Last month, I shared that we bought our fourth house in 12 years and we couldn’t be more thrilled! What prompted the move after living in our last home for four years? Let’s go back in time a little bit.
Our first home that we purchased before we were married was a two-story, 2-bedroom, 2-bath home with one bedroom/bath on the first floor and the master on the second (see the photos here!) It did have a backyard, but it was literally right beside train tracks (it would shake our house every time one went by, but we got so used to it we hardly noticed, ha) and though it was in a trendy part of town, we knew it wasn’t a good fit for starting a family, so we listed it after four years. It felt more like an apartment since we basically only used the second floor. It sold in about two weeks on the market.
Our second home was a three-story townhome (shared a wall with one other unit – see the photos here! You can also see photos of it after we repainted it, here). There was a bedroom and full bath on the first floor, main living space, kitchen, dining, powder room and laundry on the second and two bedrooms on the third, including the master. Harper’s nursery was just down the hall from our room – it was perfect! When I got pregnant with Lincoln, we searched for a home that had all three bedrooms on the same floor with the main living space on the first floor. We listed our second home and it sold after about 3-4 weeks on the market.
That’s when we found our third house, a new build that was still in the framing stage – and bonus – it had a large game room on the third floor that served as a massive playroom for the kids!
Total side note: I went back and read my posts about our previous homes (a time when blog comments were still a thing), and wow, I was delighted to see how kind and positive people were. Sometimes when I look back on our first home I think “wow, those finishes were BAD!” but reading those comments made me reflect back on how important it is to be grateful for the things we had, even when it’s not the style we like or gravitate towards anymore. It made me realize that each home we’ve purchased has been a reflection of that time in our lives – representing what we could afford and were drawn to for our lifestyle.
Reading those comments also made me realize the dramatic impact both Pinterest and Instagram have had on our perceptions of what makes a home aesthetically pleasing. There was no Pinterest when we were in our first home and no Instagram until after we had lived in our second for about a year, I believe. It’s fascinating to me how much styles have changed since these two digital brands were created and, how in response to that radical shift, people’s perceptions and their subsequent comments about homes tend to be more critical. It amazes me to see comments from a decade ago saying my first home, with its cherry wood cabinets and granite counter tops was “beautiful,” when that same home today would likely be considered as needing a “gut remodel.” I have to acknowledge that even my own feelings about what constitutes a beautiful home have changed dramatically. With endless sources of inspiration on nearly every digital platform we visit daily, it’s hard not to be impacted by the amazing homes and designer-created rooms we now have access to. Anyway, this isn’t really the topic of this post, but I couldn’t help but add this observation here.
We enjoyed our third home over the last four years, but we always knew we’d only stay there about as long as the others. We didn’t have a yard, something we both wanted now that the kids are older and wanted a two-story home (the playroom we had was wonderful, but it became a drag to go up and down the stairs constantly and having that space feel so disjointed from the rest of the home).
We also realized that our main living space layout just wasn’t working for our family. I always made a joke that I could stand in one spot (in our front door/entry area) and touch our dining table, kitchen island and couch all without moving. Everything was just kind of…squished together. The photo below probably best captures that.
We had no entryway, so as soon as you walked into the home, you were basically standing in our living room and were greeted by the couch. A lot of homes in our area are built this way (where you walk directly into the living room), but after years of living with it, we knew we wanted a more linear layout versus the square layout we had in our third home. I also didn’t love the small flight of stairs that we had to go down each morning to go into our garage as we left for work/school. The home started to feel really small and dark, especially the first floor (main living space).
So, we started to look. We looked for almost a year, actually. We even put an offer in on a home we loved that was fully renovated and had a great yard (and a guest house which was kind of cool!) That house had a huge bidding war and ultimately we were glad we didn’t get it (it was small, had no extra space on the first floor, the master was dark and small and had tiny closets and no water closet in the bathroom, the laundry room was in the garage and the guest house, while awesome, didn’t give us the family room/playroom type space we wanted). It was stunning home though and I was truly sad when we didn’t get it at the time, but now I think we dodged a bullet – in fact, ten days before closing on our new home, the buyer of the home we lost the bidding war on was calling all of the people who made offers – there were over 10 – saying an “interesting turn of events happened” and they’re wanting to see if we still want the home. Red flags everywhere!
How We Found Our New Home
When I was in Toronto, Kevin texted me a listing that had just gone live and mentioned there was an open house when we got back. It was a new build so that immediately caught my attention.
We did not have a great experience with builders in our area during our home search. Most of them had zero flexibility in terms of choosing finishes that are important to me like tile, the color of hardwood, cabinetry, etc. I wasn’t willing to budge on those aesthetic things in a new build because those are things that are very costly to replace. We met with half a dozen builders and other than the totally custom ones (which ran upwards of $1.2 million, no thank you), none were willing to change any of the finishes at all. If we were going to move, we wanted floors, countertops and tile we loved – and most spec home builders just don’t offer that (understandably).
When I got home from Toronto, we went to the open house. The home had so much of what we wanted, but I must admit I felt discouraged, knowing that the builder would probably say “no” to every request I had to make the house look exactly how I wanted it to. The house was great in terms of layout and having a yard, but there were things I wanted to have total input on like extending the tile to the ceiling, adding cabinets to the ceiling, changing the size of the kitchen island, picking all tile in every room, etc.
We met with the home builder the next day and were blown away by them. We were speaking the same language. I asked about all of the changes I wanted and they said YES to everything. They even told me I could use their carpenter to create custom built-ins (I will publish another post soon with every single change we made to the home – it’s quite a long list!)
When we realized that this builder not only had a house with everything we wanted in terms of size, layout and yard, but that they’d also let us create a home that was aesthetically exactly what we wanted, we couldn’t sign on the dotted line any faster!
We ended up purchasing a home that had just completed the framing/exterior stage, so we were able to pick everything on the inside. The best part about this builder is that their “standard” finishes are the higher-end kind – all quartz counters, white oak floors, a super nice range, etc. They allowed me to upgrade some of our tile choices (I would literally send a photo from Pinterest and they sourced it for me and were able to install it). Many builders in our area don’t offer such nice finishes and upgrades unless it’s a custom home. In fact, we looked at many new builds that were super pricey, but the finishes we so basic/outdated/not what we wanted that we’d have to pour a ton more into it to make it a home we loved.
We are so excited to have a home with more space in the main living area, a great yard for the kids and a game room on the same floor as the bedrooms. What I love most about our new home is all of the natural light! Oh my goodness all of the windows make my heart sing!
The question I know I’ll be asked is “is this your forever home?” The answer is definitely not, because I very much love the process of building and designing. I’ve always believed that if it’s feasible/financially realistic for you, you shouldn’t wait to find a home that is a better fit for your family. We didn’t want to spend even another year or two in our last home wishing we had a yard or more natural light, when we knew we could make the move now. I look at each home we buy as an investment in our family life – and if it stops working for us, we move on. Plus, interest rates are so low right now, that it felt crazy NOT to move into a home that was a better fit for us.
I also get asked – isn’t it a drag to move all the time? Most people dread it, I know! I will not sugar coat it though – this move was much more draining than our last two, but ultimately, it was worth it. I wake up every morning and still can’t believe we get to live in our beautiful home!
Our new home has three bedrooms plus a game room and laundry on the second floor and each child now has their own bathroom which is a huge bonus! I dream of sleeping in on the weekends while the kids watch a show in the game room…TBD if that actually happens.
Our first floor has a (very small) entryway, powder bathroom and an open kitchen, dining and living room space. The main floor has a ton of windows and the living room looks out onto the small backyard (though, it feels huge to us given that we haven’t had a yard in 8 years). Our backyard has a 10 x 20 covered patio as well, which really excites me – I can’t wait to make a little living space out there with seating and more!
We have white oak floors throughout the entire home (save for bathrooms, which are tile), so I’m loving having a lighter overall look and of course, finding some incredible rugs! (I will share the exact brand and name of the floors we have in an upcoming post). Word to the wise: our dark hardwood floors in our last home were my biggest design regret. They show everything and are impossible to keep looking clean. I tell everyone building or renovating to never install dark hardwoods (ours were the “ebony” stain). Seriously – do not do it! We also have a driveway now, which has been a Godsend.
I can’t wait to share more about our building process, the design of each space and more!
How large is your new home?
It’s actually the same size as our previous home, square footage wise, but spread across two stories, instead of three, so it feels more open and spacious.
Did you buy before selling?
Yes! We were fortunate to be able to close on our new home before our previous one was sold (it was under contract, but hadn’t yet closed). We closed on our third home yesterday!
What are your paint colors?
The entire home (ceiling, walls and trim) are painted “Snowbound” by Sherwin Williams. The exterior is painted “Alabaster” by Sherwin Williams.
Are you hiring an interior designer?
I feel like I’ve found my style over the years and can execute it myself pretty well – but I do have some design-savvy friends that I ask for advice all the time! I would love to use a designer, but there are other priorities for the home right now (most designers have a minimum spend that can be in the tens of thousands).
In terms of the building process/design, I chose everything myself from paint, tile, fixtures, hardware, etc. I even had my builder source options for me that they don’t use in their other builds to make it as true to what I wanted as possible. I also had wallpaper and hardware installed after we closed that I selected myself. We still have to have our mirrors hung in all bathrooms, but it’s coming along.
What made you decide to move?
We wanted a different floor plan, two stories and a house with a yard! We also wanted a home with a different first floor layout and much more natural light.
How did you find your builder?
We met with several builders and we didn’t stop until we found a spec home builder who would let us customize the home. It is fairly rare to customize to the level that we did without actually building custom, but we got very lucky and it was such a fun process!
Is it bittersweet?
In some ways yes, because we made so many memories in our last home. BUT – we LOVE our new home so much. It just feels so much brighter, lighter, more spacious and makes us so happy. The layout and yard have been so fantastic for us all!
Is the style similar to your old home?
The layout of our new home is quite different and the finishes are nicer, but the décor will be very similar – I spent the last four years investing in versatile, quality pieces that would follow us to our next home. We do have to purchase some new furniture – and it’s a very fun process (albeit, I’m having a little design burnout so I’m giving myself a few weeks off before I start sourcing things like furniture and window treatments).
What are you doing for window treatments?
We will likely do a combination of woven bamboo shades and curtains and possibly roman shades in some areas. This is on my to-do list, but for now, we are just using suction cup hooks on our windows so we can sleep, haha 🙂 Window treatments can be costly, so it’s not something we are rushing!
How will you decorate your new home?
It will be a combination of things we already have and a few new items, but overall, I have a very bright and airy aesthetic and can’t wait to bring that to life in this space.
We have completely unpacked our home, but there is still so much to do – now is the fun part where we decide how to arrange furniture, where to hang art, mirrors, etc.
Where did you get your master bathroom wallpaper?
You can find our Watelet black and white floral wallpaper, here. You can call or email them to order and it ships from the UK. If you are local, I’m happy to share my wallpaper installer’s info with you. I love this design because it’s bold and in person, the flowers look like they’re sketched with pencil – I adore it!
Have a great week!