We bought a house! Ben’s childhood house. From his parents. Yes dear readers, we’ve moved into the house that Ben grew up in, and what was once my in-laws’ is now my own.
I realize our situation is a little…unusual, particularly since we are still sleeping in Ben’s old bedroom (our new master furniture set has arrived, but the appropriately-sized mattress has not). At the same time, however, I also realize that we are extremely blessed.
We’ve known we’d be moving to Milwaukee for a year, but if six months ago you had told me that we’d be living anywhere near Ben’s parents’ neighborhood, let alone buying their house, I would have told you to lay off the candy corn. Ben and I drove back and forth to Milwaukee dozens of times, looked at nearly 30 homes, and placed (and lost) offers on two. I shared a few of our tribulations here. If you were reading back then, bless you for putting up with my whining, and thank you for all of the encouraging messages you sent. You were confident that we would find our dream home, and guess what? You were right!
I’m sorry for waiting so long to share this story. The truth is, unpacking and organizing is taking us much, much longer than I’d anticipated, and I’m too embarrassed to post pictures of the moving box that is currently functioning as our TV stand (truth).
I also waited because moving here has been a more personal process than I realized it would be. Not only would I have sworn six months ago that we’d never buy Ben’s parents house, I didn’t want to live anywhere near the suburbs. I’m a city girl who loves opening her windows to hear people jabbering on the street, stepping outside her door to endless bar and restaurant options, and generally like a part of the city’s heartbeat. I cherished living downtown in Madison, so I assumed that I would want the same in Milwaukee.
We looked at dozens of condos, but were worried about trying to resell, so we switched to houses. I slowly began to realize that maybe being 15 minutes from downtown, instead of 15 feet, might not be as scary as I thought. Then, a certain beautiful house we knew well, whose owners had cared for it with dedication and love, went up for sale.
We met Ben’s parents at a roadside Subway in between Madison and Milwaukee to sign the contract. Offer to buy made and accepted.
We still are missing 90% of the furniture we ordered, have boxes everywhere, and have yet to hang a single picture. At the same time, however, we’ve also repainted the walls, stocked our wine rack, and purchased our very own leaf blower. Progress.
I have a loooong list of DIYs ahead, but I’ve realized that if I wait for everything to be settled before I post pictures, it will be three years from now, and I’ll probably still have more I want to do. Therefore, instead of perfection and Pottery Barn I present:
Our House: A Mini Tour of Places Where I Spend my Day
Meet my favorite room: my studio/office! OK, studio is way dramatic considering that 70% of my “equipment” is $1.99 posterboard, but I am absolutely in love with the fact that I can leave my photography table out all the time. After spending two years rearranging furniture in our tiny Madison apartment for even the simplest shots, I am in heaven.
Yes, I totally stand on that step ladder for above shots.
I also love the giant window, even if I don’t know how to handle its light just yet. Although the window is large, the light isn’t direct, so I still use a tripod for 95% of my shots. Any photography whizzes have suggestions? I’ll take all the advice I can get!
My cookbooks (well, part of them), have at last emerged from beneath my bed and are on the shelf of the bookshelf/hutch. All furniture assembly credit goes to Ben, with assistance from his dad. I supplied the moral support.
Next, my desk. I spend a lot of time here, and I might even have a real desk chair some day. For now I’m relying on one of the dining chairs Ben’s parents left behind. To the right you’ll see my favorite red mug. If I’m being good, it’s full of ginger tea; most likely, it’s filled with coffee. Other desk residents include a Yankee “Pumpkin Wreath” scented candle (I regularly risk burning my face to be nearer to its intoxicating smell), whatever cookbook I’m reading at the moment (today it’s David Lebovtiz’s My Paris Kitchen—love and recommend), and a few of the delectable Healthy Chocolate Cherry Snack Cookies I posted Wednesday.
When I’m not at my desk, this is my other favorite place to work: our back porch. When we started looking at houses, I was set on a big, open backyard, but I’ve come to love this shady retreat. It’s usually a little chilly out here, but I persevere by wrapping myself in that blanket like a giant human burrito. Re: the can of Le Croix Coconut—I’m obsessed.
And of course, our kitchen. I am in love with cooking in this room. I cherish every cabinet for holding my pots and pans in an easy-to-access manner and want to hug the counters. Goodbye apartment kitchen with your continual game of 3-D Tetris to put away my dishes. Hello space!
My adjustment to homeownership and suburbia is on-going (our first morning here, I heard a lawnmower and thought it was a car parked in our driveway with its motor running), but I’m loving running down our neighborhood’s windy, pleasant streets, and I find myself wanting to know them all by heart. We have deer that hang out in our yard (and make appearances on my Instagram feed) almost every day, and our neighbors—many of whom have known Ben his entire life—are so welcoming and friendly. I fall asleep listening to crickets. It’s peaceful.
I know things will break, and we’ll have to figure out how to fix them (or call Ben’s dad). Going out downtown will need to be more intentional, and raking leaves will be my life in the coming weeks.
Though I could never have envisioned us here in a million, skillion years, the most unbelievable part of it all is how blessed we are. Ben’s parents took amazing care of the house for more than two decades, and I feel a sense of honor and stewardship to do the same.
It’s good to be home.