We moved a few weeks ago, which even though it was time, felt bittersweet. We were in our last house for over three years. After having to move suddenly from Chicago when we found out G was sick, and a short time in Austin, it was the first place that felt like “home” for our little family. When I was 5 we moved from our first house into the house where my mom still lives 24 years later, but every time I pass that first house where we probably only lived for two or three years, I feel a little pang of “that’s my home”. It’s funny how we attach to homes and the lives we lived there.
I have stayed very attached to our Chicago home. A few weeks before we moved we were in town visiting Pete’s family, and as I always do, I took a walk around our old neighborhood and past our house we lovingly called “Clifford”. The new owners were very gracious to let us go in and tour it a few years ago, but they have been there longer than we were now and I didn’t want to impose. I wondered what would have happened if we been able to stay in Chicago- would we have lived there forever like we thought, or eventually trekked out to the suburbs like so many of our friends are doing now?
I actually got an email from the current owners a few days later- apparently they have had two kids since they bought the home, and felt it was time for more family friendly space and that they were planning to sell. It was fun to see the listing and how much of the design they kept, and what they had changed to make the house work for them.
Before our most recent move, I had our house shot professionally one more time for my own memories. The first time we shot the house for Matchbook we had only been in a few months, and I wanted to capture how the house had changed and grown as we settled in with our family. It has been fun to look back on how the rooms changed over the past three years, and to compare them to their counterparts in our Chicago and Austin houses. My favorite part is seeing how much has actually stayed the same.
Chicago 2010 :: Photos by Emily Johnston
Our first house together, I combined items I had collected for my college house (chandelier, metal trunk side tables) with vintage pieces (pair of wingback chairs that I recovered, antique rug), some budget finds (the pair of consoles that I repainted myself) and our custom-made green velvet sofa. I obsessed over the design of the sofa. It had to be big enough to seat three people comfortably, but still petite to fit the smallish dimensions of the room and allow for flow. It was the biggest purchase I had made for the house, and so I wanted it to be a statement piece.
I understand playing it safe if you are spending a lot on an item that you want to last a long time, a more neutral piece will be more adaptable as your tastes changes. But, I also think if you really love a piece that is more specific and are willing to commit, it’s great to splurge on a statement piece since it will carry it’s design-weight in different spaces without needing a whole lot else going on. With that in mind we chose the tufted style in a bottle green velvet- green is my favorite color so I knew I wouldn’t quickly tire of it, and is a classic that I felt confident could work in different color schemes.
Austin 2011 :: Photos by Paige Newton
It’s always funny to me revisiting pictures from our Austin house- our life in Chicago was so full we honestly never thought we would leave, and our current life in Houston feels so right and like it was always meant to be, that I sometimes forget we had a this short, hectic transition time where we were in Austin. Looking at the pictures I can really sense the feeling we had that took us awhile to recognize of: we rushed into this, we might have made a mistake, let’s not get too comfortable.
Still- it’s neat to see how our furniture transitioned to our Austin living room which was easily thrice the size of Chicago. I purchased a new ottoman from Ballard, and a larger Madeline Weinrib rug to help fill the space. Our Chicago rug lived in the family room off the kitchen in Austin, and the LV trunk coffee table moved from our Chicago family room, and the tiger velvet ottoman went to the playroom. Art we had in the kitchen in Chicago went above the couch, but other than a fresh coat of pink paint, we didn’t do much else.
Houston 2012 :: Photos by Emily Johnston
I think we had been in the house for all of three months when Emily came down to shoot it for Matchbook, and still it feels homier than our house in Austin ever did. Part of that is the scale of the rooms, which were only slightly larger than our house in Chicago and fit our furniture much better. Also, the only new furnishing we purchased for the space was a custom-cut antelope rug which I had loved forever and worked perfectly with our existing pieces while giving them a fresh new look.
Not having to buy furniture for the first time allowed us to focus on layering in art and accessories. At this point we hadn’t hung curtains, and everything on the mantle was borrowed from my mom for the shoot. For art we brought in pieces we already had, filling in with reproductions art.com, mirrors, and other smaller things we used as place holders while we took our time collecting special pieces that we gave each other for birthdays and anniversaries over the next few years.
Houston 2015 :: Photos by David Land
I love where this room ended up before we moved. We eventually did hang curtains, and we switched out our ottoman for this smaller blue one that was a better size for the space. Other than that, the only real change is the art we added to our collection over the past few years. Each piece has a special story, and adds another layer to a room that is already so personal.
I think with anything in life, things are pleasing when they are new and shiny and exciting, and then also when they are loved and comforting and familiar. Re-using our existing pieces in different spaces each move always makes them feel exciting again, while still carrying through that instant comfort of home that comes with what is familiar. With this move we once again found spots for all of our favorite pieces, adding in some new finds, and refreshing the finishes that needed a little love. As nervous as I was about moving my children from their first home- they don’t seem phased at all, and that has made it easier for me to let go and start our lives in our new house without the sweet sadness that has accompanied our past transitions.