"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

A Wenatchee classic feels the patter of tiny feet again

By on May 30, 2018 in Featured Homes with 0 Comments

Olivia Haas, glad to be settling in to the new house with her family, took a break from moving in to pose happily on the front steps with Vanessa and Penelope. Photo by Donna Cassidy

Story By Susan Lagsdin

House photos by Kris Connor

Synchronicity is “the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.”

In this case, an old and much-loved house, the one pictured here, stands in the center of a story of two families, strangers to each other, who are happy with their very different choices.

On an afternoon in early May, Andrea Johnson approached the busy intersection of First and Miller in Wenatchee, curious about the new owners of the 1937 Tudor-style house she and her husband Justin sold and had just closed on that week.  “I felt kind of sad about leaving it all behind,” she admitted, “And then I saw two little pink tricycles in the driveway — and I knew the house was going to be fine.”

That twinge of heartbreak mixed with the adventure of moving wasn’t seller’s remorse (that’s generally financial misgiving, and this swap-up worked out fine). It was simply affection for the old place that had served her family well for five years.

But the time was ripe for moving on, and the Johnsons had just transitioned into a roomy 1970’s split-level ranch across the Columbia. “It’s so peaceful up here,” said Andrea, “Look at this view — and our yard backs right up to the golf course.” Wenatchee Golf and Country club members, they’d been eyeing eastside property for a while.

Their furniture isn’t completely in place, and some painting needs to happen, but they have breathing space, and they feel settled.

The floorplan of the East Wenatchee house allows simplified main-floor living for Andrea and Justin and a fully-finished basement apartment with three bedrooms for his four often-in-residence teenage children from a previous marriage.

“My family is huge,” Andrea laughed. “I mean literally — one son is six foot, three — and we needed a lot of space for them.” The sunny open-plan living area will feature a massive dining table for their family of six.

Meanwhile, down in the heart of Wenatchee, Olivia Haas, her husband Mike Sabatello, from Buffalo and Chicago originally, and their two little girls ages 2 and 4 (the trike owners) were busy moving in to the emptied First Street house.

That weekend they’d trucked their possessions from the place they’d been renting for two years in East Wenatchee’s Briarwood neighborhood and stacked them into the just-purchased home the Johnsons had left behind.

Olivia has done some cosmetic updates and is contemplating more, working around stacks of boxes and rolled carpets. The living room walls went from subdued gray to brighter white. She said, “Yesterday I was up on a ladder painting, and Mike walked in the door from work. For a second it felt like one of those happy-family TV commercials, but it made me realize — this is really our home now. We’re finally home.”

A romantic with a discerning eye for the old, Olivia had been on a home search with her realtor since September. She immediately was drawn to the house’s curved archways, built-in cabinetry, original wood flooring and small-paned windows.

And now, “I keep discovering nice little touches around the place — original features and a really traditional feel. I love the symmetry, the flow…”

The location helped cinch the deal: a bit of local history, a little shaded oasis amid the traffic and dogwalkers, just a stroll to the city core. “That rental house was nice but so… suburban,” Olivia said. “We couldn’t walk anywhere. I love being right downtown — it feels like we’re right in the middle of everything.”

Because they were going for vintage charm with an urban vibe, Olivia and Mike were willing to adjust to three levels with the laundry on the lowest, small closets and just one bath for the three upstairs bedrooms. A formal dining room adjoins the kitchen, but the cozy breakfast nook will have new banquette seating for everyday meals.    

Across the river in her Eastmont Avenue house, Andrea Johnson reflected on the recent past of the First Street house they’d just left. “The yard was in pretty bad shape when we bought it — totally overgrown. And every wall, even up the staircase, was covered in gray wallpaper.” Her own choice of finishes and colors, and Justin’s laudable landscaping, helped the (next) buyers to see it at its best.

An older home tends to draw walkers-by who’ve either lived there or watched it for decades and have plenty of comments on the updates. A friend’s mother, Andrea discovered, was raised in the First Street house and had early 1960’s photos to share, and she learned the builder was a railroad executive who carpeted the house in railcar flooring.

She outlined the big improvements she and her husband made since buying it in 2013: creating a fenced concrete play area and two outdoor sitting areas, renovating the kitchen, and turning the basement into guest quarters and a playroom with a distinctive baseball theme (note: The Johnson’s wedding was at Safeco Field, they honeymooned in Cooperstown, NY).

Andrea was philosophical about the five years of work they put into the place. She knows every family has personal preferences and needs, and she expects that the new owners are eager to make big changes of their own.

Haas and Sabatello (the buyers) appreciate the Johnson’s (the sellers) intensive outdoor renovation, especially the secure fenced yard and easy-access deck.

Walking through the First Street house, Olivia pointed out some changes she and Mike want to make inside. New rustic-look tile flooring and all-around kitchen updates are on the calendar, and paint colors will change: a lime wall to neutral, blue walls to gray.

Olivia’s stepdad, who hates flying but loves fix-ups, will visit from New York and help with some building projects. They want the sound and ambience of a wood-burning fireplace so will take out the gas one. Will the baseball-themed downstairs den stay intact? “Maybe,” said Olivia. “It’s pretty cool… we’ll see about that.”

All over town somebody has bought a brand new or lived-in home and is busy moving into their own up-and-coming dream house to start life anew.

With this satisfying transaction, Andrea’s big teenagers can get in a round of golf in the morning, and Olivia’s little girls can see a castle (Craigmuir) from their window and walk down the street for ice creams. Everybody wins.

Kelly Thompson from Premier One Properties, listing agent, helped Andrea and Justin sell the house; Christie Kay LaMountain from Windermere, selling agent, helped Olivia and Mike buy the house.

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