Our “Starter” Home 3 Years Later

Last week our dishwasher finally kicked the bucket… more like filled the bucket I guess. It still washed and rinsed and made a racket, but those functions became accompanied by a giant puddle in the kitchen floor. We had no idea how old the dishwasher was, but we finally pulled the trigger on replacing the last major appliance in our house. (The LAST one guys! No more hand-me-down appliances!)

We just passed the 3-year mark on signing our names on all of the paperwork required to make our house well… ours. And becoming landlords for a couple of months. Which makes today a great day to participate in the Starter Stories project that Compass is doing. Compass is a technology-drive real estate platform that aims to make buying, selling or renting a home (in New York City or D.C. so far) intelligent and seamless. I think they should branch out to Cleveland.

Brad and I marveled over the quietness of our new stainless steel Whirlpool and the length of time that we’ve actually been homeowners. When we bought this house, we bought it with an 8-10 year plan and a desire to do very little work to it. [And God laughed.]

We set out to buy our first home when we were approaching our first wedding anniversary and we had a reasonably clear idea of what we wanted. First and foremost was that we didn’t want a stereotypical “starter home” or “fixer upper.” We wanted 2-3 bedrooms, a 2-car garage and move-in ready. That’s truly what we got in this house. Everything we’ve done to it was to make it ours, or fix something that broke… like an 18-month-old water heater.

Having something that I can really leave my mark on has been important to me. I’ve mentioned before that by the time I had turned 18, I’d had 12 addresses. From 18 to buying our house at 23, I’d lived in different campus housing, apartments and rentals, and for a few periods of time with relatives. There were very few addresses that I’d had that I could really make any space my own, especially when I shared a room with my sister for 16 years. There was one room growing up that I got to make exactly my way.

Our journey to make our home ours started with a grill. We were still landlords and Brad found an amazing grill on an incredible sale, so we bought it and had nowhere to put it. For two weeks, I drove around with a grill in my car until we had keys. The journey really started with paint though. We painted every room that had carpet in it. We painted without drop cloths because the carpet (installed the same year we were born) came up next.

Out with the old carpet.

The grill that started it all

A transformed dining room. [Click picture for blog]

Back entry. [Click picture for blog]

With new paint, carpet, washer and dryer in, we moved ourselves in next. Then brought home two cats.



The rest of the process was slower. We put in railings on the front steps when our insurance said we had to. We replaced the fridge, then our water heater imploded, next was the stove and a ton of plumbing work including a new garbage disposal and bathroom faucet. Then we tackled the kitchen look and both bathrooms, refreshing them with new paint and flooring.

Main bath makeover. [Click picture for post]

Harry Potter Bathroom [Click picture for post]

With what seems like a lot of changes being made to the house, we like to talk about the things we wouldn’t ever want to change… namely it’s charm. The cove ceilings, the twin-sized bed platform in the attic, the weeping cherry trees out front… and the red front door.

Even though we’re already talking about things we want in our next home (attached garage, main-floor bathroom), we will always love this one as our first home.

 What did you love most about your “starter” home or first place of your own?

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