The place we first called home
Now that we are headed towards spring, the real estate market is starting to pick back up. I’ve mentioned before that we are considering a move to the country once we find the land and house we are looking for. It’s so weird to think that our current home, our first home, won’t be our forever home. It wasn’t intended to be a starter home, but life happens, and you might as well follow along. Compass has inspired me to participate in their Compass Starter Home Project, and as I’ve been reflecting on our potential upcoming move, it seems like the perfect time. Compass is a real estate platform that connects folks searching for apartments in NYC and DC with the neighborhood that matches their personality and taste, and is expanding to other cities soon.
Lo and I moved in together after a year of dating, and lived in an apartment for a few years. The apartment was nice enough and we loved the location – close to downtown, close to the Short North, close to work…it was fairly perfect. But as we got closer to wanting to start a family, get a dog, and just have some space (and a garage!), so we saved up a downpayment and started looking. We found a great home in the exact area we were targeting after looking at 7 or 8 other houses, and we went for it. We specifically searched for a house that we could live in forever if we wanted. We didn’t want a typical “starter home” that we’d need to upgrade from once we had a family. It has fantastic schools if we decided to stay forever, but great resale value if we decided to move. So we picked a house that was big enough forever, but totally within our budget.
I still love our house…but I no longer love the location. The neighborhood is located off of Sawmill Road, which is such a busy road – tons of development has happened since we moved, and that’s not letting up anytime soon. Our desire to move is based on our desire to live more in the country and that we want me to be home with Jenson now. We are gone for almost 10 hours a day for work, and that’s just too long. We didn’t know we’d feel this way….but we do. We’d rather struggle a little more with money than to only get to spend time with our kids on the weekend. We did the math…I could quit and we could still live here, but money would be tighter than we want, and we still want more land, so it just makes sense to start looking now.
Leaving our house is going to be sad…it feels like home and there’s so much that I love about it. Our potential forever home turned out to just be a starter home for us though. And that’s okay. Wherever we go will be home. And this house has made for a pretty great starter home. We picked a house that we wouldn’t need to do much work to – we didn’t know how handy we’d want to be. We’ve done repairs and upgrades, and realized it wasn’t so bad…and Lo is pretty damn handy. We hate painting and aren’t that good at it, so luckily we were pretty happy with almost all of the paint colors.
Pull out shelving installed in the kitchen is so nice for heavy pans and appliances! He built me a salad table, which thrived the first year, but didn’t fare as well the second year when I forgot to plant it in spring, and then forgot to harvest the fall plantings (blame Jenson).
The most amazing change that we’ve made with the house is the flooring downstairs. Lo tore up stained carpet and dated maple laminate flooring, and laid laminate wood flooring through the entire downstairs, minus the bathroom. It’s gorgeous, low maintenance, and easy to clean. He did such a great job. I helped paint the baseboard, but did little else because we weren’t working well together, lol. (otherwise known as I was being bossy and that wasn’t working for him, which wasn’t working for me).
I love our front living room area. We found the perfect couch for it (at Kroger!), the perfect rug, and the perfect coffee table. It’s the first room that we put together purposely, rather than just fitting in mismatched stuff we already had. It took us over almost two years to find everything that we want for the room, but now that we have it, it just feels right. (actually, we need new curtains, but since the window dressing usually stay with the house, we aren’t going to bother) It’s where we largely spent the first few weeks of Jenson’s life – we both could sleep on the couch while he slept in the bouncer on the floor. It’s where we watch tv…it’s the center of our home. Unfortunately, I don’t have a great picture once we bought our ottoman and I’m tired of waiting for good lighting to take one. I’ll try to remember to add more at some point (but will probably forget).
Another major eyesore in the house was the kitchen counters. They were that standard wood-grain maple laminate that was so popular in the 80’s/90’s. Once he replaced the flooring in the kitchen, the counters were crying for a makeover. Our neighbors had painted their counters with a counter refinishing kit, so we decided to use one too. Giani Granite sent me a granite paint kit to review (review is still coming…I wanted to wait to see how it “wore”) and we gave it a shot. We figured that the worst thing that would happen is that we’d want to replace them sooner than later. But we love it. It works so well with the white cabinets and appliances. I HIGHLY recommend this kit to upgrade you kitchen when you can’t afford to do much. Huge difference.
(before and after of countertop kit…note the green is painting tape and has since been removed, of course. I just forgot to take a “final” picture at that time)
One of the things that sold us on this house were the huge bedrooms. Two of the bedrooms are master-sized, the third is bigger than average, and the nursery is the only one that is small. The carpeting needs replaced in the entire upstairs, so we are looking at getting quotes soon. Our master bedroom is huge, and also has a walk-in closet, linen closet, and full bath (shower only). We never got around to decorating it and making it nice…I really want to focus on that once we move since we didn’t get around to it here. I definitely plan to either make a fabric-covered headboard, or buy the storage headboard I’ve eyed at Ikea. The best thing about our room is the king-sized bed. We bought it two weeks after Jenson was born, and it’s awesome to be able to fit 3 humans and a dog and have plenty of space. No pictures…that room is really hurting for style and organization.
The “Buckeye” room is the other huge room. It was painted like that when we bought it, so luckily we are Buckeye fans and could leave it that way. The third bedroom is the “pink” room. It used to have a huge horse mural on the wall, so we always called it the pink horse room. It’s Lo’s room…where he keeps most of his clothes and has his “stuff”. We intend to paint this very soon…just can’t decide on a color. He already took down the horses so they wouldn’t drag away any future buyers, as wild horses often do.
My favorite room upstairs is Jenson’s nursery. We barely use it – other than him sleeping in there, as we prefer to use the changing table on the pack-n-play in the living room. But we put so much work into this room and I love it. I painted the birch trees on the wall and refinished the glider rocker that my mom had for 20 years. Never refinish a glider – especially when 7 months pregnant. Lo refinished the desk that a friend gave us, which was also a ton of work, and repainted the bookshelf that his mom gave us from when he was a kid. I just love the color scheme and how well it turned out.
Our basement is partially finished and could be such a great space. Unfortunately we never got around to using it for anything other than storage – but we’ve certainly filled it full of stuff. I always imagined this would be a multipurpose room…maybe a play area, tv area, and a small bar. Just a place where everyone could hang out. Our crawl space and utility room isn’t anything pretty to look at, but gives us even more great storage. Lo hung shelves so we could line dry clothes and store extra food (I tend to buy in bulk), and our chest freezer is easily accessible. We finally replaced the dinosaur of a hot water heater. The inspector said it was one of the oldest he’d ever seen still working – and it still worked when we replaced it. But we knew it wouldn’t last forever and we didn’t want it to leak and cause a mess, so we decided to just go ahead with it.
(before and after painting…the yellow was very dirty)
We have a great backyard, considering how small our property is. Because of the way the neighbors’ houses are set on their properties, it feels more private than a lot of suburbs. The neighbors to the right are set on a corner, so they are angled away from us and not directly beside our house. On the other side, the house is lined up with ours, so that yard is lined up directly with ours. The best part is there’s no house directly behind us, so when we look out our windows, there’s just a yard back there. The house on that property is on a cul-de-sac and set to the side, so their side yard is behind us and their house is behind the neighbors. We (or Lo, mostly) did some landscaping…planted some blueberry bushes and hibiscus. We (Lo) restained the deck and we finally bought patio furniture, so we ended up pretty happy with how things turned out back there, even if we didn’t spend enough time out there (bugs were bad!).
And sometimes this van lives on our street.
I always say I wish we could plop this house down in the country…but we can’t. So we’ll fondly remember it once we move on as our first home.