Good Morning, Sunshine!

Our first decorating project, designing our Morning Room.

After MONTHS and MONTHS of not posting, I am going to make an attempt to begin sharing some of our home updates since we moved into our house! When we moved into our townhouse, my first project was what I call our “Morning Room”. When you walk in our house you enter the living room, walk through the kitchen, and then there is another area that leads out to the deck that I had no idea what to do with! This room became mine for decorating and I decided it would be a great space for reading, drinking our morning tea, and a space to enjoy a glass of wine (here you can find my Pinterest board where I gathered all of my thoughts and pulled ideas from)! We had absolutely no furniture when we moved in that would fit the space so deciding on the furniture was the first priority. My parents and Bryan’s parents each generously bought a piece of furniture as our housewarming gift, an amazing matching coffee table and server from World Market (part of their Clayton collection which has been since retired). From there, we bought a custom sofa and two chairs for seating from Wolf Furniture. The next step after the furniture had arrived was to decorate and bring the room to life with accessories. Bryan and I are VERY keen on British accents and the focal point of the room is a custom Union Jack painting (pallet art) that we received as a wedding gift. We incorporated more British elements that we used as decor from our wedding on the coffee table (England books from a local secondhand book store, a French Bulldog statue to represent Rooney, and our gold royal wedding crown cake topper found here: Etsy)

Morning Room

Coffee Table

On the adjacent wall, where our server is located, we knew we needed something on the walls. After seeing so many amazing examples of gallery walls, I decided to do my own using the amazing frames I found at Pottery Barn. In order to get all of the frames bottoms straight I made my own template using Adobe Illustrator and printed it to scale via a large format plotter printer. We adhered that template to the wall and measured where the hooks on the back of the frame were to know where to drill the screw into the wall. See our process below:

The template in place.
The template in place.
Measuring the distance from the base of the frame to the hook.
Measuring the distance from the base of the frame to the hook.
Drilling directly into the paper template.
Drilling directly into the paper template.
The screws in place once removing the paper.
The screws in place once removing the paper.
Hanging each frame.
Hanging each frame.
The end result before we chose all of the pictures to fill the frames.
The end result before we chose all of the pictures to fill the frames.

Now it was on to the fun part, choosing which pictures/artwork to place in each frame. We chose pieces that best represented us as a couple. The pieces as seen below are from: our wedding day by our amazing photographer Rebekah J. Murray, a Maryland Wine print from the talented artist Matt Long, song lyrics by Mumford & Sons done in hand calligraphy by PoppyPressDesigns, a quote from Peter Pan in gold foil calligraphy by Maison Everett, gold foil scrapbook paper found at a craft store, a hand made number 11 to represent a number that is very significant to Bryan and I, and a fish cut out from my favorite yearly calendar at Paper Source which represents Bryan and I’s nickname of “fish”.   Here is a look at our final gallery wall:

Gallery Wall Final
Wrought iron wine rack made by my Grandfather.

Gallery Wall FinalGallery Wall

Maison Everett Calligraphy
Maison Everett Gold Foil Calligraphy

Gallery Wall

Matt Long Maryland Wine Print, Rebekah J. Murray Photography
Matt Long Maryland Wine Print, Rebekah J. Murray Photography
PoppyPressDesigns Calligraphy
PoppyPressDesigns Calligraphy

Next post – powder room refresh…stay tuned!

love & lots of whit – jen xo

Crossing the Threshold!

The past few days with settlement and the big move have been exciting, new, exhausting, eye-opening, busy and oh so worth it.

First and foremost – we are officially homeowners!

Our Home

The past few days with settlement and the big move have been exciting, new, exhausting, eye-opening, busy and oh so worth it.

On Thursday we had our settlement. At our settlement we signed what seemed like a zillion papers (Bryan forgot how to sign his name by the end of it and I had hand cramps) and we met the previous home-owner (who was absolutely amazing). After that we were handed the keys and they were mostly all Washington Redskins patterned house keys so Bryan instantly knew it was fate that we were meant for that house. After we finished our settlement of course we uploaded the standard keys-in-hand photo to facebook: keys Afterwards we headed to the old house to meet my dad to bring the first load of stuff over. Thursday night we unloaded what seemed like thousands of boxes and then we returned to our old house for the night.

“A custom in marriage: the husband carries his wife over the threshold of their new house or home. i.e. he lifts her up and carries her through the doorway into their new home.”
Crossing the Threshold

Friday I started to set up the kitchen and let me tell you, trying to figure out what dishes should go where, and what drawers should hold what was so tough. By the time Bryan was home from work I had organized the kitchen and the bathrooms. The cable guy then came and hooked up our TV/Internet so we were set.

Saturday was MOVING DAY. We loaded all of the furniture into the trailer and the guys made a few trips back and forth carrying all of the heavy pieces while I went back to the old house and packed all of my clothes (an equally hard task if you knew how many clothes I have). By about 5:30 all of the moving was done (phew) and then I cleaned up a little and then we had our first visitors – my Mom and Stepdad. My amazing mom brought us food – because if you opened our refrigerator at that point you would have found nothing. We then shared a bottle of champagne to celebrate. It was wonderful having our first house guests and we look forward to many more. Saturday night was the first night we spent in the house and that is when the realization hit that we were homeowners and this is where we would build our lives together!

love & lots of whit – jen xo

The Walk Through

Sneaking a quick post in today – ONE day until we settle and we are happy to report that there were NO SURPRISES!  Our HUD-1 final settlement statement came in at the amount we expected (actually a tiny bit UNDER which was an extra bonus).  After work we met up with our realtor and did our final walk through and there were no problems to be found – in fact it was even more perfect than I remembered it!  The biggest surprise to me was how big our walk in closet is – I literally forgot about the details of the house since we haven’t seen it in so long! We also found out that the previous owners are leaving us their lawnmower and trashcans which will save us some money that we otherwise would have had to spend immediately!  All-in-all a very good pre-homebuying day!

Seeing this also out front put a HUGE smile on our faces:Image


Almost Time to Sign on the Dotted Line!

It’s moving week!

As promised, this past weekend was spent packing! Luckily with my work, I have off every other Friday so the 3-day weekend was VERY helpful. Knowing we would be looking for a house within the year following our wedding – we decided that all of our AWESOME wedding gifts would just stay in their boxes. This was such a good idea in hindsight (though hard because I wanted to use all the new stuff) because packing things that are already in boxes is so much easier then wrapping them all up. Though we are just starting out with little to no furniture – we are going to have an amazing kitchen thanks to our wedding gifts so I think we will just live in there most of the time!

Other than packing – I also managed to restore a piece of furniture! It has been something I have wanted to start for a long time, and with my dad’s instruction while doing this piece, I think that I can tackle many more projects in the future. The piece I restored was an old medicine cabinet that came from my great grandma, Nonna’s house. It has been inside of my dad’s house for a long time and with time comes discoloration. Bryan and I sanded it down and then repainted it with a fresh coat of white paint and cannot wait to put it in our guest bathroom. I am so excited to continue to learn how to restore furniture.

So what is on the schedule for the rest of the week? Well, tomorrow we will be doing a final walk through of the house. I am so excited just to see the house again since it’s been a month since we saw it last. I will be taking some photos for my “before” pictures too while we are there because come Thursday there will be our moving stuff everywhere in boxes and it will no longer be a fresh empty house. Thursday is settlement day! We will be meeting with our attorney after work to sign the papers, hand over the checks, and get those keys in our hands! Once settlement is finished, we will head over to the house with my dad to unpack the first round of boxes and then Friday while Bryan is at work I will start unpacking! Then, the weekend will be used for all the heavy lifting – our furniture! It will be a tiring rest of the week, but all I can think about is how exciting that first night we stay at our new home will be for us!

Still, keep your fingers crossed for us that there are no surprises these next few days with the walk through and settlement!

love & lots of whit – jen xo

My Thoughts on Packing

Why is packing the worst thing ever?

When you have as much junk from the past as I do from never having to condense or prepare for a REAL move – it can take forever! I spent most of my weekend trying to de-clutter and sort through my stuff. Well, realistically, it was an hour of de-cluttering, an hour of complaining about de-cluttering, an hour of watching HGTV dreaming about having a house, and then back to de-cluttering again with the new motivation after watching the nice homes on HGTV. Vicious cycle.

The categories of piles were KEEP, SELL, DONATE, TRASH. I don’t know if it is just me or what – but somehow I get emotionally attached to EVERYTHING. Do I really need to save my history notes from high school, my very first video camera that only records to VHS, my Halloween costumes from the past 10 years? Luckily I was able to trash a LOT of it. I have bags of clothes to donate, and I have a stack of things to give to my dad for his next big yard sale. On the other hand, I have a collection of old cellphones (maybe I should consider opening my own vintage Verizon store?) that are still tentatively in the keep pile, and don’t even try to get me to be able to part with these stuffed animal’s Bryan has won for me over the years in the claw machines!

we love you, jennifer

For now they will just live in a box in our storage room until the next time I have to de-clutter!

As this week continues I will continue to de-clutter, clean, and pack. Luckily for Bryan, he has already moved many times so he doesn’t have anywhere near as much as I do. For now I will just keep telling myself that the less we have to move, the easier it will be on us. In the end it will all be worth it!

love & lots of whit – jen xo

What are some packrat items YOU have that you can’t bear to part with?

6 Things I Learned about First Time House Hunting

Here is a quick list of a few things I learned while we searched for our first home. Like I said previously, I was CLUELESS about house-hunting before we started. Thanks to our realtor, lender, and friends who have recently bought their first home – I now understand it better. This is just a short list of my advice to anyone else who will be looking for their first home soon. If I were to make a true list of everything I have learned along the way – it would literaly take hours to write out!

1. Be realistic in how much you are willing to spend a month on mortgage. Do not even walk into houses that you know are out of your budget. Try to stay as far from your absolute max as possible to ensure that you can still live comfortably.

2. If a nice house comes on the market – it is NOT going to last long. If you are serious about seeing the house go that same day in order to make sure you don’t lose the house before you even get to see it.

3. When making an offer on a house – be realistic. If it has been on the market a while, you may be able to give a lower offer. On the first house we bid asking price a few days after the house went on the market and we were still outbid.

4. Don’t be afraid of fixer uppers. Realstically, if this is your first home, you aren’t going to be able to afford that dream house you have in your head! As long as the house is in a decent neighborhood (and if the price is right) then it might be worth it to offer a lower bid and use the money you saved towards fixing the house. On the other hand – if the house seems like too big of a project (especially as your FIRST home) then it probably is. We visited many houses that would need work – but in the end the house we chose was move-in-ready, and honestly for us that is the best solution because we both have very busy schedules.

5. Location, Location, Location – when buying your first home, make sure you check out the neighborhood facts and crime levels. When you go to walk-through the house also observe your neighborhood to see if it seems like a good fit for you. If you notice trash in your neighbor’s yards, loud noises/music, yapping dogs, etc. – though you do not notice it now, it might become a problem when you move in.

6. The settlement process takes a long time. Like I said in my last post, we are still waiting to hear if we officially have the house. After talking to our lender yesterday, we found that we might not know officially until a few days prior to settlement. Though we are confident that we will get the house, it is still a bit frustrating not knowing OFFICIALLY if we should start packing our things!

love & lots of whit – jen xo

Do you have any advice for first time home-buyers?

Home is where one starts from.

Our story starts when my husband Bryan and I first met.

As the title of my first blog states – Home is where one starts from.  I believe that this is true, though I would like to add a bit more to it!

Our story starts when my husband Bryan and I first met.  The chapters started slow, but by the time we reunited and started to spend time with one another and start dating – the story started moving at lightning speed!  After only 8 months and 26 days of dating – Bryan proposed.  On May 11, 2013 we were married and our fairytale English Garden themed wedding was a day we will never forget. You can watch our wedding video below made by my talented friend Chris Roederer.
Our Wedding Day

After our wedding, we had the most amazing honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands.  It was the trip of a lifetime and we will always remember our honeymoon as true paradise.
Room with a View

Sunset in Paradise

And now is where HOME comes in.  After two months of being married – we decided to start the house-hunting process.  We initially didn’t intend on buying a house until about a year after we were married, but we quickly realized that interest rates were on the rise and in order to guarantee a lower rate – now was the time to act.  House-hunting was a whirlwind of mixed emotions.  As first time home buyers – it’s safe to say that I was literally CLUELESS about the whole process.  We quickly learned our budget and found it hard to find something decent in our area and in our price range.  Being in Maryland – the cost of living is pretty high.  Several times during the process we day-dreamed of moving south where our budget would buy us a much larger home – but with our jobs, family, and friends here, we knew we couldn’t leave our hometown.  After many home tours of the good, the bad, and the downright disgusting – we finally made our first bid on a house that was in our dream neighborhood.  Sadly, we were outbid but that is when we heard the best piece of advice – which at the time sounded cliché.  The advice was that everything happens for a reason, and if it is meant to be – it will happen.  We were very discouraged but only a week later a house popped up on our lists after a previous prospective buyers’ finances fell through.  We looked at this house that same night, and had won our contract on it by the next day.  Needless to say, we were SO excited.

That is where the present comes in.  It is almost as if we are at an intermission in our story.  The contract is ours, but now we are waiting on the final paperwork and loans to be approved.  Our tentative settlement date is August 22.  We are positive that this is what that advice meant; this house is larger and newer than the other we placed a bid on AND less expensive.  It is also the nicest house we have seen throughout the entire house-hunting process.

We are very hopeful & will keep the updates coming!

love & lots of whit – jen xo