Fi & Livvy’s Simple & Cozy “Caltrans” Home

published Dec 5, 2011
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Name: Fi Campbell and Olivia Johnson
Location: South Pasadena, California
Size: 700 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year

Fi and Livvy greeted me on a cool Sunday morning with a warm fire and a beautiful breakfast. I instantly fell in love with their small and cozy home and couldn’t believe it was only 700 square feet! There were so many special moments in their home and then their backyard topped it all.

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Fi and Livvy live in Caltrans housing in South Pasadena. Fi was telling how she acquired the home and its interesting history.

In the 1960’s and early 70’s California Transit Authority was going to continue the 710 FWY which would send it straight up through South Pasadena and Pasadena to connect to the 210 FWY. It never passed due to pollution concerns and historical preservation. Many of the houses have been left empty for the past 50 years, but some of the houses were sold by the state in order to bring in some revenue. My house had been vacant for almost 2 years. I had just sold my house in another part of South Pasadena and needed to find a rental so that my daughter could continue at her school. We drove the neighborhoods and found this one empty, falling apart, and unlocked! After a ton of paperwork and red tape, we were able to rent it.
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Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Simple and cozy.

Inspiration: My Dutch heritage, my artist friends, and the outdoors.

Favorite Element: The fireplace and the garden.

Biggest Challenge: Making an abandoned Caltrans rental warm and livable.

What Friends Say: “This is exactly like your old house, just a little smaller!”

Biggest Embarrassment: The exterior trim is teal; I struggle with that.

Proudest DIY: The garden. It was a complete mess. There was a teal colored “gazebo,” which was crumbling and a lot of dry dirt and debris. During a week of rain in January, my daughter excavated a sinkhole filled with hundreds of medicinal bottles from the 1940’s and 50’s.

Biggest Indulgence: The kitchen. When we moved in there was only the sink and two small, corroded tile surfaces. I had to re-route the plumbing, lay new floors, paint, and build new countertops.

Best Advice: I like what Graham Hill has to say: Less Stuff, More Happiness.

Dream Source: Lawson Fenning, Sueno, Etsy, Grain, Hernandez Appliance and Furniture, Lost & Found, Freeway Building Materials, and eBay.

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Resources of Note:






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Thanks Fi & Livvy!

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