We have the most exciting, crazy news. I’ve been imagining writing this post for months and it kind of feels surreal to finally be telling you our big exciting news…
See that house?
We bought it.
That’s our new vacation home in Traverse City, Michigan!!
Holy crap, we bought a second house. We are so crazy.
We are also CRAZY excited. And terrified. And nervous. And all of the things. It was a really long, dramatic roller-coaster ride from the time we first saw the listing in October to when we actually closed on the sale last week, which maybe we’ll talk about another time (I’m still too traumatized), but let’s just say there were multiple times, up until pretty much the day before closing that we were ready to give up on the whole thing. We pretty much didn’t tell anyone except Andy’s parents until right before closing because we just didn’t know if it was going to happen. But here we are!
Anyway, I know you just want to know more about the house! It’s a quirky little cabin built in the 1970s on Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay. And when I say “quirky” I mean QUIRKY! The cabin was built by local architect Roger Hummel, who was known for his unique designs inspired by the surrounding landscape — and he apparently had quite an imagination because he designed this cabin to look like the interior of a 17th century ship!! There’s a porthole and ship’s ladder up to a loft, and tons of built-in furniture like you’d find on a boat. This was Hummel’s first residential project, which he actually built for himself and lived in for a few years. We love that it’s a little weird and not a cookie-cutter lake house. Weird suits us better!
The original house built in 1972 is a log cabin with a tiny kitchen, sunken living room with stone surround, fireplace, and built-in couches and a little loft area above. The pole you see in the middle of the photo above is actually the ladder to the loft! Some of these pictures don’t do the place justice and I think it looks way cuter in person — and will be even better once we get our hands on it!
A couple years after the log cabin was built, an a-frame was added on with two bedrooms that both face the lake with the most amazing views. The master is above and I wish you could see the really cool built-in dresser opposite the bed. The second bedroom has an entire wall of built-in shelving and a door onto the back deck. The whole house is about 1200 square feet, and then there’s a big back deck and about 170 feet of waterfront.
(Don’t get me started on how this house was staged!)
So I’m sure you have questions! We’ll try to address some of the more common questions we’ve gotten, but definitely feel free to ask us anything! We’re so excited to talk about this!
Does the house need work?
YES! (And of course we love that!) We don’t want to make any huge renovations that ruin the character of the home, but it definitely needs some work here and there. The kitchen will be our first major project. It’s bad. One of the drawers doesn’t open because it runs into the handle of the stove (what were they thinking?!) and some cabinet doors are hanging off their hinges. Plus it has the WORST paint job in some sort of shabby chic faux finish. Luckily for our budget, the kitchen is a teeny tiny galley with about four cabinets, so we’re hoping to be able to tackle it early on this summer, DIYing as much as possible.
We also discovered some not-so-fun things during inspection that will have to be addressed right away, like roof repairs, UGH. And of course, we’ll also being freshening up the whole interior with paint and buying all new furniture… and all new EVERYTHING. (eek) Most of the renovations and updates will happen slowly over time. Except maybe that bathroom vanity has to go right away too because it’s the wrong style, but the floor is nice.
Why Traverse City?
Because it’s AMAZING. Because it’s one of our favorite places on earth. Because it has beautiful beaches, crystal clear water, world-class restaurants, fun shopping, super cute small towns to explore up and down the Lake Michigan coast, amazing breweries and wineries (it’s on the same longitude as northern Italy), friendly people, and a laid-back lifestyle that we love. I grew up vacationing in the area and those are some of my absolute fondest memories. I can’t wait for our kids to have that same opportunity.
We’ve shared some of our past trips to TC here, here, here, here, and here. Phew — can you tell we like it up there?!
If we like it so much, why not move permanently?
Traverse City gets an average of 120 inches of snow a year. Cleveland averages 60. So no, we currently have no intention of moving there permanently, haha!! Besides that, though, of course our jobs, friends, family and lives are here in Cleveland. In the future, we could see ourselves possibly moving somewhere closer to cut down on the six-hour drive, but not anytime soon.
Can we afford this?
Ummmm. We hope so?? Talking money is super awkward, but we want to be open about it. Honestly we have had a hard time even telling our friends and family about what we’re doing because we know it seems so… unrelatable… Like those bloggers who are like, “we’re just like you… but look at our $15,000 custom couch…” The truth is, I inherited some money from my parents after they passed away. It’s hard to say I’m “lucky” because getting that money meant I had to lose my parents, and I’d much rather have them around than any amount of money, but if I had to lose them, I’m grateful they were in a position to help make my life better.
It had always been my parents’ dream to purchase a vacation home in the Traverse City area, and in fact my dad was actively looking for a property when he passed away. It is so special for us to be able to now use their money to invest in this home that we want to create happy family memories in. My dad would have loooved this quirky house. It is so him, and I think that’s actually one of the reasons I initially liked it too. (Fun fact: I grew up in a log cabin in Alaska.) But in order to make ends meet and afford the payments, we’ll need to rent it on Airbnb.
Are we flipping this house?
No! But if we have to… So as I mentioned, our goal in buying a vacation home is to invest in a place we’ll have for the rest of our lives, spend a lot of time in our retirement, and ultimately pass on to Joey and Olly. BUT we also know that anything can happen. We could find after a year or two that we just can’t afford it, that we don’t make enough money renting it out to cover the expenses. As much as you try to plan for everything, you never really know what expenses you’ll have until you start getting the bills. Circumstances could change with Andy’s job. We could decide that it’s too much trouble to own a home so far away. We could even decide it’s just not the right house for us. Any number of things could change that we haven’t even thought of yet. So we’re totally prepared to make the updates it needs and sell it if that’s what’s going to be the best decision for our family — and that would be fun too. It’s just not the ultimate goal at this time.
When will the house be available to rent?
ASAP! But realistically, not until late summer at the earliest. Unfortunately because of winter, we most likely won’t even see the house again until at least March or April, so we’re in a frustrating sort of limbo. Closing on a house you won’t see for months is kinda anticlimactic. However, we’ll spend the next few months narrowing down furniture and design for each room as much as we possibly can, and then hit the ground running as soon as the weather clears up enough to go up north.
Our goal is to start by renting to friends and family so we can figure out what changes we need to make, what things we’re missing, and get used to the process of being landlords, and then we’ll open it up to everyone hopefully in the fall, but we’ll just have to see how things go.
Of course we’ll tell you as soon as it gets listed!!
We’re calling the house the Bay Shore Boathouse — because it’s on Bay Shore Drive and it’s a house that looks like a boat!! So be sure to follow our new @bayshoreboathouse instagram account for updates! And of course we’ll be talking about it a ton right here and on our normal @burritosbubbly instagram, including all our ideas, design plans, projects and hopes and dreams!! We can’t wait to share it all with you!!
*All of the photos in this post are courtesy of the real estate listing and were taken by the selling agent. We haven’t had a chance to take photos ourselves, but we will as soon as we can!