The Strategic Homemaker

learning to follow the Father, care for the clan, and redeem the resources


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What We Wanted in a House, and What We Got

Since we were trying to find a house in the first week of moving here, and since we try to be strategic with our resources, we did a lot of research and scouting for about three months beforehand.  If you hear much about Rhode Island, you’ll probably hear that it is expensive to live here. In fact, one person before we moved told me we could get a decent house for $400K.  What?!  She then told me a haircut cost $50, and I wrote her off at that point.  Thankfully, neither was true, but I did realize early on in the online hunting that I would have to alter our expectations from what we could buy in the Midwest.

We decided to buy, given factors including renting being more expensive by a few hundred dollars each month, and our wanting to be here at least five years, and we were able to find something within a week, praise the Lord!

What We Wanted:

–Something we could get 20% down on, so we didn’t have to pay personal mortgage insurance.  Also, we wanted to keep the total mortgage to less than a sixth of our income, especially because we wanted to budget around $400/month extra for house repairs and updates, although it would obviously be great to not have to repair much!

–At least three bedrooms (four would have been nice, but hardly any in our price range had four.)

–A good-sized yard for the kids to play in, and me to have a garden (I was original excluding those on the house search that had less than a quarter acre, but that limited the search too much)

–A nice neighborhood for taking walks and so the house would maintain/gain value

–Fairly close location to TSH’s work, the bus route, and walkable access for me to libraries etc. (since we wanted to stick with just one car)

–A sturdily built/well cared for house

–All the bedrooms on one floor, with a bathroom on that floor

–Lots of windows

–Plenty of closets and cabinet space

Niceties we’d like:

–1500 sq ft (I had originally made this a criteria in my search, and then realized it was limiting the house hunt within our budget a lot)

–A second bath or half bath

–Gas heat (long winters, so heating is expensive!)

–Basement and garage (having at least one of these was on the “definitely want” list)

What we got:

–Price well within our budget

–1560 sq ft, and 0.24 acres with six sugar maples at the back of the fenced-in yard. Yes! Going to try our hands at maple syrup this winter. Also, currently this size feels like the perfect amount of space–not too much to pay to heat, but not too small to feel cramped.

–3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, again, Yes!

–Great neighborhood and location. I am really appreciating not being on a through street. We love going on walks, and our neighbors have been very friendly. Many of them have lived here for 50+ years, including the people we bought the house from, and there are several young families as well. We are also in a really central location to everything in RI, 16 min drive time from TSH’s work, right on the bus route, and close to the bike route.

–Gas heat and central air, which has been especially nice this summer

–Basement and sort of garage. The garage isn’t quite long enough to fit our car, but as I’ve already established, no one in RI puts their car in the garage anyway.

–Plenty of closets and windows

–Two working fireplaces

–An apparently well-cared for and well-built house

What we gave up:

–all the bedrooms on one floor. Cape cod style houses have two bedrooms upstairs and one below. and we don’t have a bathroom upstairs.

–The master bedroom didn’t fit all our bedroom furniture. We’re sharing a dresser, so we are keeping our out-of-season clothes in the basement, and switching them out as need be. It hasn’t been an issue so far, as we have a separate office, and hardly go in the bedroom during the day anyway. If there is one room in which I’d prefer to sacrifice space, it is the master bedroom.

–The garage being able to fit our car, although it’s only a one-car garage anyway, so even if the length was good, we’d still have to pick between stroller, bikes, etc and the car.

–a turn-key house. Hello, wallpaper!  However, we are making it our own, and other than a kitchen remodel, the other updates the place needs are relatively inexpensive.

I am really thankful for this house. I feel like it is even more than I had expected, and I haven’t regretted giving up any of the things we originally wanted. How about you? Is there anything you really wish you had in your house, or anything you are glad you sacrificed?


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House Progress

We’ve been working on our house for the last month, and I’m ready to take a break from wallpaper, and I almost have myself organized.  Here are some of the laborers in action.

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And here is the progress we made:

Dining Room Before (cream wallpaper, blue carpet)

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Dining Room Current (Iced Mauve by Benjamin Moore, color matched to Clark and Kensington Paint [Clark and Kensington from Ace Hardware–rated the best this year according to Consumer Reports, and only $25/gallon on sale], and under the chair rail, Heather Plume by Behr, color matched to Clark and Kensinton Paint, original hardwoods).

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Bathroom Before (flowered wallpaper–I took this picture after I had stripped most off, but you can see it in the pic of the bathroom closet)

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Bathroom Current. (Pale Celery paint by Behr. I’m not sure I’m sold on it yet, but it only took a quart, and now that the wallpaper is down, if we want to repaint, it will be much easier. The wallpaper in this room was a beast. We took the closet door off, and got the black baskets at the Christmas Tree Shop.) This is the most organized I’ve ever been in my life.

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Stairs Before (Cream wallpaper, blue carpet–These were what they looked like when PG fell down them)

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Stairs Current (Sedona Sands and Mosaic White paints by Clark and Kensington, original hardwoods, banister added, but not painted or ends put on yet)

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Office Before (Cream wallpaper, blue carpet)

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Office Current (Crossroads paint [a shade darker than Sedona Sands, but this room is less shadowed, so they look the same] by Clark and Kensington, original hardwoods). Still need to paint the trim and change up the furniture in this room, not to mention organize.

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And here are some of the places we haven’t done much to change yet. Yes, every single room had wallpaper. I don’t want to talk about it. These pics are also from before we closed, when the original owners’ furniture was still in the house.

Kitchen Before (cream wallpaper [are you noticing a trend?])

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Bedroom Before (The carpet is gone now but the wallpaper is still there.)

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Kids’ Room #1 Before (USA wallpaper)

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Kids’ Room #2 Before

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Living Room Before (beige wallpaper, cream carpet)

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All in all, I am really loving this house, but I am having to hold myself back from wanting to change everything at once. One of my friends’ dream is to buy a fixer-upper farmhouse, but I think my dream is to buy a turn-key house, haha!

Anyway, what do you think? Any ideas or tips?


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A New Vehicle

I’ve been MIA for a bit here, but that’s because some big things happened around here. We bought a house: this one.

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The same day we bought it, we moved out of our temporary housing and moved in with just our suitcases.

Within and hour and a half, our daughter fell down the stairs and broke her leg :(.  (Next time we move, we will bring a child gate with us to the house from the get go. She normally can handle stairs fine, but these are especially steep.)

We ripped up all the blue carpet in the house, revealing the original hardwoods (pics to come).

The fifth day after moving in, our stuff finally arrived. Also at that time, we also decided that the smartphones we’d been trying for a week were no substitute for home internet and switched back to dumb phones and got home internet.

Then we ripped down all the wallpaper in the front rooms, and started unpacking boxes.

and last Monday night my parents and sister arrived to help us do some serious home renovations for a week. I’m basically just coming up for air right now.

Anyway, we needed a second vehicle for TSH to get to work, and here it is:

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The route is roughly 7 miles one way, and 25:31 is his current record after about 2 weeks of riding it. (That’s half the time the bus route takes.) Most of it is actually on a bike route, which was an added blessing we didn’t take into account when buying the house.

If he keeps it up for the next several years, we’ll save a lot of money, and I’ll have a really in-shape husband. I’ll need to put some more effort into working out myself :).

Anyone else avoid buying a car via alternate methods?