We bought our first house in the fall of 2009. We searched forever for a house that fit our budget and ended up with a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 1000 sqft house in Jenison. We definitely weren’t *in love* with it, but it fit us for where we were at in life and the area was good. It needed a lot of work and we spent 5 years completely re-doing everything. We changed every single light fixture, all the flooring, painted every room, renovated the bathroom. Everything. Every time we did a project we swore at the previous owners for half-assing their work before us, making every project one hundred times harder for us. Seriously. The proper way to install a light fixture is NOT (I repeat, NOT) to just secure it to the ceiling with four layers of paint and no screws. Just in case anyone was wondering… Don’t do it.
I have lots of before and after pictures, but I’ll have to post them later because they are hard to find… Seriously, Laura, get it together and store your photos in an organized manner….
About two years after we moved, the AMAZING historic home across the street from us (which had been for sale for two years) had an estate sale. I (and probably everyone else in the area) went for the sole purpose of looking at the inside of the house. I don’t need your crap, I just want to wander around your home. I fell in love. LOVE. I made Derek go back with me later that day and we pretended to shop but we were actually just falling in love with the house. We contacted our realtor and ended up putting in an offer. But since we had our house, it had to be contingent on us selling. They accepted our offer and we put our house on the market. I spent forever on Pinterest looking at home decor pictures. I saw us living in that house. It was ours. OURS. You couldn’t have convinced me otherwise. After all, it was on the market for TWO years. Then my world collapsed. Another family put in an offer and it wasn’t contingent. Our offer was taken off the table and we lost it. Who knew you could be so emotionally attached to something that wasn’t even yours. I cried and glared out my front window (because yes, you could see it from our living room, to add insult to injury) at the new owners as they got inspections, moved in, and lived in MY HOUSE. My house. After a while, reality set in and we came to the acceptance that we wouldn’t be living there. If you ask Derek about that, he will tell a different story (“I told you I would buy that house for you. I never gave up. You gave up.” – This is Derek’s reality). Because seriously, who buys THIS house and doesn’t live there forever. Crazy people (just kidding, Matt and Katie – if you ever happen to read this!).
We knew that we wouldn’t be able to live in our house much longer, but pretty much made the decision that we would stay until we had a second kid. We’d stay there long enough until our second baby didn’t need to sleep in our room anymore. But we knew that if we wanted a historical home with lots of character we couldn’t live in the area of Grand Rapids that we wanted. Jenison and Hudsonville are newer areas with lots of ranch style homes or new builds. Those are OK, but not the kind of home I saw myself living in forever. I knew that I would always dream of having a cool old house with wide, wood trim and character.
THEN! When Alice was about 8-9 weeks old, someone stopped at our house. We were in our pajamas (hello 10-12 week maternity/paternity leave!) sitting around watching TV. Derek went outside to talk to this guy I have never seen before. When he came back in, he told me that it was the people who bought our dream home. He said that they wanted to move and knew that it was our DREAM HOME (yes, he used those words!) and wanted to offer it to us before he put it on the market. WHAT?! NO. WAY. We went to look at it the next week to make sure we still wanted it and talk with the family (who are amazing people, by the way, and I feel guilty about how much I hated them for buying *our* house). They needed to move by the end of the summer because of issues related to their children. They shared the circumstances related to them buying/selling, which made me feel EVEN MORE guilty about being so upset they bought it. I won’t share their story because it’s not my story to tell, but it made my heart hurt for them.
We put our house on the market and by the end of the week we had an accepted offer. It’s so amazing how life works sometimes. Our house sold to a wonderful girl who wanted it the last time we had it on the market. She told us how disappointed she was when we took it off the market and how excited she was when we put it back up two years later. It’s it amazing how each of us ended up getting the homes that we wanted under the same circumstances. How lucky?! It’s nice to know that a normal person bought our house. It makes selling it and living across the street from it so much easier.
There was a lot of nonsense with the bank approving the purchase of dream home because there are no comparable homes in the area. This house is one of the three original homes in Jenison and everything else in the area is so different in terms of age, size, structure – everything. There was a period of time where we sold our old house but the bank wasn’t sure if they were going to back a mortgage on a house they couldn’t find comparables for. We freaked. We looked for other houses and FREAKED. We thought we might end up losing this house AGAIN and would have to move somewhere else (since we already signed off on our old house). But, in the end, everything worked out. I have never been so relieved as I was the day we signed the papers to buy this house and knew everything would be OK. I am so thankful that everything worked out in the end. I am thankful that the previous owners were kind enough to come to us first. I am thankful we did everything “by owner” and saved tons of money. I am thankful that the girl who bought our house loves it and will treat it with kindness.
Moving was great. If you move across the street, you don’t really have to pack things up. Throw them in a flat bed trailer. Have lots of amazing friends drive your stuff across the street and carry it into your house (because Derek still had a broken thumb/wrist and couldn’t do much). Bam. Done.
We got possession of the house on September 6, 2014. It was a great birthday present for me! We will live here forever and make amazing memories with our children and grandchildren. And when we die, we plan to will the house to our favorite child. They can earn points throughout their lives for doing things for us. Alice has a head start on all her brothers and sister. Go Alice!
Saying goodbye to our old house was much harder than I anticipated. In all honesty, I never really liked it. I complained about it all the time. But there are so many memories there. That’s were we lived as adults. When I think of being an adult, I think of being there. That’s where Monster lived. That’s where we brought our baby home. None of our other kids will have pictures there. It’s sad to think about. It’s also kinda weird to live across the street from your old house. I see her update stuff (like take a hideous evergreen our) and get a twinge of … I don’t even know the emotion… and have to say, “Laura, you hated that bush, too. Check yourself.” Or know that she is painting, and think, “I know the best paint colors. How dare anyone change it.” WTF, Laura…. get it together, you weirdo. Bethany, don’t worry, I’m not judging! Promise! And hopefully your landscaping brother can fix the disaster of a front yard we left you. Sorry!
Alice’s last time in her first house
Family picture. We walked through the house one last time and talked about lots of memories and changes we made.
Here are some pictures of BEAUTIFUL home!
They are from a realtor’s website from when it was for sale the FIRST time we tried to buy it. The owners before us did a lot of painting – which we are VERY thankful for. No more pink everywhere.
A drawing of the house from a LONG time ago. It was built around 1860.
Still can’t believe this is ours!
Formal front entrance
Formal front entryway. It’s not pink anymore.
Gorgeous main stairs. The carpet is really cool actually, but thankfully the walls are a neutral brown.
Landing/sitting area at the top of the main stairs.
Formal living room. Unfortunately, the yellow walls, gross border, and weird “curtains” were still there.
Formal living room with huge fireplace. This room has super high ceilings.
The den. The border is down and it is a beige color now. But the green carpet is still there… We use this as our living room since it is close to the kitchen, has doors to close it off and is smaller – since we have like zero furniture to fill the house.
Wet bar in the den.
Dining room. The walls are brown now. We replaced the light fixture (90s anyone?) and have my grandmother’s dining room furniture. And the closet on the right has normal (updated doors).
Kitchen. Definitely needs to be renovated.
Kitchen. Through that closed door is the breezeway to the garage.
Insanely huge breezeway.
Master bedroom. It’s a dark brown and thankfully all the floral, magenta, and border wallpaper is down.
Fireplace in the master bedroom.
Can you tell this was updated in the 90s? It’s a beige color now, but the brass and forest green still lives on.
One of the four bedrooms upstairs.
View from the cupola. It is so cool up there!
View of the back of the house. There used to be a hot tub out there behind that little fence off the deck.
Big backyard. The swing set stayed! Alice will love it.
Big backyard. It needs some landscaping, but it’s private and huge.