Friday, April 27, 2012

Does the house make the home?

Let’s be honestwe’ve moved around.  We purchased our first house a year after we got married.  We were 22.  We left that first house for a condo in Chicago.  Next, we moved home to Kalamazoo to the house we planned to call homeforever.  It was everything we thought we wanted in a house.  We were both working and didn’t want to wish for bigger laterso we bought big.  As a married couple with no kids, the house begged for kids to fill a few bedrooms.  Sowe did just that.

What I don’t think either of us anticipated was my desire to stay home with the kids, at least part-time.  I was so set on my career; there was no way I thought I would ever want to stay home.  I had planned to continue my cruise up the corporate ladder.  I wasn’t sure how, but I was confident that I would find a way.  (You can read more about my decision here.)  SoI went part-time.  AND yes, we were living in a Nicole needs to work full-time house.  Yet, our priorities had changed.  We put the house on the market.  I’m sure you are thinking – in the crappy market that we have had the last few years after purchasing in the height of the housing bubble!?!?  The answer is yes.  Our priorities had changed and we were willing to lose some money if it meant we could fulfill this master plan of my working part-time.

It took a long time to sell.  Honestly, it sucked.  It took So. Many. Showings.  We were the masters of showing.  We lived with most pictures in boxes, every closet clean, and the constant phone calls to leave the house yet again because this couple who has already seen 100 houses from Mattawan, Michigan to Gull Lake, wants to see your houseTODAY.  The kids and I were regulars walking the aisles at Target.  Wasting time.  Then, we would get the report back from our realtor that they loved the house, but our dog bowl wasn’t filled with water, or there was one weed in the yard.  I’m kiddingsort of.

When you want to sell a house, the faults and things you don’t like about it become more obvious every day.  In fact, they glare at you.  They rub it in your face that you have not sold the house yet.  What was once a gorgeous great room with 25 foot ceilings and a fireplace expanding the whole height of the house becomes a central hub where the TV is too loud for the kids sleeping on the half-story above and heating 25 foot ceilingsis just a waste.  The Brazilian cherry floors that I loved when we bought the housebecame a falling hazard since our master suite was on the main floor and I would have to venture upstairs at night to check on the sleeping kids (let’s be totally honest here – I fell down the stairs in this house several times. Many of which can’t be blamed on the late night hours.)  The drive for Ben to work (45 minutes) was a frustration as he would get home so close to the kiddos’ bedtimes.  At least finding fault in our former dream house was a great way to prepared us for a move. 

Eventually our house did sell.  Finally.  We packed up and were out in less than a month.  We were free!  We could search for a house in an area more centrally located between our work, in a school district we preferred, and franklycheaper.

We did find a house.  No, check that.  We found a home.  Our home.  A home that was so much homier than our old house could ever aspire to be.  It had everything I could have ever asked for our family.  In fact, despite spending a lot less on this house, we even gained some features in the move. (Hello! Two walk-in closets in the master bedroom means never having to see Ben’s clothes on the floor in my closet again!)  Certainly, there was some dated wallpaper, lovely pink countertops and blue backsplash in the kitchen, and awesome blue carpet in the entire second floor.  All of that could be fixed (and has been – eventually I will get to posting before and after pics of the kitchen!).  We had the opportunity to make this house our own.  Everything wasn’t already perfect when we moved inwe could make it better.  Room by room, we have stripped wallpaper, painted, and given the house the look that we want with our own love and sweat.  Most importantly, we gained the solid option for me to continue to work part-time.  

The house feels right.  You just know it when you know it.  Tucked into a wooded neighborhood, I can see Gull Lake from my kitchen window.  We share our property with deer, fox, rabbits, and other animals that eat my plants.  There is a tree out front planted in memory of my Grandma.  The unfinished basement has become a place for bike riding, pop-a-shot, hopscotch, and any other activity the kids want to dream up.  The basketball hoop in the driveway has the tiny handprints in the concrete of both kids from last summer.  My running routes include gorgeous views of the lake.  Somehow, with all of the same furniture from our last house, our house feels like it was made for us in a way that our last house just never did.

The bottom line iswe found a house that fits our family and our life well.  It makes us happy.  Sure, we don’t live in the house that I brought both babies home from the hospital and that is a little sad.  The kids don’t go to bed in the hand-painted nurseries that we made for them before birth.  I’m okay with it.  I love this house and my time home with them is worth more than any bedroom.  Both kids love their new rooms, anyway.  They got to pick the décor and that makes it special to them. 

No matter where we are, as long as we are together, we are a family.  Yet, I honestly think, this house just brings us the home that we needed.  We are happier here.  I look forward to hosting Myles and Jillian’s graduation open houses here.  I really can envision us staying here forever.  I like that feeling.  It’s like putting on a pair of sweatpants after a long day.  It feels like home.


  1. LOVE IT(and you of course:) me a little hope and motivation to leave our dream house by the ocean and be in a tiny apartment...for now.

    1. Shelly, you have such an amazing adventure ahead of you! It will all be so worth it. :). Xoxo


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