My Starter Home

I would like to start off by giving a quick shout out to Compass a real estate startup based in New York that organized the Starter Stories project. I have been putting this off for a while because my house never seems put together enough to photograph, but tonight I decided to bite the bullet because, let’s be real, I don’t actually know if I will ever get the bamboo blinds that I want to replace the living room curtains or hang all the pictures, so I might as well document our current place now exactly how it is. Maybe that will give me more motivation to finish some projects, so I can follow up with a before and after post down the road.

We’ve been married 3 1/2 years and we are on house #5, but I am considering our current house our “starter” home because we have finally arrived at that magical place where we are no longer living paycheck to paycheck. When our lease here is up, we won’t be frantically searching for somewhere better/cheaper/more convenient/ bug free/ above ground etc. because this is the first lease we actually plan on resigning. (Gasp!)

I cannot wait to someday own a real home where I can plant a real garden and paint the walls without asking anyone’s permission, but I consider this our starter home because it’s not just a roof over our heads, it’s somewhere we actually want to stay for a few years. I guess we are just those kind of people now. The kind who own real furniture and have a 5 year plan.

I wish I had done a better job of photographing our previous homes, but here are some photos that have survived all the moves including a 48 hour cross country adventure.

These photos don’t show much of the actual house, but here are some photos of us inside the little white house on Ridge Avenue in Buena Vista, VA where we lived for our first year of marriage and junior year of college.

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When our lease was up, we decided to save a lot of money by moving into JJ’s sister’s basement in Lexington, VA where some of our rent was paid in babysitting our niece and nephews. We got to paint the walls and cupboards before moving in which made it feel more like ours, but we secretly dreamed of one day living above the ground again. We made some pretty great memories down inside that colorful cave full of hand me down furniture. I mod podged a pretty sweet coffee table that we had to leave behind when we loaded up what would fit in the Hyundai and trekked westward. We lived here our second year of marriage and senior year of college at Southern Virginia University.

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About a week before graduation, JJ got offered a summer internship with Deseret Digital Media in Salt Lake City. We were very short on time to find an apartment, so we went with a cheap short lease in Rose Park. It was an adventure complete with midnight ritualistic prayer chants drifting through our paper thin walls, homeless friends in the dumpster, and bed bugs. We came with basically nothing so all of our furniture was either given to us or found at yard sales. JJ’s internship went really well and they extended it through the end of the year, so when our lease was up in Rose Park, we left with some stories that may one day help us earn our street cred with future grand children. We lived here our first summer after college graduation.

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As our lease was coming to an end in Rose Park, we started frantically searching for the perfect place not actually knowing how long we would still be in Utah. We ended up settling for another basement apartment because sometimes you’ve just got to sacrifice natural sunlight for cheap rent and nice neighborhoods. We signed a year lease in hopes of a job offer for JJ and luckily in January, they hired him on as a full time writer and we counted our blessings in our 600 square ft Sugarhouse cave. However at the end of that year, we were both working full time and ready to move up in the world. We lived here through my first pregnancy with our angel daughter Abby.

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We really liked our ward in Sugarhouse and loved the neighborhood in general. I mentioned to a friend that we were looking for somewhere in the neighborhood and she referred me to a friend of hers who owns a condo that is basically a stone’s throw away from our basement apartment. The timing was perfect and we ended up moving in the day before my 24th birthday. We’ve been here a little over 6 months and I am still basking in all the storage space! It is a second story 2 bedroom 2 bathroom unit that is sandwiched in between two other units which keeps us nice and toasty in the Winter. We are still just renting, but it feels like home because for once we actually own every piece of furniture in here! Also, we have a small balcony, fireplace, dishwasher, and washer/dryer. We are a 5 minute walk from Fairmont Park, a movie theatre, Thai food, gourmet donuts, Chipotle, Whole Foods, and public transportation – which has saved us from having to get a second car since I now work in Park City. I have pretty big plans for this home and the most exciting part is, we plan on sticking around long enough to actually get some things done!

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When we first moved in, our TV wasn’t big enough to fit on the wall mount, so we got a new TV for Christmas. Also, someday I will actually put a photo in that white frame. It’s on my to do list.

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This is hanging in our tiny laundry closet. JJ promised me he would get up on a table at our wedding reception and sing Born to Run by Springsteen. It never happened, so I bought him this T-shirt our first Christmas as a joke. He has since outgrown the shirt, so I cut it up and framed it. Constant guilt trip. “Tramps like us, baby we were born to run”

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This is the spare room/ storage room/ JJ’s office. We still need to hang some pictures and buy some more book shelves, but it is serving its purpose for now.

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Our new record player. Also, check out that huge closet for storage!

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This is the first home where we’ve had enough space and money to actually buy a real matching bedroom set.

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Welcome to my half of the bedroom which I fondly refer to as my creative corner.

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We each get our own drawer and behind the mirror shelves. Plus this is OUR bathroom.. not to be confused with the guest bathroom. Luxury, I know.

Three years and five homes later, we are so happy to finally feel a little bit settled down, but not tied down. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that where you wake up in the morning is not nearly as important as who you wake up with beside you. I’m lucky to have had a pretty cool guy beside me through the good, the bad, and the pee stained marijuana filled hallways of previous apartments. The days are getting longer, our lives are still mostly in front of us, and the beat goes on.



  1. LCD Soundsystem… nice 🙂 I throw “Dance Yrself Clean” on on my spotify almost once a week. 😀

    There is something so cozy and charming about efficient spaces. So glad to hear from you guys… keep it coming!

    1. Haha yeah JJ is a pretty huge LCD Soundsystem fan. He was James Murphy for Halloween last year 🙂 Hope you guys are doing well, also!

  2. Thank you for posting all of these great pictures and your fun narrative of your homes. I can’t wait to see this in person some day!

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