Tuesday, September 13, 2016

First House! And What I've Learned So Far.

It's time for a major life event random blog update! 

Isaac and I bought a house! For those who didn't see that coming, we didn't either. ;) We'd been looking on Zillow for quite a while but were "waiting," and at the end of June we realized there wasn't really a good reason to wait, and within a few days of talking with a real estate agent, we had found a house and put in an offer. That was followed by a month and a half of inspections, back-and-forth between parties, and awkward pauses when we thought things might fall through. They didn't, amazingly, and we closed August 15 and moved in 3 weeks ago. What a whirlwind!

We decided to do some major projects right away. Here are some pictures of those projects, which are very much still in progress.

 Before--the turquoise wall with the door is going away.


After--looking the opposite direction, from kitchen into dining room into living room.

Getting rid of ridges where the kitchen cabinets were.

Removing shower sliding doors.

Taking out the bathroom vanity and fixing the wall.

Bare little bathroom!

I've learned quite a bit over the last couple months. Some takeaways:
  • Diving into something this big this quickly is not how I typically make decisions (I agonize over pros and cons FOREVER), but it has been healthy for me. I have felt open-handed and at peace for the most part, even though I'll panic occasionally. I've seen a lot of God's faithfulness in moving us forward into a new season.
  • "Home" is a painful concept for me, even 17 years after leaving Kenya. I've been feeling pretty content and settled in Spokane, and suddenly in leaving our apartment and moving to a strange new house with its strange smells and new neighbors and new responsibilities, I've been overwhelmed by the same feelings I had when we left Kenya--rootless, out of control, profoundly sad. Every time I walked back into our apartment to move something out or clean, I cried and couldn't imagine being safe or comfortable anywhere else, ever. This summer my parents also moved out of their house in Minnesota, the one I spent my high school years and college summers in, and that felt like a final closed chapter of life there, too--all contributing to these feelings of loss of home.
  • As I mentioned, it was a miracle that the house didn't fall through, for a lot of reasons (e.g. a VA loan, if anyone has had experience with those). Our realtor even said something to that effect when we signed the closing papers. We hear endless stories of frustrating or dead-end house buying processes, and we can't believe how smoothly our process went--totally a blessing, nothing we did or deserved.
  • We have to prioritize needs over wants. We need to stop pipes from leaking onto our kitchen floor and to make sure the furnace doesn't vent carbon monoxide into the house through the chimney. I want to buy an adorable loveseat from World Market and tablecloths and towels that don't clash with the colors of the walls. It's not "fair" or fun to spend money on the essentials, but it's just reality. And just being able to own a house is an incredible privilege. 
  • Though I have grand landscaping visions--replacing the lawn with a wide paver walkway and a xeriscape of local grasses and brush, putting in raised beds, building a compost bin, and decorating with patio furniture, lights, outdoor rug, windchimes, and a firepit--this first year I have to settle for simply not killing the plants. This is a huge task on its own, and within the first few days we already had wilted roses, bolted lettuce, weeds weeds weeds, and patchy overgrown grass. 
  • Every project is a million projects. "Taking down a wall" also includes moving electric wires and patching and finishing the ceiling, walls, and floor. It leaves a gap in the baseboards, two different ceiling textures, and a need to repaint everything. The bulky ugly cabinets that were partially attached to the now-gone wall might as well come down too. And by the way, now there's molding only in the kitchen, which is weird, so we need to take it out, patch the holes, and sand. And the tile backsplash thing has a cracked upper edge, so now we're learning how to do tiling. Finally, we're drilling a huge hole all the way through the siding and installing a range hood and then putting up new shelves. All because we took down a wall. These are things Fixer Upper didn't quite prepare us for.
  • I have learned how to replace a deadbolt, remove sliding glass shower doors, mud and sand drywall, use a drill, reprogram a garage door opener, reseed a lawn, and keep spiders out of the basement--that doesn't include all the stuff I've learned about and just helped with. When Isaac is at work (I'm off for Eastern's summer break), stuff is still getting done!
  • It is also good to know when to let an electrician, plumber, contractor, or chimney repair person do the work. Though even coordinating those schedules and having strangers in and out of your home every few days is exhausting.
  • Finally, I have learned that there are centipedes in Washington state. I won't tell you how I know this, because I still want you to visit us. ;) They don't bite like centipedes in Kenya or Hawaii! And they eat other bugs! Hooray for centipedes!


Kate said...

Best description of house ownership! It truly is a privilege but comes with loads of responsibility. Congratulations on the house & closing going smoothly! And yay for changing it how you want it upfront. :) Love the post.

Words Doctorate said...

So beautiful house..

Words Doctorate

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