Our home is a beautiful challenge for J and me to tackle. We bought the house, now we must make the house our home and haven.
Up until this point our homes have been mish-mashes from our previous lives, previous marriages and items that we have picked up along the way together to get by. During our time at our last house we really sunk into and defined “our” couple style. We were always a bit behind the eight ball in completing our home and making it our haven. That home was always “our starter home” and I think we simply treated it as such.
The beauty of having defined what works for us as a couple in our previous home is that we are starting ahead of the curve in what we consider our forever home. We know what we like. We have a good idea of one another’s desired design aesthetics. We know how we want our house to feel. Now it is simply a matter of applying that aesthetic and feelings of “home” to our new house.
Here in lies the struggle we were facing. We purchased a house that was a tear-down / rebuild. This means all of the bones of the house are fresh and new (paint, fixtures, trim, flooring, fireplace surround, etc). It is hard to grapple with the idea of making changes to our new house, however, it is my belief that the time to make significant, wanted / known changes is prior to move in, immediately following taking ownership. After waiting in the past to make updates, I believe we will never regret making our house our home first, ever.
So how did we tackle this?
One, we started with what we knew.
We loved the bones of the house we purchased, but we also knew we did not love the wall colors, the fireplace and some of the fixtures. We wanted our new house to carry our mid-century modern cozy vibe we had been honing in our previous home, while also making sure J’s love for contemporary and clean and my love for boho had places as well. We knew we would want significant pops of color throughout our space, while ensuring the primary palette was clean and neutral (black + white). We wanted to ensure that we consolidated and paired down, getting rid of every and anything that no longer made sense to our design style and frankly removing anything that was simply just clutter. We got really real with what we loved. Sold what we didn’t love. We then agreed on a few design tenets for this home.
Two, we discussed what we needed.
Our new home is essentially double the size of our previous home. As a result there would be purchases that would need to be made in order to ensure functionality not only for us, but for our kids. We measured spaces. Determined what we were keeping. Identified certain pieces of furniture and whether or not they fit into the space. Chose what needed to be sold in a garage sale. And created a list of what immediately needed to be purchased in order for us to move in and live in our new space.
Three, we discussed what we wanted.
There are needs and then there are wants. Every house should be filled with a few wants too. This will help make a house feel more like home straight away. Of course everyone needs a bed to sleep in. But, there may be a piece of art that will make your house feel more like home immediately, that should also be added to the list. Everyones needs and wants look a little different too. Needs and wants can sometimes be interchangeable as we learned. A master closet remodel was on my list of needs so that we started off living in our home with a well organized space for the two of us. J didn’t feel this was as much of a priority as ensuring rooms were set-up with TVs and cable. Both matter. Both were important to one of us. It was simply a matter of understanding what we were able to accomplish and moving some other needs to the want column and some wants lower down on the list. We worked together to create a list of every single want we had that would essentially complete our home so that over time we could tackle the next item. This house was not going to be finished over night.
Four, we started prioritizing.
Where should we start? What should we tackle before we move in? What can wait? What is essential for each and every room? What would make each room special? Where would we splurge? Where would we try to be more frugal? Why were items a priority for me? Why were items a priority for J? Etc. Etc. Etc. Prioritizing is a game in and of itself. Anything can be the most important item at any one given moment and anything can alternatively come off of the list at any moment.
Five, we started doing the work to make our house a home.
We knew, without a doubt, that we wanted to change the wall colors. We immediately hired TrendWest Painting to refresh the house palette. We painted all of the walls the same color as our chair rails for a vibrant white, versus the original two-tone palette. We also selected a few colors to make certain spaces pop and feel unique. In the guest bathroom we painted the entire space light millennial pink. I wanted the room to be clean and modern, but I wanted the attached bathroom to have a sweet serene feel for our guests. In Doodle’s attached bathroom we painted the walls a very light green (we’ll say very light mint green) to appease her desire for colors on walls. This allowed us to keep her bedroom walls white and provide opportunity for her room to change with her as she ages without much effort. We designated the formal dining room as our lounge and as a result painted the walls black. This created juxtaposition between our great room and the “lounge” nicely. Finally, we painted three of the office walls black as well and added a geometric wallpaper to the fourth wall. I wanted this room to have distinct interest and design elements that lent to creativity while also feeling like an escape from the rest of the house. When we go to work, we go to work.
We purchased needed furniture and scheduled needed services. We tackled a few wants. And we started crossing items off of our long list.
We needed a couple beds, stools for our island, televisions and more trash cans. We also needed a doggy door and shades for all of our windows (though they remain up the majority of the time, privacy for three kids and guests is essential). As it often happens, we wanted a bit more than we needed. I got art framed for our guest room and signed hockey jersey’s framed for our teen room to make those spaces quickly feel compete. Other furniture pieces were purchased to complete some of our rooms quickly allowing for our kids to settle in immediately.
And then the biggest negotiation happened. It only took a couple chats and a tad of money management, but J agreed to move forward with the closet demo and install in the master bedroom prior to move in. Dreams really do come true…
The secret to successfully making a house a home…
Organization and patience. Take care of needs. Make a long list of wants. And know, your dream home will not come together over night like homes do on Fixer Upper and Property Brothers. Your dreams will take money and time. It takes time to make the money to create the dreams. Know what you can wait for, know what will be difficult to accomplish after the fact. And know that with patience your dream house will become home in a matter of time.