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Image Credit: HGTV

'House Hunters Renovation': One vintage home with buried treasure, please

Hello, vicarious-living addicts! That’s right, what else can we possibly call people with an obsession for watching house buying and renovation shows? How many of us who watch are in the midst of doing either? I haven’t owned a home in 15 years, but I cannot take my eyes off of HGTV when I get into a groove. I’m here to tell you there is nothing to be ashamed of; you can lift your head out of the sand and tell everyone you are a vicarious-living addict.

This week we’re taking another look at House Hunters Renovation, because there is something so satisfying in knowing that when you do purchase a home, you’re not the only one who isn’t happy with what you get when you sign the papers. You aren’t tricked into buying a house you love, but you go in knowing it has the potential to be the house of your dreams.

If you’re lucky, you may even find buried treasure in the walls. As we learn watching first-time home buyers Anastasia and Eric Walters, dreams do come true.

House Hunters Renovation takes us back to California and into Orange County while Eric and Anastasia search for a vintage home full of quirks. They fell in love with that concept when renting their first house together, built in the ’20s or ’30s.

0424-1An interesting dichotomy is revealed when visiting the first house, a 1962 build, as Eric admits to being a bit obsessive-compulsive. Upon entering every vintage house, he wishes for a modern and clean look to the place. Eric, Eric, Eric. You either love vintage and its quirks or you buy new. He’s really not taken with the windows, and sets about getting one stuck in the frame: “Oh, man. Why do I break something in every house that I go to?”

Eric’s reaction to the wonderful full-wall groovin’ ’60s fireplace? “It looks big and old and hard to clean. You know, I would definitely like to see something a little more modern and streamlined.”

The 1967 house comes with a bar (my dream!). Eric is put off by its frat-house vibe, while Anastasia embraces the charm of such a unique feature. Who would win? “You look up Tasmanian Devil in the dictionary and you see a picture of my wife,” Eric says, describing his wife. My girl Anastasia is all over the bar, not willing to let it go, should they get the house.

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0424-4One does have to wonder exactly what drove the decision to place a doorway from a bedroom directly into the garage. As Eric notes, “Nobody ever builds a house with garage access from a bedroom.” Perhaps international spies? I’ll bet Elizabeth and Philip from The Americans would find it quite handy.

The last house they’re shown is built in 1935. Hello in there! It’s well hidden, that’s for sure.

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As the realtor shows them around, Anastasia notes her use of the word “original,” saying, “I love how you keep using that for, ‘It needs a lot of work.’” Again – old house, quirks, charm; these things come with a price. It’s called sweat equity.

The excitement of an additional room diminishes when Eric steps into it. It’s a great bonus, right? “Yeah, but I just feel like I’m in a movie. It’s like Alice in Wonderland. The walls are closin’ in and the roof’s closin’ in,” Eric says, somewhat panicked. Of course, it’s the house they decide to buy.

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The house is from the era they fell in love with and it’s going to be their forever home. They immediately get to work, but Anastasia feels the heat early on, “The painting is really hard and frustrating, and I wish I had a genie that would just shake his head and it would be done.” The results, however, are amazing (even if she didn’t have our handy tips on how to whitewash paneled walls!)

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With the kitchen their biggest challenge, they engage Sasha Witte of Sasha Witte Interior Design to give life to their dreams.

0424-14When Sasha suggests a blue-gray for the cabinet color instead of Anastasia’s desired white (new home owners take note: Sasha says white is a trend, so you’ll likely pay for that choice), Anastasia plays along, agreeing that it will be in keeping with the house’s vintage flavor. Then she breaks down in tears. It’s her first home, her kitchen is her heart, and it’s all happening so fast that she just becomes verklempt. It quickly passes.

We witness real, heart-pounding excitement during the demolition, when a hidden sack is found hidden in the cabinet walls! It’s buried treasure. There’s money in that there kitchen! Sasha laughs, “Oh my gosh. I have found a lot of things in walls over the years, but never a sack of money.” It’s not just any money, either. It’s full of Buffalo nickels, one of them a coveted three-legged nickel that turns out to be worth $600! It seems buying an old house has more than quirks.

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There is a genuine stumbling block when Anastasia and Eric purchase the wrong oven. The downdraft range was important to Sasha’s original plans, and when the couple decides to purchase a more cost-effective model that comes with a hood, Sasha has to stop everything and completely redesign the kitchen. Since their first set of plans took three weeks for approval, it only made tensions rise. Here’s a look at their original kitchen:

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Once the demolition is underway, something else comes to Anastasia’s attention. When they decide on a cut-out in the kitchen so she can keep an eye on her daughter, Gianna, while cooking, she never imagined what it would look like from the other room. Instead of crying this time, she slams the demolition man and schedules an appointment with Sasha.

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Sasha explains how decorating and furniture will offset the difference in the wall, agreeing that while it was an ideal (and the only) choice to cut through the wall from the kitchen side, it did look different from the other side. The finished product goes beyond their wildest dreams, from both sides of the cutout. Eric (and, me, too) especially love how the lighting is set inside the kitchen, as it enhances the look of the space from the living room.

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But what about the kitchen? The kitchen is big and functional, and the cabinets’ color retains some of the historical appeal of a home built in the ’30s. Both Anastasia and Eric have already decided they don’t ever expect to sell the house. It feels like home. Their home.

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We’ve lived vicariously through another couple who made their dreams of buying and renovating a home come true. Why do you watch the House Hunters franchise? If you’re buying a house and have interesting stories about what you see, share them. If you’re in the middle of a demolition, tell us what you find in the walls! Let me know why you watch and what you might like to see covered in the future.