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.
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.
Next up is our living room and dining room, two rooms separated by a small half wall
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.
Our bathroom is standard, nothing of interest, really, until we do something with it.
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?
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.
We have an unfinished basement with four rooms and a scary bathroom, too
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!