Hello, dear friends!
Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for – I can finally spill the beans on our long-awaited move and our new home!
It’s been seven months since I first announced that we were planning to put our house on the market and make a move much closer to my husband Bryan’s job. Six of those seven months were spent wrapping up projects and then waiting, waiting, and more waiting for certain things to fall into place.
The last month was spent getting our house listed, being out of the house for a weekend of showings and an open house, taking offers, and house-hunting in the absolutely crazy Dallas-area market…
At first, we thought we had a home lined up before it even hit the market. It was owned by a family friend and in fact, was a house that Bryan and I consistently referenced as the kind of house we’d ideally love to find! It seemed like such perfect serendipity, but the timeline ended up not working out for us.
The moment I had the inkling that the first house might fall through, I was sending the address to our realtor of a home I had found online and had been pining over. It was built in the 70’s and was just dripping with vintage charm – I basically described it as my “dream house” to anyone who would listen…
Architectural interest with gorgeous wood paneling, vaulted beamed ceilings, an enormous leaded glass window, a super-retro circular fireplace in the center of the living room, and even a fun outdoor porch with skylights in the shade of a giant backyard oak tree.
We put in an offer immediately, did a little negotiating, and I was over the moon when our offer was finally accepted!
And then the home inspector walked us through the house delivering the bad news. All the bad news. It just piled on until it was almost ludicrous and I just wanted to stop him and say, “No more! Stop! You’re killing my dreams!”
Every last detail I loved about the place? A total disaster.
The gorgeous wood paneled living room was sinking in the corner, indicating foundation problems; the giant leaded glass window was bowing and in fact, air was blowing in and out of the house through the panes (and all the home’s windows needed to be replaced); the circular fireplace’s gas line was a terrifying fire hazard; the skylights were rotting out and leaking; the giant tree was causing foundation and roof issues…
There’s an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Marshall and Lily buy their first apartment, only to come to the shocking realization that the entire floor tilts at a crazy angle… The whole audience can see that the apartment floor is crooked, but it takes Lily a humorously long time to catch on to the fact.
Similarly, once the inspector was walking us through and pointing these issues out, they became glaringly obvious; laughably, embarrassingly so. We saw the tilt (literally, in the case of the living room), and I felt so utterly foolish for the heart eyes and naivety that blinded me to the house’s problems at first!
We knew to expect certain foibles with an older home – and we had even made our offer with necessary repairs in mind – but we absolutely couldn’t sink many tens of thousands of dollars into a place that was not priced to account for its issues. We walked [ran] away – at the same time we were accepting an offer on our house and setting a closing date!
In the end, we lost time and money on this house, but I consider the education we received from our home inspector well worth the expense. He took his time walking us through, explaining markers that indicated deeper problems, outlining issues that were easily solvable versus potential money pits. I pored over the inspection report and made mental notes of all the warning signs to watch for in the future.
When I hit the streets again that week with our realtor, my world view had completely changed.
Finding the perfect 70’s or Mid-Century Modern home has always been my dream, but in this area, in our price range, in our short time frame, those homes were either in need of a great deal of work or had been poorly redone by house flippers who wanted top dollar for their sloppy remodeling that often obliterated the very retro charm that I loved…
(Wow, I realize that sounds harsh, but seriously – we’re talking things like kitchen cabinets painted shut with flat paint. I was offended on that poor house’s behalf!)
The most promising homes turned out to be the ones I had tried so hard to avoid: North DFW’s stereotypical brick, 80’s & 90’s, planned subdivision houses. Not that there is anything wrong with this style of house! But historical details and architectural interest were calling my name and I was adamant: No 90’s tile! No bad oak! No bland box rooms!
But with our house’s closing date looming and homes going under contract left and right, we asked our realtor to take us to any and every home within our price range and Bryan’s desired commute.
All of the sudden, my list of desires pared themselves down:
- Functioning walls and a roof
- A quiet neighborhood
Sure, I was feeling the pinch of our time frame and a little desperate and disappointed, but the 70’s house experience had also caused me to do some definite soul searching on what we truly needed/wanted.
- Did we want to have to jump right into imperative repairs? Not really – I’d rather have extra pennies go towards decorating!
- Did we want to move further out to find my “dream house”, increasing Bryan’s commute? After he spent nine months averaging 3 hours per day in the car, that was a definite “no.”
- Did we want to start looking at smaller homes in our “dream neighborhood”? We hope this move will be long-term and that this is where we’ll raise our family, so square footage ultimately won out over vintage charm.
Just like in every romantic comedy, getting your heart broken by “the one” has a way of making you redefine “the one,” doesn’t it?
And you know what?
We walked inside this house with our realtor and just said, “Wow.”
It was absolutely nothing like my original vision for our next home, and yet it had so many other things that were perfect for us:
- A quiet neighborhood street with a garage behind at the alley. Our first home was on a pretty busy connecting street within our neighborhood, and the garage was front-facing. I never loved working in the garage with the door open because I felt like I was on display!
- Good schools.
- Space to grow.
- Beautiful interior light. Something I always missed at our first home.
- High ceilings. Another feature I always longed for. Plus, NO POPCORN CEILINGS! Amen, amen, amen.
- While it had been fixed up to sell, the changes were tasteful AND the kitchen had been left alone! I’ve always prefered to make my own kitchen selections.
- Smaller yard. Less mowing!
- Best of all, no major issues that required immediate repairs! We could move in and just settle.
As we walked through the house, we just kept repeating the phrase “blank slate.” It was just a totally empty (and structurally sound) canvas, sitting there waiting patiently for decorating and gathering and all the things I enjoy the most!
Now, when you walk into a house and go, “Wow!”, there are other people doing that too… Three different groups of people and realtors walked through during the thirty minutes or so we spent viewing the house, and it was a brand new listing!
It was a nail-biter. There was a deadline for highest and best offers and they ended up moving the deadline even earlier because the offers were just pouring in – we heard that the realtor (who was also the home owner) had a stack of offers so big she was dreading combing through them all!
In the end, ours wasn’t the highest (apparently there were some insane bids, you guys!), but in an event of such perfect serendipity we can only attribute it to God, it turns out that our realtor and the home owner both grew up in the same part of Venezuela! He told her we really loved the home and wanted to put down roots in the area, so when faced with such a daunting pile of offers, she pulled ours out of the stack and decided it was fair and she wanted us to have the house. You could have knocked us over with a feather when we heard that it had been accepted!
Of course, the chaos only intensified from there. In order to secure this house, we had offered an extremely quick closing, which brought a slew of unforeseen challenges. Just days before the closing (which I was actually out of town for, at a wedding), I stated to Bryan:
“This will either A) fall apart spectacularly ad it will be completely evident that it was 100% the wrong things, or B) it will all come together at the very last moment in such a crazy way we can only acknowledge that it was God.”
And as you can tell, it was the latter.
Just hours before the scheduled closing, everything finally fell into place and we acquired The Gathered Home 2.0!
Now, if you’ve been reading thus far (or skipping ahead for the photos, aka ‘the good stuff’), here you go… Before we moved any of our stuff in, I wanted to snap and “empty home tour” for your viewing pleasure!
One of my regrets as a newbie blogger when we bought our first home is that I didn’t take true “before” photos of the house, so I made certain to capture those this time around for future transformations and room reveals!
We’ve since moved in, bringing so much stuff and clutter with us, that everything looks completely different, but for now, let’s enjoy these serene, blank rooms and have fun filling them with imaginary splendor, shall we?
The home is all one story and has wonderful high ceilings. I’m already dreaming of fun front door colors (inside and out) and of course, a statement light fixture…
To the right as you walk inside are the “formal” living and dining areas…
Inside the front living room, looking into the dining room.
To the left of the front door as you walk in is one of the bedrooms/a study:
As you step inside and look into the rest of the house, you can see all the way through to the living room at the back:
The hallway on the right leads to the guest bathroom and two more small bedrooms.
Both the bedrooms look exactly the same – not a lot of interest in looking at a picture of an empty bedroom, right?
At the back of the house, there’s the kitchen on the left and the living room ahead.
The kitchen cabinets are deceptively tall – I need a step stool to reach the top two shelves! The laminate countertops have definitely seen better days, but I’m secretly glad they weren’t replaced with a certain ubiquitous granite pattern I have strong feelings about and that I can make my own remodeling choices down the road.
There’s a window seat bench that I’m so very excited about. And I just love that the kitchen opens to the living room!
When the room is empty, it’s hard to get an idea of scale, but the living room is a fantastic size and we love that it’s tucked away at the back of the house. The windows bring in so much beautiful light, it’s always just glowing.
Again, there’s a certain dramatic light fixture I’d love to acquire for this room, but the ceiling fan is proving to be extremely useful in this westward-facing room, so I might need to make a compromise on that front! Oh Texas…
Looking into the kitchen from the living room:
The laundry room is across from the kitchen and I’m so psyched that it has a door!
And then the master bedroom is just past the laundry room. You guys, it’s such a big room – much bigger than we even need or know how to use. I’m still trying to figure out where to put the bed in here.
Looking in from the doorway:
Another window seat at the end of the room. (Also I need to figure out a creative solution for covering that eyebrow arch window up top so the room can be truly dark at night!)
A recessed alcove between Bryan’s closet on the left and the doorway to the room on the right. For the bed? With wall mounted bedside shelves? Who knows…
And the master bathroom (no carpeting, yay!!!):
And you guys, perhaps something I am the most excited about… That is my very own closet there on the left that I get all to myself, and it is almost two stories tall!
So now you’ve seen our new home and I feel like I need to wrap this post up by sharing a few things…
As I was writing this post, I just felt a constant need to “check my privilege.” You guys, I’m so amazed and thankful we were able to find a home and afford a home in this new area – acknowledging that this beautiful home we ended up in isn’t my dream home just seems ungrateful!
At the same time, I wanted to be honest and share what was going on in my heart and mind throughout this process. It was a month of such chaotic personal growth and stretching and soul-searching, and I think I came out of it with a better understanding of home.
All this contemplation continually underscored the philosophy of gathering I’m always trying to nail down:
Make beautiful things with what you find. Allow your vision to be constantly reframed and refined. Pare your desires down to their very core and work towards those things. Balance contentment with resourcefulness. Be open to the beauty of serendipity.
It has been a wild ride.
Thank you for sticking around while I took a step back from posting to catch my breath! I’m truly looking forward to The Gathered Home 2.0 – more projects, more gathering, more heart and soul.