We Bought a New House!

We bought a new house and we’re moving into it three weeks from today!

It feels so good to finally let that cat out of the bag. Anel and I have been working on selling our house, getting a mortgage, buying this house, and renovating it all summer-long. The process has completely taken over our lives for the last three months so not being able to share it with you guys has been really hard. But there were a lot of moving pieces and we wanted to make sure they were all going to fall into place before we announced it.

We’re so excited. We’re so exhausted. We’re so excited! Did I already say that??

We were not planning to move this year at all. Although we’d been saving up for a new house for a while now, we were planning to wait for at least another year. But  Zillow window shopping/fantasizing is one of my favorite pastimes, and one day in early June, a house caught my eye and I couldn’t look away. I sent it to Anel and was shocked when he suggested that we actually look at it. Even though I’d been wanting to move for a while, it wasn’t even on his radar.

The house was in our price range and didn’t need a ton of work (although it does need some) which felt like finding a diamond in the rough.

A week later I saw it with a realtor while Anel was at work. That same day she showed me a few other houses but none of them even came close to this one. That weekend, I brought Anel and Amalia back to get their take. We pulled up the driveaway and Amalia all of a sudden got super excited and shouted, “Ooooh! Home!” We hadn’t said a word about the house being a place we might live because we didn’t want to confuse her in the early stages.

Goosebumps, right?

I teared up at that moment and knew right then and there and knew in my bones that this was our house. I just knew. Anel fell in love immediately and we made an offer that Monday.

The next week, however, I got cold feet. The monthly mortgage payments are going to be higher than what we pay now, we have to move Amalia out of her daycare (which we all love), we have to leave our neighborhood where we’ve grown an amazing community and family, and change, in general, scares me. I wanted to pull out of the deal and got really emotional about it. That same night, however, the seller got another offer but told us we could still have it if we wanted. As soon as I heard that, I had a strong and visceral reaction to the thought of someone else living there and knew we had to make the move.

Since that day I haven’t had one doubt about it being the right decision for our family. That said, it has been a process and a half. Every week since we made the offer, we’ve had some drama or another with either buying the new house and/or selling the old one. In tomorrow’s post, I’m going to give you a full house tour of our current home and talk more about the selling process which has been intense, to say the least, and will focus on the new house today.

On the buying side, it has been challenging because Anel and I both work for ourselves which makes getting a mortgage a little tricky. It’s doable, but a whole lot of paperwork is involved. Luckily we have an amazing accountant who keeps very tight and organized records. My biggest piece of advice for anyone with a business who might buy a house one day is to get an accountant and/or bookkeeper who will keep you on track.

Where we’re moving: Right now we live in Stamford, CT, a suburb of NYC not too far from the city. Westport, the town we’re moving to, is about 20 minutes Northeast from us now (away from the city). It’s a beach town with lots of cute shops and restaurants (many featured in my travel guide) and it’s always been my dream to live there. We have a ton of friends in town and always end up making the drive for date nights or to go to the beach.

Why we’re moving: There are a lot of reasons, but here are the main ones:

  1. More space – The house itself is bigger than ours and it’s on a lot more property. Boots will be able to run around more freely and we can put up a swingset for Amalia.
  2. Better schools – While the schools in Stamford are good, the public school system in Westport is one of the best in the country. It feels like a giant relief knowing that our children will get an excellent education.
  3. The community- Stamford is a small city which definitely has its perks, but Anel and I both crave that small-town feel and a sense of tight-knit community. We look forward to meeting new people and participating in local events.
  4. House layout- Our current home is a split-level layout which was great for us at first because it felt like less of a jump from an apartment. With a newborn, it was awesome because Amalia’s room was on the same floor as our living space so we weren’t running up and down the stairs all day and night. But we end up only using about half of the space in the home. That is partially because of how we designed it from the get-go, but our house feels a lot smaller than it is because of that.

When we’re moving: September 9th is our official move date. As long as nothing comes up last minute, that’s the plan. Two weeks from today, eek!

Decorating process: When we bought our current house, I decorated it really quickly and cheaply and basically just want it over and done with which, in turn, lead to redoing rooms over and over and making some really poor decisions that ended up costing more in the long run. Anel and I have agreed to do things the right way with this house, taking our time and working with Prudence to design each room one at a time for spaces that will last for years.

House details: The house we bought is a traditional colonial, similar to the one I grew up in. It’s bigger than our current home, but not too big. It feels like the perfect size for our family. If/when we have another kid, it will be full and happy. Not too crowded and not too empty. It has four bedrooms upstairs and a downstairs office for me which was a huge selling point. A 5-bedroom house would have been pretty much impossible to come by in our price range, and the fact that we found a gem with an office space felt like it was meant to be.

My favorite part of the house is a big living room off of the kitchen with vaulted shiplap ceilings (seen below) and a fireplace. There was a little wall dividing the space into two sections which we had knocked down to open it up. The floor on the other side of that little wall (seen in the photo directly below) was tile, but it’s currently being redone in wood to match the rest of the first floor. It’s going to be big, bright, open, and amazing. That little nook without flooring right now will become a space for Amalia to play for now, and we’ll eventually move her playroom to the basement when she gets older.

It is going to make a huge difference to have her playroom right next to the kitchen. In our current home, there is a wall separating the two and it’s hard for me to cook her dinner or get anything done because she often wants to be in the same room as me. Now she’ll be able to see her mommy and play in her space at the same time. And I can keep an eye on her.

You can see that the fireplace is off-center which looks a little odd, so we’re either going to center it and add a mantle or add built-in shelves to the right of it so there isn’t empty space where all that white brick is currently. I’m leaning towards built-ins but would love your opinion.

The kitchen was the number one seller in the house for me. It’s roomy and laid out perfectly. And it has two ovens. TWO! I can now bake cookies and roast a chicken at the same time. Life is going to be forever changed. The only two things I’ve bought decor-wise for the house so far are two new light fixtures for over the island and new counter stools. We’re installing these gorgeous glass pendant lights that will open up the space even more. And we went with these stools in sky blue for the island. We love our bistro stools, but the buyers of our current home wanted them and bought them with the house (including a lot of our other furniture).

When you walk in the front door, the first room you see on the left is a dining room. As in a real live dining room that we won’t be converting into a playroom. I’m truly #adulting over here! Growing up, we ate dinner in our formal dining room every night with candles and I love that. I don’t know if that will happen realistically every night but I love the idea of making that a tradition we do often as a family. We’re going to have a lot of fun decorating this space. I’m envisioning a bold wallpaper, an amazing credenza, and a beautiful light fixture.

Here you can see the entrance from the front door. The dining room is to the left and my home office (with French doors) is to the right. You can get to the kitchen either through the dining room or by going down that little hall and taking a left. There isn’t a ton of space in the entryway, but we are going to make this space feel warm and inviting. And we plan to add a stair runner too.

This is my home office! It’s a really decent size and the light is incredible. It has the most amazing energy and natural light and I can’t wait to work from here. It has glass French doors that I can shut if I’m on a call without feeling like I’m in a cave. I don’t have a vision for the design yet but I’m thinking lemon wallpaper is a must.

This is the family room tucked away in the back of the house. It has another fireplace and we’re planning to add built-in shelves and cabinets to that wall on the right. This is where we’ll put a big cozy sectional and the TV for movie nights.

This bathroom is off the TV room. Clearly,a we need to do some work in here but what I both love and hate about it is that it has a shower. We can use the TV room as another guest room if we get a pull-out sectional and guests can shower here. I can picture us hosting a holiday for our families and everyone will be able to have their own space. Part of me wanted to take the shower out because we don’t have a powder room, but it is practical so we’re going to figure out a way to make this bathroom look cool with the shower in it.

It’s hard to see, but this is the master suite. Yes, a suite! You can close the door and there’s this little hall/area that opens up into the room, a walk-through closet, and the master bath, all of which are pictured below. The master is significantly larger than our current one and we’ll be able to fit a reading nook as well as two large dressers, our bed, and nightstands.

There are four bedrooms upstairs and they all look pretty similar so I’m just sharing Amalia’s room below. It’s double the size of her current room and we’re so excited to make it feel like home for her. Our plan on move-in day is to completely unpack her room and make it perfect as our number one priority so that when she comes home from daycare that night, she feels comfortable and happy there.

This photo of the basement was taken two weeks ago but it already looks totally different. We’re completely finishing it, and adding a laundry room, storage room, and mudroom. You can see in the photo below it, what it looks like with the walls laid out for our laundry room and storage room and the old tiles pulled up.

We picked a light grey luxury vinyl floor that looks like wood but is totally waterproof and durable. I can’t wait for this basement to come together. We’re not 100% sure how we’ll use the main part of it yet but we know eventually it will be a space for our kids to hang out.

The biggest projects we have to do are all on the exterior of the house. The siding needs to be replaced, we have to do some major landscaping work, we have to replace the front steps, and we have to redo the back deck. These are all very costly projects so we will do them slowly and one at a time over the next few years.

Photos by Julia Dags.

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  1. sarah elisabeth said:

    This is too cute!!!! And so exciting for you guys! Congrats on your forever home!

    8.19.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thanks so much! We’re very excited.

      8.21.19 · Reply
  2. Meghan said:

    The house is beautiful and so you! So happy for you guys, congratulations! Hang in there during transition!

    8.19.19 · Reply
  3. Gina Graf said:

    Huge congrats on your new home! There’s no better feeling than finding “the one,” even if it’s terrifying at the same time. Best of luck with the move!

    8.19.19 · Reply
  4. Danielle said:

    Ahhh, congratulations so exciting!!! Remember the only constant in life is change 🙂 I hate change too but saying that sometimes makes it all better! And, double ovens is a complete dream! Best wishes to you and your beautiful family in your AMAZING new home 🙂

    8.19.19 · Reply
  5. Jessica said:

    Amazing!! Congratulations on your new adventure!! ☺️ Love how Amalia said “home!” When you pulled up. Where do we sign!? Haha

    8.19.19 · Reply
  6. Kim said:

    Such exciting news!! Congratulations and best wishes on the new home!! :0)

    8.19.19 · Reply
  7. Aston said:

    I’m so incredibly happy for you! Y’all work so hard, and it’s exciting when you can make your dreams a reality. Congrats!

    8.19.19 · Reply
  8. Jessica Dupont said:

    How exciting!! Can’t wait to see what you guys do with the space! And I think you need that lemon wallpaper for sure!

    8.19.19 · Reply
  9. Amy said:

    My aunt, uncle, and cousins live in Westport and I love the gorgeous houses and cute winding roads! My mom says I was obsessed with wanting to live there as a kid ‍♀️- congrats!!

    8.19.19 · Reply
  10. Whitney said:

    Congrats!!! Your new house is beautiful! Can’t wait to see your lemon wallpaper! So excited for you guys!

    8.19.19 · Reply
  11. Laurie Panettiere said:

    Julia-your new home is absolutely gorgeous!!!! Can’t wait to see how you decorate it!! Much health and happiness in it.

    8.19.19 · Reply
  12. Lauren T. said:

    Congratulations on your new home! It’s beautiful. Can’t wait to see what you do with this space. As for the fireplace project, I say, built-ins all the way!

    8.19.19 · Reply
  13. Becca said:

    Love this home! Congrats, so beautiful. What color paint did you do throughout the first floor?

    8.19.19 · Reply
  14. Danielle P. said:

    You are easily one of my favorite bloggers/influencers because I love how you “keep it real” without being negative. I relate to your anxiety and aversion to change, please never stop sharing that aspect of your story. I am SO excited for you guys. This post was so well written, I even teared up for you guys! I cannot wait to see how you decorate your new house and turn it into a home – keep the content coming! Congratulations to the whole family!!

    8.19.19 · Reply
  15. Lainey said:

    so excited for you. looks like a great investment and a wonderful home to raise a family

    8.19.19 · Reply
  16. Athena said:

    Welcome to Westport!! Can’t wait for you to frequent local gems.

    If you need a landscaper (when the time comes) I highly recommend, “Rizzo Masonry and Landscaping.” They are a local business right here in Westport.

    Good luck and hope to see you around the neighborhood!!

    https://www.rizzomasons.com/

    8.19.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Amazing thanks for the rec! We actually are looking for one so I’ll add them to the list.

      8.19.19 · Reply
  17. Laura said:

    My cousins grew up in Westport as did a close friend of mine from college. It is a beautiful place to live! And you are both lucky in that you don’t need to commute to the city daily for work. As 20 somethings, my cousins are often home at their parents’ on the weekends with their friends so they can go to the beach (and their parents live in a house with a pool). The only thing I would say is to make sure you stay true to yourselves and don’t get too into keeping up with the joneses. Like every town, some people there are wonderful, but others can be super snotty. As i’m sure you are aware, there is a lot of wealth in that part of the world and the schools are excellent, but can also be pressure cookers. I’m jealous though – if I still lived in the tri state area, it is a gorgeous place to live!

    8.19.19 · Reply
  18. Amy said:

    Congratulations! My grandparents lived in Fairfield for 50+ years and I have the best memories going to Westport for Carvel (that town has changed a LOT!) and going to Fairfield beach. Happy for you all!

    8.19.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Haha I love it!

      8.21.19 · Reply
  19. Meg said:

    Love you guys and so excited for you! Can’t wait to come visit 🙂

    8.19.19 · Reply
  20. Cheslsea said:

    Congratulations! The house looks beautiful and perfect for raising a family! I look forward to see all of the changes you will make to make it feel like home!

    8.19.19 · Reply
  21. Melissa said:

    Congratulations!!

    8.19.19 · Reply
  22. Katrina said:

    Congratulations! This is so exciting for your little family! Looking forward to seeing the new place come together.

    8.19.19 · Reply
  23. Alyssa said:

    So cute!! Congrats on the new home! Love the idea of the built-ins along the brick wall next to the fire place.

    8.19.19 · Reply
  24. Alyson Albert said:

    Congrats to your family! So incredibly exciting!

    8.19.19 · Reply
  25. Viola said:

    Congrats on the new house and so great that you sold your old house already. Can’t wait to see how you decorate the new house!

    8.19.19 · Reply
  26. Kristen Kells said:

    where do you look for inspiration when designing a new space? We move into our first house on Thursday and I am struggling to find inspiration – pintrest just isnt doing it for me anymore! Need something attainable (currently broke from buying said house!) but also aspirational. You did a beautiful job on your last house, cant wait to see what you do with this one. Is this in Stanford as well?

    8.19.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Great question! I would say Pinterest but sounds like you’re over it. I would go into home stores and see what feels good to you. Then you can find more affordable versions at Target/Home Goods and other places. The new house is in Westport.

      8.19.19 · Reply
  27. Hayley said:

    Congratulations, the new house looks beautiful! I love Westport, such a lovely town.

    8.19.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      It’s the best! Happy to be able to call it mine so soon 🙂

      8.21.19 · Reply
  28. Anne said:

    It looks really cute! Congratulations! And the outside has a similar mid-century look with the bi-level aspect as your current house so it feels similar in style / look. Enjoy! Making a house your own through renovations is always fun even if a lot of work!

    8.19.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thank you so much! Yes it does look kind of similar from certain angles for sure. I hadn’t thought of that! We have to redo the entire exterior in the next year or two unfortunately though. Such a bummer!

      8.19.19 · Reply
  29. Oh Julia, it’s beautiful! I’m SO happy for your family and can’t wait to follow the decorating fun! It’s such a nice bright, light and airy space. Hugs + congrats!

    8.19.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thanks Kelly!!! We’re so so so excited.

      8.19.19 · Reply
  30. Liz said:

    Congratulations on your beautiful new home! I hope you document your renovations, I love before and afters and decorating type posts and look forward to following along.

    Another blogger I follow, Olive and Tate, had a similar off center white brick fireplace wall in her previous home and it reminded me of yours. She added a chunky wood mantle and enclosed some of the brick in painted white wood to make a bench. Here is her post:
    https://www.oliveandtate.com/2018/08/before-and-after-family-room-reveal.html

    8.19.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I will for sure document it all! Love how Olive & Tate did it, thanks for the inspo!

      8.21.19 · Reply
    • Stephanie said:

      Thanks for sharing Liz! That fireplace was surely a challenge and you know I’ve seen some challenging spaces 😉 Congrats on the new home, Julia!

      8.23.19 · Reply
  31. Christine said:

    Congratulations on your new home!!! Even in your prelim photos above, your new home looks beautiful. Can’t wait to see how it develops as you all move in. I grew up in Westport <3 right near Old Mill Beach, and my grandparents owned a restaurant near Compo Beach. Such a family-friendly place, though it has changed so much. I went to Kings Highway, Long Lots, and Bedford (when it was still a middle school). Wishing you a happy move-in!

    8.20.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Ohhh I love that! Westport is such an amazing community, and I can’t wait for Amalia to grow up there.

      8.21.19 · Reply
  32. Raven said:

    It is SO gorgeous – the light is amazing and yes, lemon wallpaper is a MUST! 🙂

    8.20.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I agree! #lemonlove

      8.21.19 · Reply
  33. Laurie said:

    Congratulations! Westport is a beautiful town. The house looks wonderful! Can you tell me where the light fixtures over your kitchen island are from? I love them!

    8.22.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thank you! I actually don’t know. We’re taking them down so if I see a brand on them I’ll keep you posted!

      8.22.19 · Reply
  34. Megan Baker said:

    Congratulations! We moved from Stamford to Weston in May for better schools and smaller community. It has been everything I wanted and more.
    Moving was so stressful, but you seem to have a good handle on it- organizer, decorator, and general prep. I was not ready for the movers. One thing that helped us was the mover came a couple of weeks before move and moved rooms that we weren’t using into the new house.
    I do miss some places in Stamford, mostly Target. I also miss Bartaco (less crowded that WP), Capricio, Turning Point, Ooh Lala, Chop’t, and my nail salon. WP needs a good salad place!
    Best Wishes!

    8.29.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I’m going to miss Target and Turning Point SO much too! How will we live without them?? 🙂

      8.29.19 · Reply
  35. Briana Morrissey said:

    Congratulations! I’m so happy you’ve found your forever home in an amazing CT town!
    I definitely wouldn’t center the fireplace in the open living room. I really like your idea to put shelves to the right! It’s such a unique characteristic and warm wood shelves might warm up the space even more. But my dad builds custom cabinets in Fairfield County so I’m almost always on team built-ins (he has me well trained)! ☺️ I also, think a row of mid height bookcases would look great in the office under the window opposite in the French doors.
    Good luck with the move!!

    9.5.19 · Reply