Downsizing with a Purpose

One couple’s search for character and community in Historic Mesta Park.

When Todd and Jamee Kelly purchased their home located at 702 NW 18th St., they were looking to downsize and regain a sense of community. They left their new build home to relocate to the heart of Oklahoma City. Both familiar with the area, they turned their attention to Historic Mesta Park.

Jamee moved to Oklahoma City from Plattsburgh, New York, at age four. She grew up in Windsor Hills, where she developed a fondness for mid-century homes and met her husband, Todd, while studying at the University of Central Oklahoma. "When I was in high school, it was a really hip place to be." Jamee shared. "The area kind of took a hit, but started revitalizing again around the time we were looking for a house."

The Kellys continued their search for a year before coming into contact with Sarah Bytyqi, a managing broker for Verbode. When a home for sale in the area went under contract, they knew they needed to call them. One Sunday afternoon, as they were sitting on the couch looking at homes, Todd stumbled across a historic bungalow built in 1915 that had only been on the market for ten days.

They reached out to Veronica Galaviz, a realtor for Verbode, asking if they could see the home. Veronica arranged a tour on the Fourth of July, and the Kellys fell in love with the property. They wrote an offer on the spot.

"When we lived out in Deer Creek, we were the only house," explained Jamee. "We were alone for probably nine years before it actually started developing." The Deer Creek house had a huge wraparound porch that overlooked the lake. While they enjoyed the beauty and serenity, they missed community. And with the kids out of the house, the Kellys were interested in downsizing.

Transitioning from over an acre to less than a quarter came with its challenges. But according to the couple, it was worth it -- especially with the location being so close to the park. Since then, they've settled beautifully into its open concept home and have nicknamed it Casa Azul. To bring the property to life, the Kellys invested in landscaping and hardscaping -- with the backyard stealing the show.

"The bricks in the backyard weren't there before. There wasn't even grass." shared Todd. They visited Home Depot and other stores, searching for pavers. But to their surprise, stumbled upon Fox Brick and Stone, a specialty shop that carried repurposed brick. The pavers in the backyard today tell a story all their own, originating from a property near the Fred Jones building. Small, impactful design choices like this have helped preserve the home's unique character.

Whatever the couple may have lost in square footage, they've certainly gained in quality of life. "When you live out in the country, it's a completely different lifestyle. You don't have that community you have here," explained Jamee. In Mesta Park, the Kellys have gotten to know their neighbors on a deeper level. They've borrowed eggs, photo paper, boxes, and coordinated dinners and craft nights. Mesta Festa is one of their favorite events to attend each year. 

The dogs love it too! They'd run and chase geese at the previous property, but Jamee mentions it's different here. They get excited when their harnesses are brought out -- it's a new kind of energy. They love their walks in the park.

Todd and Jamee have also developed new routines of their own. On Sundays, the couple enjoys walking somewhere for brunch or coffee. Holy Rollers has become a favorite—with their lavender vanilla donuts dubbed a "must-have." 

When it's nice outside, they take turns on Friday nights, picking walkable places to have dinner. Stella, 1492 and Cheever's are some of their favorites, but they're eager to venture north to the Paseo district this spring. The family also loves a good cookout in the backyard. "Todd makes the meanest steak," spilled Jamee. "I think he could definitely throw down with Bobby Flay!"

When asked about their favorite aspect of living in Mesta Park, the Kellys smile and agree that there is a difference now when the kids come home. When they celebrated the holidays in Deer Creek, you'd find the family scattered throughout the home. But now, there's a newfound coziness of being together. They play games, sit and talk on the porch, and relax in each other's company.

The Kellys have developed new Christmas traditions as well. When they downsized and moved to Mesta Park, they got rid of their artificial, pre-lit tree. Now, they venture into Midtown each year to pick up a fresh Christmas tree. Todd shared that they enjoy supporting local businesses and restaurants, and living there has opened their eyes in ways they didn't expect.

Today, Jamee enjoys sharing her love for early to mid-century homes as a realtor for Verbode. For anyone who's considering purchasing a property in one of Oklahoma City's historic districts, she encourages, "Go for it and don't be afraid. Old houses aren't perfect because they're old, but they're perfectly imperfect." From uneven floors to creaky steps, it's all worth it. For this couple who were into modern new construction, this Mesta Park home certainly changed their mind.

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