That Time We Bought a House

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This house and I have gone through a pretty major transformation this year.

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I love this house. Those are not words I ever expected myself to say. Walls are walls. Furniture is furniture. Kitchens are kitchens.

Except now I know how very much love can get poured into walls, furniture and kitchens.

To be honest, it scares me a little, because walls and furniture and kitchens are temporary things. Not just temporary to this life – though I’ve given God permission to just copy my new kitchen for my heavenly mansion – but also temporary IN this life. Not even two weeks after we closed escrow, my husband’s job took a hard left turn and he lost it a short two months later, a harsh reminder not to get too comfortable because things can change so unpredictably.

But now it’s a place I love. Opening our doors is one way that I open my heart. Come in and get tea. Sit down and tell me your heart. Stay for a night or two. Or six months. Mi Casa es Su Casa. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m also plenty selfish, and with a plethora of new things I’m thinking all the normal-crazy thoughts like Make sure your Tea doesn’t leave a watermark and don’t sit too firmly on the couch cushion, they’re new. How one would actually “not sit firmly” is a mystery to me, but I’ve still thought it. Let’s just give me a gold star for not surrounding it in plastic, shall we? And oh by the way, while you stay here can you make sure you don’t scratch or stain or break anything? K thanks.

Welcome. Mi Casa es Su Casa but really it’s Mi Casa so be careful, mmm-k?

Dangerous thoughts.

It’s actually hard for me to believe that this house is now a home. One year ago we signed papers and took responsibility for the mortgage. The next twelve months were a blur but between pictures and credit card statements I can interpret that it went something like this:

Month one was demolition month. Tearing out walls, cabinets, bathtubs, toilets, and general gross-ness. New windows and doors were cut into place, heating and air were added, and a few walls went up to replace those that had come down.

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Month two was design month. I know, I know, design usually happens before demolition. But here’s the thing – we were discovering new possibilities around every turn. Tear out this closet and discover a whole new possibility of how the kitchen can be designed. Yes, a closet became a kitchen. More on that later.

Months three through nine are like black and white fuzz on an old 9-inch tv box with a crooked antenna sticking out. I know I was a crazy person, that much is sure. I know I ate out of more plastic boxes and fast food bags than I can count. I know that I earned every pound I’m now working off and every gray hair I am now dyeing.Our construction crew was my amazing brother and his team, but they live out of town, so anytime they were working on our house it meant at least six air mattresses spread out and up to 15 people and two dogs squeezed into our little place. With one bathroom and no kitchen. To call it camping would be generous. Never before have I hopscotched around power tools and compressors to get to the one working bathroom in the morning.

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But in the midst of that were tea parties for my four-year-old niece with her Grandpa.

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And watching my one-year-old niece take her first steps.

And deep laughs and sighs and shrugs as we all learned to live together. In the midst of great change. I thought I was designing and remodeling a house. Turns out it was changing me.

All in all, we gutted, redesigned, and rebuilt two kitchens and three bathrooms. I never had a nice kitchen – I had no idea where to even start, but I can’t tell you how much I love the final result. We installed HVAC, upgraded the electrical panel, repainted, restucco-ed, repainted the entire interior, refinished the hardwood floors, installed crown moulding, replaced the outdoor sprinkler system, designed and created a beautiful master suite with custom built-in closets, and installed three new doors and eight new windows.

A bit too much for one wee blog post. So, I’ll be giving a room-by-room “tour” of our remodel, a couple of highlights on some of my favorite things, and some of the ways I was gutted and re-built, too. I’ll post a new room each week. And spoiler alert, it’s gonna get real messy – but then it will get better – a bit like life.

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