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Kit Homes- A Blast from the Past

With our love for convenience today, it’s a wonder we haven’t quite tapped into our past when it comes to home manufacturing. Did you know that between 1908 and 1940, Sears (yes, Sears Roebuck & Company) sold over 70,000 homes. Yes, homes!

And, how exactly did that work, you ask? Well, you’d pick up your local Sears catalog, sort through your favorite (of 370 styles), then mail out a post card request. Your entire house was then shipped through mail order with a price tag ranging from $280-$6000. The catch: it was up to you to assemble said home (you were supplied with pre-cut framing timber, plasterboard– similar to drywall, and everything else you needed to build minus appliances, plumbing, and heating systems). Sears advertised that their pre-fab homes would save on about 40% of construction time, and promised that a person of “average abilities” could assemble the homes in about 90 days. Your home would be packed and travel via railroad and then be delivered to your property by trucks. You would receive a detailed book that covered every nut and bolt. From there, you would put together all 30,000 parts (approx 25 tons)… and viola, there’s no place like home!

And we thought pre-packaged furniture was difficult to assemble…

Here are some of our favorite Sears’ Catalog Homes, many of which are still standing today (images courtesy of Wikipedia & Antique Home Styles):

1. The Sears “Magnolia” Model Home.
The gorgeous stately home on the right is located in Benson, North Carolina and still stands today. This was the bee’s knees of the Sears Kit Home Collection, being one their most expensive.

2. The Alhambra. Inspired by Mission style architecture, this stunning home design was available for purchase in 1923 for the price of $2998.00. The one pictured still stands in Chicago, IL. You can read all about it here..>>

3. The Americus. Featuring an All-American appeal, this home was one of the most popular. You can read a blog that is all about finding these homes, here.

4. The Walton. This Craftsman style was seen all over the Pacific Northwest and is known for its open floor plan, solid details, and great family room areas.

5. The Sherburne. Designed in 1923, this model of Sears home was one of the least built. This is because Sears did not provide pre-cut lumber for this particular style. However, they did furnish all of the other materials. One detail that is consistent in many Sears homes is that they typically have a lot of windows, and often a sitting porch.

6. The Carlton. Known for having a lot of windows and plenty of bedrooms, this model was very popular in the 1930’s, as it was the beginning of the “baby boom,” and families were seeking more space to grow.

Not too far from Seattle, in Moses Lake, WA, a Sears home sits quietly. It is home model 165, from the 1930’s. You can read about it on Zillow, here.

Do you know of any Sears homes in Seattle or Washington State? We would love to hear about them and feature them on our next blog! Send info to [email protected]

Image Sources:

“Sears Archives”. Retrieved 2012-12-31. “Did Sears, Roebuck Sell Homes in Canada?”. Retrieved 2015-10-21. “Sears mail order homes”. Retrieved 2011-11-30. “”Bill of Materials for Sears Modern Home””. Retrieved 24 September 2017. “Two Italian Families and their Neighboring Sears Houses”. Retrieved 2015-02-17. “New Homes in Cranford for $4,000!” (PDF). Cranford Chronicle. 1992-07-09. Retrieved 2013-11-09. “New Homes in Cranford for $4,000!Biggest development evolved in Sunny Acres” (PDF). Cranford Chronicle. 1983-04-07. Retrieved 2013-11-09. “Yes, Virginia, Sears Homes Were Built After 1940”. Sears Homes of Chicagoland. 2012-11-25. Retrieved 2013-11-09. “The Top Four Most Popular Sears Homes–Have You Seen These?”. Sears Homes of Chicagoland. 2012-07-21. Retrieved 2013-10-13. Thornton, Rosemary (2012-11-27). “How to Properly Identify a Sears Magnolia”. Sears Modern Homes. Retrieved 2013-10-13. Thornton, Rosemary (2013-08-29). “Eight Pretty Maggies in a Row”. Sears Modern Homes. Retrieved 2013-10-13. “Sears Homes in Hopewell”. Retrieved 2012-12-31. http://www.kithouse.org/#historical. Retrieved 2018-11-11. Missing or empty |title= (help) “The Sears Home Leaderboard”. Retrieved 2018-08-20. “Tour of Sears kit homes in Aurora” (PDF). Retrieved 24 September 2017. Holliday, Art (28 April 2017). “How Sears built an entire local neighborhood”. KSDK Channel 5. Retrieved 30 October 2017. “Sears homes in Cincinnati, Ohio”. Retrieved 2014-05-20. “Sears Catalogue Homes”. drive.google.com. Retrieved 2017-02-27. “Sears Houses in Elgin Illinois arranged according to model name”. Illinois Digital Archives. Retrieved 27 December 2017. “The Sears Home Leaderboard”. Retrieved 20 August 2018. “Sears Houses of Massapequa Park, New York”. Kit House Hunters. 25 October 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2018. P-D, Joe Holleman •. “Sears home”. Retrieved 24 September 2017. “Cemetery Office in Newport News”. Retrieved 2012-12-31. “Hogue House in Chelsea, Oklahoma”. Retrieved 2013-06-08. Fraser, Carolyn. Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Henry Holt and Co., 1917. Solonickne, Lara. “A New Sears Avalon in Wisconsin”. www.sears-homes.com. Retrieved 24 September 2017. Solonickne, Lara. “A Sears Kilbourne–Built in 2004”. www.sears-homes.com. Retrieved 24 September 2017. “Farmstead – Farm at Prophetstown”. prophetstown.org. Retrieved 24 September 2017.

#MindBlown | 6 Things You Never Knew About Seattle

With the rapid influx of people migrating to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, those of us who are Seattle natives are pretty sure we know our city best. But, you may be surprised to learn these Seattle facts, whether you have just arrived or have never left- some of which may knock your socks off!

1.Fuel Up! Seattle is home to the country’s first gas station. Located on East Marginal Way in 1907. Now, go brag to all of your out of town friends.

2. Home, home on the…lake? Seattle has the largest population of houseboats outside of Asia. The famous “Sleepless in Seattle” houseboat can be seen on Lake Union among a variety of others, ranging in all shapes and sizes.

3. You better believe that even with our rainy reputation, there are other cities with more average yearly rainfall than Seattle. New York, Chicago, and even Houston receive more rain than us- we just get our precipitation at a slower rate. Ironically, Seattleites purchase the most sunglasses per capita than any other city in the US.

4. Insta-what? While you may assume that the Space Needle, the Ferris Wheel or the waterfront are the most photographed images of Seattle, you may be surprised to learn that the most popular taken image of our city is of the Elephant Car Wash on Denny Way!

5. Ride the Wave! We’ve all seen it at sporting events– one row of people raise their arms up and slowly people catch on creating what is now referred to as “the Wave”. There is nothing more unifying than participating in one. Well, Robb Weller, from Entertainment Tonight was a local Seattleite… and the one who invented it in 1981 at a UW vs. Stanford game. A week later, it was introduced at a Seahawks game in the King Dome (RIP).

6. When the piggy goes to the market?…Well, first off, her name is Rachel, and she is Pike Place Market’s famous piggy bank. Next time you see her, share your extra change which will go to Seattle’s Market Foundation, contributing to schools, senior living centers, food banks and even a health care clinic. Rachel’s sibling, Billie, lives near the Hillclimb Walk on Western Avenue.

Do you know something we don’t know? Send it our way! We would love to learn more about our fascinating city!

The Most Clever Snowpeople

Well, it’s coming. Seattle’s 2019 Snowpocalypse. Are you ready? We’ve heard just today, that the local grocery and hardware stores are swamped with people preparing for this weekend’s dumping.

Snow can be a bit inconvenient, but shouldn’t we embrace it? On that note, we’ve scoured the web for our favorite snowhuman ideas- you won’t be disappointed! Here they are:

  1. Upside Down & Turned Around.
Image Source: MommyShorts

2. Technie Snow Dude.

Image Source: MommyShorts

3. Pops & Kiddo.

Image Source: MommyShorts

4. Snow Angels.

Image Source: NoBiggie

5. Glowmen.

Image Source: Imgur

5. Sunday Morning Paper.

Image Source: OMGLifestyle

6 Ways to Make Your Home Feel Warmer this Winter

Can you believe it’s the depth of winter time in Seattle? It feels as though Spring should be around the corner at this point! But with this new snowfall, it’s now time to pull out those fluffy blankets, light apple cinnamon candles, and start using that slow cooker. In the colder months, it can sometimes feel as though you can’t get your home to feel warm and cozy, but here are some easy ways in which you can embrace the winter chill.

  1. Dimmed Lighting. When it comes to ambience, it is all about lighting. There is so much you can do to change the entire feel of a space just by adjusting its illuminance. Replacing overhead lights with low voltage bulbs will do wonders for your home’s level of visual warmth.

    Dimmed Lighting

  2. Bake, Bake, Bake! There is something very nostalgic and comforting about walking into a room aromatic of fresh baked goods. Sense of smell is often something we overlook when creating a cozy space, but it speaks (or smells) volumes to overall coziness and ambience. If you’re not much of a baker, you can create this feeling with scented candles or pre-packaged cookie dough. We guarantee a change in your overall mood and warmth levels!

    Bake Bake Bake

  3. Add Texture to Your Interiors. One very basic way in which you can create warmth within a space is by implementing textural details. Wooley throw blankets and shaggy rugs create both visual and acoustical warmth, not to mention tactile.

    Add Texture to Your Interiors

  4. Explore New to You Areas. Sometimes it is fun to re-explore small areas in your home. We often spend most of our time in the main functional spaces, and forget that there are other spots that you overlook daily. Whether it is a guest bedroom with a new perspective of the outdoors, or a small chair and floor lamp in the foyer, you’ll find yourself with a new sense of appreciation when you spend time in these otherwise neglected areas. Read a book, sip some tea, and rediscover what made you love your home in the first place..

    Explore New to You Areas

  5. Find Your Sparkle. Who says strings of lights are only for the holidays? There is nothing more charming than adding sparkle to your space using lighting, mirrors, and surfaces- and we mean year round. When you implement extra reflection, your space takes on a sense of magic while simultaneously feeling warmer and more welcoming. 

    Find Your Sparkle

  6. Calming Music and Sounds. In today’s world, we are exposed to so many senses throughout the day, we often find ourselves overstimulated by the time we get home. One of the easiest ways to turn off the static in our minds is to change the sound in our surroundings. Turn off your appliances and electronics and focus on the sounds nature outside. Put on soothing, repetitive music that is somewhat predictable, and simply unwind.

    Calming Music and Sounds


We are all a little star-struck, fascinated by the jet-setting, luxurious lifestyles of the rich and famous. We can only imagine what it would be like to spend a day with our favorite musician and truly get to see their real personality off-stage. Some of us may have this opportunity at some point in our lives, but unfortunately most of us will not. But, here is a little peek into their pasts.

5 Celebrity Musicians: The Homes They Grew Up In 

1. Madonna. Currently she travels between her gorgeous homes in New York and London, but Madonna grew up in a modest, middle class home in Rochester Michigan. It was here that she was raised with her seven siblings, an all-American upbringing in a small town outside of Detroit. This four bedroom, two bath home is complete with a library and garage, and on 1.3 acres. You don’t suppose that since we are living in a material world, is why Madonna had other plans for herself?


Image Source: Zillow Blog, Online

2. Elvis. The King of Rock and Roll spent the early years of his childhood in the small town of Tupelo, Mississippi in this small home, built by his father in 1935, with $180.00 that he had borrowed from his employer. It was a two bedroom flat, lit with just a single light in each room. The city of Tupelo purchased this home in 1957, and it is currently a museum that has been fully restored with period furniture. If you’re ever in the area, check it out!

 Image Source: Delsjourney, Online.

3. Michael Jackson. It is hard to believe that such a large family lived in such a small house. This little home in Gary, Indiana, was home to the Jackson children for most of their early childhood. Michael, born in 1959, was one of five children (hence the “Jackson Five”), and had a modest upbringing prior to fame. The town of Gary is an old mill town; quiet, with a small population. It is speculated that the Jackson children were raised by a “stage father,” who demanded they get their “Jackson Five” act perfected under any consequence.


Image Source: Flikr, Online. 

4. Johnny Cash. This small home in Dyess, Arkansas, is where Johnny and his siblings would reminisce about a happy childhood. His brother, Tommy recalled to a local radio station, “Mama was a great housekeeper, and she made it very homey for us.” Johnny was only three when they moved to this house that was situated on 20 acres of farmland. His family was relocated to the town of Dyess as a new start in an “Agricultural Resettlement Colony.” It is here that Johnny speaks about, in his songs about the Arkansas plains.

Image Source: Historic Dyess Online

5. Jimi Hendrix. The house that Jimi grew up in was on a neighborhood corner in the Seattle suburb of Renton, Washington. His father secured the home in 1950 with a $10.00 deposit, and it is where Jimi found his passion for music. He grew up there with his large family, who still to this day have fond memories of their childhood there.  Unfortunately in 2009, the home was demolished by investors based on complaints by neighbors that it was an “eyesore and had to be removed” from their neighborhood.

INNOVATIVE ARCHITECTURE: Shipping Container Buildings

I’ll never forget a former design client I was working with who was determined to place some shipping containers on his tenth floor penthouse roof to make extra rooms for himself. I remember thinking he must be crazy! Why on earth would he want this? Well, in doing my research, I came across an entire shipping container culture. Many people are building homes and commercial properties with these simple, rectangular boxes. So today, I am going to share some of my favorite shipping container architecture!

Here are my top five picks of shipping container buildings across the world:

1. Shipping Container Guest House. San Antonio, Texas. How cool would it be to spend a weekend with these folks? Your very own shipping container guest house? You could check that one off your bucket list. This little gem has its own bathroom, tons of windows, and a sleek, contemporary design.

Tiny Texas Home

2. Shipping Container City. Cholula, Mexico. This shipping container shopping center features restaurants and bars, galleries, residences, and stores! It is painted colorfully, and has an eclectic spunk to it. There are lounge areas with ping-pong tables and places to relax. On weekends there are live bands that showcase in the common areas as well!

Container City

3. Shipping Container Holiday House. New Zealand. This vacation home was designed to close into a perfectly sealed box. When in use, the walls come down, and there are pull-out beds, a patio, and windows in tact!

Ship House

4. Oceanscope Scenic Observatory, Songdo New City, Incheon, South Korea. These containers were placed at fixed angles, providing different views of one of the most popular harbors in the city. This architectural delight attracts tourists from all over the world.

SHipping Container House.jpg

 5. Multi-Container House, Redondo Beach, California.This beachfront property is built with eight fabricated shipping containers. One of the coolest attributes to this home, is that one of the containers was converted into a swimming pool!

Gorgeous Shipping COntainer House

Some of Our Favorite Unusual Homes Across America

It’s not often you come across a home that takes your breath away because it is so unique. But when it does happen, it resonates with you for times to come. Every home tells a story, and it’s intriguing to learn of its past and present. This is why we thought it would be interesting to research some of the most unusual homes across the US.

White House Replica |Virginia

Built directly across from the Potomac of the real one, this wannabe home consists of 6 bedrooms, 7.5 baths, a resort style oasis and a meager 12,000 square feet. It recently sold to a new owner at the price of $2,985,000. Can you imagine waking up in the morning with a view of the larger version of your home?


Seattle Spite House | Montlake Neighborhood

Now this is an interesting story. Rumor has it that a couple was going through a bitter divorce and the husband only left the wife a sliver of the land. So spitefully, she built a house that fit perfectly into that narrow triangle. Another story is that the neighbor offered such a low price on the entirety of the land, that the new home owner put that house there, simply as a wall blocking them out.  Either way, it is a fascinating home that literally makes the best use of every inch of space.

Image result for seattle spite home

Fairytale Home | Port Orchard, WA

If you’re from the Pacific Northwest, I’ll bet you didn’t know you could purchase Snow White’s home for a mere $600K! Words can’t do justice to the meticulous detail that went into building! There’s not a square corner anywhere. Wood beams are hand carved, stained glass windows are everywhere, and the walls appear to more like a magical cave. A short ferry ride from Seattle can take you to a fairy tale.

Image result for olalla fairy tale house

Flinstones House | Malibu, CA

Once owned by Dick Clark, this house sits on 23 bluff top acres; built to replicate the actual Flinstone’s cartoon house. Initially when he was working with the architect to build on this land, the city was against it as they wanted to preserve its natural beauty. So with that being said, he built a home that “fit in” with the land, taking inspiration from the popular tv series. The result is a one bedroom, two bathroom structure with 360 degree views through giant glass expanses.

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The Smith Mansion | Wyoming

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Built nearly 30 years ago, this home was inspired by stories of Buffalo Bill. This home has an almost eery vibe upon seeing it. The owner, Francis Lee Smith, wanted to build something unique and eye catching that would make for a monument in the small town. He worked on the home single handedly for 12 years, until he fell to his death from a balcony (one of several falls) due to not being tethered in high Wyoming winds. He never used a single blue print or floor plan, adding to the home randomly until his fate. It is a jigsaw puzzle of rooms and materials with no rhyme or reason. There are no dedicated bedrooms, no plumbing, and electricity only provided from a generator through one single extension cord. Currently no one inhabits the home and the town is working to raise money in which to turn it into a museum. If you’re ever in the area, it is definitely something worth taking a look at!

The Munster Mansion | Texas

Huge fans of the 1960’s tv show, “The Munsters,” Charles and Sandra McFee decided to build an exact replica of the house featured on the show. The plan began in 2001 when they were looking for a home and were having trouble finding the right one. “I said to him, ‘You know, we could just build the Munster Mansion’ and to my surprise, he said okay,” Sandra said. “I just ran with it before he could change his mind.” And off they went! They didn’t realize the popularity that would come from it and now host parties and tours.

5 Secret Seattle Spots No One Told You About

It is always fun to poke around our beautiful city and play tourist for a day. It seems as while Seattle is ever evolving, new and exciting attractions are making their debuts. But, there are some attractions that have been sitting under the radar, and we promise you won’t be disappointed if you check them out. Here are some of our picks.

  • Bathtub Gin.

Reminiscent of the Prohibition, this Speakeasy style lounge sits incognito in an alley way off of 2nd Avenue in the Belltown neighborhood.  Known for its eclectic style interior and scratch cocktails, Bathtub Gin is the perfect hideaway (literally) for a date night or just cozying up with a good book. It’s a little bit of a treasure hunt to find this hidden gem, but when you do, you’ll find it’s worth it!

  • Jose Rizal Park.

While there are soaring viewpoints across the city, the photo opportunity that comes with visiting this Beacon Hill Park is unparalleled. Views of the Seattle skyline from this perspective overlook the Puget Sound, Downtown, and the Olympic Mountains. The park also features an amphitheater and picnic area.

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  • Mystery Soda Machine.

If you want to surprise your guests on their visit to Seattle, you should bring them to Capitol Hill’s Mystery Soda Machine. Take a jaunt up to the 900 block of East John Street and marvel in its beauty. This 1980’s machine has gained national attention. Why, you ask? Because to this day, no one can figure out who restocks, maintains, or collects the money from it. Whoever they are, they recently upped the price of a previous mere 75 cents, to a whole dollar. Update: The mystery soda machine has mysteriously vanished…

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  • Steve’s Weird House.

Being called, “Seattle’s Strangest Home and Museum,” Steve’s Weird House takes the cake when it comes to unique attractions. A local Seattleite, Steve lives in a gorgeous Victorian home which lives up to the term, “Horror Vacui,” meaning a fear of empty spaces. This eclectic Fremont neighborhood house is decorated top to bottom (literally) with some of the strangest and unique finds he has collected over the years. While his home is not open to the public, you can see a 360 degree tour here: http://www.bohonus.com/special-projects/virtual-tour-steves-weird-house/

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Photo Courtesy of Trip Hobo

  • Seattle Meowtropolitan Cat Café.

This one of a kind concept is noted as Seattle’s first Cat Café. The beauty of their mission is to bring cats in need of homes into their “cat lounge,” where you can enjoy a cup of locally roasted coffee and pet the fur-babies at your leisure. If you end up falling in love with one or five for that matter, you have the option to adopt and bring home. Such a clever, heartwarming idea!

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Image Source: Seattle Times