Last week I talked about the process of buying our first house. Today, I’ll share how we’ve started making this place our own.
As I had mentioned in that previous post, the house itself was structurally sound, and Brandon and I liked the overall layout. Although it’s about the same square footage as our old apartment, the high ceilings in the living room, large windows, and open layout of the living room/kitchen area make it feel more spacious. Since there’s no staircase to consume square footage, there’s more space for the remaining rooms. There’s also a lot of storage built into the house, which means less clutter and more openness. It’s been especially noticeable in the kitchen, where I’m able to keep our ample spice collection in a pantry rather than on the countertop.
That said, there were things we didn’t like, beginning with the carpet. I’ve never been an avid fan of wall-to-wall carpeting because it always looks terrible after a few years of use, but I’ve come to loathe it during our time at the Pointe. Beyond aesthetics, one of our cats, Iris, has developed asthma within the last year, and while the carpeting at our old place didn’t cause her condition, it certainly hasn’t helped it. Brandon and I knew from the outset of the home-buying process then, that any place we bought would have no carpeting, whether it came that way or we removed it.
We also decided that we wanted to repaint the house before we moved into it. The previous owner had it painted in various shades of pastel, hues that emulated the overall light-filled appearance of the house. We actually didn’t mind the yellow in the living room, as it amplified the morning sunshine that poured into the space. The minty green that covered the rest of the house, however, was almost the exact same shade my grandparents had used in their bathroom, and while I cherish their memory, I don’t share their aesthetic. Even if I did, Brandon and I wanted to make this place ours, and repainting would be one of the quickest and most dramatic ways to initiate that.
Before we moved in then, we replaced the flooring and repainted, as both projects would be easier to complete while the house was unoccupied. After getting overwhelmed with the thousands of paint colors available to us, we chose a preassembled collection of samples to make the selection process easier. We opted for the collection called “Global Spice” because we enjoyed its saturated palette. After years of living with white walls and beige carpet, we liked the idea of painting each room a different, striking color. On a personal level, the hues also reminded us of New Mexico, which is where we met, started dating, and first moved in together.
We did the painting ourselves, as years of working in museums has made us pretty efficient at patching walls and repainting. Brandon removed any remaining hardware in the walls (which, he observed, had not been installed especially well) and patched all the holes with spackle and drywall. In terms of paintings, I handled the trim while Brandon did most of the roller work. Because my schedule was more flexible, I also repainted smaller rooms such as the bathrooms, as a lot of it had to be done with brushes anyway due to the presence of cabinets and appliances. I also repainted the kitchen cabinets so that they would harmonize better with the house’s new palette.
While we did the repainting ourselves, we opted to have the flooring installed for us because we’d never done it before and didn’t want to mess it up. After getting a few price estimates, we opted for laminate flooring because it was the least expensive option while still looking nice and being durable. We went with a darker color called Toasted Chestnut because we wanted a contrasting hue from the engineered wood in the entry. Since we figured we’d have a hard time matching it, we decided it’d be easier to go with a different color altogether. On the day the flooring was installed, I was on-site to let the workers into the house and be available to answer any questions. They did a terrific job, finishing everything in under five hours.
Once the flooring was finished, we started moving. Since the semester was nearly over and I had no impending deadlines that I hadn’t already met (this whole process would have been a lot more challenging if I were still in coursework), I was able to focus on moving during the day, while Brandon brought over things in the evenings after he got off work. I began with my books and bookshelves because I knew they would be the heaviest things to move on my own and wanted to get them out of the way. Then I took on the kitchens and bathrooms, again because my schedule was more flexible, and I knew I’d have more time to work on the shared living spaces. I set up both rooms as I went, putting away plates, appliances, and other equipment as I brought them over. Once I got these spaces set up, I moved over all my clothing and got it organized. On Christmas Day (we more or less skipped the holidays to focus on the house), Brandon’s cousin drove up with a trailer and we moved over all our big furniture. After that, it was a matter of going back for all pictures, mementoes, and other random items that always reappear when you’re moving. We also sorted through our things as we packed, eventually donating about a car’s worth of items to Goodwill.
As is always the case with home ownership, we’ve got an ongoing list of projects to keep up busy, from getting a new stove to replacing the hanging light fixtures (Brandon kept walking into them, an issue he regularly experiences as an unusually tall person). We’re still hanging pictures, and I’ve got plans for new paintings to decorate the bedroom and other spaces. We’ve also started looking into ways to refresh the front garden, and I’ve been researching container gardening for the back patio.
Yet this place already feels like home. We’re excited with how dramatically the changes we’ve made have transformed this space, making it more reflective of us and our interests. The cats appreciate the windows and new places to explore, and Iris’s asthma has improved significantly. Since moving in, she’s gone from having multiple coughing fits per day to one mild coughing bout every couple of days, and from needing her inhaler every couple of hours to almost never needing it at all. That alone has made the move worth it.
Overall, I’d say our quality of life has gone up since moving in. It’s involved a lot of labor, money, and stress, but we’re also happy to be starting this new chapter of our lives together. Buying a house wasn’t exactly on our radar when we started 2021, but it was a hell of a way to finish it.