I sit here on my computer. One is asleep upstairs for a morning nap. Another is listening to the radio and folding laundry. Another is in the corner and singing and cooking on her stove and feeding her babies. One is asleep under the table. I’ll let you decide who is who. The window blinds are open and I watch my neighbors walking their dogs and headed to work. There are toys on the floor below me and breakfast dishes on the table behind me. It is all there in front of me, behind me, above me, together. I should feel crowded, overwhelmed as I try to write. I am an introvert and introverts like space and quiet and alone time to think and create. Instead I feel filled. I feel calm. I feel at home.
A year ago, we decided we did not feel at home. It wasn’t Texas making us feel this way. Texas has been good to us. Our community, our work, our friends, all good. Yet something was off. Something didn’t feel right. We missed Chicago. The people, of course, but they will always be missed. No, we missed the beat, the life, the heart of the big city.
At first, we blamed Olive Garden. One evening in late August of last year that lovely place lured us in with its convenient parking and quick drive from our house, their unlimited breadsticks, and their plates of multiple Italian cuisine all in one entrée. You know what I’m talking about. But how could we?! We aren’t Olive Garden people, we thought. The suburbs are killing our cool factor! Run!!
But truthfully, Olive Garden is not to blame. And neither is the suburb we called home. It had served us well. We relished in the joys of our own backyard, of the garage that opens with a click of a button, of the endless closet space to store all of the things. I made some fantastic friends in the community. We cheered for a ranked high school football team (because Texas football.) We were safe and comfortable. It was a good home.
Yet when something began to not feel right, we realized it was not that we were not happy where we were, but we did miss the life we once had living in Chicago. The walkability to restaurants and grocery stores and libraries. The melting pot of cuisine and culture. The convenience of being so close to the community of Austin where we realized we spent much of our time whether through work, church, or play. We decided a simple shift in lifestyle was actually an easy fix. We would move. Not away but closer to what felt more like us.
So at the end of June, we said goodbye to a place that first welcomed us into Texas and said Hello to a new life in central Austin. Goodbye to plenty of space and room to spread, Hello to cozy and creative living. Goodbye to almost an hour commute to work, Hello 10 minutes to work and time to come home for lunch. Goodbye to our garage, Hello double stroller. Goodbye private yard, Hello shared pool and patio. Goodbye Olive Garden, Hello Vietnamese Café, Chinese BBQ, and Mexican Bakery.
And welcome, y’all, to the space we call home! We found a cool little community of townhouses with easy access to both the kid life and night life we were seeking. Set up in a two bedroom home now, with nothing more than a little patio and parking space to call our own, it seemed crazy to downsize after adding to our family, but we were confident this would work for us. We have had to be very creative about storage and furniture. But we have done it before in much smaller space in Chicago. I have had so much fun thinking differently about our home, using pieces in unique ways. I could give a laundry list of the annoyances this home brings, natural complaints a renters lifestyle entails. Also there is SO much that is not done. But in keeping with the vision of the year, just wake up and get going, I’m not going to wait to share. This is where we are. This is where we call home. This is where we FEEL at home. And I am excited to invite you in. Also, it makes for much more dramatic before/after when you see the progress.
Come on in for a tour!
Here are some favorite highlights:
- LOVE the open floor plan on the main level with soaring space up to the loft. It's tight but it's all right there. Kitchen is small but that also means it is so easy to cook in.
- Gallery wall was fun to put together and I imagine switching things out as it interests me, especially the kid art frame.
- Entry way pegs and shelf are a great pop of color greeting us as we walk in.
- We switched out our bar area for this sleek design and are digging it so much. There is supposed to be a big plant in the corner but it did not survive the summer away. Time to look for a replacement.
- The rug is my new best friend. The carpet EVERYWHERE is my worst enemy.
- The kids share a room (more on that in it's very own post next week!) which means that extra little lofted space is now bonus room for play for all (hello sewing table!) It is a disaster of an unorganized space, but remember my goals? Yep. That's happening and you can keep me accountable.
- The master is a lot of Waa Waaaa. Send help.
- The bathroom once red (EEEEK!!!) is now a calming shade of gray. An ugly horrible lighted space but MUCH better than RED. Trust me. No one looks good surrounded by red walls with no light. Not even me.
- And the outside space is a big fat Waa Waaaa as well. But if we do well with our tight budget this month, we are treating ourselves to a redo! Hello lights and succulents in October! And cool nights to actually enjoy it!
- And that table! Can we get a round of applause for the husband who built us that awesome table?! And another for the mom who recovered the chairs?! With that and using the bench for Caroline to eat, I am just so loving our dining space. And is that a baby seat I spy at the table? Family of four around the table. Now that says home right there.
Goodness me. There is so much more to say. A home is such an essential place because It is here that we raise our family. It is here that we recharge ourselves. And it is here that we stay in touch with the community. But I will leave it here for now and actually go enjoy this place we now call home. Y'all come visit us soon! We'll make you feel at home too!