The same goes with my very first apartment as a new bride. While I've always had an interest in houses and design, options were limited to magazines and...no, that was pretty much it. We lived in an apartment complex on the outskirts of a major city, perfect for my new husband's commute, and I marveled at all 560 square feet of because it was our very first home. I can remember each and every piece of furniture we purchased for that space, each thing brought from my childhood home as well as from my husband's. It all meant something to us. (I don't have pictures to share because I honestly don't have pictures. So sad!)
I can also remember that if I stretched out my arms while standing sideways in our kitchen, I could touch a wall with each hand.
But teensy kitchen or not, our time there was shorter than we'd planned, and we somehow found ourselves blessed beyond our wildest imagination when we moved into a brand new house just a few miles from the apartment. This was truly our first space that we were actually able to change things, however we wanted to. Even when, maybe, we shouldn't have. ;)
I recall purplish paint colors, stenciled ivy above the cabinets, blue carpets galore, and a new mishmash of furniture. With more than twice the space, and more than half of it completely empty, the temptation to fill in won out and we wasted money on lots of things for a few years. To say it got worse before it got better is probably the understatement of the decade. But...we perfected our painting and woodworking techniques there, learned the value of neutrals as well as the benefit of waiting for things and choosing them wisely. We pulled up our sleeves and stained the deck, installed a brick walkway, and learned the hard way that mulching an area does not magically keep the grass from growing back up. That's where I also perfected the art of constructing a rock wall and a plant bed and discovered the importance of light. We began our traditions and rituals there, many of which remain to this day, such as our Saturday morning brunch.
At the time, I felt like I'd won the lottery when it came to our new spacious kitchen! Soon after, we painted the walls a purply-pink, stenciled some ivy leaves, AND added botanical tiles as a mini back splash.
It's nearly impossible to tell in the photo, but there it is. Who cares anyway when you see that adorable little baby Ethan?!?!?
Apparently, I was all about interesting window coverings, too. I made every single curtain, valance, and other that we hung on the windows there.
Not long after I discovered my love of having a bureau in the dining room. Never mind the bright blue carpet or the Las Vegas looking glass pendant chandelier. Or the unfortunate pistachio green color I painted on the poor bureau.
I still try to have something green and alive in every room of our home.
I'm not intentionally using all these pictures with my cute baby, but back then, it wouldn't have even dawned on me to take a picture of the new brick walkway we installed...unless there was a cute baby in the photo.
During nap times I perfected the art of rock wall building. Or something like that. Fast forward fifteen years, and I'm still smitten with 'em.
Our walls remained bare for quite some time between both my fear of commitment and fear of holes in the walls. With Baby #2 on the near horizon, I got over it. I forgot about that shelf until I just saw this photo! We put another one up in the dining room and it looked gorgeous. Sometimes you just gotta take the risk!
Here we are saying goodbye to our first home, the place where I brought two of my beautiful babies into the world.
In thinking back to our humble first apartment, there really were lots of options in terms of putting our stamp on the space had we lived there longer. At the end of the day, an apartment or house doesn't become a home because of what you put on the walls or how you decorate; it becomes home because of the people who live there.
We have been really fortunate to have worked with several real estate professionals who have become our friends, and their expertise and insight in finding just the right situation for us was invaluable. But we've heard the horror stories, too. It is so important to work with someone who listens to your needs as well as your wants, and can truly help you navigate the often-bumpy real estate road. I'm sharing this story with Compass as part of their new series called Starter Stories. They can help people find just the right space in bigger metropolis areas, which can be extremely daunting, and have launched a new platform for New York City housing; you can find it here.
Everybody deserves a place to call home. Whether you want to roll up your sleeves and get to work (and gain some valuable experience!), or simply walk through the door and hang up your keys, there's the perfect place out there waiting for you to find.
If you'd like to see how we've transformed the house we're currently living in, click here and here, and be sure to check out the different rooms listed in the sidebar. Thanks for reading!