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Challenge: Follow Your Dreams

The Right-Now House

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When did I start caring so much about shiplap? When did regular walls stop being enough?

These are the things I think to myself at 4 p.m. on a Thursday, wiping down peanut butter from the cabinets.

I look around my kitchen. Right under the table, there’s a wooden board that screeches and squeaks every time someone steps on it the right way. We put these floors down just a year ago, but babies are messy and sippy cups come loose and sometimes you’re so tired that you leave a puddle of water on the floor overnight.

So time passes, life happens, and it settles in.

That rouge board isn’t the only thing worn about this house. It’s almost 60 years old. We used all of our savings to save it, but when bones are tired it starts to show, no matter how many layers of dry wall you tack up or new windows you install.

When we moved in as newlyweds, the notion of a little cottage on the side of the road was romantic. Sure, the linoleum in the bathroom floor was cracked and the mini-blinds were yellowed and broken in places. But we were young and in love and everything seemed possible.

So we sat on the cold, drafty floor on Halloween night and assembled plastic yellow chairs from IKEA. I got really into thrifting and filled the basement with vintage dresses in Tupperware containers. We hung clothes from the line and I started blogging.

Then suddenly, what was good enough became less so. Friends from high school started building forever homes. Cousins settled down on farms and college buddies built towering tract houses.

We tried to leave here twice. We found land, then lost it. We drew a house plan on notebook paper and started talking about loans.

Instead, we took every last penny we’d saved and poured it back into this place. Over the course of two years, we removed knotty pine (sacrilege to some), added an extension out the back, and installed built-ins. We whitewashed brick and picked out light fixtures and built a few new tables.

We also built a family.

I was pregnant with my daughter when we started the remodel, and pregnant with my son when we finished it. And something happened when we brought them home here. I started noticing how every intricacy in the home, both those it came with and those we designed, was intentional.

That tiny ledge by the kitchen sink? It’s perfect for propping up a toddler who wants to help you tear kale. That old metal table that’s definitely not farmhouse chic? It’s just tall enough to build a fort under.

The living room is one long hall and it’s not easy to decorate. But it’s perfect for riding a Big Wheels in late afternoon when the sun’s setting behind the pin oaks.

As we live and love here, we still struggle with the timeline of it all. Is this supposed to be ours forever? Is this it for us? Was this really the dream?

It fits us now, but what about when the kids are in high school? What will our daughter do when she has full-length dresses that don’t fit in the half-sized closets we built into her A-frame bedroom walls? Will our son want a bigger yard to play football in?

The short answer is, we don’t know. We can hop on Pinterest or Instagram or Facebook and see a million examples of what we don’t have. Or, we can look across the kitchen table and see what we do.

Maybe it’s the little bit of gray showing up in my hair. Maybe it’s the way the garden looks after a big rain, or the pansies popping up in my windowbox. Maybe it’s the framed hymns over the stained couch or the lace curtains in the laundry room. Either way, right now feels pretty right.

Time passes, life happens, and we settle in.

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