Nichol Naranjo found her dream home very early in life. When she was a little girl, she used to come with her mother, a former housekeeper, who cleaned multiple houses for a living.
The moment she set foot on Pam Key-Linden’s huge and beautiful home, she instantly fell in love with it. Compared to their 90-square-foot, single-bathroom home, the Key-Lindens’ 3000-square-foot house was like a mansion to her.
She had always adored this spectacular house and considered it her “dream home.” Four decades after, she bought it and she’s now living one of her childhood dreams.
Nichol’s mother, Margaret Gaxiola, as the housekeeper had cleaned Pam Key-Linden’s home for 43 years. It is a mid-century home in Ridgecrest jam-packed with art and knickknacks that Key-Linden had collected when she lived in England.
In 1976, Gaxiola started doing some light cleaning in Key-Linden’s home while also working as a florist.
While their mother was cleaning, Nichol and her sister Monica Garcia would help her with small tasks such as emptying wastebaskets. Garcia remembered looking forward to visiting the Key-Linden’s residence.
“Even though she had grand and beautiful things, you would find a Peter rabbit tucked into a shelf or a miniature tea set,” Garcia shared. “My love for unicorns began by seeing them at Pam’s.”
Naranjo, on the one hand, was completely enamored with the house. She would sit under a Thomasville desk in the library, daydreaming that she was running her own business, while her mother was dusting and polishing the desk.
“I could see her wandering room to room, just dreaming about everything in here,” said Gaxiola.
At first, Gaxiola and Key-Linden were very professional towards each other. In fact, Gaxiola was a little intimated by Key-Linden’s thick Southern accent when they first met.
As time went by, however, their relationship elevated as they started opening up to each other and Key-Linden would often give her small gifts from her trips.
Their relationship became even more intimate over the years as they both suffered from divorce and the loss of loved ones. Even their children became friends, going to one another’s weddings.
Key-Linden also threw a baby shower for her older daughter. “We went into many homes because of my mom’s cleaning,” Nichol said. “I was able to observe different lifestyles and personalities. No one was like Pam. Pam became like family.”
When Key-Linden died, Margaret continued cleaning her home until her second husband died a year after. With a heavy heart, she said goodbye to the house she cleaned for 43 years as a housekeeper.
“That was heartbreaking, and I thought, ‘That was half of my life, too,’” said Gaxiola. “I was saying goodbye. This was not a house to clean. It was a second home to come and enjoy.”
At the same time, Naranjo married her high school sweetheart and they were looking for a house to build their family.
Naranjo always wanted to live in Ridgecrest but she didn’t have any luck finding any house on sale in the neighborhood. She finally got lucky when her mother the housekeeper for the Key-Linden home told her it was put up for sale.
Naranjo was very excited but before she made any bold move, she asked her sister first, Monica Garcia, to know if she wanted to buy the house.
“She asked me, ‘Sis, because you are older than me, are you interested in buying Pam’s house?’” Garcia recalled. “I said: ‘No, but if you are doing it, it would be beautiful. It would honor not only Pam but my mom.’”
Naranjo bought the house and everything in it and is now working on some changes to really feel like it is her own home.
She couldn’t help but reminisce and look back on all the good memories she and her family had in the house. “My whole family’s fingerprint is in this house,” said Naranjo. “It was so emotional.
She was so happy that she finally owned her dream home and can make new memories in it with her family. “We’ve seen some hard times in our life. This was always a place to come and catch our breath. And to dream.”
To see more photos of this beautiful home, visit Nichol Naranjo’s Instagram page.