Two-Story Blue

My name is Layla Palmer and I love cottages. This is the story of the one that got away…

One day, back in 2005, Kevin was doing some work out in the country. While he was out and about, he discovered a quaint rural neighborhood, chock full of colorful cottage-style homes of all shapes and sizes. Later that same day, he came home and said, “Get in the car! I want to take you somewhere and you’re going to LOVE IT!“. About 20 minutes later, we pulled into the community Kevin had already dubbed “Mayberry”, and I was smitten from the start! It truly felt like we had taken a step back in time, and we must have driven around staring at the water and all the happy-looking houses for two hours that afternoon.

As we slowly strolled from street to skinny street, we pointed out which houses were our favorites and dreamed about what they all might look like inside. This pretty, blue (2 bdrm/2 bath) house had me at hello, and even though we weren’t in the market to move, I couldn’t help but get a little giddy when I saw the “for sale” sign in the front yard…

Blue_House_Lettered_Cottage_3

I named it “Two-Story Blue”, and I couldn’t get over how much it reminded me of my favorite Cottage Living magazine Idea House:

Green_Cottage_Living_Shot_Gun_House_New_Orleans_Lettered_Cottage

That gorgeous green shotgun-style house took my breath away when I first saw it in print in 2007, and I promptly pinned a photo of it to the bulletin board hanging above my desk at the time. I looked at it every day for years, up until I packed it into a moving box last Fall.

Which brings me to last Fall…

We didn’t think we were in the market to move then either. But last July, our BFF’s (who moved to “Mayberry” five years ago) really started encouraging us to meet with a mortgage loan officer so that we could “see where we were at”. They knew we were still working hard to repair our credit, and that we still had a house to finish fixing up, but they kept insisting that we “just go and see” because so many of the houses around their house had dropped in price so significantly over the past few years.

So we did.

And long story short, we found out that we could actually qualify for an FHA loan (MASSIVE surprise! #ThereWasLotsOfHuggingAndSmilingThatDay), but that we could only buy a house in Mayberry IF, and only IF, we sold our current home….a.k.a- the home we had planned to take our time fixing up over the next couple of years while we repaired our credit. Hence, the quick decision to not worry about the rooms we hadn’t started working on yet, and the mad dash to finish up some unfinished projects in lightning speed so that we could stick a “for sale by owner” sign in our yard last August.

Now this is where the story gets really wacky. We listed our house two weeks after we found out we could get approved for a home loan, and much to our surprise, we sold it four days after we put it up for sale.

We immediately made an offer on Two-Story Blue, and excitedly began planning how we could best use the 1,632 square feet of space. (The house we had just sold was 1,910 square feet and had three bedrooms and two baths, but we both loved the idea of downsizing and moving less “stuff”!)

We heard through the grapevine that a few previous bidders had made offers a little less than what we had just sold our house for ($142K), so we made an offer a bit above that, in hopes that the bank (who had foreclosed on it) would just be happy to finally have someone take it off their hands. Now, keep in mind, this house had been sitting there vacant for several years after the housing market crash. And like I said, a few other offers had been made, but none recently, and the neighborhood’s agent assured us that there was no need to rush because, to his knowledge, no one had been interested in the house in a good while.

Until the weekend we made our offer, that is.

No joke, another house hunter just happened to make an offer similar to ours (lower, actually) that same weekend. But unlike our offer, his offer wasn’t contingent on the successful closing of his current home. He was ready to move in right away, and we weren’t scheduled to close on the house we had just sold for a few weeks. In a nutshell, the bank accepted his offer, and we ended up buying the Two-Story TAN, 2 bedroom/2.5 bath (1728 square-foot foreclosure) house across the street. Ha!

It occurred to me shortly after we moved in though, that maybe this is the way it was supposed to be all along. That photo of the Cottage Living Idea House brought a smile to my face for so many years on my inspiration board, and now, I get to smile at Two-Story Blue outside my kitchen window every day…

Blue_House_Lettered_Cottage_1

(Two-Story Blue, through our kitchen window)

Funny how things work out like that sometimes, huh? In the end, I think we bought the right house for us, long-term…

The_Lettered_Cottage_House

It may not have been our first choice (room layout-wise), but there’s room to add on behind this house, whereas there wasn’t behind Two-Story Blue. And even though we’re only planning to become a family of three next year…who knows if we’ll need more than 2 bedrooms in the future, right?

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Comments

  1. karen says

    I know Two Story Blue was your first love, I really love your Tan House much better. It’s a great house.

  2. says

    Whether a “two-story blue” or a “two-story tan” GOD was so good to meet your needs and smooth the path to your new home. I am believing with you that you will need that extra space to build on someday and that God knew the perfect home for you! Love your beautiful new place Layla!

    Blessings!

    Heather

  3. Melodious says

    Ohmygosh! I remember that green beauty from Coastal Living. I think I saved that clipping for years before deciding our next home will be a one-story (we’re older and need to think about the future). Your house is lovely, and can grow with you, which is even more important. Thanks for showing us two-story blue, she is quite the beauty.

  4. says

    It’s is funny how things always work out for good.
    I love your house and that brick wall adds so much to the curb appeal. I’ll just bet that your neighbors love looking across at yours each day, too :)

  5. says

    So been there. Not only with the financial worry (joblessness, and drained savings just to survive for two solid years), but also in relation to the house that got away.

    Years ago we found a house that we absolutely loved. There had been no interest in it at all, not until the day we made an offer. All of a sudden two other offers came out of nowhere. Like you, ours was contingent on the sale of the house we were in.

    Where our story took a twist…The third party dropped out of the running. The second party decided to start a bidding war. We eventually bowed out too. Our realtor (a family friend) told us that it wasn’t meant to be, and that another house was out there, somewhere, waiting for us to find it.

    She was right, a few months later we found a better house (and property), and the process was so much smoother. What really burned was what we found out after the fact.

    The listing realtor told our relator that the couple who bid so hard against it, after they won, they didn’t even want the house. They simply didn’t want to lose the bid.

    Who does that?

    I think the house you got is fabulous, and I know when you and Kevin are finished with it (not that a house is ever really finished) it will be your pride and joy. :-)

  6. says

    Loved this story. I had a “One that got away” blue house, too! Oh how I loved that house. I had nicknamed it the “Southern Living” house because it was built from Southern Living house plans. I decorated it in my head and placed my furniture. And it sold two weeks before we got an offer on our house that had been on the market for TWO YEARS. I was crushed! But, in the end, God worked out a better plan for us, and I’m happy to be where I am. But it’s definitely the one that got away for me. Here are pics of it- You’d love it too! The inside needed some serious coats of light, bright paint, but it had everything I could dream of in a house! http://www.flickr.com/photos/tbwb/sets/72157612289138367/

  7. says

    Two story blue is darling, but yours is GORGEOUS. And I love how you view the whole situation and that you get to enjoy the view across the street every day. Congrats on your new home. I’ve loved seeing the love you two have put into it!

  8. says

    God has MUCH better plans for us than ANY we could ever dream up. I had my heart set on a huge log house…We had been waiting on it because it looked like a mountain home (and it had acreage) right here in middle Ga. We had all the decorating plans made…measured carpet for the floors. We made a good offer..contingent on the sale of our other home. They took someone else’s offer made at the same time that had no contingency. I was devastated. But you see…we would have never built our current home had we gotten the log house. In the long run, SO many things would not have happened in our lives had we moved in that log house…no Christmas tour would have been here…no meeting YOU all..no magazine article…no blog…You just never know what lies ahead of you. :) Wait on the happy surprises!
    Kelly
    p.s. The log house ended up having TERMITES…and goodness knows you don’t need a LOG house to have those!

  9. Carrie - The Corson Cottage says

    I loved hearing about the one that got away. You are right, things happen for a reason. God has a plan:). I adore your neighborhood. Do you know who the architect is? No one builds anything like this in our area. My hubby is a contractor & it’s our little dream to build a Our own little Mayberry one day:-)

  10. Denise Carter says

    Nice post an it always works out the way God intended though I have questioned Him from time to time.

  11. says

    Thanks for sharing, it’s such a great reminder for us that God is in control and knows the best for us. We are looking for a home ourselves and the one I REALLY wanted sold before we could make an offer :( I love your new house and hope we find something equally charming in our own Mayberry!

  12. Kel says

    I love hearing stories about your house and neighborhood. So glad it all worked out – from viewing the neighborhood to actually living there! God is good.

  13. Angela says

    I love how positive you are Layla. It would have made me furious to have missed out on the one I wanted for so long. But you found the bright side!

  14. Athena says

    I almost fainted when I saw this! When I scrolled down to the picture of the “blue” house, I pointed it out to my husband and said, “Doesn’t this remind you of my favorite Cottage Living house that I used to show you all the time?” Then I scrolled down and read further. Crazy! I have this magazine on top of the stack of my favorite Cottage Living mags from years ago.

  15. says

    it’s certainly funny
    the way things don’t always happen
    quite the way we expect

    i’m certainly enjoying
    seeing what you’re making
    of the home you’ve found yourselves in

    {alison}

  16. Tammy says

    Hi!
    I love both houses! Just wondering…what color do you suppose the door is on the blue house? We have a house exactly that color but I want a cool door – instead of boring old white. It’s hard to find a color to match “baby blue”.
    Thanks!!
    Tammy
    PEI, Canada

  17. says

    I love your attitude about Two-Story Blue! I love your current home, I think it’s just lovely and I really like what you are doing with it, but I gotta tell ya’, you’re taking the loss of “the one that got away” A LOT better than I ever would have! It’s a beauty, and an almost identical ringer for the Coastal Living house (other than the placement of the door) – when I get my heart set on something like that, I have to have it and nothing else will do. Guess I’m just not that flexible, so I really appreciate your attitude, because I’d be looking at Two-Story Blue out MY kitchen window and fuming every day LOL!

  18. says

    A few things…first, I LOVED Cottage Living magazine and was soo sad to see it go. Second, I am amazed at the inexpensive cost of housing in your area! You live in a darling neighborhood (and that Post Office!) and it amazes me how different housing costs can be around the country. Third, I know from experience that things work out for the best and our “plans” are not ours, but God’s. He has planned for us. We left our “dream home” in VA, on top of a mountain, and 64 acres of land. We were there 2 1/2 years. I always thought it was a dream. It was. Reality hit, my husband had to find a new job…it felt as if all were lost. But in the end we gained SOO MUCH! I grew spiritually, having faith that all would work out, and realized God had the plan. He knew better. My husband has a job that is far more intellectually stimulating (too busy also!), superb schools, wonderful extra curricular opportunities, very nice town and surrounding area, love our tri-level home (seriously!), and through it all we had our health and each other! God is good and you are exactly where you should be! Love your energy, your blog, and your devotion to the positive in life:)

  19. Barbara says

    Hi Layla,
    As you know, things happen for a reason-always. Your house is right for you and it will hold your family! Can’t wait to read about it.

  20. says

    I think you guys definitely got the right house! Besides, if you were living in Two Story Blue, you’d only be able to enjoy its curb appeal a couple of times a day (you know, since you’d be on the inside and unable to see the outside?). Ha. ;)

  21. MelO says

    O do I have a sorry tale to tell that was very similar to yours, but ended in misery!! Yet to know if there is a happier ending! We had bought a house, and were in the middle of renovating it, when I found, after 2 years searching, the house of my dreams, that would lead us to only having half the mortgage we had then!! We magically sold our house in time to buy the new house, and were on the home stretch, when the rug was pulled out under us at the last four days before settlement – the mortgage insurance not being available to us, because the new house was claimed ‘unliveable’!! I couldn’t have cared if we ended up in a trailer on the property, whilst we made it ‘livable’!! That’s the way the cookie crumbled, we ended up urgently needing to find rental accomadation, and when the property market dropped and banks got more strict, we were unable to get a loan back into the market!! So here we are still renting, and can’t see our dream ever being realized :( and money made from the sale of the house ended up being lost when we went into business, thinking it would be the only way we would see the light of day – but the day just got darker!! We are happy in the rental we are in now, I have to say, but it’s not ‘ours’!!

    • Lauralee says

      I am so sorry for what you have had to go through. We went through something similar. In ministry, we lost a couple of major donors, and had death threats on our family of seven, plus a business we had started and worked soooo hard on to (hopefully) not have to raise support one day was taken from us by a dishonest business associate. The saga went on for another 2 years, 11 months and days. My goal was to be counted faithful. Even if this was the best it ever got. It has been awhile now, and we were able to buy a house that needed everything redone. Next week we are closing, and a new family will love this place, and we will be renting a house while we build on an incredible lake property that God blessed us with. We are so blessed! But we did have to go through a lot of experiences we would not have sought out for ourselves first. They were ultimately worth it. And, I hope I really was faithful through it all. God has blessed our whole family. I am thankful for His plans for us. We’ll see what else He has for us. You will see what He has for you. Just go for being faithful. That’s what counts. This too shall pass.

  22. says

    House hunting always sounds like fun, but it can be so stressful and a roller coaster of emotions. I have to admit I didn’t love my house for so many years because of the layout and didn’t do much other than paint the walls and fill it with furniture because I thought we’d move one day. It took years to see the potential, but after some renovating that surprisingly didn’t break the bank I finally have the space I wanted. I still wouldn’t call it my dream home, but I don’t want to move because my kids love their neighborhood friends and I would feel horrible taking them out of school. A dream home doesn’t sound that appealing anymore if I have to leave my neighborhood. Funny how that works out!

  23. JolieAnne says

    I love the way that story unfolded. You still get to see that house!
    Maybe you will be happier in your’s since it has more potential.
    We got our lovely pale pink house at auction-it is bigger than a cottage but I still want to call it a “cottage”. We had very little to do when we moved in-no previous owners. But we have made changes over the years. We had a 6 month old baby when we moved in-now he is 17 and we are still here! Over the years we have remodeled the kitchen, and all 4 baths. But I love this house-it is our history as a family of 5! I love your new house-I love to see all the ways you style a room and what improvments you make, too.

  24. says

    Oh that blue is a pretty little cottage, such a nice thing to see from your window:) It’s like your real life bulletin board now.

    I LOVE the work you have done on your two story tan, and I can’t wait to see where you go (not just in house stuff, but in life stuff too).

    I can’t tell you how many houses ‘got away’ from us, and how many rental frogs we had to kiss before we ended up where we are now, but I can tell you that I am absolutely smitten with my little ONE story white cottage! Sure it has horrible paneling, but this place feels like home already!

  25. Jordan says

    Layla, Thanks for sharing your story. I love how you and Kevin turn anything you touch into something beautiful. Y’all are so talented and I’m so happy for y’all in your new home. I too loved that Cottage Living house. I’m so glad I saved all of my old copies of that magazine.

  26. says

    We don’t know what the future holds but we know who holds it! And He cares about all the details ~ and how many bedrooms you may or may not need in the future : ) I love sharing your journey.

  27. Donnella says

    What an awesome testimony of gratitude. You received God’s best “for you” house “with a view”.

  28. Ellen says

    Love this story, love your house, love how God works all things together for good!

    5 yrs. ago my hubby & I looked at 3 vacant, foreclosed homes on his lunch hr. We weren’t in the market for a house either. We were living in a house provided by the church my husband pastors. We’d explained to the realtor that if she didn’t mind wasting an hour, we were curious about the houses. At the last house we thanked her for her time and left. As we drove out of the neighborhood we passed another empty house and quickly called her cell to see if she could show it to us too. We walked in and fell in love. It was years newer than the others, nicer, bigger and thousands less It was PERFECT for our large family, right down to the rooms being perfect colors for our decor. And I’m not talking neutral colors.

    The realtor e-mailed the next day telling us they were accepting bids on the house for 6 more days. We applied for a mortgage, placed our bid and 9 days after walking into the house it was ours.

    It never even occured to us to ask to see the house again,. We bought a house we’d spent all of 20 minutes in. While I wouldn’t reccommend that to everyone, it ttruly has been the perfect home for us.

  29. says

    You know, good for you. I admire you that you can admit that you didn’t get the house you wanted. No one would do that. Everyone would say, “Oh, I didn’t want that one anyway.” So it’s refreshing to hear some honesty in the blog world (or in the REAL world too, nevermind blogland). I wish you and Kevin the best. Your house now is gorgeous too. I have a house with a porch and would LOVE to be able to afford to build “up” – like that blue house with the second, upper porch. Also: I hope it’s ok, I am pinning your photos in this post to Pinterest, for my future wishes (if I win the Lottery). ;)
    Best,
    Gloria

  30. debbie r says

    I have always said life is strange, u never know what might happen. All that time, looking at the picture of the “two-story blue” house. Never dreaming that would be your view out your kitchen window. Life is simply amazing sometimes. That is wonderful. Your where you were meant to be. Its more than obvious. :)

  31. says

    Both houses are darling. Coming from California I am still reeling at your house prices. Those same houses here, anywhere near water would be $100,000,000. Yup, you heard it, a million or more!

    I have a feeling you’re gonna need the tan house with an addition on the back. What a happy family you’ll have there. I can hear laughter floating in the breeze from all the windows on a happy summer day!

    Have you watched a tv program called, Hart of Dixie. Some really cute Southern houses in there. You should check it out.

  32. Sheila says

    I love your 2 story tan and I’m looking forward to the day that the pitter patter of little feet will be dancing through your home. Like you said Layla it’s funny how things work out. And I just know that God is at work finding that special little one just for you two…

  33. says

    Layla, your neighborhood looks similar to ours, and like you, we fell in love with all the adorable cottages (many sizes, shapes and colors) and the older feel of the neighborhood (detached garages, alleys, etc.). Our house is very similar to your ‘old blue’. But we did not get the 2nd story piazza (as they call them here in Charleston, SC). I would love that! :) I just stare at my neighbors’ houses that have them. ;) Your home is lovely, by the way!

  34. Kim says

    I was so happy when the house we bid on got a higher bid than ours! I loved the house and so did my husband, but in the end I didn’t think he’d be really happy in that neighbourhood, but he was the one insisting that it was perfect for us. In the end, we bought a house with better property and no structure issues in the perfect neighbourhood for us and our son’s school.

  35. Sunny Beamish says

    Looks like you got the best of both sides of the street..the story makes me smile and remember God’s way always seem to work out better than mine..although He hears ALL my reasons why :}

  36. Beth F. says

    Your house is lovely and am sure it is a good fit – much more so than the two-story blue! And I agree with you….great view from your kitchen window!

  37. Tammy says

    Hey Layla!

    I too, believe God has a bigger plan for you and there is a reason you are in that 2 Story Tan Beauty.

    I was wondering if you could share what’s in your magazine rack these days? I know Cottage Living is out of print, I’ve seen a few Flea Market mags around… but was wondering – what’s your guilty pleasure?

  38. Allison Cassieri says

    Layla, What a wonderful story! We are in Colorado but I’m originally from Canada and hubby’s from NY. We’ve lived in several states but since following you and Shaunna I’m completely obsessed with Alabama! Never been before but it just seems like the perfect little place I’ve been searching for. Can you please name this little town you speak of in this post? We are planning a road trip sometime in the summer and I’d love to drive through and look at all the homes you describe. Thx! Allison

  39. Asia says

    I honestly think if your house was painted blue with the white trim you would have been equally attracted to it. I think the tan is just killing the cottage appeal. It also probably didn’t have the killer sunroom you have. Once you paint the exterior of your house I think it will be even nicer than 2 story blue!

  40. Violet says

    Layla, I have a twist on “the one that got away.” I also fell madly in love with a 2 BR cottage that had been on the market over a year. Two days after I saw it and contacted the real estate agent someone else made a bid lower than mine but with no house to sell, so the seller took his offer. I cried for 2 days! Vowing not to miss out again, I began fixing up my old white farmhouse – using YOUR house as inspiration on those days I just couldn’t stare at another paint sample or sand another baseboard. Little by little, I’d been fixing up my place with an eye on selling when one day I looked at the breeze blowing the handmade curtains showing the new maple trees outside the window I had planted, and it occured to me that THIS is my house. I was in my dream house all along! Thanks for keeping me going until I realized that I just needed to bloom where I was planted.

  41. says

    I actually like your house better! :) But it’s great that you have such a pretty view that you enjoy, right outside your kitchen window. And it is also very nice to have the option to add on later if need be!
    Nancy

  42. says

    I love this story! God lead you to one only to place you at another.
    P.S. I visited a Mayberry style neighborhood in Birmingham this past weekend and must say that is my dream style living. Maybe God will lead us to one of those neighborhoods someday. If not, I know nothing can compare with my future home in heaven. :)

  43. says

    It’s sooo funny how Plans are working together even though we’re clueless sometimes…praying you guys will be so Blessed in ANY house your in as you are the reason it’s your home. So thankful for you both!
    :-)
    shaunna

  44. Amy says

    So I’m curious- are you now friends with the people who bought the blue cottage? You can live vicariously through their remodeling!

  45. Jane says

    Last Summer I thought my perfect house got away. I wanted to move to only 1 neighborhood, where my daughter lives.

    I saw the cutest remodeled ranch but at that time my house had not yet sold so I could not make an offer. Over the next 4 months the house was under contract 3 times and all 3 times the sale failed. By this time it was a short sale and I am guessing that the buyers were not willing to wait for the bank. I got an offer on my house in January and the VERY next day “my little house” was back on the market. I looked at it again the next day, a Sunday, Monday my realtor told me the price the bank had decided on and 21 days later I moved in.

    I LOVE IT!

  46. says

    Thank you so much for sharing about how God works everything for good to them that love Him and are called! You guys are such an encouragement.
    xo
    PS… me loves your Mayberry.

  47. Adrienne says

    I love that you named a neighbourhood. I was always looking for “my own Stars Hollow” (a la Gilmore Girls) and since we up and moved to our little beach town I often still refer to it as my Stars Hollow.

  48. Angel says

    OMG, I just read this and fell in love with the house. I Googled the house to find additional information and lo and behold, it is for sale!

    How freaking coincidental is that?

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