When Gina Vadnais, her husband, Adam, and their two daughters sold their home in Los Angeles and packed up their belongings to move into their cabin near Big Bear Lake in California, they had no idea they'd wind up living in Gina's sister's two-bedroom condo in Portland before appearing on the reality show "House Hunters."
"We literally put all of our belongings into storage containers and we had our cats and our kids in the car," Gina said.
But as they were driving to the cabin, a gender reveal party that caused a large fire in that area blocked them from reaching it. The area was evacuated.
The family pivoted and headed to Gina's sister's home in Portland and fell in love with Oregon. Gina and Adam then attended an open house in Lake Oswego, where they met Philip Newman with Windermere Realty.
"We just hit it off," Newman said.
Newman and the family were selected to appear on the fifth episode of the HGTV show's 200th season, which was filmed last year and aired Wednesday, April 21.
"I loved it. I loved watching the show," Newman said. "I thought they portrayed us spot on. They were a really fun couple; they have a great sense of humor."
Gina said her family was familiar with "House Hunters" and during the pandemic's stay-at-home period, they would watch "House Hunters: Comedians on Couches" — a show with comedians who make jokes and commentary about those featured on "House Hunters." Gina thought it would be funny to have them "roast" their family doing something similar.
When they actually appeared on "House Hunters," Gina understood the seriousness of the show because people are making a large investment in their future, though she did enjoy the funny commentary she read on Twitter as their episode aired.
When the Vadnais family met Newman, Gina said "he was so sweet and so nice" and immediately got to know them.
On the show, Newman showed the family three different homes in West Linn and the Portland area.
"The couple was looking for midcentury modern and also Victorian style homes," Newman said. "They had to determine what was the best for their family, and that entailed the husband working from home and two girls in middle school and elementary school."
Gina knew the house was the perfect fit upon driving into West Linn. She said she was shocked to see the size of West Linn High School's theater arts complex and said it meant a lot to see the community's investment in the arts programs at the high school level. She said the area was beautiful, the schools were great and she could picture her family dining out in downtown Oregon City and West Linn.
"Right away we felt very much at home," Gina said.
The house came largely furnished and appears like a large cabin.
"It looks like a cool haunted mansion," said Gina, adding that they previously lived in a stereotypical one-story, LA-style ranch. She loved her home but felt it was time to move on and purchase a house with stairs.
The other two homes the family viewed weren't a good fit, Gina said. There was one downtown near Providence Park that was a 1907 Victorian, and she said the home was situated on a busy street.
"We're used to lots of cars. We're used to lots of people. However, we came here for a change," Gina said.
She also noted that there was not a full bathroom upstairs where the bedrooms were located and the full downstairs bathroom was located off the dining room, which they didn't like.
The other home was a midcentury modern home in the Portland area.
"It was really nice and a beautiful view of Mount Hood, which almost drew us in," Gina said. But she didn't like the renovations and the home had small bathrooms and closet space.
The home in West Linn was in great shape and had been remodeled.
The most unique aspect of the house, Gina added, is the grotto area underneath the driveway. The second story of the home is street level and the driveway acts as a cement ceiling for a patio area below.
One of the reasons the Vadnais wanted to live in Oregon was for its outdoor spaces — which is "the reason we came to Portland," she added. "We want to enjoy the nature."
Newman said the home was an amazing place for the family and that it was a quirky house with black trim and a "gothic" look.
"When I walked in I said, 'This is like a candy store,'" said Newman, adding that the home came with several unique pieces of furniture the previous owners acquired from around the world.
Gina said the show was shot around September 2020 and they moved in around October.
"It's been a crazy year," she said. "We're ready to just settle in and enjoy West Linn."
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