One of the kindest things anyone ever said to me occurred in the kitchen of my newly bought very first home. The previous owners hadn’t listed the house, so it hadn’t gotten realtor-ready before we bought it. I had hoped, since the owners were friends-of-friends and had met us and seemingly found us charming, that they would clean it up nicely before we moved in. They had apparently decided that leaving us flowers and champagne was enough (and this was v nice, to be sure, but also my baby’s onesies were grey with someone else’s dirt and dog hair).
We had lived there for several weeks, and I had been trying, inexpertly, to deep clean the house while chasing a three-year-old and crawling baby. It wasn’t going very well, and when I mentioned my frustration, my truly lovely sister sent me money as a housewarming gift to hire a cleaning service.Read More »
So, at the end of March we entered the ranks of homeowners, and mid-month, on a random Thursday evening, we decided just to get it over with and move. That means we’ve been sort of camping out here and bringing carloads over, setting up slowly as J rounds out the semester and fights a terrible case of not-flu.
One of the important things we had to settle was what to name our house — we loved the idea of our home having its own name. We consulted the names of some of our favorite literary houses (Ingleside, St. Anne’s on the Hill, etc.), and this British list of house naming conventions. Some possibilities we considered:
Avonlea Cottage (I’ll just have to wear J down into letting me use this for a baby girl someday.)
Benison Cottage (discarded because J thought I was saying “venison” and I doubt he’d be the last one)
Dogwood Cottage — our yard is pretty bare of vegetation, except for the two dogwoods outside Pippin’s window.
We eventually settled on Cottontail Cottage, because like a lot of this town, it’s overrun with the little guys.
We also spend waaay too much time trying to figure out how to incorporate our mostly mid century modern furnishings with the Craftsman bones of our house. Apartment Therapy has been a good resource here. Behold this looker:
A friend mentioned that she’d read the advice of keeping in mind friends’ houses you love, and I’ve tried to do that. I often think in particular about the home of Scout’s godparents. It’s not fancy or even especially intentionally decorated, and children are piled in. But if you run into one of the parents on campus, they’ll invite you to dinner and slide over to accommodate your whole family — the food is always unfussy and excellent. You’ll never worry about your kid making too big of a mess, and you’ll always feel welcome.
I think too of the houses I’ve found most beautiful, and most clearly a reflection of their owners’ taste: my grandparents’ light-filled Danish modern treehouse in Sarasota when I was growing up; the lovely Alabaman Craftsman that perfectly expresses my brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s eclectic antique tastes, my sister’s densely layered apartment, filled with art made by her friends. There are more, of course. We are lucky to have such warm and hospitable friends.
And let me say right here — and hold me to this — I promise you I won’t go around talking about how we just need the exact right shade of linen curtain, how I’ve looked everywhere for the perfect piece of art for that wall, how frustrated I am that I’m stuck with this kitchen layout. Because I’ve never been very tolerant of people who complain at length about the enormous privilege of getting to feather a nest that belongs to them. So while I’d like to talk to y’all about my adventures in homeownership and making this place our own, I’ll try not to be completely insufferable. Mmkay?
Last week I had a day that was weirdly frenzied and crabby and anxious, even though Pippin was a dreamboat — nap, no fits, no “nuffin’,” as he’d say, and Scout, was, well, Scout. There were some scheduling complications, to be fair, but even during simultaneous nap (!), things felt frantic and hard.
I think some of it was coming off the tiredness from Scout’s most recent illness and trying to regroup in the shambles inevitably left behind, but mostly, I think, it was a sort of happy overwhelm at the prospect of moving.
You see, dear readers, we’ve bought our first house. (We hope it’s our last one.)
We know we’re moving, but we don’t know when or our strategy (essentials first and camp out there, or non-essentials first and move last thing). We’re kind of in limbo and need to do nothing and everything, and, well — I’d always prefer doing everything to nothing. So that day, I’d start a blog post, then open 30 tabs about dining room chandeliers, then realize I hadn’t considered the possibility of wallpaper, then wonder if I should ask the neighbor her views on irises.
The thing is, I know this is the house where we will someday bring home the baby boy with the brown eyes, or the little girl with the dark hair, where Bonnie will grow old and creaky, where we’ll gather with fresh-faced, impossibly young college students, and welcome our future nieces and nephews, and grow old in friendships now just beginning. If I ever write a book, it will be in the weird, big master closet with the desk and window; if Pippin ever sticks glow-in-the-dark stars to the ceiling it’ll be in the bedroom that right now stands bare and waiting for him. Scout will invite friends there for her first sleepover, and J will try to appear nonchalant as he waits there for her return from her first date.