A year ago today, Bob and I carried a little baby girl into an attorney’s office across town. There may have been a lot of nerves. There may have been some pinching to be sure we weren’t dreaming. We sat across a big wide table, with our tiny girl sitting with us, and thanked the now former owners for selling us their childhood home. Their parents bought the house in the early 1950s (making us only the third or fourth owners of our 100+ year old house) and having lost their mother in her 90s back in 2014, it was a bittersweet day for them as they said goodbye to more than six decades of memories. For us, at the other end of the table, it was a day that felt truly magical. After a flurry of signatures we walked out with a large ring of keys, their email addresses written down among our folder of documents, and a heart full of love. We’ve emailed with them occasionally since, passing back and forth old photos of the house, plus updated photos as we’ve finished projects and tackled new ones. Today we’ve owned this house for 365 of the best days of my life. On day 19 or so, while we were up to our necks in boxes after having just moved in, the sewer line backed up into the basement thanks to those big old trees in the front yard. For a quick second, we thought we were doomed. (And $800 later we felt a little doomed, too.) In the months since, we’ve hosted countless parties, forged the most amazing friendships with all of our neighbors, made an infinite number of memories with our family, and planted roots to grow a lifetime of dreams. Today I wanted to take a look back and share a quick recap of everything we’ve done around the house to date, and fill you in on where we’re headed next now that we’ve jumped back into renovation mode. What better way to celebrate the first year of what we hope to be many many decades in this house we love so very much!
When we bought the house, the entire first floor and the stairs were covered in this delightful blue carpet. By “delightful” I really mean horrible, smelly and worse in person than they appeared in photos. While these photos don’t make it immediately obvious, the living room was also covered in about thirteen layers of wallpaper (actually an exaggeration) so we immediately set our sights on removing both. We then repaired the plaster walls (which were in incredible shape overall), painted the ceilings, trim, windows, and walls. Finally, a good cleaning and shining of the hardwood floors and after a couple of months of home ownership we were finally ready to use our living room. You can check out more details of our living room renovation if you’re into such things!
Today I am still trying to finish up the decorating in the living room, but it is easily my favorite room in the house. Once I finally find the pieces I’m still on the hunt for (like a pair of great armchairs for either side of the fireplace and a cool game table for the front end of the room), it will really be a showpiece of a room. With Emerson’s play area on one end, the main seating area centered on the fireplace and loads of natural light, it’s just such a great room and it feels so cozy. Most recently, I gave the fireplace a quick budget-friendly makeover until I finalize a decision down the line about what kind of tile I want to use to completely transform the fireplace surround.
In addition to completely renovating the living room, we tackled the dining room renovation in tandem. We did as much as we could in the first two weeks we owned the house, before our lease ran out at the end of the month. So, yes, we were simultaneously renovating, packing and trying to work and take care of a six month old baby. We like to go hard around here, friends, what can I say? Ok, truthfully we might be a little bit crazy, but it always seems to work out in the end. Currently the dining room is also just about finished up, save for the finishing decor touches which I am also still making decisions about. Apparently if you’re me and you over think everything, you must scour the entire internet one thousand times before you can decide on things like drapes for your dining room.
So, what’s next? I mentioned yesterday that we’ve started an interim renovation on our kitchen! I am going to be sharing updates about that here soon, but in the meantime you can sneak a peek here and there as we work along on Instagram stories. (So this weekend, stay tuned because we’ll be picking back up work!) The goal right now is to lighten and brighten the space, clean things up and add a bit of functionality to make the room work better for us between now and when we enact a full scale renovation in an estimated five to six years. But who knows, it could well be ten. We have big plans and dreams for that room and we’re realists! What we are planning to do down the line will be next level expensive. So for now the objective is to make good, solid updates that are extremely budget-friendly (read: cheap), but that give the room more life (and more natural light) in the event it takes us longer than we hope to get to that day when we really start over from scratch in there. In the meantime, I’ll be sharing progress soon! (Also, soon might mean a few weeks. Stay tuned!)
From there we’re setting our sights on the entry hall since we’ve barely done anything there other than removing the carpet along with the rest of the downstairs and then painting. So yes! A year later, that beautiful floral wallpaper lives on. Oddly enough, after a while you stop seeing it, which is a good thing, but lately I’ve been seeing it again so its days are numbered. It just runs up that one wall along the stairs, but the ceiling on the landing at the top of the main part of the staircase is at least fifteen feet tall so it’s going to be a chore to get down, which is why we’ve just ignored it for the last many many months. Don’t worry though! That incredible original light fixture is going to stay in this house for as long as I live. I love it so very very much. Simultaneously we’re also working on a ton of exterior projects! Ripping out old hedges, cleaning up some brush out back, planting an herb garden, painting the porch floors and I’m sure a dozen other things we’ll want to get into once the weather finally clears up, the rain goes away and all we want to do is be outside. (This photo below is already outdated in terms of how the front hedges look and the big overgrown bushes on either side are now gone.)
I was home with a newborn, trolling Zillow (as I still love to do) when I found our house. It had been on the market for a month and as soon as I saw it, I felt like it was ours. For the next few months I stalked it online and then I started driving by almost daily since it’s located only a few blocks from our previous rental. Finally, in February I told Bob that this house was talking to me and that I really felt like I needed to see it to get it out of my system. We weren’t planning to buy a house. We were planning to stay in our rental for another year or two and then break ground on a house we would build on land my father had given me. On Valentine’s Day of last year, we walked into our house for the first time and fell head over heels in love, blue carpet and all. We instantly knew we were home. A few months later, she was officially ours and I’ve woken up full of gratitude every day since. Thank you so much for following along this first year! I can’t wait to share what we build here in this house we are so lucky to call home. So far, it has been a dream come true on every possible level.
[Before photos by Cyd Converse | After photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]