and farmers markets, and some road trips and camping, so I won’t be on my patio all the time, but since having a private outside space was one of the top things on our ‘Apartment Manifestation 2014’ list, I will be hanging out there a lot.

Finding an apartment in Portland is no joke. This city has one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country (everybody’s figuring out how cool Portland is and moving here), and if you’re picky about style, location and keeping within your budget like we were, it takes a serious amount of searching and a touch of alignment from the universe to get the home you truly want. Once we decided to start looking for a new (bigger) place, I signed up for alerts to be emailed to me from two different rental sites, and I was combing Craigslist a few times daily. Through December and the start of January I viewed 14 places in person, and we applied for two of them before this one, both of which we really liked, but that went to other applicants. It’s funny, but somehow both of us being employed with our current organizations for less than a year, having to explain that our previous landlords are located in Busan, South Korea, and me not yet having a U.S. social security number doesn’t exactly makes us star tenants to rent to. Especially when there’s a stack of other eager applicants. (No one actually told us this, but we sort of realized during the process that on paper, we probably don’t stand out as ‘the ones.’) Just when we were starting to feel discouraged, I saw this ad on Craigslist:

Live one block from fabulous N.W. 23rd Ave. Charming third floor 984 sq ft one bedroom, one bath apartment in totally modernized l890’s Victorian triplex. Hardwood floors, open concept kitchen w/ dishwasher, disposal, gas stove. All tile bath w/ plenty of storage and original clawfoot tub w. shower. Your own laundry room w/ washer/dryer. Brand new carpeting in bedroom w/ walk-in closet. French doors opening onto small private covered deck. Iron circular staircase leading down to private enclosed courtyard garden w/ fountain.

I mean, this was hitting A LOT of the items on our list. It’s in the same neighbourhood we’re in now, which we love. And it was in our price range. I kept reading, wondering what the catch would be…

Security system. No pets.

No pets. Joe and I joked about getting rid of Cleo for a few seconds, and then I sent a friendly and very hopeful email reply to the ad, explaining what excellent and responsible tenants we are, that this sounded like just the place we’ve been searching for, and that we would be more than happy to pay an extra deposit for our small and very well-behaved cat. (The well-behaved part was a bit of a stretch.) I asked if they would consider meeting with us for a viewing, added my phone number, and hit send. Then I closed my eyes and said a short prayer to the universe, asking for the person on the other end of the ad to respond.

It was a total long shot. But I believe in the power of manifestation. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes, it really does. (Ask me about the time I manifested meeting Ben Harper.) That evening I kept saying to Joe at random moments in the grocery store, on the walk home, back at our apartment: “I want to live on the top floor of a Victorian house.” I said, “We just need the landlord to be some nice old lady who cares that I wrote a friendly email and that we sound like good people.” Before we went to sleep that night, I said, “Can we manifest living on the top floor of a Victorian house while we sleep?” Joe doesn’t really believe in manifesting, but he loved the look of this place too, so he said okay.

Kate, who owns the house, called me the next morning. She’s a 70-year-old woman who used to be an English teacher. I was the first on her list to call, she told me, because I sounded so nice in the email. “I love writers,” she said when I told her what I do. (My occupation doesn’t always come in handy when trying to convey a stable income, so this was a bonus.) She also loves cats. The issue is that the apartment is covered in grasscloth wallpaper, and a former tenant’s cats scratched it up, so she hasn’t allowed pets since. I assured her we would train our cat not to scratch the walls. (This is the one wild card of this move.) She agreed to meet with us that evening. Long story short, the apartment is ours.

It’s not completely perfect, but it has almost everything we hoped for. Both the kitchen and bathroom have a ton of counter space, which was essential after dealing with basically zero counter space in both those rooms in our current place. The open concept of the kitchen and living room means we can hang out/entertain and cook at the same time, which is tricky to find in an older building. And it’s very, very cute. A weird coincidence is when Joe described the place and location to our friend Sam, he kept asking all these specific questions about what it looks like, because he thought he might have been there before. Turns out his friend Paul was the previous tenant, who just moved out! Weird. But not.

I’m going to share interior photos with you guys soon, along with a few details on our plans for the space. We’ve already sold most of our furniture and are starting fresh, because when we moved here a year and a half ago we had nothing, and made a few hasty decor decisions which now need new direction. I plan to show some of the progress along the way, so if you’re into home design and decor, hopefully you’ll enjoy those posts!

Last note on moving (for now): I’m determined to do it differently this time. No up ’til 3 a.m. frantically packing the night before because I’ve been too busy/not organized enough. (I have too many memories of this type of situation.) Half of our stuff is already in boxes, I’m proud to say. We’ve just got a couple more things to put up for sale, and we’ve already recruited four friends to help on moving day. It’s gonna be easy this time. I’m manifesting it.



4 responses

  1. I love the way you write my friend. Of course the old English teacher loved you. One day you will have to tell her the story of how you completely inspired my class. Mitch and I are searching for a place to live in Vancouver. I am going to try some manifesting!

    • Thanks, Catherine, that’s great! The first step in our manifestation was definitely making a big list of everything we wanted in a place, including potential neighbourhoods, price, interior space, etc. I hung that up and read over it every day, which helped us get really clear in our search and weed out places that weren’t quite right. Plus it’s just a really fun and intentional way to go about it. Best of luck my friend! xox

  2. I love this post! I laughed several times out loud… I cannot wait to see this place in person! It looks pretty bloody awesome!

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