I am always moved by Abby’s writing style and how she honestly shares her beautiful life with her readers. Today, I wanted my readers to experience Abby’s journey of home ownership and making their house a home that was uniquely theirs.
Please enjoy: FOXES HAVE HOLES, BIRDS HAVE NESTS by Abby Stalsbroten
(originally posted here July 29, 2015)
… And the Stalsbrotens ALSO have a place to lay their heads. We are HOMEOWNERS. Bam. Feels good.
One of the main reasons we moved from Seattle back to North Carolina was because real estate was getting ca-razy. Anecdotally, the West Coast is always pricier, right? We knew it wasn’t getting better anytime soon, so we decided that if we were ever going to make the move, now was the right time.
And honestly, the way our finances were (Seattle cost of living! Bah!), we thought we’d have to rent for at least a year in North Carolina before we’d be able to buy anything. We had no idea how good the market is right now, and it made way more sense to purchase a home rather than throw away 12 months of payments to a landlord. It was really the grace of God that we were able to buy, and it all happened super fast. I’m not kidding: we found a realtor (the best ever!) on Thursday, got pre-approved for our loan on Friday, looked at houses Saturday and Sunday, and put our offer in on Monday. Then we closed about six weeks later, with zero hiccups in the whole process. Totally not what we expected in our first rodeo.
We didn’t have a ton of specific desires/deal-breakers, but as we looked, the cream definitely started rising to the top. I was really resistant to living in the suburbs (the first house we looked at was an adorable Chapel Hill farmhouse built in the early 1900s… and needed about $100k worth of work), but come to find out, the suburbs are AWESOME for affordable houses and raising kids. And I realized that I don’t have to be defined by where I live (could be a tangent here — another blog for another time). The neighborhood we are in is close to loads of great stuff, has a lake with trails, and a neighborhood pool. All big perks.
The house was move-in ready, though a little dated, and needed some minor repairs. We thought we’d be good with a fixer-upper, but we quickly realized that it’s nice to have a livable house for your first go-round, and just take care of the cosmetic, fun stuff. So that’s the case here. We have a looooong to-do list, and Dave is having a blast doing tons of projects.
A few before pictures.
Kitchen workspace- hello, Red Light District.
Dave literally started in on the projects a few hours after we closed. First order of business was to take down one of the wall cabinets in the kitchen so we could put up open shelving. He also removed all the standard, gigantic mirrors in the bathrooms so we could put up custom mirrors.
After buying a house, hiring a painting crew was the best financial decision we’ve made all year. We balked a little at the price tag (even though we got a screaming deal through the crew that my contractor parents use), but it was so, so worth it. The painters were done in a day and a half, and everything looks amazing. Color has such a huge impact on your mental state, so it was lovely to choose paint that made the house feel like us. We picked three Sherwin Williams colors (with lots of help from mi madre, who does this professionally). If you’re interested, they’re Repose Gray 7015, Indigo Batik 7602, and Sea Salt 6204.
Walking through just after the crew finished. LOVING IT.
Dave’s very first project was a window seat (with storage! so much storage in suburban houses!) for the dining room. I’m not sure exactly how he whipped this bad boy out so fast, but it looks seriously pro. I don’t have a finished photo of it yet (next blog!), but here it is in progress. It’s already made the dining room our favorite room in the house. Like we legitimately spend 60% of our waking hours in here.
The next big project (which is really a subset of a REALLY big project) was the light fixture in the dining room. None of the fixtures in the house really match — some are the originals from when the house was built in 1993, some were clearly updated in the late 90s, and some in the mid 2000s. It’s a little weird. So here we are bringing the trendy industrial farmhouse look in, starting in — once again — the dining room. Who knows how long this will stay in fashion, but we are big fans for now. And the Edison bulbs are BOMB when lit. They give such a cozy, inviting glow for evening meals.
This was a bit of a travail… There was a lot of sweating and grunting and maybe a few cusses said when dropping tiny screws on the floor when installing this mother at 11pm. But it’s in! And it looks awesome.
Dave also built a shed on the side of the house to store lawn tools (mower, weed-eater, rakes, gas can, etc). During construction he sustained a ridiculous number of chigger bites. If you’ve never been bitten by chiggers, thank your lucky stars. Tonight when he went out to mow the grass, he wore army boots and fatigues (like straight up military issue) to stave them off. Chiggers are terrorists. Seriously.
Next on the project list? Finish out the shed, build a kitchen island, kitchen overhaul (countertops, sink, lights, the works!), redo the back porch, master bath renovation, replace all the light fixtures, etc, etc, etc… Apparently owning a home is a lot of work. 😉
So the takeaway on this blog is KUDOS TO DAVE who is superman, and killing it on all the projects.