I wanted to own a home for a long time. I remember saying to my roommates in college that I would own a home in 2 years (or something like that). They laughed and probably thought I was weird because they weren't really into that at the moment but for some reason I was! I don't remember exactly when that was, but Dan and I were able to purchase our first home in November 2009.
lived in a crappy basement apartment for a few months to save money and
after about 2 months of looking, we finally found a house we loved. The
whole process was (and continues to be) a huge learning experience. We
wish there was a book or something to tell everyone exactly what to
expect and what to do during the process, but we figured it out
ourselves! Here are some things we have learned:
1. Buying a
house is not like House Hunters. At least not for us. Not at all. I wish
Sandra Rinomato from Property Virgins was our realtor though. She seems
2. Planning is everything. Plan your budget and prepare for everything-especially unexpected costs (monthly and moving).
Realize that you are going to have to make some sacrifices to get what
you want (unless you're a millionaire or something). We ended up getting
an awesome house for a great deal, but we had to live a little further
away from the freeway than we originally wanted. It turns out, we love
being out there!
4. Look past paint and dirt. Our home was
pretty filthy, the yard was a disaster, and the paint colors were
horrendous (hello Christmas colors everywhere...). I barely noticed it
because I loved how much space there was, how open things were, and I
couldn't wait to paint and clean it up to make it mine! It was
definitely worth it to us to have to scrub the house from top to bottom,
paint every wall, and put a lot of work into the yard (among other
things) in order to get this great house. Think about what is important
to you and go from there.
5. Make sure you set up all your utilities. If you forget and don't pay them, you will regret it.
Don't buy a house you can't afford. Luckily we didn't do this, but it's
still really hard to see that big chunk of change leave our account
every month! We are pretty tight with our budget and we made sure before
buying that we could comfortably afford the mortgage every month. We
didn't want to be house poor and give up eating out once in awhile and I
wanted to be able to still buy cute things for the house and not live
in destitution. Decide what is worth it to you to sacrifice and don’t
buy something you can’t afford.
7. The best way to kill mice is
with the cheap snap traps. Also-find out how they are getting in the
house and prevent it so then you will just have to kill the ones that
are hiding in the house already! Yuck!
8. Doing things yourself
is almost always cheaper and definitely more rewarding! We have done
some updates to the house that we are pretty proud of, but we definitely
have a lot more planned for the future! I will continue to add links to
this page with photos of each room that we have made changes to.
Hopefully I will also get some better pictures of each space. Slowly but
9. Newly added: Although we love our home and are
glad we bought it, if we were to do it again or give advice to someone
else, we would definitely recommend saving at least 20% down. It seems
impossible and crazy, but it's not at all and if you don't have the
money, you shouldn't buy a house! It's pretty simple. So many people get
in over their heads or take 100% or 99% loans and I think it's a huge
mistake. We have changed our outlook on finances and we are committed to
staying out of debt (except for a house) and paying cash for
everything. This includes putting at least 20% down on our next home
the yard, put in flower beds and removed most of the nasty weeds. I have
since removed the glass door and painted the front door black.
also added a gravel parking strip on the side of the house. There were
no sprinklers over there so we didn't have much choice, but eventually
we want to add cement instead.
was a huge pit in the backyard that was teeming with weeds, rats, mice,
a Christmas tree, and who knows what else. Dan is amazing and cleared
it out and with the help of his brothers, they put in this great fire
pit. We use it a lot and love having fires out there, and we have also
planted some trees.
For more before and after pictures, check out this post.
took off the heavy glass door and painted the front door black. I also
added the vinyl letters and spray painted the hardware. These pictures
are during the fall.
I still really want to add a rocker, get a new light fixture, and add some plants and decor to the porch. I will probably take off the vinyl lettering soon since I’m kind of over that already.
for the terrible pictures...I'm not a photographer and there is no
natural light in this small space! I painted the walls a color called
Porpoiw3 which is a really pretty gray. We added crown molding, some new
hardware, accessories, and framed the mirror with molding.
laundry room is small, but I painted it a gorgeous blue color and put
in double cabinets that I painted white and added beadboard wallpaper to
the front along with new knobs. We added a bar to hang clothes and a
sweet contraption to hang brooms and mops. I also put up some vinyl
letters, an ironing board hanger, and a window covering.
For more before and after pictures, check out this post.
master bedroom is still a work in progress but so far we love it. It
took a lot of time and work but it turned out great. I re-painted all
the walls and made a stencil and stenciled one accent wall.
also made the upholstered headboard, curtains, made over a chair,
painted and updated the nightstands, as well as a few other DIY
To see more before and after pictures of our master bedroom, click here.
I framed out the kitchen island and painted it white. We also put in new flooring (by we I mean Dan and his awesome family).
We put in new floors and so far we love them! More information on the floors here.
re-painted this dresser and we use it as our T.V. stand. I love the
storage and the stencil on top is my favorite! Read about it here.