Homeowners (Round Two)!

I’m thrilled to tell you that we closed on our first Utah home yesterday! I’m here to tell you a little about the process and about the home we found!

We started the search for our first home (in Oregon) with the idea of finding a fixer upper. But after some investors out-bid us on the one we wanted we ended up finding a brand new home on the cutest street in the perfect area and fell in love. A brand new home wasn’t what we were looking for but it ended up being the best thing for us at the time. We lived there for a little over four years before moving to Utah this past September. We sold our Oregon home after two days on the market (!!!) and made a good bit of equity on the sale. We purchased at the market’s low point and sold at the height of the summer seller’s market! We never thought we’d be making much of a profit on a brand new home, but God (of course) knew exactly what we needed.

Utah’s housing market is quite a bit more expensive than Oregon. And way more expensive than South Carolina (where I grew up). The homes in Salt Lake City start off very old, very small, and very expensive in the center of downtown and as you move out from the city, they get a bit newer, a bit bigger, and a bit cheaper. Since moving here we have rented a home about 20 minutes south of the city center. We love the area and really had the desire to stay close by. But we didn’t want to lock ourselves into one area, so we looked at homes all over. The house hunt in Oregon ended when we saw “the one” (so perfect, so cute, so right) so I wondered if having that same expectation in a more expensive market was even appropriate. Going into the search process I was feeling less emotionally driven and more calculated about the whole thing. We knew our budget would be stretched. We knew we wouldn’t get everything we wanted. We knew the word “compromise” would come up frequently. We knew it could possibly mean a very small home on a very busy street.

We looked at about ten properties in person before finding the one we loved. Kya and I often met up with our realtor while Daniel was at work so I saw more homes than he did. I became quickly discouraged when I saw what we could afford. We looked at quite a few homes downtown and nothing decent was in our price range. We saw one very small, completely dumpy house (with old charm and good bones) for $300,000 and couldn’t even process how someone could be selling it for so much! It needed a good $100,000 in renovations so it was quickly off our radar. After seeing that home, I felt more drawn to look in the area where we currently rent because I knew we could get more for our money. We just weren’t seeing many properties in our price range in the area we wanted.

A few weeks later, after seeing several more disappointing properties, I opened up the realty app on my phone before falling asleep one night and saw a property that looked promising. I immediately texted our realtor and asked if we could see it the next morning. Kya and I met her the next day to see the house. Before I even walked into the home I told our realtor that I knew I wanted to put an offer on this one. I could just tell it was going to be good and far better than anything we had seen. Walking through the home confirmed my initial feelings and I immediately called my husband to try to convince him that we should make an offer before he even saw the house in person. He decided he would go see it after work and then we could make a decision. He was excited (maybe not quite as excited as me, but that’s normal, haha) and we put in an offer the next day. Our offer was promptly accepted as is (which surprised us)! We got the inspection done a few days later and nothing alarming came up and things continued to progress.

Ok, now a little about the house itself. It was built in 1960 and was actually flipped right before we bought it. Now you know how quick, contractor-type flips usually go – they do just enough work to sell it fast. This home is way better than anything we saw in SLC in our price range. Much of the home does not match our specific design tastes and it needs some work but it’s absolutely livable. It’s 1,700 square feet and has three bedrooms and three baths (two full and one three-quarter). It is a split-level home with a half set of stairs going up to the bedrooms and a half set of stairs going to the basement. The basement has a laundry room/bathroom and then one large room (with full-height ceilings and a lot of windows).

Right away, we plan to turn the basement into a fourth bedroom and an office. I’m soooo excited that we’ll have a designated office space. It’s something we haven’t had since our first year of marriage. We are also going to replace all of the home’s windows right away. There are 16 windows total and many are odd/custom sizes (which really adds to the charm of the home). I’m hoping the budget allows for black windows (fingers crossed)! If you’ve never seen black windows, do a quick search for an idea of what it looks like. STUNNING in my opinion. Another project right away is painting the entire home. I have narrowed down my colors and just need to get in the home and do some sampling before I decide for sure.

Our goal is to stay true to era of the home as we renovate, work on projects, and decorate. Up until recently, we have both been drawn to more traditional + rustic + shabby chic design elements. But we feel ourselves gravitating toward more mid-century + rustic + industrial combinations recently, especially since finding this home. We can’t possibly change our entire design style (which we don’t want to do anyways) but we’d love to hone it and allow it to morph a bit. Today I purchased new living room furniture (at a steal!) to reflect this aesthetic. Paint colors are one area where we want to branch out a bit. Every house we’ve lived in has had tan walls and while it’s not a bad look at all, I’m over it. I’d like to go lighter and brighter in some areas and take risks with some deeply saturated colors in other areas.

I’m thankful to have an incredibly handy husband. He is actually a very skilled craftsman. Down the road a bit we plan to gut and reconfigure the kitchen. Because Daniel is a custom cabinetry engineer and builder, we can design and build our kitchen from the ground up ourselves at quite a cost reduction. I can’t wait for the day when my custom kitchen dreams will come true! It will probably be a little wait, so until then I’ll definitely enjoy the kitchen we have! It has plenty of storage, a new backsplash, new countertops, and new appliances. The cabinets are original and a little wonky in places but overall they’re in great shape.

Once the weather warms up we will enjoy working on the outside of our home. It has a decent size backyard but it’s very plain and nondescript. An outbuilding needs to be torn down, the patio cover needs to be replaced, we need to purchase patio furniture, and I would love to have Daniel build me some raised garden beds like he did at our last home. The landscaping also needs some love.

Fixing up a home has been a dream of ours since early in our marriage. It’s finally going to happen – some right away and some over time! I truly cannot wait to get started.

Now I’m going to share a WHOLE lot of before photos of our home. They aren’t the best photos but they’ll do the job. As we work on projects, I’ll post updates and more photos!

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 ^ Kya’s Bedroom ^

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^ Kya’s Bedroom ^

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^ Kya’s Bedroom ^

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^ Extra Bedroom ^

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^ Master Bedroom ^

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^ Master Bedroom ^

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^ Master Bathroom ^

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^ Master Bathroom ^

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^ Master Bathroom ^

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^ Upstairs Hallway ^

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^ Hall Bathroom ^

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^ Hall Bathroom ^

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^ Living Room ^

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^ Eat-In Kitchen ^

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^ Kitchen ^

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^ Kitchen + Dining ^

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^ Kitchen ^

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^ More Kitchen ^

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^ Basement ^

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^ Basement Bath + Laundry ^

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^ Basement ^

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^ Basement ^

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^ Outside (obviously) – there is a large garage attached to the left ^

A Creative Outlet + Why I Love Having One

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I’ve never had career goals or one specific interest that consumed me. I’ve had many interests and I love pursuing them all a little bit at a time. Photography, design, cooking, organizing, reading, writing, and mentoring are among my favorites. I have always considered myself a bit of a renaissance woman and I don’t consider myself an expert in any one area. I love engaging with a variety of subjects and experiences. Until recently, I had never been draw to more fully explore the possibilities of expanding one area.

I got married in the winter of 2010 and worked outside the home for four years before we had our first child in the spring of 2015. I was cut out for that office job with my organizational, writing, and people skills and because I had held several similar jobs previously. As much as I enjoyed using those gifts, there was still a side of me that still felt hidden. A creative side.

When I considered creative people, I thought of artists, graphic designers, crafters, DIYers, musicians, interior designers, and full-blown professional photographers. And while I fit into a few of those categories (musician, quazi-DIYer, with a little interior design education) I still wouldn’t have described myself as “creative.” I’ve played piano and violin since early elementary school but never rose to the top of my peers. During the first few years of marriage, I consistently worked on DIY projects but if I’m honest, most of those projects were inspired from Pinterest or blogs and left me realizing that my DIY skills were lackluster. I studied interior design in college (as my minor) but even as I was taking classes I quickly realized that while yes, I loved it and had a bit of a knack for it, I was not as passionate or skilled at it as my college counterparts (though my passion for it has grown since having my own homes).

Fast forward to the fall of 2013. I began to realize that my long-time interest in photography could be more than an interest if I would be brave enough to spend real money on a real camera. In high school and college, I had a few digital point and shoot cameras (all Canon). I was familiar with the brand so I made a quick decision on Black Friday 2013 to order a DSLR (Canon Rebel) from Amazon. It came a couple days later on very snowy day. I furiously tore into the box and couldn’t wait to get started.

I quickly realized that photography was an interest I wanted to more fully pursue. Over the last two years, I’ve slowly progressed through much research, a lot of trial and error, and a little formal education. People have been gracious to hire me, allowing me to get more experience and invest more into my little business. I created a Simple account for my business where I saved my photo session money and then invested back into my skill by enrolling in a class, purchasing software and equipment, and eventually upgrading to a Canon 6D.

The creative outlet of photography has been a lifeline to me during this last year and a half of motherhood. The way it has filled me is surprising. As my young self looked to the life ahead, I imagined that marriage and motherhood in and of themselves would be all I ever wanted to do. I absolutely LOVE being a wife, mom, and homemaker. Those roles bring me incredible joy. But one draw of photography is that it’s completely unrelated to errands and cooking and housework and diapers. Being a mom to a toddler keeps me quite busy, but it’s not full-blown crazy most of the time. Photography fills in those “fringe hours” of my long days at home and makes me a better time manager. It gives my husband more one-on-one time with our daughter on the weekend and provides me with little respites of time away from it all.

Photography fulfills my God-given drive to create, or in reality, to simply unveil the beauty of His created world. Because we are each made in the image of God and because He is good and gracious, we are each allowed to participate in life as mini “creators.” I’m grateful for the ability to capture life and love through the lens of my camera. I have no idea where or how far it will take me, but I’m content to faithfully use it, let it grow, and help me reflect my creative God.