Our house has felt like our home since the first day we spent in it. We woke up after the first night and there was no strangeness, no questioning of where we were. Even the Munchkin seemed all right with it. Success! But, there's a lot of work that needs to go into really making your own home, even when you know you've found the right place.
|Can you guess where the china|
We're not starting with anything major, just some paint. Painting the walls before we get completely settled is one thing we agreed on. If we waited, it would just be more of a hassle because we'd have to move furniture around, take pictures off the walls, etc. Best to it while we still have very little furniture to be moved, and nothing on the walls. It's also summer right now and we wanted to take advantage of being able to open windows and have the walls dry quickly. One of our friends, who has a background in design, offered to help us and that's been a major boon since I'm not supposed to paint while pregnant. (I'm actually kind of bummed about that. I like painting!)
One of my favorite changes so far is that we let the Munchkin pick out the color she wanted in her room, so that she would feel ownership over it. She hasn't gotten to experience that over the last two years in my parents' house, with us constantly having to tell her, "That's not yours, please don't play with it." It's important to us that she feel like this room is really hers, somewhere she can be comfortable, and it's working. She likes to tell people all about her new room, with its purple and blue stripes, and the pictures we're going to hang on the walls. She has a bedroom set that belonged to my grandfather when he was a little boy, so there's a bit of family history too. She even plays quietly in her room occasionally!
I won't detail everything we've done or will be doing, because that's boring. As we've gone along, though, it's made me realize how much I loathe shitty DIY. I respect DIY, it's obviously something we also do, but if you're going to do something then you should do it properly. Don't cut corners. Either you or someone else will just have to re-do it later on down the road and that's such a waste of both time and effort.
|"I'm sure I'll hit the stud at some point."|
- Person who drilled here, probably
On the other hand, if they'd done a good job then this house likely would have been out of reach for us. It's amazing how many people can't look past a bad coat of paint to the possibilities underneath. We decided that our house was a good deal because so much of the major work has already been done. There are new windows, for the most part, and carpet was torn up to reveal the original wood floors beneath. These are just two examples of the many things that were done well in our house, and they're far more expensive and more work than a few coats of paint.
We have a few more projects slowly getting done or on the list. One of my amazing and wonderful brothers volunteered to take the popcorn off the two ceilings which had it. This is another task that I can't do, because the popcorn possibly contained asbestos. My brother has to wear a breathing mask and he's been going at times when the Munchkin and I wouldn't be around to breathe the dust. I'm so grateful for all the work he's putting into our home, which he's basically doing just because he's a really nice guy.
Making a house into a home you're proud of doesn't require a ton of money, just some careful thought and planning. We have bigger plans for later on, things to make the house suit us even better or to make it more efficient. For instance, one project for this fall is to put more insulation in the attic, where it's rather thin. I imagine we'll also go around with a thermal detector to figure out where to do air sealing work. Eventually, we want to get a programmable thermostat, and we've already begun replacing some lights with LEDs. These are not particularly costly fixes and they'll pay us back in the long term. Anything more major can wait until our lives aren't quite so stressful and busy. (That time will come, right?)
|I managed to get porch, hammock|
trees, and paw prints all in one.
The secret way we frugalized buying a house in Seattle
The one feature of our house that not everyone knows is that it has an apartment in the basement. There's a second kitchen, and two large rooms (plus bathroom) that can be easily separated from the rest of the house and rented out. A mother-in-law apartment like this was something that we had thought of when we were talking over house features we wanted in our home. It was a feature that ended up on the "would be nice but not necessary" list, in part because we figured that finding a house in our price range that included one was a bit of a pipe dream. Nope!
Our goal in life is not to become landlords. We're not going to start buying up properties to rent out. However, having this area to help offset the cost of our mortgage somewhat will be quite nice. I had originally thought that, should a family member need it, it would be nice to be able to offer a place to stay that had some separation. (My full thought was that if my dad needed it after my mom passed away, it would offer him independence but would also keep him close. Obviously, that's no longer a concern.)
I also like the efficiency aspect to it, since our house would be far too large for our needs without it. The same day we looked at this house we saw another one that was similar, it just didn't have the apartment. We really liked that house too and talked about putting an offer on it, but we would have been paying just as much mortgage-wise on that house, without being able to get any money via rent.
We won't be charging maximum rent for the space, since it's more important that we have a friend in there, someone we can trust, someone we get along with, rather than squeezing every penny we can out of a stranger. We had a few people in mind and, luckily, the first friend we talked to was excited about it. I won't talk about him much, if at all, for his own privacy, but we've met a few times to talk about expectations and this sounds like this will work out well for all of us. He gets to pay less in rent and we get not only a little bit of money to help offset the cost of our mortgage but also someone we can trust.
He hasn't moved in yet, because the apartment has the other ceiling with popcorn. We want to get that taken care of before he moves in so that we don't have to upset his life to take care of it later on, or make him live with asbestos. I'm genuinely excited to have him move in, however, and a bit anxious to move forward with this. We haven't gotten to see this particular friend nearly as much as we would like to since we moved down here. We have set up boundaries so that we won't be hanging out with each other constantly, but it will be nice to at least say hi in passing and to easily hang out when we all feel like it.
We are also going to be renting out a room to my brother. Well, "renting". He needs to go finish his epic around the world bike tour, but when he comes home we've promised him a room. We're working out a deal where, for at least a few months, he lives here free in exchange for some childcare. This would allow him time to get some personal projects and other things done, and it would help us out of a bind.( The Munchkin's preschool hours don't quite fit with my work hours.) We'll see how things shake out, but I'm also excited to have my brother with us. We get along quite well so I'm not worried that we'll cause a family rift or anything. And, my daughter thinks the world of her uncles. Having one of them around full time, which she's used to at this point, will help ease the upcoming transitions.