The Little Ranch House that Could
We’ve been officially bunking together a total of 109 days in our 1953 fixer-upper I like to call the Little Ranch House that Could. I can admit, that’s a name only my mom would like, but I think it will all make sense later.
So, when I say “bunking together,” I mean three mattresses on the floor in our future family room. The plan was to tackle the bedrooms first, but we may need to rethink this strategy. When we agreed to live sleep-away camp style with two boys, we thought we’d be tucking them in and kissing them goodnight by now.
Not even close.
This needy little house has other plans for us, and I am sympathetically obliging.
I have connected with this home since I pulled up to view it for a potential client! As scandalous as that may sound, this house needed far too much work to make it a profitable flip. Let’s just say I got lucky those numbers didn’t pencil out because I fell in love that day. I posted this video on my Instagram stories on that day. This is when I first saw the house.
Yes, I fell in love with the original architecture. It was built to take full advantage of the sunrise, sunsets, and surrounding mountain views. I can’t deny that I also fell for the potential to make this little ranch house shine as it did 70 years ago when it was the only house sitting on what we believe was the Borchard family’s land. No other homes were built here for another 8-11 Years. I stumbled upon an easement recorded in 1959 issuing the Lesser Water Company rights to come on the property. It was signed by James Allen Borchard and Casper Borchard Jr. If they weren’t the owners of this propery, then I wonder why they would be granting the water company the right to come on the land. I certainly have more digging to do to confirm this, but it seems to match some of the stories that we’ve heard from the neighbors.
Sometimes I look at this picture of the Borchard’s land and wonder it could be at least part of this house.
The Borchard Family Ranch. Photo donated by Fred Bartel. Photo ID # CTLbar02. Image courtesy of Conejo Through the Lens, Thousand Oaks Library
There have been times where when can feel the home's history, and it feels familiar. I can't explain it other than I feel like I'm supposed to be part of it of this story. That sounds silly when I read that back, but I guess it's true now. So, I'll just leave that there.
As part of the negations when buying this home, I offered the seller the opportunity to leave any belongings behind. I really wanted this house, and I thought it strengthened my offer. When I was cleaning out the house, there were moments when I felt its gratitude.
There are times when I clearly heard pleasant music in this house although nothing was really playing.
There are other magical moments when I feel a sense of peace and comfort. This house can get really dark, and I never feel any fear. There are only good vibes here.
My boys looking out to Boney Mountain which is framed perfectly in our family room and mudroom.
In our short time here so far, I’ve gotten to experience the different decades. There’s no denying the 1950s are showing up strong in our kitchen and main bathroom. I feel some 1970s and 1980s updates, and all of it takes me back to another time. This house has inundated me with memories of my grandparents, my mother and father, and my childhood. I find this nostalgia to be very comforting. So, I choose a name from another era when I call this the Little Ranch House that Could.
I would venture to say that I have a special relationship with this house that feels like it was meant to be. I did get to tell this to the seller before my offer was accepted. That’s a beautiful story in and of itself.
So please follow along this DIY adventure and watch how this house lovingly guides me. It's been telling me what it needs first. Plumbing has been a recurring theme. We've been busy cleaning it up to get it to a place where we can function in it every day. Yes, we're living here while we do the work. It won't always be fun living within the construction, but I don't regret it. I've already changed many design plans after being here for 109 days. I understand it better, and I can see that I'll be doing far more restoring than replacing, and that makes me happy.
Zander and I plan to tackle much of the work ourselves, for now. We’ll be diving into the history to see if the Borchard family did indeed build our house. And, we’re hosting parties and events here while it’s in disarray. It's a beautiful mess. I have so many stories to tell already! This is going to be the ride of our life.