For better or worse, we live in a part of the country where houses are ridiculously cheap. I say that because I have lived in other parts where we could never even dream of owning a 1 bedroom condo on 2 salaries. It was the biggest factor when deciding to move here after having Kendall, leaving behind a much posher existence to take up space in an area with NO Trader Joes. (Although, word on the street is Dallas is finally getting a few, praise Peppermint Joe Joes!)

By nearly anyone’s standard, we are living the American Dream in a house that is most definitely enough. It is big enough for all four of us. It is safe enough for my kids to play in the front yard. It is sturdy enough to endure these Texas storms. It’s pretty enough to show off when it’s clean. It’s warm enough in the winter and cool enough in the summer. We are blessed to have it.

Sometimes, though, I’ll admit I dream of more. There are always bigger, better, newer houses going up around us. They have more bedrooms, they have lofts that make great playrooms where toys are not seen by guests, they have media rooms that I could hijack and turn into my office/craft room, they have 3 car garages that would give Scott enough space to make a real workshop, they have long driveways that would give Kendall and Leyna a safe place to learn to ride a bike. They don’t need as much work.

And *some* are, though just barely, within our reach.

Something about this time of year always has me searching the real estate websites and checking out the model homes, lusting after the bigger, better houses we could maybe afford. The reality is, though, that even is we could afford one, we can’t sell this one… not without a loss. That’s what we get for buying at the top of the market back in ’08.

But, let’s say we could sell. We would really be stretching ourselves to move onto bigger mortgage payments right now. We would have to give up luxuries like Starbucks whenever I’m too tired to figure out the coffee maker at home, eating out and frequent trips to visit family. We might end up in a position of working just to pay to live in our home, and that’s no way to experience life.

I read something the other day and it really struck a cord.

The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they make the best of everything.

Isn’t that the truth? In an effort to help change my perception and appreciate how much I really have to be thankful for, I’m on a mission to make the best of everything, starting with this house.

Our realtor said when we put in the offer on this place that it’s a “clean slate” and it has “good bones.” We’ve been slowly adding to those bones and jazzing up that clean slate since we moved in, but we’ve really been in overdrive the last 6 months. Our newest, biggest, most challenging project being the hardwood floors that my husband and his brother installed. They are now sanded and ready for the clear coat that we plan to apply this weekend. (Yup! We decided on clear over mahogany.)

Un-sanded, but looking good. I'm in love with their imperfections.

Don’t worry, I plan to share much more about the floors, how we finished them and the final product soon. And then I’m going to file it in the new category called Love The One You’re With. I hope to share many more home improvements, DIY tips, organization overhauls and decorating ideas with you all over the next year. We have plans to re-do our kitchen (on a shoestring budget), finish our master bathroom, organize our closet and FINALLY make our room look like something other than a college dorm room. I’m sure there will be many smaller improvements along the way, too.

I may not be able to live in the house I love, but I’m going to try to love the house I’m with. Who’s with me? Tell me what your home improvement projects are right now.

29 thoughts on “Love the (Home) You’re With”

  1. ~ * ? * ~

    Your floors are looking great Jill! I am in the middle of renovating our new-to-us-but-very-old-built-in-the-60s-fibro house too. We have done some painting but that’s really only it as of yet!

    We still have wallpaper to put up, kitchens to rip out and renew, floors to sand & re-varnish, gardens to landscape {can you say neglected much?!}, and oh! A multitude of things that need doing; the list seems endless.

    But I think the thing I like about all the work that needs to be done is that in the process of doing it you create a home that is marked with your personality all over it. That’s the fun part for me; you make your house YOUR home. ๐Ÿ˜€

    xox,
    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ? * ~

  2. our house was a short sale, and although not destroyed like some, it certainly needed work. The kitchen was upgraded and pergo was put in- But the previous owners. The very UN-diy talented previous owners. I cant even put base boards in without redoing the floors because they cut them to be so poorly fitting (if that makes any sense at all…). so… slowly but surely, we are fixing it all up. We have painted everything, and im finally hanging things on the walls. The boys bedroom is getting painted this summer, as well as wainscoting and book shelves. We are in serious debate over flooring… maybe by next summer we will get to work on that ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I love the real wood floors but with 2 dogs chasing RJ all day long, real wood would take a beating!

    We are very close to purchasing a foreclosed on piece of heaven. It looks like he’ll though so it’ll be a huge project. My whole life I’ve wanted my own farm and big piece of land. It’ll be a dream to have our house in the city on the Mississippi River with an awesome summer vacation-land/private beach and be able to drive 20 minutes to escape to the wilderness and wildlife. Call me selfish and spoiled materially but I’ll never have someone to love & grow old with, but I can handle being married to a roommate and escaping to my part of Gods Country.

  4. Our house was a foreclosure and needed work, though not as bad as some. We’ve done a lot, but not the visually rewarding when you wake up kind of stuff– new windows, new roof, painting outside. In the next month, though, we’ll be getting new cabinets & counters in the kitchen, new hardwood, new carpet, and painting some. I’m excited, but it’s a lot of money. Unlike you all, while I want to live the one I’m with, we’re definitely moving in the next couple of years so I’m hesitant to really make it mine with the paint colors and all. But you’re so right– you don’t need the best or prettiest or newest house ( or anything!) out there. If you have those you love within your walls ( and the walls are still standing, I suppose!) it is enough ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. We moved into a new home, but we had to. In order to not have a down payment (because who can save for a downpayment with student loans, car loans, and a baby, right?)… through the VA loan system. You can’t borrow ‘more’ than the home is worth, so no buying a cheap house and renovating. In fact, we almost got our butts in huge trouble, because we bought a modular (dont’ even think trailer, because it’s SO not)– and the upstairs wasn’t finished. Now, of course, they’re offering the upstairs finished on their homes, the giant jerks– and ours is STILL NOT DONE– because of course we have to pay for everything from drywall mud to paint OUT of pocket. Did I mention student loans? Argh. So, we are slowly adding to our house. We got a water softening/filtration system. Keeley now has a play set. We have materials purchased if I could just get my hubby to stay inside long enough to get it finished, and he BETTER considering our daughter is about ready to get booted in favor of a newborn from her downstairs room! It has NOT been easy. But I love every single day I dont’ have to say ‘shut up’ through the ceiling to people who can’t keep their ‘fill in the blank’ quiet long enough to let my kid have a nap, that if someone leaves a door open, it’s OUR OWN FAULT and not someone else’s just trying to make our electric bill sky high out of spite, etc.

  6. The floors are gorgeous! Sometimes I dream of having a handy hubby. And I hear you on the house envy (Pinterest certainly doesn’t help.). Hubby came home talking about a house he saw for sale last night that has “a better yard… blah blah blah”. I just don’t have it in me to move. And there will always be something better, and we can’t chase it forever.

  7. This post is exactly what I needed to read. This time of year, it’s so hard not to poke around real estate sites and dream of what could be. The Husband and I are constantly talking about the day when we make “just a little more money” and the market is “just a little bit better”. We loved this home so much when we bought it 3 years ago, but somehow now, it doesn’t seem like quite enough. But it is! Sure we’d like a bigger place with a big backyard, nicer flooring, and no popcorn ceilings. But this little house of ours fits the 3 of us just fine. And it’ll fit a fourth just fine as soon as I can talk The Husband into it ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I know the two of us would be much happier if we started making the best of the home we currently have, instead of being constantly dissatisfied that enough little things aren’t changing in order for us to get our bigger and better home. That home will come someday, but why make ourselves miserable in the meantime?

  8. I understand the being happy with the one you are with and I am totally on the bandwagon. We had our house on the market for 15 LONG months. We had interest and everyone that came through told us our home was beautiful and they wouldn’t change a thing, yet we only had one contract and those people bought the house next door (you can guess how good of friends we are with those people0. There came a point that my husband and I decided we had to be happy and we couldn’t live or die by what happened with our house being on the market. We also didn’t want to become house poor and that being said, we pulled ours off the market and decided to start making the improvements to our current home that we had been talking about, but put off. Will our third child have their own room or will I have a big fancy master bath? Nope, but at the same time I have realized we have a great house that our family can thrive in and that is all that is important.

  9. Love this post! Such a great attitude to spread. That “just a little more” is such an easy trap to fall into. I have to fight it, too.

    Don’t know if you ever read Michelle Singletary back when you lived here in the DC area, but this one I have always loved.

    “To truly become rich, you need to stop acting like it”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/30/AR2010013000031.html

    Basically, they’ve looked at millionaires in this country, and for the most part, they are the only ones not trying to look like ones. They live in the same house for their entire adult lives, they drive sensible, used cars. Instead of chasing the trappings of a having a lot of money, they just work on having a lot of money.

    Some times, when I find I’ve just been spending money left & right, I’ll stop spending on ANYTHING except groceries for a few weeks. There is always at least one time I wanted to buy something as a solution to a problem, but I can’t and then I eventually come up with a better solution. Makes me see how much of my buying is impulse and not really well thought out.

  10. Oh and if you ever want to be cured of new home lust, start watching “Holmes on Homes.” The standard thinking is that new homes are problem-free, but if you look at how the industry has changed over the decades, construction just gets shoddier and shoddier. Developments are slapped up so fast, day laborers and everything sub-contracted. One person doing a half-assed job on insulation or sealing can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage.

    1. we love “holmes on homes” at our house, for just this reason!

      great post! we bought our home about 4 yrs ago when having kids was just an idea. it *seemed* just right back then. it is SO hard not to have a wandering house-eye this time of year.

  11. i’m right there with ya lady! I have gripes and woes about our house all.the.time. I mean Doug spent close to 12 hours putting down a complete yard of sod a couple weekends ago (so we know the DIY stuff too) so we could save about a grand. I like our house, don’t love it, dream of bigger and better, but it works for us and you spoke the truth above…hope I can remember to listen and try like you.

  12. Our project right now is just to BUY a house. Gah I miss the north Dallas market right now (although I don’t miss the hell it took to sell out there). Austin market isn’t quite as…buyer friendly.

    Awesome floors!

  13. The floors look great and once all is said and done you will forget about how miserable the process made you.

    We are renovating our basement now…rather, since we moved in 2.5 years ago. It was completely unfinished, which was rare for our area as most basements are 1-2 bedroom apartments around here. I am hoping to use is as a den/playroom with an added laundry room and bathroom (we only have 1 right now). One day it will get done…think you can loan your husband and his brother to me to finish some drywall?

  14. Sigh. I wish my husband was handy. I think I need to start reading up on some DIY instruction manuals so I can take matters into my own hands. I can’t wait to see what u do to ur bedroom. Ours looks like a dorm room too!! SO unromantic. I agree with the reader who said Pinterest doesn’t help. LMAO I’m borderline obssessed with Pinterest haha ur floors look beautiful can’t wait to see what else u have in store!!

  15. I come at it from a different direction. I LOVE our house and where we live- I just wish I had tons of money to fix it up so we could stay in it forever. We’ve replaced all the linoleum with tile (I remember grouting when I was 8 months pregnant). If we had unlimited money I would finish our attic to add a big playroom and a guest room/ bathroom because we’re definitely going to grow out of this house soon! Oh and update our kitchen…and new carpet.

  16. We rent but my current “home” improvement is trying to regrow the grass in the front yard. After Isaac was born it was pretty well neglected and a lot of it died.

    Actually getting rain this past week has helped, but I’ve been making a conscious effort to water it twice a week.

    And bigger isn’t always better, it just gives you more room to make dirty (though we love our front playroom, I mean, who really has a formal dining room these days?).

  17. I’m excited to see what you do with your kitchen! We are moving into our first home in 2 weeks and I’m both thrilled and terrified. Excited because we’ve been living in a 2 bedroom apartment with a 2 year old and I can’t wait for him to have a basement and a yard to play in (not to mention his little brother/sister who is coming in December). Terrified because now *we* are responsible to take care of the thing. Which means fixing the electrical boxes or whatever other hazard we inherit and eventually redoing the kitchen that will probably drive me insane until we can fix it up.

    I’m excited to see your work as you go! (HGTV is my favorite channel on tv – now I can have another outlet)

  18. “The happiest people donโ€™t have the best of everything, they make the best of everything.”

    I love the quote! I may have to use it sometime!

  19. I hated my house. I had a long list of complaints. Then, a good friend had nowhere to live and it made me realized how lucky I was and I changed my attitude.

    Now? I LOVE my house and even though I want to live in a another state, I am hoping that I win the lottery just so I can come visit my house!!

  20. I’m so with you on this. We couldn’t (and still can’t) sell the house we bought in ’07 right outside Austin, but we had to move so we bought a smaller, affordable house that we are currently in. One day when we finally don’t have house #1 hanging over our heads, we could afford to live in a larger, fancier house, but would we want to make the sacrifices to afford it? I don’t think so. Up next for us are upgrading appliances, putting in a privacy fence, and creating a playroom from an extra bedroom. GL and the floors look great!

  21. I love reading about other peoples home improvement projects, helps motivate me. I can’t wait to read more about what you do to your house.

    We are also in the same boat, I feel like we’ve done a ton this year, not to mention when we first moved in 2 years ago we completely changed everything and here we go again. Our latest and greatest is saving up to get our backyard re-graded and new grass seed laid. We also plan to convert a closet upstairs into a linen closet with shelves. It’s pretty bare bones now so we need to add drywall and shelving, which I don’t think will be too bad.

    Good luck with all your home improvements! I love your blog and look forward to your posts.

  22. this could not have come at a better time. i’m starting a very DIY reworking of our laundry room which is in rough shape. i think for me it’s a combo of loving the house I have now (and if you could see it you’d know that’s a feat in itself) while trying to do the little things to make it better. here’s hoping!

    can’t wait to see how your floors turned out!

  23. Hi Jill!

    I was googling MonoCoat, and found your blog:).

    I was pleasantly surprised to see you not only used Monocoat, but used it on LL Utility Flooring.

    We are about halfway done with laying just under 3000,!!) SF of 4″ Utility Flooring. Thankfully, we arent yet living in the home, but soon! I cant begin to imagine the chaos and hell you lived through while floorung!

    We also love love the charachter of this floor. Please letn me know how your finish is holding up. Also, how did you end up filling the knots? I have a few more questions…but thats a great place to start…

    Merry Christmas!
    Tam

  24. We are int he process of building floor to ceiling bookcases for each of the boy’s rooms for more storage. Our focus this year is to tackle organization and storage so the house quits looking like a tornado hit it. Each of the boy’s rooms are being revamped with the bookcases and more storage units. Next up is our bedroom/my craft area. It would be easier if we bought bookcases from the store but we have dedicated our self to building and painting them ourselves and it has been fun to be able to have the kids help with this. It also is nice to know that they will be sturdy and will fit the area we need them to exactly!

  25. Hey, found this from the Barn Door article, and we’re now fans. This article’s point really resonates. We were headed for Dallas a couple years ago (where we have family) but stopped for a good job offer in Tulsa (where we have other family). We could have bought our rental house, but it had been accidentally/negligently put where a local stream used to be, and the stream wanted the yard back. So when the landlord started kicking us out to show the house several times a week (during the Holidays), we decided to quit paying rent and buy at the bottom of the market. The quaint (i.e. “small”) rental house had us looking for more space, the low interest rate had us cashing in what we could for the down payment, and the legal battle over a probate case took our savings. I up-sold myself to this house when I saw the space and number of bathrooms! I failed to notice window frames made of Tupperware and carpet that had been stretched more times than the face of an aging Hollywood star. Not to mention the entire thing had been painted yellow inside. I cannot stand yellow, especially 24-foot cathedral ceilings of yellow, lofting up toward the heavens, broken only by an inoperative ceiling fan on a pole, out of reach of anything but a cherry-picker. So Big-Yeller-Ugly will be getting some updates, as much as possible from our own hands. Thanks again for the inspiration!

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