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At 96, A Home Seller Reveals Legendary Preservation Talents

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Every house is unique. Many variables impact a home’s value, like “location, location, location”, or how a home has been cared for over time, among others. Real Estate professionals tell tales about their experiences that fascinate every one — especially those who do not practice real estate as a professional. In other words, the real estate industry is always interesting. 

Gladys Spizzirri, a veteran realtor, had pretty much seen it all during her three decades of real estate experience. About ten years ago, her sister Carla teamed up in hopes of capturing a larger share of the local market. In due time, they did. 

Real estate professionals are typically prepared for fascinating circumstances that develop right before their eyes.  However, neither sister expected to speak to a 96-year-old woman named Joyce about selling a property she had called home since 1942. Joyce explained the reasons she wanted to sell. Additionally, she let them know that she hesitant about selling. 

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Carla and Gladys didn’t know what to think of their potential new client or their prospective lucrative listing. It was hard to contain their curiosity. 

The realtor sisters drove past Joyce’s home on Jane Street as they began to collect visuals and data; info they needed to fine-tune their opinion of value. Eventually, they would need to see the interior to calculate their price point. The problem was, from the outside, Joyce’s interior was invisible.

The seller Joyce, in her younger years, was a professional seamstress. She also fancied herself an interior decorator. And, over the years Joyce ‘semi-professionally’ decorated each room in her home, including the basement. The last decorating project was done in the early 1960s. 

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What could the interior of 148 Jane Street look like? Everyone knows people like to collect stuff, and you can collect a lot of stuff in nearly ¾ of a century. What if Joyce was a hoarder? That would make the sale very difficult, maybe impossible.

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After helping Joyce make a decision, Carla and Gladys were invited to walk through the Jane Street property.  As they walked in the front door, they were magically transported back in time, In an instant, it was the 1940s — in living color.  They half-expected to hear swinging 1940s music at any moment.

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The furnishings were so pristinely preserved, that the first impression felt similar to the moment when Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, opened a door from a black and white world to a world rich in color. Check out the painted brick fireplace!

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Architecture buffs would advise that the Joyce’s nearly perfectly preserved home touches upon several design movements from the 1940s to the early 1960s. Consider the ‘half cages’, textured walls and the angled doorway that represent a bit of Surrealism. 

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Joyce’s love of design and soft colors flowed from room to room by way of rounded entryways. Her preference for the color pink and other pastels — like aqua and sea-foam — creates a running theme throughout her home.  

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Every appliance and piece of plumbing in the kitchen was in working condition when Carla and Gladys first saw Joyce’s ‘step back in time’ home. It was abundantly clear just how much love and attention Joyce had given to each room of her home over the past 72 years. 

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It’s ironic how Joyce’s perfectly preserved 1940s -1960s furnishings are now being reproduced more than seven decades later. The reproductions in the 21st Century are likely made from a fabric other than washable plastic. However, the built-in concepts and retro design are fast becoming popular.  

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Joyce did make one promise to her husband when she began to decorate their Jane Street home — that their bedroom would not be overwhelmingly pink. Check out their bedroom with four chairs, which, through their whimsical design, work, despite the fact they do not match one another! 

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Check out the built-ins (a running theme throughout the home), the purple carpet and the pastel purple-tinted walls. This design touches upon what is known as Streamline Moderne (1930-1950), although only slightly. Joyce did find a way to add a singular pink note on the sitting bench at the end of their bed. 

Her love of color is obvious when you step into the room where Joyce perfected her seamstress work. Check out the table-lamp combo that was so popular during the 1940s and 1950s.

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At the top of the second-floor landing, pastel color abounds. This one picture reveals sea-foam wallpaper and carpet, a moderate sheer blue curtain, purple carpet, and of course, two pink chairs — one of which is placed adjacent to the top step. 

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Joyce’s love of pink is evident in her bathrooms as well. But, of course!  The unusually rounded bath vanity, tapered as one enters the room, is an example that touches the cultural movement known as Surrealism. It is also functional as it provides additional space for the room as one enters. The size of this bathroom has been visually enlarged by the placement of the mirror. 

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The home’s second bathroom is a statement in pastel orange. This larger room has a more angular vanity with an unusual lavender sink. Again, the design includes a mirror to visually enlarge its feel. Pink makes an appearance in the bottom left corner —but only by way of the top of a shampoo bottle. Both bathrooms reveal Joyce’s preference for hand-towel racks. 

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Joyce’s decorating style seems to have changed over the years, in line with the current design-style at that time. Her laundry room in the basement has left behind the curved lines of the rest of the house. The first and second floors of 148 Jane Street revealed very little natural wood. In fact, only a few furniture pieces were natural wood. The strict angular look of the basement is reminiscent of the 1960s when wood paneling entered its heyday. The funky tall bar stool, with a loud sea-foam seat, was a well-known 1960s ‘pop-art’ design. Notice, though, pink is not a part of this highly functional room. 

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What child of the sixties did not have a finished basement fully covered in wood paneling? Even the ‘lollipop’ pole that holds the house up was boxed in wood. Basements tend to have lower ceilings (when compared with the rest of the home), which gave the paneled room a unique look.  And what finished basement was completed without a built-in bar and fluorescent ceiling lights? Similar to the spotless laundry room, the color pink has been conspicuously omitted from the design.  

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Gladys and Carla paused when the home tour was done. It was then that they realized that this home could not only be sold somewhere in the $900,000+ price range, but the contents of the house would also likely be tremendously profitable when antique collectors got wind of this find. 

The Take-Away

Joyce’s seamstress talents and intense care of the home over 70+ years would clearly return serious profits. Although it was not Joyce’s intention, she has shown everyone why society does not have to resort to throwing out everything in place of taking care of things. Eventually, everything cycles back to the ‘must have’ of the moment.  

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