The House That Wasn’t

Before I can tell he story of the house that will be, I feel like I need to tell the story of the house that wasn’t. It is a huge part of our story in how we made the decision to get to this point.

In 2015 we finally found a house that we loved, or so I thought. It was as close as any had come, seemed like a good choice at the time, so we made an offer. It was 2445 sqft on 2.5 flat acres, 3 bedroom, 3 bath, needed some updating from being built in the 1980’s, but was still very much livable. It was listed at $545k, we offered $490k and they rejected it, not even a counter. We sat for a few more months, watching and looking, and they lowered the price to $525k. We went in at $500k and they asked for us to pay some costs and accepted!

The transaction on that house was not a smooth one, it was full of bumps along the way. This was a scary choice for us, we needed everything to feel right, so the bumps made it really hard to feel concrete in our decision. We had thought about cancelling he transaction, but the thought of loosing our deposit made it too much to bear. We thought that worst case scenario, and considering all of the houses we’d seen that were much worse, we could at least sell it if things did not work out.

We closed on the house in March, hoping that we could do some remodel work and move there when the kids finished school in June. We started tearing out walls, flooring, you name it, The goal was to turn it from a 3 bed/3bath to a 4 bed/2 bath, doing all of the work ourselves. It felt like from the get go, things just went wrong. If I was a believer in signs, they were screaming at me. To this day I’ll swear it was built on an Indian burial ground. Sean practically lived here while I watched he kids and got them to school. He was exhausted, working a full time job then running a one man remodel. It was tough on us all.

The kids and I would go out on evenings and weekends and do as much as we could. After four months of stress on our family, our budget managing two houses and a remodel, we were done, I couldn’t even think of wanting to live there. We decided to rent it out, try to get back on our feet, and revisit it later. Thankfully it was a competitive rental market, we had a completely remodeled house, and a lot of interest.

We chose a tenant that seemed like a good fit but we soon started seeing signs it was not going to be what we hoped. On her business page, we noticed that she’d hosted a large party at the house for her business, calling it “business name ranch”, uh oh! In a subsequent visit to the house we noticed that there were 14 mattresses stored in the garage, and the outbuilding held camping and recreational gear to sleep 50+ people. When we approached that the house could not be used for business purposes, we came to the agreement that it would not work for either party and both exited the lease agreement.

That brings us to he next tenant 😦  Within a month of moving in, the well dried up, no water to the house. It was a drought year and an old, shallow well. We had someone look at it, first bid…$12k, on top of the fact that we were just recovering from a remodel, it brought tears. The next bid was $5k, so we drilled a brand new well. A few months later we got a call from a neighbor that our great tenant had taken his tractor and plowed through the 5 surrounding lots, including federal BLM land with total disregard to lot lines! Neighbors were pissed to say the least. We approached him and he defended it and got argumentative with us, the relationship soured and two moths later we got a text saying he was leaving with no notice. The house was empty again, two tenants in less than a year, we couldn’t take anymore, It had been nothing but a bad experience from day one, so we listed the house for sale.

We listed it for $599k and got an offer for $595k fairly quickly. Their inspections of course found things that ours hadn’t, and we ended up going down to $580k to essentially buy them a new deck and new roof, like the only two things we hadn’t redone. We were just glad to be done with it. It had been a year of hell on us and our family. I can look back on it now, but in the middle of it, it just felt like a constant storm raining down on us. I value the experience, but hope we never are there again.

So now what? Back at square one, no new house, or idea what to do.

Author: Brandy K.

Bio: I wanted to take a chance to introduce myself, I am Brandy Kollenborn, a furniture painter from Sacramento, CA and owner and artisan behind  “Brushed By Brandy”. I'm a stay at home mom of 3 boys, Noah 11, Ashton 8, and Logan 5, married for 16 years to my favorite furniture cameraman, repairman and delivery person, Sean. I have a degree in finance and left my career with The State of CA to stay home when my youngest son was born, with no clue what my next step would be, it was a leap of faith! The first pieces I did were a bedroom set in 2016 that tenants left behind in our rental, it was beat up, but solid wood, and I had nothing to lose, it was either going to the curb or I could make something of it. I've always been on the crafty/artistic side so this was a great way to express that on huge canvases. My hobby has turned into a booming little business, most of my pieces are sold before I create them and designed alongside my customer. My style is blended, smooth, colorful statement pieces for any room. I'm proud to partner with The Dixie Belle Paint company and Prima Marketing group creating sample pieces, lives, and blogging tutorials at We are in the process of building our forever home on 5 acres for our boys, it will be my biggest custom project to date :) and I love sharing that journey on my page and in a blog as well. We are project people through and through, don't know how to sit still.  I'm so appreciative of the support, my confidence wavers all the time, I love answering questions and connecting with other creatives, this community has been so welcoming to me and I hope I can return that! I’m so grateful for this opportunity, I never imagined there would be interest in me painting furniture in my garage! 

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