They say you shouldn’t make permanent decisions in a temporary situation, but here we go. The pandemic has both slowed life down and yet sped things up, right? I know so many people who are fast-tracking their life, and making more huge decisions than ever before. These last 6 months have given us some perspective – time to think and reprioritize the long term life decisions that are so easy to put off when you are busy. We know how unbelievably lucky we are to be able to do that. I know that many people were/are even busier, juggling so much MORE. But for us – with production, design work, and theater at a stand-still – Brian and I had time to ask ourselves (and answer) some big questions. Now that we practically live up in the mountains full-time and love the access to nature, did we want to go back to living in LA? Do we really want to raise our kids in a big city? Do we really need to be in LA “for work”?
The answer is “no”. After 8 years in New York and 12 years in LA, truly appreciating two of the most exciting cities in the world, we are ready to move back to Oregon to raise our kids amongst our family and extremely close childhood friends, surrounded by more nature and trees (not sure you guys caught that I’m super into trees). We have been talking about it for 5 years (even looked at houses after Birdie was born), and seriously thinking about it for 3 years. We always knew that we would end up there, but with the business and Brian’s theater career it was so easy to think we HAD to be in LA. The pandemic has proved that we don’t, and while we have seriously considered raising our kids up in the mountains long term, ultimately we want to be closer to our family. We are SO EXCITED. Nervous, yes, but SO EXCITED. A lot to talk about, I know. So I figured I’d answer the questions in the order that I get them. Because I’ve been getting them …
Wait. WHY ARE YOU LEAVING?
More than anything we really want to be closer to family. Not to mention, there are some patterns you fall into living in a city. I was on a hamster wheel, addicted to being busy while being happy in so many ways and enjoying the hell out of my job every single day. But, I over-scheduled myself because that’s just what you do when you live in a big fast-paced city. Living up here out of LA slowed me down enough to get a foot off of the wheel. Once I was off, I realized that it was an addiction I needed to give up – hopefully permanently – to be more healthy. No. I’m not retiring. With Oregon being more affordable I’ll be able to make a larger impact. I want to focus on helping more underserved families in a bigger way than any individual Feel Good makeover. More to come once we get settled up there (but we do have our first pandemic Feel Good makeover in November, FINALLY, yay).
Are you selling your house in LA?
Yes. It’s not listed yet, but we will be selling it. Hopefully to someone who will love it just as much as we have. After living there for 5 years, it’s really the main emotional pull that has kept us here. We moved here when Birdie was 1 and Charlie was 3, and it has been THE PERFECT home for young kids. The way the house is laid out, the year-round indoor/outdoor flow, is just so wonderful to live in. The flat, enclosed backyard with no bodies of water or access to cars means the kids have some freedom. It’s fully fenced, with lots of pockets of shade and intrigue, and you can see the backyard from the kitchen so I left them unattended while I cooked, even when they were tiny. I know that is boring to most of you, but to moms of small kids, that is HUGE. Our bedrooms are all near each other so we felt close and safe, and the house is walking distance to the local public elementary school on the east side (Ivanhoe, which we LOVED).
But we can’t hang onto it and move to Oregon. Pre-pandemic, before this decision, I started finishing some rooms that I was excited about (like the living room, shared kids room). But as it became clear that we weren’t going to return to LA, I started tackling the other rooms that would need to be fixed in the event that we needed to sell (like the basement studio and Elliot’s old room). If you are a serious buyer looking for a magical family home, with a separate studio (and bath) and a shady backyard in Los Feliz (Ivanhoe school district) see the info at the end of the post.
Are you selling your furniture in the house?
Nope. Maybe a few pieces if I can easily replace them. But I have really come to curate pieces that we love and we aren’t starting over this time. I want almost every single thing forever.
Are you selling the mountain house?
No. As of now, I can’t imagine selling this house and we picture coming down here in summer and winters to see our friends and get away from the rain. We might rent it out, give it away to friends or auction it off for charity fundraiser weekends in between.
So, where in Oregon ???
Well, I’m nervous to talk about it without jinxing it too much. It’s a very long story, but it’s a place that we have a relationship with and the opportunity came up recently, and quickly. The property is outside Portland and if it works out we feel is the next (and likely forever) Henderson home. Obviously as soon as things are finalized I’ll be sharing the project with you because TRUST ME, it’s going to be fun to document and watch. But until it’s 100% finalized, I’m not gonna say anymore. BUT WE ARE DRIPPING WITH EXCITEMENT.
When are you moving???
It’s still TBD as we aren’t in escrow yet on a house. After much thought, we plan on living in Lake Arrowhead until we make the official move. We know we’re going to make the move, but the details are still a little up in the air. So we are homeschooling from the mountains, while I can still commute down for shoots when needed. We aren’t trying to rush it. We are going to take it slow, not put more pressure on ourselves than we already feel homeschooling the kids (maybe distance learning, still figuring it out) and just try to keep our foot off the temptation of the hamster wheel (although I do need to write that book…).
What will happen with the business?
It’s going to be GREAT, as we’ve already made a lot of changes, working remotely for months. Turns out we don’t all need to be physically together to run a blog (even though we love being together for so many other reasons). So luckily me leaving the state doesn’t affect my team, whose jobs are mostly online. I don’t plan on hiring in Portland, because my team here in LA is amazing and work so hard. They’re really the ones who have made this remote work thing work. Sure, there will be some shifts (new faces via contributors, familiar faces coming back, more freelancers when needed) and the future is always unpredictable when you are running a small online media business (in general, not mention during a pandemic). But my team has been killing it on this blog and we have a lot of fun things planned. I’m dying to start blogging about the new house, but until then there are a lot of reveals from how each room in our LA house was styled and some design projects/MOTOs in LA that we are wrapping up.
You might have also caught on stories last week that Sara, after almost 6 WONDERFUL YEARS, has decided to pursue a full-time freelance photography career. Neither my moving or her going freelance had anything to do with one another, they just happened to line up (like I said, lots of people making big decisions). But I couldn’t be more excited for her, and if you are in LA and need an interiors photographer please reach out to her directly. She’s joining a beloved group of EHD alum, all who have really helped shaped the company you know and love today.
Are we sad to leave?
YES. Of course I’m sad to leave our friends, but we’ve stayed pretty connected to them through the pandemic (thank you, Portal). I tell them all the time that they were literally the only thing keeping us here for YEARS because we loved them so much. But we’ll always stay connected. I’m not worried about that.
What Will You Miss About LA?
I’ll miss the light. The flea markets. The amazing produce (wait, Portland has amazing food) and the weather. Did you know that most Instagram influencers move to LA for the year-round amazing light? I’ve literally met so many content creators that moved here sure, for the opportunity, but also because it’s so much easier to take good photos in LA. Fun – and true – fact. Looks like I’ll need some new skills…
I’m VERY sad to leave our home, neighborhood, friends, and community. Like I gushed about earlier, it is a magical, happy home full of natural light, charm and now four years of incredibly happy memories. We transformed it into our dream home with so much hard work and even more love. The energy is just so good here and so yes, I cry thinking that we may have made our last memory together here. I’m scared that by leaving, I’ll forget things, that distance will make the memories fade. Last year Charlie and I walked to kindergarten and held hands 1/2 the way. Birdie started cooking soup with me at night and put on impromptu ballet shows in the living room. We’ve danced to Moana on the patio for weeks and the kids have had so much fun in the bath that we had to eventually give them an hour curfew. We could walk as a family to the school fundraising street fair and get drinks at Hyperion Public. Heck, even our church was walking distance – Silverlake Presbyterian (I’m letting out all my secrets now. And when it opens back up I can’t recommend it enough for those looking for a nonjudgemental progressive community).
And as you know, we lived NEXT DOOR to one of my best friends in the whole world, a sister really, with whom we shared a hole in the fence that our kids climbed through, back and forth all weekend. Who gives that up???????? Imagine how that conversation went – cut to the three hours of us bawling, with as many glasses of wine. To say I’ll cherish those years is the understatement of the century. I got to live near my best friends, school, church, and work in LA for four amazing years. But at a certain point, your priorities just become so clear. If you always know in your gut that this is how it will end, why wait?? Why put off the next phase in your life, one that you know will make your family happier, just because it seems crazy?
Here’s just a little quick trip down memory lane (don’t worry there will be more).
It’s been 4 years exactly since we bought that house. It’s been 20 years, almost exactly to the month since we left Oregon. I suppose it’s all full circle and while everyone is shocked, I think no one is really surprised.
As blog readers hopefully this will be a new adventure for you, too. Can one go home again? How will our kids adjust? What property could be so “us” that it drew us up there after 20 years of living a city life? I promise that you’ll understand once you see it.
I’d love to hear what, if any, large life changes you’ve made during the pandemic. I heard a quote somewhere that said, “the pressure and stress of the pandemic has opened up the cracks in our lives, and the light has come blasting through, shining the light on what we couldn’t see before (for good and bad).” My cracks showed me that I was on a hamster wheel, addicted to staying busy, and insisting on living in a city that I would never truly feel at home in. It also showed me the contentment I can feel in living a slower life, and the total joy I get strictly from my husband and kids.
BUT AGAIN WHAT ABOUT YOU????? What changes are you thinking about making or have you made since COVID???
P.S. The house isn’t on the market yet, but should be in the next couple of days – I wanted to give you guys a heads up first so you didn’t hear it second hand. If you are interested or you know a serious buyer have your realtor contact Howard Lorey at Nourmand & Associates, HLorey@Nourmand.com DRE # 01263717. I’m so sad that we can’t have an open house like we did last time so more of you can come and see up close all the crazy renovations and updates you’ve watched online the past four years. But I do have a lot of fun updates to show you here, coming soon…
P.P.S. While the real estate photos aren’t out yet, if you are interested and want to see what this house looks like here you go: living room, kitchen/dining, powder bath, patio, backyard, primary bed, primary bath, kids room, Elliot’s room, jack and jill bath).