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  • Tara Lenney

we're building a house!

I've never been the type of storyteller to create a long build up to the punch line, so I'm coming straight out with the big news. We're building a house!





Crazy, right?!? Yes, we are leaving our beloved neighborhood in Richardson TX and heading a few miles north to McKinney TX (both of these are just north of Dallas for the non-local folks out there). These are words I never thought I would say since we adore our current neighborhood and had no plans to leave it anytime soon (more on that in a minute). But the opportunity was too good to pass up.


To say that we are excited is an understatement. But not just excited. We have all of the emotions. Happiness, nervousness, a hefty portion of bittersweetness. You name it; it's all there.


OK so let me give you a little peek into how we got here! It has been in the works for about 2 months, but honestly on my mind for probably 15 years. I'll start with this...


WHY THIS DECISION WAS REALLY HARD

I made a pro/con list for the reasons to stay and the reasons to go, fully expecting the "Stay" list would be crazy long because we love this area so much. We really love our neighborhood. The location is awesome. We are so close to amazing restaurants and amenities, not far from the center of Dallas (all of our doctors and things are still in the heart of Dallas). Our neighborhood is super tight and friendly. We have annual 4th of July parades and a neighborhood ice cream shop and activities all year long.


Which brings me to the people. The neighbors are amazing. Our next door neighbor bakes us treats all the time. Just last week we received a plate of homemade donuts! There's always someone to lend a hand, water plants, pick up your kids from school when you're running late. And our school! There are three neighborhood elementary schools (literally, 3, inside the neighborhood) and they are all top notch. The kids are on sports teams and activities with their buddies and classmates. Truly we thought that we would live in this neighborhood until our kids were raised. But then...


WHY THIS DECISION WAS REALLY EASY

We've always wanted to build a house. It's been in the 5-10 year plan for some time now. I don't think you can do what we do and not have that itch to build your own home because we do it for other people all day, every day. To have the opportunity to make a house our own from the ground up is a dream come true. One that although I always dreamed about, I truly never thought would be attainable for at least 10-20 years. And because our current neighborhood is so awesome and desirable we just simply can't make it happen money-wise in our current location. Even fully remodeling our current house (or tearing it down and starting again) just doesn't make financial sense for us. Trust me, we ran these numbers every which way to Sunday.


Our home worked SO well for us as we were raising this young family, but our lives look so different from how they looked 7 years ago when we bought this house. At that time I had NO idea that I would ever start a business or work from home, let alone that Steven would join me. I was still working my big corporate job downtown, clocking in tons of hours per week, with a longing to be a stay at home mom. We didn't choose a house with a home office because there was literally no reason to; I was either going to keep working my downtown job or quit altogether. And while our current floor plan could potentially carve out a better office space, it's not ideal by any stretch and we would be customizing the house in such a way that it wouldn't be as appealing to future buyers.


The only space that's a good candidate for an office is at the back of the house where the kids' playroom is, and we just can't pull the trigger to take away that space from them. That room was the whole reason we bought this house! The connection between the playroom, family room, and kitchen is what sold us. Being able to cook in the kitchen, have people hanging out in the family room, and kids playing in the playroom is a dream. And during these COVID times especially I've loved having my office at the front of the house to see people coming and going and have that connection to the outside world. Never mind the practical logistical part of seeing packages for clients delivered to the door and being able to scoop them up before they're snatched!


We had even considered renting office space just to get a better setup (did you guys see my Zoom horror story on Instagram last week!?) and get the right kind of storage for the business. But I honestly really like working from home, even with all its challenges. Challenges being the polite term for SUPER LOUD BOYS. The thought of giving away a thousand dollars or more a month in rent didn't sit well with my frugal side, and I questioned how much I would actually go to the office when I could be at home. The whole reason this business started is because I wanted to do something creative while getting to spend as much time as possible with my family. I would probably wind up going most days out of guilt over having spent the money. And guilt + money is a recipe for unhappiness.





HOW THIS ALL CAME ABOUT

So why THIS house and why NOW?! I've been helping my best friend design her new house since the end of 2019. Since all of that design work for a new build happens on paper I hadn't had a reason to go drive out to see her new neighborhood until the house was framed. Earlier this summer it was at the stage where it was time for a walk-through. Guys, I totally fell in love with this neighborhood! It is SO beautiful and not like most cookie-cutter new build neighborhoods. Trust me, I'll show you a great many photos very soon, but just know that it is gorgeous and charming and welcoming and checks the boxes of what our current neighborhood has.


And wouldn't you know that there was a lot available....3 doors down from our best friends. My mind started painting a picture of being able to sit on our front porches together and watching our (collective) 8 kids play in the community green space in front of our houses. Of walking 15 seconds to get to each others front door. Sunday night dinners, Smokehouse Saturdays, and cooking and Thanksgiving leftover parties and bread baking on the weekends.


And I'm not sure if any of this would have reached a fever pitch at this point in our lives without COVID. People will be studying for years what the effect of the pandemic had on our nation and world, but one theme that we've experienced both personally and with our clients is how much it's emphasized the importance of home. Having a home that is designed to support your life and serve you can truly make a world of difference in your day-to-day happiness, and not to be dramatic here, but your mental health as well. Having separation from your work-from-home space and your family space. Not having to lock yourself in a bedroom to take a Zoom call. Wanting chairs on your front porch to have a connection to your neighbors. And really wanting to be close to your people.


Our new house is going to do all of those things and more. It will have an office in the front of the house WITH DOORS and with a room to store our samples and client files rather than having all of that in our living room (you will currently find our samples spread out between the garage, our coat closet, credenzas, and under the sofa!!). It is going to support our work-life in ways that seem simple but are just not attainable in our current home.


I'm excited about so many things, but I'm especially excited to be able to share the full process with all of you. We share glimpses of our client projects on Instagram, but for privacy of our clients we never share the full soup-to-nuts details of every step. Since I am an open book I'm pumped to share all of that with you! We are building with a production builder, not a fully-custom home, so I have a great many insights to share with you on negotiations, navigating the Design Center, making the best selections for your budget, where to spend and where to save, what to build into your home vs. what to do after move in, what to look for when your house is being framed, mistakes along the way (because certainly there will be some), what we are planning to DIY after we move in, what furnishings we're bringing with us and what we're buying new, and SO MANY OTHER THINGS. I'm literally exploding with ideas (if you read that in Chris Traeger's voice from Parks and Rec we should be friends).


Timing-wise things aren't fully set, but we will hopefully be in our new home next spring. After helping hundreds of clients with new builds and renovations I know enough to not get my heart seat on any particular date and to take things as they come. We're going to try and roll with the process and not stress too much on timing.


The counterpart to this, which I'm sure you've worked out by now, is that we will be selling our current home. We're in the final stages this week of getting it ready to go on the market. We know there are so many families out there who would LOVE this house and want to get into our neighborhood and would be served well by it. So fingers crossed and prayers and all the good vibes that the right family finds us in the right timing!







Thanks for hanging onto the end of this VERY wordy post (which I could have easily made 3x as long but condensed my excitement as best I could). Can't wait to share all of this with you over the next year!!


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