We Bought a House!

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.

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

147 comments

  1. Congrats you guys. This is a pretty sweet news.

    • What a beautiful home to move into with all of its memories too! Glad you are still staying Midwestern! The house seems to be a perfect fit – dont let people tell you it’s strange to move into your husband’s bedroom – every place you go it was someone’s bedroom, right? I am so happy for you – you make us happy, now it is your turn – all good things!

  2. Congrats! I’m a Milwaukee lawyer living in the ‘burbs (Pewaukee – so it sounds like I have a bit more of a commute) and it’s a great life. I love being able to be in the city after work, but also to get away and have space for my kids to play.

    Love reading a food blogger who is so close to my home! There are so many great foodie spots in Mke to enjoy :)

    • Thank you so, so much Kelly! It’s always so fun to hear from someone local. I hear great things about Milwaukee, including the foodie spots, so I can’t wait to explore :-)

  3. Congratulations! Being a new homeowner is both fun and terrifying– in a good way. :) And what a special home to buy!

  4. Looks like a beautiful house! Would love to see more posts as you guys continue to do DIY projects!

  5. CONGRATS Erin!! I know how stressful buying a house can be and it sounds like things worked out perfectly for you guys. p.s. I am secretly-not-so-secretly jealous of your kitchen. It’s gorgeous!

  6. Congrats on your lovely home!! Great light coming from that window…

  7. I love the new home and now you will start your own memories with Ben in this home. Now I just need to come visit.

  8. Congratulations girl! That’s so exciting, and what a beautiful home! I love that porch…I can’t wait til it’s cool enough to spend more time on our back porch.

  9. What a beautiful house and such happy news! Bet Ben’s parents are thrilled that you guys bought it! Congrats!

  10. Congrats on your new home and how cool that you bought your husband’s house he grew up in. I have a friend who raised her kids in the house she grew up in and it is very special.

  11. This is just awesome, Erin. What a great home, with already great memories. Enjoy making it your own!

  12. Diane Siniscalchi Reply

    Oh, Erin, I am ecstatic for you! Just think, to be able to raise little Bens in this house, and maybe a little Erin. (You can tell I have all boys!) In the meantime, enjoy the peace and solitude of the suburbs……….and those super fantastic kitchen counters! Wishing you and Ben much happiness and many warm memories in your new home! <3

  13. This is such a sweet post! And very special that you are moving into his parent’s house–so many stories and memories (dare I say, to tell your future kids?).

    Love your office too! Gosh, I wish I had that space (and ceiling height!). I’m still in the move everything around, have a fold up table out 24/7 apartment stage of my life.

  14. How amazing, I just love the light & huge big windows. I think your very brave to move 15 mins from the city instead of 15 feet….and look at that huge kitchen. Congratulations Erin, here’s to many years of happiness in your new home

  15. Erin, I’m so happy for you and Ben. Congratulations! I love your new home and all the trees surrounding it. Wishing you much love and laughter in your new home.

  16. That is so awesome! You’re definitely blessed.
    Love the big window. And the fact that you can leave your stuff out all the time…well, let’s just say that I’m a wee bit jealous.

    May you both be blessed for many years in your new home!

  17. Nice! How exciting!

  18. This is SO cool. Congratulations, you two!!!

    And I would be spending every waking minute on that back porch. Beautiful!

  19. Congratulations! This place looks great! You will probably come to enjoy the burbs, I know I have. I work downtown all week and on the weekends I’m happy to have a little oasis (ref: burb house)

  20. Erin, this is such fabulous news! Congratulations to you and Ben for your next chapter and taking on such a house with an amazing history! Now is your time to add your spin onto the house and add your own history :) Cheers to a great Friday!

  21. Awww-congrats to both of you!!! Wow – how amazing it is that things fell into place for y’all to end up being in Ben’s childhood home! So cool you get to keep your photography stuff up full time – I remember reading about your struggles in yalls old apt. So so happy for y’all! xx’s

  22. Congrats. What a gorgeous house. Your in-laws have good taste. Where did they move to…a teeny apt downtown? :-)

    • Thank you Helen! And no more tiny apartments for the family for now—they moved to another house in Milwaukee, and the timing just happened to align with our move too!

      • Amazing that the timing worked so well. I love all of the natural light you have in your home and the kitchen must be so fabulous to work in. All the best….

  23. This is the best + sweetest post ever! Such a great story!

    I dream of the day I have a porch :) I’d totally be out there all the time. Also, I’d be lost without my step ladder.

  24. Hey girl, congratulations to you both!! That is so exciting. My husband and I bought our house this past May. He had owned a house previous,before we met. This is my first time. Wow. Crazy time looking for just the right one!! And God blessed us with a house in Shawnee, OK. We love it here. We love our house and our 3yr old Boxer loves his big back yard!!

  25. Mazel tov! Wishing you both much happiness in your new home!

  26. Congratulations!!! Your house is gorgeous! And so is Milwaukee! I love that little/big city. I remember driving up there (I lived in Chicago) to party at Milwaukee’s best, Metropolis Night Club! HA! This was way baaaaack in 2000. :-D

  27. I think it’s the coolest thing ever! Who cares what anyone else thinks? Think of the stories you can tell your own children….

  28. CONGRATS on the house!! That is such a cute story of how you made-and-got-your-offer-accepted story lol! Love it :) And your studio looks amazing…I can’t tell you fun it is to have to move everything around and pile stuff on top of the toaster because I have zero counter space (but I’m sure you totally understand having lived in an apartment, think of that, but like 5 times smaller, then that’s my house lol). Best of luck with getting everything settled and all of your furniture in :)

  29. What a beautiful story. It’s funny how life surprises us sometimes. And check out that kitchen and gorgeous windows! LOVE! I have a similar set up with the big windows but not direct sunlight and I also use a tripod almost all the time. The hardest part for me is getting out of the side light rut. I still haven’t mastered the backlit shot with those windows, so if you find a secret, let me know! :)

  30. Congratulaions on becoming home owners! “Home cooking” will take on a new meaning for you now!.

  31. Congratulations on becoming a homeowner! When you buy a house from unknown people, there are always things to discover that are not so great. So it’s a real blessing that you know the previous owners. The house looks like a beautiful place. And just so you don’t feel embarrassed about not recognizing the sound of a lawnmower, I’ve been living where I am for 6 years now, and still don’t recognize our neighbors’ leaf blower sound… Hope the rest of your move-in goes smoothly.

    • Good luck to you both in your beautiful new home.

      Leaves really are a nightmare but you are so, so lucky with the lovely fall colours. Mine are grey or green, because the wind has brought them down.

      Keep on with your cooking Erin, I look forward to your recipes.

      Sonia in the UK

    • I’m glad I’m not alone in my lawn-machine noise recognition, hehe :) Thank you so much for your kind wishes. We are truly blessed!

  32. Congratulations Erin & Ben, awesome story & good news! Things are as they should be.

  33. Congratulations on your new home! How exciting!

  34. Erin and Ben, may you be blessed with many memories to add to those already locked in your hearts. I live next door to my best friend (from 10 years old). I returned here when I retired. She and her husband bought the house she grew up in from her parents. They still have the same phone number. Oh, the memories!

  35. This is so very “The Office” of you!

  36. Congratulations Erin! You’re house is beautiful and so cozy! Not going to lie, a little envious of your studio and desk! Can’t wait for that someday. Enjoy!

  37. This is so sweet. I hear of so many people doing this and it seems like an awesome house. In regard to the picture hanging process, you’ll surely beat me! It took years :)

  38. Erin,
    oh my gawd, I love this!!!! This is like the sweetest post ever. I seriously love that you guys bought Ben’s patents house!! so many memories and so many more memories to come!! :)

  39. Danae @ Recipe Runner Reply

    Congrats Erin! Such a beautiful home. I’m so jealous of that huge window in your studio and the kitchen is gorgeous!

  40. May your new home keep you cozy in winter, cool in summer and sheltered during the rains. May your new home also give you a prosperous life full of happiness and free of pains. Congratulations to you both.. So envious of that back porch.!

  41. I adore your house and it looks so put together already! I’m impressed. I’ve been meaning to do a new house post but yeah…that hasn’t quite worked out yet, lol.

    • Rachel, I can relate! I can’t wait to see yours, whenever you have a chance to post but don’t feel rushed. (And don’t be too impressed–notice that I did not post pics of the basement, lol)

  42. What fun!!! Such a beautiful home…hope you’re settled in no time :)

  43. What a beautiful home and I dream of being able to leave my photography table out all the time. It will a wonderful home and you’ll make a lot of more happy memories for you xoxo

  44. WOW, how fun!! Looks like a gorgeous house, and I’m sure it will be so fun to make it your own – and how special if you eventually raise your own family there :) Congratulations!!

  45. CONGRATULATIONS!! I loved reading this post and hope you have many years of happiness in your new home!!

  46. Congratulations many times over. You are truly blessed. You certainly put in the footwork looking for a new home. You didn’t find one, because THIS was your new home. You never lose what you are suppose to have. It looks lovely. What a marvelous kitchen. I look forward to more posts from this place.

  47. Kentucky Lady 717 Reply

    Congrats Erin, your home is absolutely lovely and the floors are just beautiful….you can tell that the owner took care of this house….you are so lucky to get it…..now you can start a family pretty soon eh?
    Love seeing all the pictures and will look forward to many more as you decorate this lovely home…..a great pic. of you and hubby too, he is handsome and you are one lucky lady……have a great day…..

    • hahaha. All in due time! I hope to share more pictures as things progress, and you are right—I am so incredibly fortunate. Thank you so much, and you have a great day too!

  48. Congratulations! Your home is beautiful. Enjoy your new home!

  49. I love this post Erin! So awesome how everything worked out. Congrats on your new home! I’m also just a teensy-tiny bit (ok a lot) jealous of your gorgeous office/photography studio! ;)

  50. Your new home is lovely! I love your studio. I know the pain of having to rearrange things to try to PRACTICE (I am still learning and practicing) shooting. I hope you guys make a lot of many cherished memories while reminiscing about your husband’s old ones in that house. I am so envious! I would love to buy my childhood home some day.

  51. That is so awesome! The home is beautiful and looks like you have some great work spaces. So cool to think of the range of memories you two will have there! Congratulations.

  52. Congratulations! We just bought our house this year from my parents, as well, although we were already living there and renting. But it is nice to be able to paint and do what we want without asking :) Also love seeing other bloggers food photo set ups…no advice for you, I have to use my tripod always with our terrible light.

  53. That’s so awesome, Erin! I knew you guys would find the perfect house! Welcome to daily trips to Home Depot, haha! But owning a house really is so much fun and you can do anything you want to it! I love your huge windows and that porch looks like the perfect place to curl up in a blanket! Congratulations to you guys :)

  54. Umm…can I come drink coffee on that beautiful back porch?! Congratulations! Sounds like you’re settling in nicely…enjoy!

  55. What a beautiful home! We bought my husband’s grandparent’s home. It’s fun to carry on the family members. We sleep in his dad and brother’s room :-). Enjoy. the new place.

  56. Congrats on the home!! So sweet that there is a story, and memories, and so much love already filling the rooms. :)

  57. Becoming homeowners is so exciting, and also so scary, lol. We bought our first home this summer – the same week my husband started his summer semester of law school (ugh, what were we thinking?) and my DIY is so very long. But after a few months, I really do love our home so much, and am glad we dived in…even if we still have many a boxes. At least the remaining unopened ones are all contained in one room, right? :) Congrats!

  58. This is so exciting! Plus I am drooling over your kitchen! Congrats!

  59. Congratulations!!!! Oh my gosh how exciting! And I loveeee that back porch – amazing!

  60. Erin – I loved this house when your in-laws lived in it and now you will give it your own personal touches. Congrats & dream big!!

  61. 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

  62. 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!

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

  64. 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!

  65. 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

  66. 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

  67. 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 ! :)

  68. The house looks stunning! Congratulations!!

  69. Congrats!
    What a gorgeous house!

  70. 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!

    • 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!

  71. 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!!!!!!

  72. 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. ;)

  73. 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! ♡♡

  74. 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.

    • 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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