Laura Genevieve and her husband, Jonathan Strader, bought a Spanish bungalow in 2018.
They documented the four-year revamp on social media, building a lifestyle brand along the way.
They just sold their house for $1 million, less than two months after putting it on the market.
Laura Genevieve had a clear vision in mind when she started looking for a house: she wanted a Spanish bungalow and she wanted it to be as close to the beach as possible.
The jewelry designer was living in Venice Beach with her husband, Jonathan Strader, and their one-year-old son when they began house hunting.
“We really couldn’t afford anything in Venice Beach, where we lived. And so we started looking for the closest house to the beach from Los Angeles that was also a Spanish house,” Genevieve told Insider.
“I was very specific. I wanted archways, arched windows and all that 1920s Spanish charm,” Genevieve said.
Their search eventually led them to Long Beach, where Genevieve found what she was looking for: a Spanish-style home 10 minutes from the coast.
South Wrigley property It came with a detached two-car garage, interiors dated to the 1980s, and occupants.
Still, the couple knew they had found the one, Genevieve said: “We knew he had great bones the moment we walked in.”
the couple ended to buy the house in October 2018 for $555,000.
Genevieve and her husband moved into the bungalow the day they received the keys. As the first order of business, they began to tear up the rugs.
The house had all the architectural features the couple wanted, but the interior design was a different matter.
“We saw the arched windows, the arched doors, and we were pretty sure we had reclaimable hardwood floors,” Genevieve said. “But someone had made some improvements that just weren’t our favorites.”
The home’s plumbing and electrical systems also needed improvement.
“The plumbing was definitely not working,” he said. “We decided to put the washer and dryer in the house and every time we turned them on, it would build up and water would go everywhere.”
The state of the house to fix gave Genevieve the opportunity to work in interior design for the first time.
“I’ve worked in fashion my entire career,” Genevieve said. “I’ve always been interested in interior design, but until we got our first house, I didn’t really feel like I had an outlet.”
Genevieve owns a brand called Turquoise and Tobaccowhere he sells handmade jewelry like a sterling silver ring with a turquoise gem ($64) and a silver chain link necklace ($58). Prices for his designs can run into the thousands of dollars, with an engraved 14-karat gold necklace selling for $1,840.
Her husband, Strader, is part owner of a local pizza chain called little coyotenamed for his son, Coyote.
But in true Los Angeles style, Genevieve didn’t just build a house — she built a lifestyle brand and 44,000 strong Instagram followers along the way.
“At the time we bought our house, we didn’t really have any money left to do any projects,” Genevieve said.
She had already built a social media following for her jewelry line: Turquoise and Tobacco’s Instagram page has a very curated, very Californian vibe, and she currently has 21,000 followers. She decided to do the same with the house.
“Then I would become the influencer and I could get companies to collaborate and I could allow myself to do the projects that I wanted to do around my house,” Genevieve said.
the instagram account for the home, which they named Blanco Bungalow, is bursting with sandy, natural colors and closely resembles the look of their jewelry brand account, except instead of close-ups of layered rings and necklaces, it features photos of the progress of the renovation and shots of Genevieve lounging around her house in monochrome outfits.
Most posts get hundreds of likes, and some even end up in the thousands. The comments section is full of compliments from her followers, who repeat phrases like “I love it!” and beautiful!” along with heart eyes and clapping hands emojis.
While renovating, the couple focused on brightening up the home and modernizing the look.
“By the time we painted the interior of the house white, removed the carpet and restored the original hardwood floors, it was beautiful,” she said of the two-bedroom, one-bathroom home.
The living room windows are her favorite, she said: “During the pandemic, we finally finished decorating the front and sides. So when you look out the windows all you see are these huge lush palm trees and it’s so beautiful in the natural sunlight.”
Neither Genevieve nor her husband had any experience renovating or designing homes, and they saved the kitchen for last.
“I was so intimidated,” Genevieve said of the kitchen. “That’s why we saved it for last.”
The couple hired a builder to create the kitchen tables and shelves out of cement. He did all the work by hand.
“Every night we are having dinner and he is like working with plastic on the door. Our entire kitchen was basically in the dining room and we felt like we were camping for three months,” he added.
The couple also hired professionals to install the bathroom and polish the garage floors.
“Everything else we did ourselves, and then our neighbor built the wooden gate and also helped us with the top of the fence,” Genevieve said.
The couple worked on and off on the renovation for nearly four years, juggling home updates with their day jobs and raising their son.
Genevieve also went back to school to learn interior design during the pandemic.
The last stage of the renovation took place from May to September, at which time the couple completed the kitchen, outdoor pizza oven, and patio.
When it came to furnishing the home, Genevieve put the Blanco Bungalow brand to work, partnering with lifestyle and furniture companies.
Genevieve said Blanco Bungalow’s social media account started to take off in the last year and a half.
“At first, my account was too small, so brands were unsure about working with me, and very few did. There were a lot of nos along the way,” she said.
Like many influencers, Genevieve has found a way to capitalize on her taste: She’s made her desert bohemian style easy to replicate, courtesy of affiliate links throughout her website.
Genevieve’s site offers the option to “buy my bedroom,” “buy my living room,” and “buy my backyard,” each of which functions as a item showcase Packed with links to furniture and decor.
A section on the Blanco Bungalow website is also dedicated to Genevieve’s blogging efforts, where she writes about what is it like to go back to school at 38take a look inside a reduction projectand offers interior design tips.
Now the couple is thinking about their next venture: They just sold the house for $1.01 million, less than two months after putting it on the market.
Genevieve and Strader originally listed the property in early October for $1.11 million and reduced its price two weeks later to $999,000. Homes in your neighborhood have a median listing price of $795,000, according to data from the real estate platform realtor.com.
“A lot of people thought that we always planned to move the house, but we had no intention of selling it and moving,” Genevieve said. “We put down roots here, but then we went to Europe in January and just fell in love.”
The couple plans to move to Europe later this month, but Genevieve is keeping their exact destination under wraps for now.
Looking back, Genevieve said that one of the most important things she learned from her renovation journey was to take her time when making design decisions.
One rule she tried to abide by was to get a feel for the space before committing to any major changes, like tearing down walls, Genevieve said.
For other things, like deciding on accessories, Genevieve has also learned to always choose the highest quality piece that she knows she’ll love forever.
“For every decision I made for this house, it was always with the feeling, ‘We’re going to live here for 30 years, so I better love this,’” he added.
And while Genevieve decided she was ready to part with the house, she won’t let go of the Blanco Bungalow brand.
“I named it after home, but when we move to Europe, we’re going to document our home search there as well, so soon we’ll have Blanco Bungalow 2.0,” Genevieve said.
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