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Happy New Year! I’m sure a lot of people would like to pitch the past 365 days out the window. Be it political differences, weather disturbances, or natural disasters, there were a lot of less-than-happy-happenings in 2017. While they stretched our patience, stressed our nerves, and tested our relationships, the events of the past year also helped us come together, find our voices, and appreciate the good among the thorns.

I can’t erase or ignore 2017, and I don’t want to, because amid everything else, 2017 is the year that I, gulp, bought a house. Since I tell you about other peoples’ houses every week, I chose this week, at the beginning of this New Year, to get personal.

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Neither fancy nor large, my new house is a one-bedroom, one-bath, 576-square-foot craftsman cottage built in 1920. It has neither a garage nor a driveway, but it sits in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, so I can walk just about everywhere I want to go. What it lacks in space and modern amenities, it makes up for in character. Instead of bemoaning what it doesn’t have, let me tell you what I love most about it.

The front yard is bordered by a thick, green hedge, inside a perfect white picket fence, with a gate that opens into a front yard with roses, birds of paradise, and a lemon tree. There’s even a planter box that was teeming with tomatoes when I bought the house this summer. A short sidewalk leads up to the front door of multipaned glass surrounded by a wood frame, with thin vertical windows on either side. Inside, an inset wooden screen door opens with the twist of a vintage metal latch. Somehow this door is one of my favorite things in the whole house. It lets in the sights, sounds, and a fresh breeze while allowing me to stay cocooned inside.

The living room occupies the front half of the house, with wood floors, a ceiling fan, and big windows on three of the walls. The house has a circular layout, with a door from the left side of the living room leading into the bedroom and another door on the right leading into the kitchen.

The bedroom has floor-to-ceiling shelves built into one wall, plus a surprisingly large closet, both of which help with storage and display space. A large Asian tansu dresser that I’ve always loved doesn’t quite fit in the bedroom, so now it’s on display in the living room instead of being hidden away.

The kitchen is long and narrow, and just the right size for one person. I love the window above the double sink and the original tile on the counter and backsplash.

Beyond the kitchen is a small room that may at one time have been a porch. I’m testing it as my dining room and at the same time seeing how it feels for crafts and jigsaw puzzles. This room gives me options, and I’m in no hurry to decide.

The bathroom is also in the back of the house, accessible from both the bedroom and the “porch room.” It has a fully tiled shower with a new dual-paned window looking out to the backyard.

If you need further convincing, take one step out into the backyard, and you’ll see why I fell in love with this house. A big wooden deck runs the length of the house, with steps down to a separate patio below. The whole yard gets tons of sunshine all day and is surrounded by a tall, ivy-covered fence, so it feels private even though the neighboring homes are close. A tall stand of bamboo gives a tropical flair, and a raised planter box sits along one side, high enough to stay immune to the gophers that plague some of the other tasty gardens in the neighborhood.

Being a homeowner again is 90 percent amazing and 10 percent terrifying. I’ve enjoyed decorating and fixing up my little cottage. Even mundane tasks like taking out the trash or cleaning the bathroom are more satisfying since the house is mine. But the what-ifs can be staggering at times. When you’ve sunk all your savings into the purchase, the endless list of things that could go wrong is enough to make one long for the carefree days of being a renter.

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I don’t regret my decision. And although I’m happy to bid goodbye to some aspects of 2017, I’m happy that my little cottage on Castillo came into my life this year. Scrubbing my floors keeps my mind off of microbursts, twitter tantrums, and whatever 2018 may have in store.

This homes is not for sale, and likely won’t be on the market anytime soon. Jessie Sessions and Kalia Rork of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties and the Austin Lampson Team at OnQ Financial were key in making this author a happy new homeowner.


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