Mrs. Winchester has Retired. Let’s Celebrate.


My backyard is finally complete, so it’s been party central around here of late. I can hardly believe it myself. Thirty years ago I never would have thought that feat was possible. Being done with the house, that is.clicking heels

When the hubby (now ex) and I bought our home in 1984, it required some creativity to see its full potential. Junipers engulfed the front yard. Nothing against Junipers but I hate ‘um. Those suckers have the hugest roots. Removing them took heavy chains, a truck and flooring said truck. Very high tech stuff.

That's the stuff

That’s the stuff

The inside was worse. Orange shag carpet, reminiscent of the 70s, covered the floors. Red and green striped wallpaper took weeks of scraping to remove. (Hence, I’m no longer a fan of wallpaper.) Although the house has 4 bedrooms, the closets are tiny — not the best choice for someone who likes to shop.

The kitchen was small and the backyard dead. What used to be a lawn consisted of gangly weeds. The hill behind the retaining wall, traveling up the property, was laden with large rocks and crusty, dry, unplantable soil. Yep, it took a bit of imagination to envision something more palatable to the eyes.


Now don’t get me wrong; my home isn’t grand by a long shot. But it fits me. And I had a feeling it did right from the start.

I remember sitting with the hubby on that orange carpet our first night here, looking at the off-center fireplace with the bricks painted white, and describing to him the plans I already had to beautify our new home. I’m not sure how much he heard, as he appeared to be in shock with the prospect. You see, we could barely afford the place. My parents were panicked, thinking we were in over our heads. And they were probably right.what were we thinking

godfatherBut when we found this place, we couldn’t resist. PG&E owned the house, so when they transferred their client and his family, they wanted out ASAP. Therefore, they were willing to take what they could get. That happened to be right about the time the hubby and I drove down the street and spotted the mint green and white 2 story home.

After removing the junipers

1984, sans the junipers

I’ve always loved that design — the Cape Cod style with the dormers. The neighborhood, lined with lots of trees, is near open space in a family oriented, safe suburb with friendly neighbors. Yep, the house was just about perfect. Other than the inside. And the outside.

Fast forward to 2014. The wallpaper is gone. The front and back yards have been landscaped more than once.

The living room now has a centered gas fireplace. Beautiful oak hardwood, discovered under that orange carpet, compliments the living and dining room.

Plywood kitchen cabinets have been replaced with cherry wood, tile counters with granite and linoleum with large tile flooring. A kitchen nook sits at the far end.

And the best decision of all — a large family room.

The backyard is no longer a desolate wasteland. Two sets of French doors open onto a bluestone patio that holds a gas fire pit framed by a curved stone bench.gas firepit

The hillside is now terraced with multiple seating areas, perfect for parties.

A pondless waterfall overlooks the hot tub and storage shed. The side yard is a fenced, pet-friendly space to keep my 3 dogs from digging up the garden, yet allows them to roam and climb.

I wish my parents could have seen the yard. They would have loved it. They were backyard party people. And that’s what I am, too. In the 30 years I’ve lived here, I’ve hosted family events, friend gatherings, dinners, birthdays, baby and wedding showers. You name it, the backyard has seen it.

The hubby used to call me Mrs. Winchester because he said I’d never be finished working on the house. Always one more project in the works…Actually, I wondered myself if I’d ever be done.

Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House

It only took a mere 30 years, but today I can safely say this Winchester woman is happily retired and gratefully enjoying a labor of love — my home.

8 thoughts on “Mrs. Winchester has Retired. Let’s Celebrate.

  1. Oh Janet, I loved reading this one and seeing what was to what is now! You made excellent choices and everyone lives your parties. Slow and steady wins the race and you have won my dear, as you have a beautiful home that everyone loves coming to. And you know how to throw a party too!! Love you!

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