our starter home

Our starter home:  The first home I ever lived in apart from my childhood home.  The home that my groom and I spent our first night in.  The home that we intended to live in for just a short time but eventually brought each of our four children home to.  The home that continues to grow and change with us and our needs.  It always comes through for us!  And after nine years, we are still in our starter home!!

We live in a ranch-style home, or a 'rambler'.  Check out this definition from Wikipedia:

The ranch house is noted for its long, close-to-the-ground profile, and minimal use of exterior and interior decoration. The houses fuse modernist ideas and styles with notions of the American Western period working ranches to create a very informal and casual living style.

Yuck, right?  That is NOT how we want our rambler home described!  So we have changed our typical 1950s ranch home into something unexpected.  Our favorite styles include touches of scandinavian, farmhouse, industrial, and modern.  We have made this ranch home of ours into something unique to what we love and who we are.

Some fixer-upper triumphs: my husband added a pergola, a craft room, remodeled our half bath to include a closet, a pantry with a rolling barn door, a remodeled full bathroom, a solution to an awkward greenhouse window in our kitchen, a more appealing and better-functioning laundry room, an updated front entry, walls removed to create more a more open layout, white floors (which included removing tile and sanding the brownish-orangish red-oak shorts, a kitchen island and a desktop of concrete, beams and paneling on the ceiling, plank walls in each bathroom... to name a few!

Everyone loves pictures, right?  Let me give you a mini-tour of what we have done with the place.

 50cent Ikea brackets

(before and after)

big boy and baby girl shared bedroom
(once upon a time... a chicken crate)

 Some ranch homes have an awkward 2nd entry way.  This is what we do with ours!  Play area!

 Behind the sofa is a very large map of Paris!

 The wreaths are seasonal:)
We have our tv tucked behind an old apothecary cabinet.

(before and after)

Some of the annoying quirks of ranch houses: Our home is limited in closet space. We've had to add closet systems to maximize the use of our closets.  And in our master bedroom, we actually bought a bed with storage below to make up for the lack of space in our closets.  Also notice the  rectangular rooms.  Especially in our living room, we are limited to where our furniture can be placed.  In a ranch, there are lots of walls but few corners which are always helpful for placing furniture. Another quirk is that our natural lighting is limited (restricted!) to a each room.  Each room has a window or two but because of all of the walls, the sunlight that sometimes fills the kitchen with light doesn't necessarily fill our living room (which is partially why we chose to paint the floors white).  As is typical with most other ranch homes, the entire house has low ceilings (upstairs and downstairs). We also have radiant heat which means that we have to work around that!  In our living room we installed an air conditioning system to cool the upstairs since central air would cost us almost 10 grand.  We continually have to think outside the box to make this house 'work'.

So how can you make your home your very own?!  Add character everywhere!  Be detailed, search flea markets for unique items (or buy up wherever your flare is).  Add pieces that are the best bang for your buck.  Be as frugal as you need to be.  If you can't buy whatever you want, then splurge on items that'll have the biggest impact.  And just improvise everywhere else.  Find things you love and display them.  Collect but don't hoard, showcase things but don't let spaces collect clutter.

If you're in your first home and it's the 'starter-home' type, chances are you need to design on the cheap and do-it-yourself....  Don't despair and don't rush.  It takes time but it will be even more gratifying and personalized than if you were able to hire it out (don't get me wrong, if you can afford that, it may also spare you some arguments and stress!)  But if you're like us, you will do it on your own and you will learn some tricks of the trade of DIY.  You will create memories, you will have successes and failures, and it will be so rewarding to make something your own.  We have worked on our house with the entire family, we get the kids involved wherever we can.  Our first home has become reflective of who I am and who our family is.  And your starter home will reflect you too.  And you will be happy!

This is our home!  Unique and ever-evolving to who we are and what we do.  We are always on the lookout for our 'forever home' or 'forever lot' to build on.  But until then, here we are and here we truly live.


  1. The blog in question is titled "Girl Meets Carpenter" and the author talks about her interests and how they mesh well with her boyfriend who is a carpenter. Throughout the blog the author talks about different homes they lived in, including former ranches and discusses changes they've made to their current home, with pictures of new furniture to help out.

    Wilbert Bowers @ Mirr Ranch Group

  2. Look in your local paper for open houses the day you are going to start your journey for buying a house. Not only can you get inside with no pressure, you can meet and talk with that realtor in person with no strings or feeling like you are forced to sign with them. If you like them, then you can work with them and already off to a good start.

    Martin Moran @ Buyers Agent San Antonio


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