Happy Hearts on 4th Street (Home Sale Means Sooner Move to Ecuador)

In 2006 I bought a house.

And this week, believe it or not, my partner Sara and I have sold that same home, a sale that will allow us to move to Ecuador later this spring, sooner than we’d expected.

But there’s more to this story than you might expect.  There’s WAY more, actually!

You see, I became a home-owner in September of 2006, having lived in government-subsidized housing on and off for nearly a decade—

—and having lived there as recently as a year earlier than that purchase.

So mine is a success story and a romance, as well–a potentially-cliched but nonetheless true tale in which I triumph over adversity, find true love, and move on with my partner to bigger challenges–to a better, brighter, more Latin American way of life.

Many of you know about my challenges with bipolar disorder, a sickness that for a decade cost me everything and landed me eventually in what many Americans consider the slums of public housing.

Yet you might also recall that my experience of that place was different from many others and that it largely obliterated the image most folks have of government-subsidized housing. For there, I encountered no crack heads with belted jeans around their knees or welfare moms, runny-nosed toddlers on either hip.  I found it a place, more comforting than chaotic, a place with more crafters than addicts.

Still, in 2005 I got out.  I rented a regular studio apartment in downtown Lexington, began to work part-time, and eventually bought a house on 4th Street the following year.

But I didn’t just buy a house in 2006, I met my partner Sara, as well, all because of a dog and a disaster.


(Many of you might remember this part of our story, as well.)

In 2006, Sara was still directing Habitat for Humanity’s response to the 2004 tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands in Southeast Asia, while I was working in Lexington as an artist-in-residence, facilitating creative learning opportunities for disabled adults. These employment realities brought us together, my needing to supplement my measly artist’s income by pet sitting and Sara’s needing to travel while at the same time caring for her dog.

Sara, Kathy, and Ralph in 2006

However, I didn’t fall for Sara right away, as least not until I dreamed I was in love with her a couple of months after we met and woke up the next morning with a passion for her that has yet to wane.

Sometimes things are meant to be and lives are linked in strangely synchronistic ways.  For example, neither of us was aware of when we  met, that our mothers had been friends for years before either of us knew anything about the other.  We never met in the context of that friendship.

But sometimes love is meant to be.  Sometimes there’s a cosmic rightness about a relationship—even about the house one lives in.

Sara and I have been proud to make our home in a downtown neighborhood, rich in cultural diversity.  We’ve lived on a street where everybody knows our names, but in a house most folks of sound mind might have forsaken long ago.

Too large a task?

Yet neither Sara nor I is entirely sane, neither willing to throw up our hands and abandon any shelter as entirely hopeless.  Sara is an architect by training, schooled in developing blueprints for better tomorrows sometimes even building on a foundation of decay and seeming disaster.  Together we epitomize the trash to treasure mentality, especially when it comes to housing.

Undaunted, we have made our home, even as we have built our relationship, an unlikely love in the wake of natural disaster.  Admittedly, our house might be more rightly characterized as an unnatural disaster, but what we have made from that disaster, even with very limited funds, has been nothing short of miraculous.

So, to the degree that home is where the heart is, today, in honor of Valentine’s Day and sale of our house this week, we wanted again to share images of our home with you.

heart picture

We hope you’ll enjoy the following photographic tour through the home so close to our hearts this Valentines Day.


Colanders and garlic (12 February 2012)

Cookbooks (5 February 2012)

Downstairs Hall

Chimney sweep light fixture

Downstairs Bathroom

1 February 2012


Hickory and Thai vase (4 February 2012)

Buddha (30 January 2012)

Master Bedroom

Kathy’s drawings (6 February 2012)

Driftwood and shells inside bedroom fireplace

Chiang Mai Bedroom

Bedspread purchased in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Paint ladder as night stand

Guest Room

Kathy’s Studio

Dining Room

Tibetan prayer bowl (7 February 2012)

Living Room

Hungarian eggs (11 February 2012)

But this week, in time for Valentines Day, we sold the house.  We are under contract, set to close on March 29th, Good Friday and three days after my birthday.

I read once that home is where ones story begins, and with the sale of ours, another tale is only getting started.  Ecuador–here we come!

More soon about what we’ll be doing between now and our closing date and what we hope to be up to during the month of April–before we leave for Ecuador in early May.

Stay tuned!

Does Valentine’s Day make you think of home or something else equally special?  Have you ever sold a home more quickly than you’d expected, without even listing it?

To see more responses to this week’s photo challenge click here.

98 thoughts on “Happy Hearts on 4th Street (Home Sale Means Sooner Move to Ecuador)

    • We love you, too, Lisa! Happy Valentines Day to you, as well! We are so happy you got to visit our home–twice! And you were even here when the tree fell on our house! Lordy! Hugs to you–can’t wait for you to visit us in Ecuador, as well!


    • Oh, thank you, sweetie! We can’t wait to see you. I will keep you updated on our progress. We are scheduled to close on March 29th, but so often the timing doesn’t go as planned. Hope to make it up your way by mid-month!


      • When it’s closer if you’re able to give me a heads up as to possible dates Jim can take a few vacation days. Think about what you’d like to do here. We’ve got the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just a half hour away and loads of things to do in Cleveland. Jim, I’m sure, will want to take you to a local, completely awesome, Mexican restaurant here. So excited that it feels like Christmas!


      • Sounds like a great idea, Miranda. I will certainly keep you posted. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a must, as is any place to eat that Jim deems a “not-to-be-missed.” I also have a blogging friend who lives near you all who I’d like to see–Robin. I think I’ve mentioned her. All will depend on our ability to close on time. Can’t wait to see you all!


  1. The colors in your home equal the richness of your stories … love them all!

    In Houston, when we made the decision to move to MI & help my Hubbs’ ailing mother, we showed our house 29 times in 27 days .. sold it on the 28th day. Sometimes things truly are meant to be … (houses around us were not moving at all).

    Bests to you on this new adventure!! xx MJ


  2. Kathy, did y’all paint the outside? I would enjoy seeing some pics of view from the street. The inside is so completely personal; there has to be some sadness in leaving such a remarkable place. Every room is whispering love.


    • Thanks, JK! Street view of the house is not go great! I did paint the the front a bit in the past month, but have taken no photos. The front looks wonderful in the summer, as I plant so many hanging baskets and window boxes. Will try to track down an image of that. Plan to do a separate post on our back garden. Thought about including that here, but the post was just getting too long. We have so many great photos of the yard, the post would have become unwieldy. Great to hear from you, JK. This week has been nuts! Can’t believe we sold this place to the third person to see it and without even listing! Love and hugs to you!


  3. Wow!!! This has been a whirlwind!! Congrats on the selling of your house so quickly! Praying all falls into place easily and you can start your next adventure together. Love the house and all the Kathy and Sara touches—-it is beautiful!!!! I am sure it is going to be kind of bittersweet to leave but you have such excitement ahead of you it may make it easier!


    • You are so right, Beth Ann–bitter-sweet, indeed. I truly didn’t expect it too sell so quickly–and without even listing it. We feel blessed–very, very blessed. Thanks for the prayers, my friend. Hugs to you!!!!! Thanks for stopping by!


    • I’m semi-notorious for over-packing. Maybe I can exchange the kitchen sink for the claw-foot tub! LOL

      Our plan at this point is to take all books, art, rugs, items we’ve gotten during travel–plus our dishes, pots and pans, etc, and my art supplies. We will take NO furniture. That way most of the other stuff should fit in a 20 foot container. We brought one back from Haiti, so we have a sense of how much one can hold.


  4. Congrats on the fast sale. The first house I ever owned I sold to a guy who called me one night and gave me an offer to good to refuse. At the time I wasn’t even contemplating selling. Of course then it took a year to sell my last house. Our first valentines Day in our curent house we had a heart shaped pizza.


    • Sara and I went out for pizza today to celebrate Valentine’s Day,but it wasn’t heart-shaped. Gotta love it when things fall into place. How funny that someone offered to buy your house out of the blue.

      We hope to see you all on our trip to Ohio in April. Dates willl depend on whether or not we’re able to close on March 29th. I think these things can be delayed. Keep your fingers crossed!


  5. Your house is lovely. It will be difficult to leave it behind I am sure. I haven’t sold a house quickly, but I have bought one very quickly. When walked in the front door of our place in Italy, I said, I’ll take it. The owners were surprised to say the least.


    • Isn’t it funny how sometimes you just know a place is for you?! That’s how it worked for the folks who are buying our house. Somehow it was exactly the right fit. Hope things are going well with your other home in Italy. I have been so busy and out of the loop, I don’t even know how that’s going. Now that’s a house I’d buy in a minute!

      Great to hear from you today!


  6. Ah, Kathy, this was wonderful. What a lucky house to have had you in it. May the new owners find the same joy in it that you and Sara did, and may they express their joy in their own uniquely personal way. And now you leave for the next of life’s adventures.


    • I know, Renee–can you believe it?! A wonderful and creative couple is buying our house. They were meant for it and it for them. They are simply delightful.

      Sara and I can’t wait to begin our new adventure. Thanks for wishing us well! I’m delighted to hear from you.

      Also, Sara and I plan to be in DC during mid-April and would love to get together with you. Dates will depend on our ability to close on time.


  7. Congratulations! It must be bittersweet, after so many hours and so much love invested to create such a welcoming, beautiful home. Thanks for the photo tour, I am in love with your colors all the way through! Best wishes to both of you, though, for the future you’re dreaming of!


    • You’re right, CIndy. It is bitter-sweet. We will miss this place, but we are thrilled with the couple who is buying it. They will love the space, as well.

      So happy to hear you enjoyed our colors, as well. We have some pretty bold ones.

      Take care and have a great day.


  8. Congratulations .. obviously the universe is cooperating and assuring you this move is meant to be! I can see the love you’ve lavished on your home and it’s no wonder it sold so quickly!! Love all the colors, the mementos of your travels and your own beautiful touches!!! Happy Valentine’s Day, you 2!!!


    • Happy Valentine’s Day to you, as well, Betty! We have loved our home, but it’s time to pass it along to another couple, whom we feel certain will love it, as well. So glad you enjoyed the tour. Hope to see you when we are in Atlanta in April! Great to hear from you.


  9. The house had to sell as you described–a powerful place would have drawn the correct folk quickly, methinks.

    Warm thoughts for you and Sara, Kathy. Ohboyohboyohboy!

    Love seeing your geometric table in pride of place. No doubt you will be influenced by art down south–won’t that be fun to discover?!


  10. Congrats on the quick sale! Especially with the economy the way it is. It just goes to show how cool and eclectic your house is. (I love it, and if Tara and I were moving to Lexington (god forbid (no offense)) (I only say that because I love the Pacific NW too much to ever fathom moving away)), then I’d be interested in your house, too!

    And it will never cease to amaze me how you dreamed you were in love with Sara, the same way I dreamed I was in love with Tara. What a great story!

    Happy V-Day to you both!


    • Oh, Mark, happy Valentine’s Day to you and Tara, as well. I know–the dream thing is still uncanny to me, as well—especially since it happened in your situation, as well. Gotta wonder why that happens for some people and not others.

      Don’t blame you for wanting to stay in the Pacific NW! Gotta say, you’d be crazy not to.

      Hope you and your dear fiance have a wonderful day together. Hugs to you both!


  11. Congratulations Kathy and Sara! How can I miss a home I have only been to once? But I do and I will.

    Are you still having a moving sale???? If so I am SURE we want to come down and visit/ help/BUY. 🙂

    Your home is going to be cherished by whoever is buying it. It is a fabulous place to have a story. So colorful and vibrant. Like you and Sara.



    • You are so funny, Colleen! I can totally understand missing a house you have only visited once. Hopefully you will get to visit one more time. We will be having a sale and would love you all to come. Gonna guess it will be one of the last weekends we’re in the house. The exact date will depend on whether it appears we’re gonna close on time or not. Will keep you posted!.

      As I told David, we will also be up your way in April. We’ll be in touch. Can’t wait to see you both!


  12. Congratulations, Kathy and Sara! It really warms my heart to have the Universe fully behind this moving-to-Ecuador conspiracy you’ve got going on. 🙂

    Did you have to do any painting or staging on the inside of the house to have it sell (i.e. did you have to make it more ‘conservative’ to appeal to a broader spectrum of the buyers market)? How did people know they could even view your home when it wasn’t listed? (So many questions I have!) BIG HUGS to you both!


    • THese are all great questions, Dana. We did some repairs on the house, but nothing to make it more conservative. The couple who bought it are both creative–both chefs–and she is also a visual artist.

      My brother is a realtor. He thought we could sell without listing. He mentioned it to a colleague of his, whom he thought might be interested and then that fellow brought us the couple who bought it. They were only the 3rd set of people to see it. It all happened by word of mouth. SO exciting.

      I know how you feel, Dana. I have so much I want to share, as well. It’s just hard to find the time to blog in the midst of all this activity.


  13. Hi Kathy! You’re home is truly a work of art that’s filled with all of my favorite colors. I wish you and Sarah the best with all of the exciting new things that you have going on. Thanks for sharing your lovely pictures and words! 🙂


      • i am so happy for you! your home was lovely, and i can understand why someone snatched it up before another did!

        remember that the quito airport is switching to the brand new one, which some say is going to be a big pain in the ….. if one needs to spend time in quito.. an hour’s taxi ride, they’re predicting..

        flying into guayauquil and then to cuenca might be easier.. i have no idea, but in another month, there should be lots of feedback.



      • THanks for the reminder about the airport in Quito. I had seen some discussion on the message board about that. However, we may need to fly through Quito since most airlines will not allow a dog to fly cargo if the temp on the runway will be above 85 degrees F. Our larger dog will fly that way. Smaller one going in a carrier in the cabin. Sara has been reading more of the message board than I have, but I will remind her to pay attention. Have a great weekend, Z!


  14. A beautiful home and so like you to take something most people would give up on, turn it into something beautiful and then let it go to someone who needs it more than you. Happy Valentines Day and congratulations on the sale of your house!


    • You are such a sweetie, Lisa. We appreciate your kind words. We’re just so delighted that these folks seem to love it almost as much as we do. I suppose we believe homes have soul. Gotta make sure they go to the right people. Happy Valentine’s Day, my friend.


  15. All of your hard work in preparing the house for sale really paid off. I know people who have their homes on the market for months without so much as a nibble. The fact that you sold your home so quickly means that this new adventure was meant to be – the right place and the right time.

    I still love the refrigerator with all the magnets. Think of all the new magnets you’ll be collecting from your South American travels!

    (PS – did you need to get a special visa?)


    • We will travel on three month tourist visas and apply for full-time residence once we arrive. However, we meet all of the criteria necessary to qualify. Will hire an attorney there to help with the process.

      Oh, yes, I had forgotten how much you like magnets. Believe me, they will be going along. LOL

      Great to hear from you, Jackie. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Reggie!


    • It’s so wonderful to hear from you. I’m delighted you like our home. We will certainly miss it, but can’t wait to see what we’ll create in Ecuador. Hope you are well these days and had a lovely Valentine’s Day. Thanks for stopping by!


  16. I’m not surprised your home sold so fast – the colors of your rooms are simply breathtaking and the little nick-nacks and decor and bedding from around the world make it totally charming. I agree with Mindy that it belongs in Architectural Digest.
    People are snatching good houses like yours. My brother put his house in Indiana on the market on Jan 6 and sold it on Jan 13, and they have to be out by the middle of Feb.

    You’re always welcome to come stay with us in LA 🙂


    • THank you, Rosie. I love that you noticed all of those details!

      Your brother’s house sold VERY quickly, indeed. I suspect he is EXTREMELY busy about now, if he needs to be out by mid-month. I wish him well.

      THanks for the LA invite. If we ever make it out that way, I will give you a shout. You’re a sweetie, Rosie. Have a wonderful weekend.


  17. I wish you all the luck in the world. *And* I’m sad that I won’t ever be able to come visit. I had visions of driving my old pick-up to Lexington one day. Ah, well. At least I’ll be able to follow your further adventures.


    • Oh, Sandy, you still have a month or so to visit! We would LOVE to have you. Let us know if you get a wild urge to jump in the truck and take a road trip! In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend. Great to hear from you, sweetie!


  18. I don’t know which I love more the picture of the two of you, which is simply so obviously fully engaged, love this. Or the pictures of your home, which I fell completely in love with. The colors, the bits and pieces of your travels everywhere. You, like me have your life scattered about your home.

    I must admit to you, I keep dream traveling now you have talked about Ecuador. I look on the map, I inspect on the internet. I wonder, how hard could it be to re-learn Spanish, then I wonder what could I do, what could I contribute to the world if I moved.

    Sometimes I just want out, this seems like nearly paradise.


  19. Wow, I nearly missed this post! I have been so swamped on my own venture, My Manhattan Project, that I have fallen way behind on both my blog and email reading. Fortunately, I just glanced at FB (which I normally loath) and it looked to me like you had published a post about selling your happy home already. Naturally, my first thought was “WTF?” and my second was that I had better hightail over to your site … So, congratulations on your warp speed fast sale. I hope the buyers paid in gold doubloon.

    I’ve always loved the images of your terrific casa, but noticed that you excluded one from your personal variation of the Sistine Chapel — the stairwell that nearly killed you that you repainted. Sorry, to bring up one of your less than fond memories.

    It seems to me that this fast sale just reinforces that this is the perfect time to make this move to another part of the world. I hope that the road that lies ahead for you guys goes smoothly. I also hope that Lucy and Ralph were not part of the sale! I wish you and Sara the best of luck.


  20. You know I love every room of your house Kathy, I find it so very eclectic, colourful, warm, cozy and inspiring. I’m sure your hearts are imbued in this place….but I know you’ll make any place home, and I’m SO looking forward to seeing where you’ll live in Ecuador and what you’ll do with your place-to-be!
    It was a pleasure to wave goodbye to this house with this post 🙂 (and I admit, a little sad too) So glad you managed to sell the house without any hassle! Congrats! ❤


    • Oh, Mun, thanks for your comment. As I’ve said to everyone else, I’m sorry to be late responding to your comment. I can’t keep up with blogging as we prepare for this move. It’s so unlike me to be disconnected from the blogosphere. Please be patient with me!


  21. Kathy, congrats and thanks for sharing your story as well as your funky home. Buenas suerte en Ecuador. Espero que ustedes tie em muchos anos de alegria. (V. sent me this link from LA)

    My youngest, D2, is finishing up her junior year in HS and is hoping to take her total lack of construction experience To either NC, DC, or Trinidad this summer with Habitat. She is a certified EMT so she hopes the good people in Americus, GA, will consider her. Any tips from Sara would surely help my Madi out wih her phone interview sometime next month.


    • Oh, wow, Mike–so happy to hear from you! THe famous Mike!

      How fun for your daughter. I’m gonna give you my Sara’s email address, as we are so insanely busy right now getting ready to move, I fear I may forget to ask her. However, her address is saracoppler@yahoo.com .

      Is she going on a Global VIllage trip? If so, I have lead one of those trips and could offer advice–namely, that she just be herself. I would think the EMT training would be appealing–especially on a build site. Enthusiasm always helps. And a heartfelt sense of why she wants to participate.

      Good luck to her. So honored to have you stop by, MIke!


  22. Congratulations. I’m so happy you sold your house so quickly. Maybe we’ll have good luck selling our parents’s house as well.

    I imagine it’s bittersweet. So many memories. But you’re on to a new adventure, so that’s exciting. Look to the future.


    • Yes, we do feel fortunate that the house sold so quickly. I didn’t imagine it would, actually. Hope you are able to sell your parents’ house easily, as well. Talk about a bittersweet sale! I think that home would be hard to let go of. Good luck, my friend.


    • Thanks so much, Robin. Great to hear from you today. Sorry I’m so behind with blogging. I can’t keep up until after we get moved. I have given up until then, so please be patient with me. I’ll be back. I promise!


  23. What a lovely home you created for yourselves here. Not sure how I missed the notifications for your posts. Am just thrilled to hear of the sale of the house. I’ve been thinking about you the past couple of weeks and wondering how things were coming along. YAY!


  24. Kathy, your home is such an inviting place to visit. I remember that it was through a link from Robin, with an invitation to visit your home, that I first met you and Sara. I’m way behind on blogging (again!) and visiting blogs, although I had heard a whisper of your move.

    Congratulations on selling your home so quickly! It comes as no surprise that someone grabbed it so fast though, who wouldn’t want to live in this beautifully loved home! xxxx


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