House

We bought a house in September, one my husband’s coworker affectionately called a “moron house”, as in the owner just kept adding more on. This is our first home mortgage, our first attempt at finding the cadence of adulthood that includes ownership of something larger and more impressive than a 10-year-old vehicle. I never knew if we could make it to this place, but now that we are here I feel like the word property, the phrase homeowners insurance and the act of gardening take on a whole new level of sexiness. Seriously, gardening my own plot of ground has such a different feel than toiling on someone else’s soil.

When we decided to buy a house the phrase “buy in the best area you can because you can fix your house, not the neighbors” was central. Our house is quite interesting as a result of this adage.  Davey and I are slowly updating the home, making the repairs and changes necessary to turn it into our dream house. Here are some before pictures, though, just so you know what we are dealing with when we talk about renovations.

Our House

Our House

Here it is, in all its yellow and brown glory. We are concentrating on making the interior gorgeous first, though, so the toilet colors shall remain.

The front of the house is a porch that was plastered closed and turned into a room of the house. Right now it is the place where all of the boxes we can’t figure out what to do with live, but eventually it will be a mud room and a reading room combo.

Po

Next up is our living room and dining room, two rooms separated by a small half wall

living room

Dining Room... the poop brown carpet was the first thing we removed, I promise

Dining Room… the poop brown carpet was the first thing we removed, I promise

Next up we have three teeny tiny bedrooms, but each one has gorgeous built-ins and cool closets. Here is the one from our bedroom.

Underneath those 18 layers of white paint we have really, really nice woodwork. Someday, friends, we will reveal it all to the world once again

Underneath those 18 layers of white paint we have really, really nice woodwork. Someday, friends, we will reveal it all to the world once again

Our bathroom is standard, nothing of interest, really, until we do something with it.

Bathrooms - what you cant see is a recently re-enameled tub and a small closet

Bathrooms – what you can’t see is a recently re-enameled tub and a small closet

Our kitchen is gorgeous, interesting, authentically 1920’s (as in, original to the house’s construction) and completely lacking in the functional capabilities for a cook like me to use it. See what I mean?

My back is against the opposite wall to take this photo... But at least it is pretty to look at as I curse and try to cook

My back is against the opposite wall to take this photo… But at least it is pretty to look at as I curse and try to cook

The house is a shot-gun, from the back door and original front door you can see across the entire thing. This photo shows you the interesting subway tiles that cover our kitchen, including the ceiling. Yes, every square inch of wall and ceiling that is not covered by a cabinet is tiled.

Davey is so cute when he is concentrating

Davey is so cute when he is concentrating

We have an unfinished basement with four rooms and a scary bathroom, too

Creepy bathrooms add character, right?

Creepy bathrooms add character, right?

This picture helps explain the scream in the above photo, am I right?

This picture helps explain the scream in the above photo, am I right?

And there you have it, our home. We have already done a ton of work, and I have process photos of each step. Once we finally complete a room (hahahahaha… that may take a while) I will share it.

What lessons have I learned from all this?

1. Some people waited until they were in their 30’s to start a family, to feel ready to settle down and make it work. We did that, but with real estate. I think this helped us to attention to our non-negotiable items more, to know what features we needed to avoid (no corner lots ever again, laundry rooms without space for excessive laundry avoidance issues), know what features we needed to have (architectural interest, two bathrooms, new big-ticket items so we can wait to replace for a few years), and items we new we could adjust in the future as needs and money arose (room for a second kitchen in the basement, renovating the existing attic into more living space). If we had purchased a home the first time we tried (5 years ago in Chicago) we would not have been as smart about our investment, as back then we just concentrated on finding something we could afford.

2. Neighborhood culture is key to happiness. We live on a block where you can still literally look out your front window and see a pile of bikes/scooters to let you know which yard all the kids are playing at that day. We have three 7-year-old girls, two 5-year-old boys, and two ten-year-old kids who all play together. we have only actually lived inside this home for a week and already our children are completely ingrained in the culture of the neighborhood.

3. Smaller isn’t necessarily bad. Our new home is about 2/3 the size of our last home. We had to be strategic about what possessions we kept, what was tossed and how we could create function in every square foot we possessed. It is still a work in progress in the kitchen, as our huge renovation project for that room (doubling in space by eliminating a bedroom, adding a staircase to the upstairs to recreate the bedroom that was lost, refinishing the attic) is still 18 months off. But the rest of the house is utilized to maximize happiness through organization.

Davey, the kids and I are happy. In another week or two I will feel put away, then we will start the long task of small-scale renovations, room by room. Don’t worry, I will share the process with all of you!

About TT&NB

Wife, Mother, grant writer, professional do-gooder and friend
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5 Responses to House

  1. That’s lovely! I just moved out myself into a small little space but smart planning and strategic hoarding of some precious things you can’t live without really comes through haha best of luck to you guys. Sounds like a great place you’re in. (:

    • TT&NB says:

      Thank you! Our biggest asset this time around was that we moved the things we needed no matter what first, then slowly brought more over as we needed it. Now that we have been there a week we are having goodwill go to the other house and take everything we left behind, as we are pretty sure it wasn’t really needed, anyway.

      I hope you enjoy your new space!

      • Haha yes you move and realize you don’t miss half the stuff you thought you could never live without. I think my ironic asset was my mothers ability to generously donated half my closet..I suppose we did a good deed

  2. lindadyer573 says:

    Congratulations! Enjoy your new digs.

  3. Maggie says:

    Yay, congrats!!! Our current apartment is smaller than our last one, but I kind of liked that it forced us to get rid of crap we don’t really need. Although it’s not great for entertaining more than three other people at a time.

    If you ever have questions about upgrading, you should reach out to my sis-in-law Loren (and Steve, but Steve is not on FB). They bought an old house in 2001 and have transformed it completely. It’s truly amazing. They turned their unfinished attic into a master bedroom & bathroom, dropped in a staircase at the front of the house (they had a very narrow and scary stair case off the first floor bathroom), removed the wall between their living & dining rooms. And probably other stuff I’m not aware of. But it’s quite impressive.

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