If you build it

Scott and I built our house three years ago on a dare and a dream. While we heard horror stories about building that was not our story. We had a good contractor, a brilliant designer, and our own thoughts and ideas. I know some people believed we were crazy, and maybe we were, but we did it anyway believing in our dream.

I often wondered if we were doing the right thing. I wondered to myself, aloud, to anyone that would listen, but I couldn’t let go of this quiet and persistent voice inside me that said, “Do this. I dare you.” No matter how much worry and caution and doubt I would put between me and this voice I couldn’t escape it. I took the dare and we began to build a home from scratch.

Dream homes usually come later in life – after financial success and during stability. Ours didn’t come that way. There was some money. That money was going towards this dream. My sister in law gave me a beautiful gift once with this inscription, “Dream your dreams with your eyes open and make them come true.” We took that message to heart.

It seems foolish to build when you aren’t sure about your financial future. It is stupid in fact. We figured there are no guarantees anyway. Nobody’s future is certain. We had lost and overcome before. We could handle a second round if there was a second round. Loss wasn’t foremost on our minds though. Living in a house that we created – that began in our imaginations – was.

So, we imagined, brainstormed, and built a house that we were already in love with. Our dream was being built three feet behind the wee house we were living in then on an acre and a half of land. I watched the foundation being laid and the walls come up. I pored over magazines. I chose my doors, the beams, my colors, and the type and stain of hardwood floor (walnut and dark). I looked at style after style of cabinet and sink and glass and hardware and I enjoyed every detail of it. I reveled in placing my paint chips beside my piece of floor and cabinet door and sample of counter top…..reveled in it. No horror stories for us. Aside from the noise of the constant sawing and hammering, while begging my then two year old to nap, building this house was one of the most significant and satisfying experiences I have ever had.

Our house isn’t just a house to us. It is the materialization of risk and double dares. It is a place for family and friends. For coffees and long chats. For belgian waffle breakfasts on Saturday mornings. For roast dinners, barbeques, and red wine shared with the people we love. This house has lent us a business we otherwise couldn’t have pursued. These walls have witnessed tears, laughter, prayer, fear, a lot of hide and seek, knock-knock jokes, and dreams realized.

Plans and dreams change. Money comes and goes. I have another dream taking shape now. A dream of downsizing and living in a charming tight-knit community and town called Fort Langley. I have been aching to live there. My kids are in school there. It holds events like May Day Parades and Cranberry Festivals. For the last few years it was all about space, the perfect ensuite bathroom (it is…well, I think it is) and bonfires in the backyard. Now I want neighbors and cul-de-sacs. While I will miss my bathroom (not to mention my closet), my space, and the bonfires in the backyard I will be gaining a life I didn’t know I wanted until recently. A life where I am within walking distance of some of the best chocolate you will ever eat, a village with history and the sweetest shops, tree lined streets, and a piano bar I could walk home from if ever I got a little tipsy after drinking their yummy martinis. My now sold dream house will give me Fort Langley.

Our home is an honor and a privilege to live in. Looking back I would do it all again. It will, I hope, now honor the new owner. In a few months I’ll be transplanting my heart from this home to my new home and I look forward to what that will bring. Home, they say, is where the heart is.

Swept Up

In My House of Dreams
Here are a few photos of our house and, trust me, it is not always this clean. These photos were taken just before we put our house up for sale in April.

(that is not our car in the driveway by the way – no top and zippy doesn’t allow for car seats and grimy hands)

12 thoughts on “If you build it

  1. Heidi

    We are a little crazy (or stupid) that way. We had our not so great moments, but the marriage, surprisingly, is still intact. 😉

  2. sugarlens

    *swoon* @ your house.

    The kitchen is exactly my style – nice and big and white. I would be so happy living there….sigh.

  3. amisare waswerebeen

    Your post hit a chord with me. We, too, may be beginning a state of transition, a “starting over”. And it scares the heck out of me and saddens me. I hope that whatever may come, that I can embrace the changes as you have. I will likely post something about all this, but I don’t know if I’m ready to yet. I’ve started typing it, but have only saved it. I hope your new beginning will be a great one.

  4. Dorkys Ramos

    OMG Heidi your house is absolutely gorgeous! You should both be so proud of what you’ve created (not just with your home, but with your beautiful children and marriage as well). Hope many more wonderful things come your way 🙂

  5. butwhymommy

    That is a beautiful home. I’m glad you got to live that dream and that it is now providing you with the means to live another dream. Good luck.

  6. Heidi

    sugarlens, thanks! the space is nice. the island is my favorite part of the kitchen….everything happens there.

    amisare, I did a lot of soul searching throughout this last year before coming to the decision to sell. It didn’t come easily. I had plans to live out life here for the next 15 to 20 years. It was getting too hard to keep up with all of the payments and be self-employed. It came down to which one? and the business won. After reaching this decision I just threw myself into it and committed to seeing it through. I’m at peace with the outcome. We could have continued to try to keep up with the house, but I felt like I was living for it and I never wanted to be beholden to a thing and in this case that thing was a house. As much as I loved it – I was beginning to feel trapped by it and here we are…dreaming another dream and I am getting excited about it.

    I hope your ‘starting over’ goes well for you…truly. If you ever write about it I look forward to reading about it.

    dorkys, yay! you’re back!! Thank you for your kind words…as always!

    butwhymommy, hello! And thank you….it all clicked for me as I was writing this post at all of the things this house has ‘let’ us do.

  7. curious girl (lisa)

    your home is magnificent. you should be very proud of this accomplishment.

    your future home sounds like just that: home.

  8. Heidi

    pare, thank you! you never know until you try…that’s the tricky thing about risks. it has been such a big learning curve for me.

  9. Live More Now (LMN)

    Beautiful! Nicely done. I can so related to the process, though I did not build from the ground up – just remodeled my existing little house. Go here for pics: http://www.knapsak.com/pearce

    Because of the market, rather than the joy of selling, I am now facing the joy of staying. Which gives me a whole new opportunity to settle down (a bit), love the house I have “built” – just finished in july. And enjoy Seattle a bit longer. Congrats to you for the change you are embarking upon. Now I want to go look up Fort Langley! Best of luck – sounds like a new, lovely change. Love the “village” description and feeling and you convey so well.

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