OUR FIRST HOME

Our cute little home! So many mimosas & silly stories shared on that porch.

We purchased our first home in October 2014. We had been casually searching for our first home for years but really starting taking it seriously that summer. The market in our area was crazy, we had 5 offers be outbid by other buyers and were feeling extremely discouraged. Only ever dealing with the financing aspect of the home buying process, I was totally not prepared for how stressful and crazy trying to find and buy a home can be.

We picked this house because it had tons of square footage, more than we thought we would ever fill. The home was built in 1979 and it was beautifully maintained, but incredibly dated. The entire home was painted the same almond color. I mean EVERYTHING, the walls, the ceilings, the light switch covers, the beautiful trim, casing and crown molding. Even the HVAC vent covers were painted “almond”. I can barely say that word around my husband anymore, he quivers. But it was our first home and we spent every weekend for months painting every inch of that house. It was worth it and it opened our eyes to DIY renovating.

The biggest changes we made to the home were replacing the flooring, remodeling the kitchen, and creating a mudroom.

 That open entryway was so welcoming. No front door congestion here!

That open entryway was so welcoming. No front door congestion here!

Our gorgeous mudroom. I'm so happy with how this project turned out!

The Kitchen

Our first kitchen renovation was the biggest project we had taken on yet. We had debated back and forth about what exactly we wanted to do for 2 ½ years before taking the plunge. I ended up designing the kitchen myself using the Ikea Home Planner. A slab of Virginia Mist Granite, Whirlpool Appliances and backsplash from Tile Shop rounded out the reno.

This kitchen table was a hand-me-down from my mother. Its from Three Chairs Co. in Ann Arbor. Its beautiful glass topped with metal frame. It will be a focal point and design inspiration in the new home. Chairs are from Joss and Main.

Click here to read about the details of our kitchen remod. 

We turned a tiny cramped kitchen into an open, chic space

 A little more perspective as to how everything fits together

A little more perspective as to how everything fits together

The "other end" of the kitchen. A little sneak peak into the family room too!

So much room for cooking activities!

Social Space

The formal living and dining room were always a tough design dilemma for me. The rooms are so rarely used. We did add a large gold vintage coffee table to the living room as a focal point and kept the rest simple to focus on the natural light and beautiful floors.

In the family room we switched out a large, dated wooden mantel for a sleek, limestone one. This allowed us to then mount the TV above the fireplace so it was no longer blocking sunlight from the windows. This is the room we spend the most time in so I wanted it to be comfortable.


The large sectional is a point of disagreement between my husband and I. He LOVES the thing. It is absolutely massive, at almost 10 feet in either direction, and as deep as a twin bed. It was the first major furniture purchase we made after getting engaged, and I haven’t been able to convince him it's time to retire it.

Since the couch was clearly staying, I lightened it up with lots of white and cream pillows, and added texture with throw blankets. My absolute favorite is this splurge from Anthropologie. I have it in blush. Light colored curtains that matched the rest of the first floor tied all the rooms together.

The formal living room. Anyone feeling the holiday spirit? 

 The formal dining area. I adore how the light falls into this room.

The formal dining area. I adore how the light falls into this room.

 The family room. Let's be real, this is the main gathering area.

The family room. Let's be real, this is the main gathering area.

Our beautiful family room fireplace.

LESSONS LEARNED

We learned so much renovating this house. I would like to say we will not make any of the same mistakes again, but I am sure we will. Like, I hate tiling. And we suck at it. But guess what? Here I am contemplating tiling the mudroom in the new house ourselves instead of hiring out.

Until we had our daughter, I had no idea how important a dedicated kid space is. Ideally, one that is behind a door and not in the middle of your family room (guilty).


I ended up having to make a lot of design decisions based on what I could hide toys in rather than picking pieces I really loved. Our 2nd home has an entire TV/Playroom that she can totally make her own and I can quickly hid by shutting the door.

Lastly, we learned that we just didn’t need this much space. I want a cozy, lived in, stylish home, and bigger isn’t always better. I felt pressured to design and decorate rooms I didn’t love or even use.

Photos by John Barnhart – The Packer Group
Sources for our first home: Floors done by 1 Wood Floors | Kitchen Cabinets from Ikea | Appliances from Whirlpool | Granite is Virginia Mist, installed by World Stone | Paint Colors are Polar Bear by Behr, Extra White by Behr, Silver Shadow by Behr, and Peppercorn by Sherwin Williams

FIRST HOME PROJECTS