Goals. We all set them. We have expectations of what our lives will look like and when, what our careers will grow into, our relationships, our families, and our homes. Some of us have made these goals since we were kids, all programmed to hit life’s milestones at certain points and being disappointed when they don’t happen. That’s when you learn, life rarely goes as planned, but not in a negative way, rather a different way, a new ways, and in ways you didn’t even know possible. As the self-imposed deadlines melt away, you are left to fully appreciate all that you have done along the way and to enjoy the ride for what is to come.
After four years of searching for the perfect home, my buyer, Cassie, landed in Moon Valley, though not in the way she had planned or imagined…or dreamt of as a kid… but better! Cassie’s search began during what I call the “seven-year-house itch.” She had owned her starter for seven years and wanted to upgrade in size, style, location, etc., and she was antsy to make her next home the forever home. Life had other plans for Cassie and, with that, lots of ups and downs that had her yo-yo-ing from one home to the next. Wanting the rollercoaster ride to end, she had all but given up searching when THE HOUSE hit the market.
Now, six months later, having a moment to reflect on her experience, Cassie sat down with us to let us in on her milestone purchase and all that she has learned from letting go.
N: In your own words, can you give a little of your background? Who are you, where are you from? When did you move to AZ?
C: My name is Cassie Fey and I am originally from Lincoln, Nebraska. I lived in Kansas City for six years before moving to Phoenix. When I was 14 a friend and I visited her cousin in Phoenix for Spring Break. I instantly fell in love with Arizona right when I stepped off the plane. I knew one day I would be back to live in the sunshine. I have been in Arizona for 13 years and still wake up amazed that I made that dream come true.
N: Selling your first home was tough, it was very sentimental to you. What was that like and what made it worthwhile?
C: My first home was everything I needed at that time in my life. I remodeled the kitchen, and when I pulled up the flooring there was this beautiful brown stamped concrete, put raised garden beds in the back and made that home my own. In my 10 years in that house, I entertained family and friends, fell in love, fell apart, experienced true friendship, lost my 17-year-old dog and in the end found my true self. My little Highland home that I made as mid-century as I possibly could, will always remain in my heart. That home is what made it possible for me to finally purchase my dream home.
N: What were you looking for initially and how did that change throughout your search?
C: Yes, I know it sounds totally cliché that I love Mid Century Modern, and that everyone wants an MCM home, but I am completely in love with the style. There is just something about a Mid Century Modern home. You really introduced me to the beautiful architecture that existed in AZ and from that point on we were on the search for the new digs. The search went on for a few years looking at homes, falling in love with them and then losing them. It was heartbreaking. You were patient with me through those years and helped comfort me when they didn’t work out. I remember you would continue to tell me the “right one” will come along. Throughout the search I didn’t sway from my dream MCM until I found the one that offered me just that and even more.
N: So how did you know this was THE house?
C: I think my favorite part of my home buying story is how I knew this was MY house. When I bought my first home in Arizona I instantly knew when I walked in the door but this home was something a little different. You sent me the listing and I looked through the pictures and immediately called you back saying, “Are you kidding me?” We were at the house in the next hour. Walking in was breathtaking. This was not only MCM but had a vibe to it unlike anything I had ever seen or felt. I made the offer that afternoon fully understanding I was putting all my faith in you selling my house quickly so that I could purchase my dream.
As a single person doing this all alone, it was frightening, but somehow it just felt right. Having gone through this process multiple times already and losing every time the nerves were on high alert. This home already had multiple offers and mine was just another on the stack, but you worked like crazy to help me give the most competitive offer.
I went back that evening for the open house with two of my good friends who had just moved into the area. Going back into that house was like being home, like truly home. I will never forget how the house was filled with people, yet it felt like I was the only one there. Seventeen years ago, I lost my fiancé while living in Kansas City in a tragic accident. We had just built our first home together, and we were 5 months away from our wedding. Losing Ryan and our future together was devasting and changed my entire life. Finding any sort of comfort during that time was difficult. After he passed, I would listen to music to find peace. There would always be this one song that would play, and it would calm me and remind me of how close he still was to me. It wasn’t a song we shared together but a song that I needed after he was gone. That song has played randomly during many difficult situations in my life and has always helped me to understand Ryan is with me. As I walked through this dream house, taking it all in and thinking about my future here, I could hear a song playing on the speaker. As I listened closer, it was THE song. It was Ryan. He was with me in that moment and forever. I knew when I left the open house that evening that this was MY house. This was the place I would start new memories, find love again, and start my own family.
N: Since Moon Valley wasn’t on the radar while we were searching, what has it been like to move from the bustling Biltmore area to serene Moon Valley?
C: I honestly didn’t know too much about Moon Valley but I am in love. My very best friends moved to the area right before I did, so it’s been amazing. We see each other all the time, we have impromptu wine nights, dinners and pool time with their kids. Moon Valley is gorgeous even from the first drive in from the West on Thunderbird. The sunsets are so beautiful, which I can see right off my patio or while in the kitchen. The neighborhood is so quiet and each home in my area is on their own cul-de-sac, which has very little traffic. The Moon Valley park is perfect for a nightly walk and is always full of families enjoying the beautiful weather. This is my first Christmas in this house and if you haven’t seen the Moon Valley holiday lights make sure you take a drive through. It’s incredible. I will have to step up my light game next year!
N: What is your favorite thing about this house?
C: Initially architecture was always the favorite thing about this house. Walking in for the first time with the vaulted ceilings, the big beautiful windows, the open layout, it all seemed so perfect. As I moved in and started to make this home my own, I found my favorite part was definitely more than just architecture. It was filling it with people and entertaining, from pool parties in the summer, a big Thanksgiving meal with family and friends, to sitting around the fire and sharing a glass of wine with best friends. All of these were my favorite parts of the house. It was about the people inside of the home and the memories we were starting to make. The best part of this house is sharing it with family, old friends, new friends and kids. Listening to the laughter at the dining table, dancing in the living room and making a big splash in the pool are what brings this home to life. The sense of community it gives me and others is definitely my favorite part of this house.
N: What is your favorite room in this house and why?
C: It is so hard to just pick one room/spot in the house because all the spots are amazing, literally, but there is one that just took my breath away. The primary bedroom is like something out of a resort. Walking into the doorway you have the most beautiful, exposed brick, adobe fireplace and you immediately feel at peace. I have never seen anything like it in any other house, so it feels very special, like one of a kind.
N: This house is significantly larger than your last- which wasn’t a big factor in the search. What has that been like?
C: With this house came another 1,300 square feet compared to my first AZ home, so that has been a significant change for me. I had to quickly learn how to care for a pool, seed a lawn, change a sprinkler head, get on a roof, clean 3 bathrooms and still manage to have some fun. I now have seven palm trees, three eucalyptus trees, and lots of landscaping to maintain, but it’s one of the most rewarding projects yet.
N: What are some projects you have taken on thus far, and what else do you hope to do in the future?
C: At eight months in, I have taken on just a few projects. This house is so fun to decorate with all the natural light and windows. I have found a new obsession with plants, art, and making this house my own. I’ve painted some walls indoors and put on a fresh coat to the outdoor beams. I finally found a home where I could put a big dining table so I can host holiday dinners, brunches, birthdays, and enjoy my family and friends’ conversations and laughter. I am so excited about adding some garden beds in the back, replanting some cacti that came from my first home, and making the outdoor space a little greener.
N: What has it been like to do this all on your own?
C: As a child growing up, I always imagined getting married, buying a house, raising a family, and doing life as a team. Having the support of another person so you aren’t alone in these life changing decisions is extremely comforting. One thing I learned very fast is not everything goes the way you planned, nor does everyone need to follow the same path. I can still enjoy the same things in life, but I just may take a different route. Making decisions on selling your home and buying your dream home can be completely overwhelming since there is no one there to take the leap with you. With the support of a great friend/realtor, family, friends, a solid original investment in my first home and lots of hard work, I was able to jump…still with some fear…but I knew how great it would be once I landed.
This milestone in Cassie’s life, the “forever” home, was possible in some ways because she stopped planning, stopped expecting things to be and look a certain way. Once Cassie was open to possibilities, the right house at the right time presented itself, and the rest is all due to her hard work, success, and a heavy dose of self-empowerment. When Cassie decided to stop waiting on the plan to work out perfectly, she allowed herself to find her future.
Written by: Misha Renteria
Photos by: Spenser Lee