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.

Front of HouseI 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.

Signing the paperworkWe 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.

Photo Set UpYes, 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!

Photo Set Up and CabinetMy 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.

CookbooksNext, 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 Kitchenlove and recommend), and a few of the delectable Healthy Chocolate Cherry Snack Cookies I posted Wednesday.

DeskWhen 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.

PorchAnd 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!

KitchenMy 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.

LeavesThough 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.

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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147 Comments

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  1. Congrats on the big move! That’s really special that you guys were able to get Ben’s parents’ house. I’m sure you’ll get used to the suburbs soon enough :) It’s beautiful! And that kitchen!!! Gahh

  2. I’m so, so happy for you! What a beautiful home and how exciting that after all the searching it worked out so well. We started looking at houses a little bit and then stopped because the whole thing was just a bit overwhelming. I’m so envious of that big beautiful kitchen:-) Congrats!

  3. Congratulations! The house looks great and I’m sure you’re gonna create so many great memories- as well as recipes- there!

  4. Houses make you feel complete! Congratulations to you both. Thanks for all your wonderful food inspirations.
    My daughter is a new cook and I sent here your link she is loving it!

  5. Late to the party – but CONGRATS!!!! This is so crazy exciting! Very jealous of your photo studio and kitchen. Cheers to the next chapter! xoxox

  6. What a perfect situation for you all!! And, can I guess that the big window in your “studio” was the selling point for you? ;) Love the house and love that you are excited and at peace being in the ‘burbs. Welcome to Suburbia, my friend! xoxo

  7. Aaw yaaaaay!!!! Congrats Erin! How amazing and exciting that you bought Ben’s parents’ house :) That makes it even more special :) It looks beautiful! Cheers to making many beautiful memories of your own here ! :)

  8. This is the coolest post ever. I recently started following you on IG and haven’t checked out your blog yet…love love love! :) Also the BF has talked jokingly about buying his parent’s house and I have always cringed but you make it seem awesome!

    1. Yay! So nice to virtually “meet” you, and it really has been awesome, especially as first-time homeowners. We are lucky to have experts close at hand. Thanks so much Amanda!

  9. So nice to hear from you once again.And I am so glad that you have such a lovely home.My husband and i used to go to Milwaukee for dinner .[I am the person who lived on Doty Street when my husband was getting his doctorate in E nglish at Uof W. [back in 1961].Best Wishes to you and Ben!!!!!!

    1. Hi Mary! I remember you well :-) thank you so much for your kind wishes. It is wonderful to feel like we are home at last, although I will always miss Madison too!

  10. Lucky girl! I live in my in-law’s former house, too, except that they left it a disaster. (Literally- the walls were falling down when we moved in and vines were growing through the walls to the 2nd story!) And I love that you signed the papers at a Subway. Subway plays a large roll in my life, too, since that’s where our turkey goes. ;)

    1. Lol. I never thought of Subway as a cornerstone of life experience, but I guess it is isn’t it? Thanks so much Katie!

  11. The house is amazing! Congratulations!!! I grew up in MD ( also bought my childhood home) where we had hugh oak trees. I loved fall with all its color and dancing leaves. Moved to OR 13 yrs ago, no trees at the end of the street we 1st lived on, so I would go to the other end and rake leaves from the road or for older folks and bring home to my compost. Needless to say my neighbors thought me a little nutty. **)

    Last year we moved to the country and tho we have lots of trees, there are of the Evergreen variety. So I have planted red maples. Gonna get my fall colors and those dancing leaves! ♡♡

    1. Thank you so much Ginny! It sounds like you are a very thoughtful neighbor, and I’m sure your red maple will be gorgeous! Those are my favorites to see in the fall.

  12. While looking for idea for end of school year BBQ side dish, I came upon the post that you and Ben bought his parent’s house. How exciting! You did not say, but I hope they live nearby. Janet B.

    1. Janet, they do live nearby! That was another reason we bought the house——it’s so nice being closeby. Thanks so much for leaving this kind comment and have a great day :)

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