Finding the perfect home doesn’t always require working with a real estate agent, scouring through listings and racing to beat out an offer from someone else. Sometimes, if a buyer is lucky, homes find their owner.
And when they do, they bring an established community of friends with it.
That’s what happened to Jonathan Seitel, who took an unconventional path to owning his Phoenix home in the Ashland Place Historic District. That path began about two years ago when he received a job offer from Carvana after traveling through Asia for several months.
He didn’t know much about Phoenix, but when he visited to learn more about the job, it seemed like it could work.
“I decided I kind of liked Phoenix, at least enough to give it a shot,” Seitel said.
Seitel had spent five years living and working in San Francisco before buying a one-way ticket to Hong Kong, so when he realized homeownership was actually attainable in Phoenix, he knew he wanted in. He just didn’t know where.
Rather than buying a house immediately upon starting his new job, he dated a few different areas by booking lodging through Airbnb for about nine months. It allowed him to taste-test different parts of the metro area, from Scottsdale to Tempe to Phoenix, before settling in.
While renting a pool house in Ashland Place, a community of friends and neighbors began to form around him, and he knew he was where he needed to be.
“I met a bunch of these neighbors at these parties and they all kind of liked me, I guess, and they wanted to find a way for me to stay close to them,” Seitel said. “I kind of came in and they really had no reason to trust me, and they welcomed me with open arms.”
One of those friends happened to be a designer who has a soft spot for Ashland Place and had a home in mind for Seitel. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom house was in the right stage of renovation for Seitel to offer his ideas about how he wanted the home to look, and the two worked together to give the historic 1930s-era property new life.
“My general philosophy on houses is you can kind of tweak them, but at a certain point, the house fights back,” Seitel said of renovations and redesigns. “Nothing fundamental about the structure has really changed. It’s been updated, but it’s true to its design.”
Copper finishes and masculine touches throughout the home remind visitors that Seitel’s home is a bachelor pad, from the lighting to the cabinet hardware. Exposed brick in the kitchen adds a vintage feel to the space.
“It feels a little bit rustic and a little bit modern at the same time,” Seitel said. “There’s a little steampunk, copper feel, too.”
To add a little air to the kitchen, the space was widened a bit during the renovation, which allowed for an archway to be added that mirrored the original one in the dining room. The change created more space while remaining true to the shapes and style of the era.
A small den was added to the back of the house, even though Seitel, and his minimalist lifestyle, requires very little space.
“I managed to fit my whole life in San Francisco in a modestly sized storage container,” Seitel said of the preparations he made for the time he spent abroad. “The stuff I did bring, I ended up not needing.”
Now, he just needs water nearby, he said. And two features in his Ashland Place home attempt to fill that need.
A patio off the master bedroom was specifically designed with a hot tub in mind, and Seitel has fulfilled its purpose. And the master bathroom was designed around an increasingly popular feature: a wet room.
A white standalone tub sits inside an enclosed stall that leaves enough room for a separate shower. The room is finished with a dazzling tiled wall and a copper chandelier, adding a bit of luxury and indulgence to the everyday task of bathing.
“There are a lot of things that came together and made it pretty special,” Seitel said of the home and the neighborhood. “It really does feel like a little slice of the 1950s.”
Beyond the very Mayberry look and feel of the neighborhood, as Seitel’s mom likes to describe it, there is something about the people who make the community what it is. For Seitel, it’s unlike anything he expected.
“I’ve lived in urban environments most of my life, and you can live on top of or below other people and never get to actually know them,” he said. “Then you move to a place like Phoenix, and nobody would think you’d have anything resembling a community, and it turns out everybody knows each other. It’s just nice knowing you live in a spot where people have your back.”