I’ll spare you the long, tortured story of how we wound up in our “new” house—mostly because I can’t bear to relive it myself. (I say “new” because we’ve been living here for almost six months already—seriously, where does the time go??) Suffice it to say that, after looking at dozens and dozens of homes, this was the third house we made an offer on and even this sale almost fell through at the very last minute. Add to that some pretty unreasonable sellers, a very hormonal new mom (me!), and a colicky not-yet-three-month-old and you can perhaps imagine the many, many stress-induced tears that I shed.

But all’s well that ends well, as they say, and we’re really quite happy in our new home. It’s a one-story ranch with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a couple hundred more square feet than our last home. It was built in the mid-1990s and looks pretty much like the rest of the houses in our subdivision, which is exactly the kind of place that I swore I never wanted to live in, but it definitely has its perks—namely, larger closets! And moving when we did gave us the perfect opportunity to purge some of the unnecessary things we’d accumulated over the past five years and redesign our home with Quinn foremost in our minds. Gone are the porcelain knick-knacks, the sharp-cornered wood coffee table, and the neutral color scheme. Instead we’ve embraced bright colors, used toys as decorations, and left lots of open space to play. It’s certainly a different aesthetic, but it’s been a fun challenge to decorate in a whole new way. And I have to admit, the new modern look is really growing on me!

Today I’d like to give you a quick tour of the new home, showing you what it looked like before we moved in (with the prior owners’ stuff in it) and what it looks like today. Let me preface this by saying that our house is very much still a work in progress. Time and money are in short supply these days with a baby at home and me not working, so we’re moving at a snail’s pace through our lengthy to-do list. I typically hate showing photos of rooms that aren’t completely finished, but I’d like to document our home’s transformation process here on this blog—and to do that I have to show you were we started from, so here goes nothing!

First, the exterior. As you can see, we’ve already done a bit of landscaping, pruned the tree and overgrown bushes that were blocking the view of the house, painted the front door, and added some fun house numbers (which deserve their own post in the future):

This is the living room, right inside the front door:

The first order of business when we moved in was to paint all the walls white and replace the über-traditional light fixtures and window treatments with something more modern.

Now I’m working on art for that big white wall!

Here is the family room, which is part of one big space shared with the kitchen and dining room. It’s where we spend most of our time (as you could probably guess from all the toys):

The dining room, also in need of some art:

This is the kitchen (which I am dying to renovate):

And here is our master bedroom, which we haven’t gotten around to painting yet. It will be white like the rest of the house—very soon, I hope!

The master bathroom—again, in need of painting (and a great deal of other work!):

Quinn’s room:

The guest room, which also needs the white paint treatment:

Our office:

And finally, the kids’/guest bathroom:

So that’s it! We’ve already finished a few projects that I’ll be sharing the details of here in the future, and we’ve got many, many more up our sleeves. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!

 

  • Cassie

    “It was built in the mid-1990s and looks pretty much like the rest of the houses in our subdivision, which is exactly the kind of place that I swore I never wanted to live in”

    Haha, I had the exact same thought when we first started out house hunting. We just put an offer to a house similar to your new home, built in 90’s, not too many characters in the neighborhood. But the house has a good floor plan that we hope we could turn it into a cozy home.
    I followed you from Houzz to your blog. Your new home was arranged as adorable as your old home! Keep it up!ReplyCancel

    • Thanks so much, Cassie! You hit the nail on the head: the trade-off you get for lack of character in these 90’s homes is a comfortable, livable floor plan. Which means you get to add all the character yourself! Thanks so much for stopping by, and good luck with your house hunt!ReplyCancel

  • Hi Emily,

    I happened along your godmorgon plumbing post. Then I just read this post. The guest room and guest bath photos are not of the correct rooms but photos you’ve already posted of other rooms. I’m on an iPhone. Am I crazy here?

    Love the blog!

    Thanks,
    SheilaIReplyCancel

    • Hi, Sheila! Thanks for stopping by! The correct photos are all appearing for me, so maybe it would help to refresh the page on your iPhone?? Sorry I can’t be more help!ReplyCancel

I was going through some of last year’s photos and just had to share a couple shots of Quinn’s first Halloween costume. With that bald head, Charlie Brown wasn’t much of a stretch! I just threw some fabric paint on a yellow onesie, got him a little Snoopy sidekick, and voilà! Cutest little Charlie Brown ever.


 

 

Ben and I bought our first home in March of 2008. We were in a bad rental situation at the time—our landlord had stopped paying the mortgage on the house we were renting and foreclosure notices were being delivered every week. It was incredibly stressful and I wanted out. I was determined never to rely on someone else to pay our mortgage again, so we decided we’d start looking at houses to buy and, if we could find one, break our lease.

On a Sunday, I drove Ben to the neighborhood I had set my sights on: Kessler Park in North Oak Cliff. It’s a beautiful neighborhood full of historic homes, old trees, and just about the only hills you’ll find in the area, all just minutes from downtown Dallas. We walked through two or three open houses—our first ever—to get an idea of what these older homes were like. Neither Ben nor I grew up in an old house, and we were renting a new build at the time, so at first we were a little underwhelmed by the tiny closets, the creaky wood floors, the compact floor plans. But we quickly realized that these were just standard old-house quirks that came with the territory when you were shopping for eighty-year-old homes. But one of the open houses we walked through—a small brick Tudor with only one bathroom—didn’t display its age so obviously. It was clean and bright and on a very nice street, and for some reason the fresh pink tulips on the island in the kitchen made an impression on me.

On Monday, I called a realtor who a couple of my co-workers recommended: Dori Warner (who is awesome and who you should definitely hire). She said she had three homes to show us that afternoon, if we were available. We were. She took us first to an adorable old home with amazing period detail, but that really had only one bedroom and one bathroom, which was just too small for us. She then took us to a three bedroom/two bathroom home that had more space, but that felt older and more run down. Finally, she took us back to that one-bathroom brick Tudor that we had walked through the day before. By then we had seen a grand total of something like a half dozen homes(!), but I was beginning to sense that this house was more special than the rest. It just felt good. After walking through it again, Dori and Ben and I sat down on the couch in the living room and I said that the house was growing on me—that, in fact, I really liked it. Dori was glad, but said she had to warn us that someone else was making an offer on the house that evening. So no pressure, but if we were serious about the house, we would need to make an offer right away.

Ben and I drove home and talked about it long into the night. I was becoming more and more sure that this was the house for us, but what would people say? Heavens, what would my parents say? In typical impetuous-Emily fashion, was I going to buy a house after looking for just one day? And almost the first one we saw?? It sounded crazy. It probably was crazy. But we wanted out of our rental situation and we really liked that house. And I believe the old adage that you regret only those things you don’t do…so we decided to go for it.

On Tuesday morning, I called Dori and told her we wanted to make an offer on the house. We were so determined to get what we were convinced was the perfect house for us that we offered $10,000 more than the asking price—I didn’t want to have any regrets. Later that evening, as Ben and I were driving to dinner, Dori called. I can still remember the feeling of butterflies in my stomach as I answered the phone and she told us that the homeowners had accepted our offer. We were officially under contract.

So just to recap: we began looking at houses on Sunday. On Tuesday, we were under contract. It was definitely crazy, but Ben and I never regretted it. Not for a minute. We loved that house. I mean, loved it. Everything about it. Even the outdated kitchen and one tiny bathroom, because we were going to make them better. And when we outgrew the existing space one day, we were going to expand into the attic and turn it into a dream master suite. Because we were never going to leave that house. We said over and over again that we were never going to move.

Four years passed. We became more and more attached to the house as we invested time, money, and our own sweat into dozens of different projects. Painting. Landscaping. Decorating. I became obsessed with interior design. My favorite thing to do on the weekends was to rearrange furniture and knick-knacks. The house just made me happy. It was my favorite “thing.” So when I got pregnant, we decided that would be the perfect time to finally undertake that big kitchen remodel we had been dreaming about. We wanted to turn it into a special place to make memories with our kids. So we lived through a grueling eight-week renovation and wound up with our perfect kitchen. And I put together the perfect nursery for our baby boy. The house had never looked better and we had never been happier there. We were definitely going to stay there forever.

But then I had our baby. And Ben says that my tune changed dramatically about four hours after Quinn was born. Shouldn’t we live closer to his grandparents and aunts and uncles? Wouldn’t he be happier growing up with his cousins? And how would I ever leave that sweet little baby to go back to work? But how would we be able to afford the mortgage if I didn’t? We began to think that moving sixty miles west to Weatherford, the small town where Ben grew up and most of his family still lives, might actually be the best thing for our little family. It was going to be tremendously difficult to say goodbye to our home, but a house is just a house after all, right??

In June of 2012, when Quinn was about a month old, we were still ambivalent about a potential move, but decided to call Dori again and explore the possibility of selling our beloved little home. Dori met with us on a Tuesday afternoon and told us that if we thought we wanted to sell, the time was now. She went home, did her homework, and came back Friday afternoon with comps and a recommended listing price and marketing strategy. She thought that there was a perfect opening in the market right then because the other comparable homes at our price point had all been sitting on the market for awhile without selling, so we would be fresh and well-positioned. Dori wanted to take advantage of the situation and put our house on the market the following week, as soon as we could manage to get the house cleaned and staged for showing, and she planned to hold open houses over the next two weekends. We were a bit dazed by the speed at which things were moving, but we agreed and promised to work all weekend to get the house into shape by the middle of the following week. But just a few hours later, Dori called us back and said there was someone who’d like to take a look at our house on Monday, if that was okay. Sure. Somehow we’d get the house ready by Monday. And just like that, all of a sudden, it was happening. We were really going to put our house on the market.

We spent that entire weekend—dawn till dusk and late into the night—scrubbing baseboards, mopping floors, detailing grout, touching up paint, clearing clutter, rearranging furniture, washing windows, tidying the landscaping…all the things you’re supposed to do when you get ready to sell your home, but I took them to the extreme. I felt like this was my big chance to show the world how wonderful this little house was, that this was when all the love we had poured into it over the past four years was going to pay off. I wanted it to look better than it ever had before. So stopping only to nurse Quinn, I worked my fingers to the bone to get the house ready to be seen by potential buyers on Monday. But on Saturday, Dori called again to say that someone else wanted to take a look at the house on Sunday, if we were okay with that. “But the house won’t be ready!” I told Dori. “I know,” she said, “they understand that but they still want to see it.” Well, I sure wasn’t going to let anyone see the house before it looked perfect, so we called in help and by some miracle, managed to get the house looking pretty close to perfect by mid-afternoon on Sunday. It was Father’s Day, Ben’s first. We were dirty and sweaty and exhausted, and were just putting a six-week-old Quinn in his car seat when the potential buyers knocked on the door. They were a young, nice-looking couple, maybe a few years older than us. We shook their hands, got in the car, and drove to a nearby park to wait.

Dori called us a a short time later to say that we could go back home and to casually drop the bombshell that the couple wanted to make an offer on the house. I felt a lot of things in that moment: happy, proud, and maybe a little smug— “of course they want to buy my beautiful home,” I thought, “who wouldn’t?”—but also sad that this sale was becoming real and—once again—shocked at how fast it was happening. The couple sent over their offer later that evening for the full expected list price. The next day, Monday, we honored the other showing that Dori had already scheduled, but the young couple then increased their initial offer a bit and we accepted it that evening.

So just to recap: we met with Dori on Tuesday to talk about the mere possibility of selling our home, and by the following Tuesday—just one week later—our house was under contract. It sold before it even went to market. (I told you, seriously, hire Dori.)

Thus begins and ends the story of my crazy love affair with our first home. I was a bit disappointed that we never got to have an open house, that no listing photos were ever published—in short, that I never got to show off our home at its best. But with it looking that good, you better believe I took my own photos—just a little something to remember it by. So had our sweet house ever made it to market, here is what you might have seen:

Random tip from Dori: when you take listing photos and when you show your home, every single light and lamp in your house should be on. It makes it look more lived-in and inviting. (And it also saves potential buyers from fumbling around trying to find light switches.)

Aaah, sweet house, I do miss you. This photo was taken right before Quinn and I left for good:

It was hard to let go—and I will admit to driving past the house a few times since then to see what the new owners have done to the place—but I think I can now finally let it rest. Onward and upward, right? Because there is plenty of work to be done at the new house. More on that to come…

  • Just stumbled across your blog! Wow I love that kitchen! Great work. Good luck on your new adventures!ReplyCancel

    • Thanks, Lindsay! I miss that kitchen every day. :) Thanks for stopping by!ReplyCancel

  • Bridgette

    Where did you get your gray sofa? I love it.ReplyCancel

    • Hi, Bridgette! The gray sofa is the KARLSTAD sofa from IKEA with the “isunda gray” cover. We really like it.ReplyCancel