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Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Unexpected First Home

When I was a kid, I always dreamed that I would have a beautiful house when I grew up. Everything would be perfect and in its place. Pretty much everything I've always dreamed about, I would have. Those dreams are nice, but they're not always reality. Especially when you are just starting out.

As I reached my early twenties, I went through college, lived at school, and began dating Trent. Life - reality - set in shortly after. We had been together a few years and were thinking about finding our first place. We were not going to be able to afford my dream house, and little did I know, but our first house would not really be the starter home that you dream of, either. We didn't get to go house hunting and choose our first house together. We inherited one.

This is our first house. Our starter home.

Not horrible, but far from my dream house. It's tiny, and over a century old. And it didn't even always look this way. Here's how it looked shortly after I moved in:

Barren landscaping, faded shutters, overgrown bushes. And that was after a few improvements, like a new porch railing and porch paint (there was only lattice there before, and a carpeted porch floor.) 

So how did we end up living here? This was the house Trent grew up in and lived in with his parents. In 2008, about six months after we started dating, Trent's mom passed away from breast cancer. In the summer of 2010, his dad moved out to live with his new girlfriend (now wife). I was close to graduating from college, and Trent's dad had given the house to him. I moved in that November. And Trent's childhood home became our first home together.

Most people dream of picking out their first home with their significant other - house hunting together until they find the perfect starter where they move in and instantly feel at home. Ideally the house you choose needs little improvements. You inspect it for any maintenance and structural issues, and make sure it's safe and move-in ready. I didn't get to choose what my first house looked like, what features it had. I chose to live there because I wanted to live with Trent. Not really the dream, but that didn't stop me from being elated when I finally got a house of my own. In my very first blog post, back in August of 2010, I talked about how excited I was to finally have my own home. 

As excited as I was, I knew we had our work cut out for us. Aesthetically, the house didn't exactly fit our personalities, and it certainly had several structural issues...being built in the late 1800's and all.

We knew that we definitely had several improvement projects to do as soon as I moved in. That summer, even before I started living there, we gutted the entire living room, rebuilt the walls, and refinished the original hardwood floors. Our first big renovation project. We built momentum from there. 

We knew that to make it our own, we had to put in a lot of time and work. It was not the move-in ready house I had dreamed of. Trent had lived here almost his whole life, so he was much more comfortable with it. I'll admit, it was a transition for me. (That brown and peach kitchen had to go!) But we would make this house a comfortable place for both of us soon enough. First the living room, then the bedroom...and we painted that ugly kitchen

From our first landscaping project.... my obsession with changing our living room decor...

Each project we've completed and piece or furniture or decor we've added to this house has made it a little more "us." It is still not nearly what I would consider my dream home, but it's our first home together. We've made memories in this house, and we're still continuing to improve and make memories four years later.

Yes, we've experienced some low points, including foundation issues and faulty repair that we're still trying to get corrected. We have put countless hours into making this place feel like home. But it's all part of the process of owning our first home - a century-old fixer-upper that somehow wound up in our hands.

No, I didn't get to choose this home. I didn't get to go through the process of being a first-time home buyer. The excitement when you and your significant other are first handed the keys and sign the documents saying that this is "your house," I never experienced. But it's our first home, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

A special thank you goes to Compass for the inspiration to write this post. If you've never heard of them, they are a real estate platform that helps people find a neighborhood and apartment in New York that is right for them. Check out their Neighborhood guides here!

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