Our Home

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.
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We 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 pretty awesome.
2. Planning is everything. Plan your budget and prepare for everything-especially unexpected costs (monthly and moving).
3. 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.
6. 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 surely... 
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 (hopefully more).
The Yard
 
We reclaimed 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. IMG_3962IMG_5694
We 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.
 
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There 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.
Front porch:
I 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.

Half bathroom:
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Sorry 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:
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The 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.
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For more before and after pictures, check out this post.
Master bedroom:
Our 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.
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I also made the upholstered headboard, curtains, made over a chair, painted and updated the nightstands, as well as a few other DIY projects.
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To see more before and after pictures of our master bedroom, click here.

Master Bathroom:
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Entryway/Stairway:
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Kitchen:
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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).
Family room:

We put in new floors and so far we love them! More information on the floors here.
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I 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.
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