The Carr Home: Lessons as First-Time Homeowners v.1
We’ve officially been homeowners for three months and it still feels like yesterday that we were closing on it. Some days, I feel like we’ve got this home ownership thing down, but most days I feel like we’re barely keeping our head above water as we try to figure everything out. Turns out, there is a LOT more that goes into owning a home that we didn’t realize (and I thought we were really prepared!)
Since owning a home is a new adventure for me, I really want to share our experiences here on HTC. If this is something you want to read more content on (like how we’re decorating our space and other lessons we’re learning) please let me know in the comments below!
5 Lessons for First-Time Homeowners
Lesson One: Yards are a LOT of work
We’ve never had a yard before, but that was on the top of our “must-have” list because we wanted our pups to have a space they could play in every day. We were prepared to buy a lawn mower after moving in but didn’t think beyond that. Turns out, there is more to maintaining a yard than just mowing it every two weeks.
The previous owners didn’t do a great job of maintaining the lawn or yard over the last few years, but we didn’t realize how rough of shape it was in until a couple weeks into being homeowners. We had to get weed killer to spray between the cracks of our driveway because they were overgrown with tiny grass and weeds. Our lawn was COVERED in dandelions, which spread like wildfire, so we spent several hours pulling them up by hand. That helped with the dandelion problem but made our front lawn pretty lumpy from all the holes. We have patches of thick grass and patches of dry grass, so we learned that we needed to fertilize the grass at least twice during the season. We also had to figure out how to turn on and program our sprinkler system (which we put off for weeks because we were convinced something was going to be wrong with it.) Thankfully, our next door neighbors came over to help Dustin turn them on and run the test and we only had one sprinkler head (out of 25) that didn’t run properly. Additionally, our whole backyard is fenced in, which means that Dustin needed a weed whacker on top of a lawnmower to cut down the grass that grows along the fence.
Three out of the six trees on our property are mostly dead, so we now have to figure out how to take them down (or try to save them.) The two trees in our backyard are apple trees, but we aren’t sure what kind. They were never taken care of by the previous owners and are totally overgrown and already dropping apples ALL over the place. My pups (especially Teddy) thinks this tree is a treat tree and is always trying to eat the apples and sometimes sneaks them into the house. GROSS! We have been talking about taking them down as well, but we love the shade and privacy they give to the yard, so we’re not sold.
The garden beds in both the front and back lawn were completely overrun with weeds, especially this super vile thing I have dubbed as “the pokey” because it has sharp spikes at the end of EVERY point on EVERY leaf. Dustin has already dug 3 pokeys out of the back yard, but we didn’t notice this one in the front yard until a week or two ago and it’s TERRIFYING to look at. I’m definitely going to have Dustin take this one out because I’m terrified of it.
Oh and bees. We have already taken out 6 hornet/wasps nests in the last 2-3 weeks. They are EVERYWHERE and it really sucks the fun out of having a backyard to hang out in. Today, I went to roll the recycling bin out to the street and the second I started moving it, a whole swarm of wasps flew out behind it and started coming at me. It was #badnewsbears.
Anyway. We are learning that there is a lot more to maintaining a yard then we thought about. We live in a really cute and close-knit neighborhood, so it is important to us to keep up our yard so we’re not THAT house on the street. A couple weeks ago, my sister came up and helped me weed, plant, and mulch my front flower bed, along with pruning my bushes. I even took several different plants and combined them into a few pots for my front steps. It looks a LOT better, but I still feel like I have a long way to go. Also, as Dustin and I were taking photos of my potted plants tonight, I realized that they had hard black spots all over them. Dustin thinks they are aphids, but after some research, I think they are budworms. WHATEVER they are, I want them OFF my plants!
(the face you make when you discover aphids on your petunias)
All of this work aside, it has been SO fun to entertain in our backyard every weekend. My sister and brother-in-law come up every Sunday and we always throw something on the grill to eat. Last weekend, we had a few couples over from church, BBQ’d and played bocce ball into the night. Plus, having the space for the dogs has changed my life. I love that they can go outside to play (or tear up toys, like Rosie did last night) whenever they want and I don’t have to go through a lot of effort to get ready and drive them to the dog park.
Lesson Two: It’s okay to take your time furnishing your new space
Our new house has two living spaces: a front formal sitting area and a family room. Since we’ve only ever lived in an apartment, we’ve never needed furniture for more than one living space, so the front living area is pretty empty. If you follow me on Insta-stories, you’ll also know that the front living space is also where the dreaded dark brown wall is. YUCK. When we first moved in and started having people over, I was so embarrassed that our front room had no furniture, minus my two bookcases.
When we first moved in and started having people over, I was so embarrassed that our front room had no furniture, minus my two bookcases. I wanted to furnish it right away, but since we had bigger fish to fry (like a lawnmower and a new fridge) I knew we needed to wait. I’m learning that it’s OKAY to wait to furnish some spaces and I’m glad I didn’t rush into it like I wanted to. I’m able to really think about what I want to do with space (I’m thinking of pulling a Belle and making it my library) and really search into different furniture stores to look for the right pieces.
Lesson Three: Paint Samples Cost Money
I don’t know why I didn’t know this before (probably because I’ve never had to paint anything in my whole life) but getting paint samples from Home Depot cost money! They aren’t free! Granted, they aren’t super expensive (3-4 bucks each) but when you have a bunch of paint colors on the brain, they can really add up.
My favorite way to limit my paint sample choices? The Project Color by The Home Depot app. This app is an awesome tool to use when trying to visualize a space with a new paint color, or trying to narrow down color choices. You simply take a picture of your space, upload it to the app, pick a paint color, and paint the walls in the picture. Below is an example of the app in action as I tried to figure out what color I wanted to use to paint over that AWFUL brown wall in my living area:
Lesson Four: Swamp Coolers Get the Job Done
The biggest thing we were worried about when we moved into our house was that it didn’t have central air. Instead, it has a swamp cooler, which is basically a big fan at the top of the house that uses water to cool down air as it passes through it and pushes it into the house. A lot of our neighbors were like: “Ohhhh nooo, you have a swamp cooler? That stinks!” when we moved in. Since summer temps in Utah exceed 100 degrees and our house directly faces East and takes on a lot of direct sunlight, we were convinced we were going to be living in an oven.
However, the lady who lives across the street from us reassured us that swamp coolers are actually great, cost effective, and get the job done. She climbed onto the roof with Dustin and showed him how to get it ready for summer and turned it on. We’ve already had several days in the high 90’s and two days in the 100’s, and the swamp cooler has done a great job of keeping the house cool. It’s definitely not central air, but it does a way better job than we thought and we’re grateful we don’t have to put in central air right away (although this will be something we want to do in the next year or two!)
Lesson Five: Not sharing walls/floors is AWESOME
If you’ve been around HTC for a while, you might remember the people who lived below us in our last apartment who totally ruined our Thanksgiving dinner. Long story short, they banged on our floor/their ceiling at 3:00 in the afternoon because we were moving around too much in the kitchen, and then came upstairs and yelled at Dustin for 10 minutes. It totally put a damper on the rest of our holiday and it made me SO paranoid about making the smallest sound for the rest of our time living there.
When we first moved into the house, any time Rosie or Teddy would bark, I would tense up and immediately brace myself for the neighbors to come yell at me again. It took me a while to get used to the idea that I’d never have anyone banging on my walls or floors again because we weren’t sharing our space with anyone else! We can play our music as loud as we want to, we can use our surround sound for our tv, we can wrestle the dogs, and we can hang up pictures at whatever time of day we want! I LOVE having the freedom to do what I want when I want to and not stress about upsetting the people who lived below us. It’s by far one of the best parts of homeownership.
It’s been a whirlwind, but we’re slowly figuring things out. If you want to continue to hear more about our homeowning adventures, please let me know in the comments below. Also, I need recommendations for places to buy armchairs at, so please let me know if you have any ride-or-die furniture stores!