Lessons Learned After 4 Years of Home Ownership

Four years ago today, we officially became home owners! I’ll never forget the sunny, mid-40-degree December day. That’s pretty rare for Wisconsin this time of year, so we considered it a good omen! Home ownership is not something that Ryan and I take for granted. We worked really hard that first year of marriage to put every extra cent into our savings account for a down payment. So it was an extra-special feeling when we found our house because not only were we were excited, there was no doubt that we were ready for the responsibility. That said, owning a home is a ridiculous amount of work and isn’t always easy. Whether you, too are a home owner or if you’re in the market to buy a home in the near future, here’s our top lessons learned after 4 years of home ownership.

home owner lessons learned

Our first photo on move-in day Dec. 5, 2014!

Don’t: settle.

Have I ever mentioned that we almost ended up in a house that I wasn’t in love with? Yeah, I thought Ryan loved the house so I kind of just went along with it. We even put in an offer, but luckily were able to walk away. It was the first time in my life I almost had to settle for something (aka not trusting my gut instinct). I’ll never make that mistake again! That attitude came in handy with some issues during our kitchen renovation, too. We weren’t being treated the best/being told we had to deal with some of the “minor” cabinet issues. Um, I don’t think so! Anyway, you get the point.

Do: have a plan.

Read: don’t let your husband have a couple beers and then start tearing apart the family room at 10:30 p.m. on a Saturday night without discussing if you’re ready or not to tackle your first DIY renovation … #truestory. Whether it’s a project, renovation, how you’re going to budget for your mortgage every month, etc., HAVE A PLAN. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress, worry, money and more if you’re prepared for whatever you’re about to jump into. Plus, everything usually moves a little quicker and smoother this way.

Do: live in the space for a while before making changes.

When we first moved in, the entire house had stark white walls (that had yellowed with age) with a semi-gloss finish. So basically it looked like a doctor’s office meets an ice rink. We were at Sherwin Williams approximately 48 hours later picking out samples. Our master bedroom was the first room to get painted, and we went with a dark grey that was the bee’s knees simply because it wasn’t a shiny yellow puke color. Well, joke’s on us! We repainted our master bedroom last year, and not one of those samples that we picked out that first weekend made the final cut. (Here are our home’s paint colors.) Go figure, right? I know it’s hard to resist because it’s new and exciting; however, until you vibe with your new living space you probably won’t know exactly what you want right away.

Don’t: rush to do everything at once.

Similarly, don’t rush to do everything at once when you do get started on projects. We’ve kind of given up a lot of our life/free time the last four years to completely renovate the first level of our home plus our master bedroom and outdoor landscaping. While I necessarily wouldn’t change that, it is a lot of work and we’re a tad burnt out.

Lessons Learned After 4 Years of Home Ownership

photo cred: Alex Good Photography | From 2017 – we just finished some of the new front yard landscaping, and a year later it even looks a little different than it did here! Yard work never ends. 😉

Do: plan for emergencies.

Probably the most cliche thing I can put in this post, but it’s 100% fact. Whether you buy a 20-year-old house or a 2-month-old new construction, something will go wrong. It’s just a matter of time. In four years, we’ve lost/replaced a fridge (which kind of jump-started our kitchen renovation), water heater, furnace, and now a new roof come spring thanks to $16k worth of hail damage! Start putting money aside in an emergency fund now so you’re ready and not freaking out when that time does arrive. Oh, and don’t forget about a magical thing called home insurance. 😉

Do: know when to save and when to splurge.

In case you missed the memo, owning a home is expensive! And, like I said earlier it’s easy to get carried away with all new stuff. Unless you’re in your forever home (although, I’d still argue this concept applies), it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money on every single thing and project. Make a priority list so you can see what is and isn’t important to you. Even bigger renovations that you may have to hire out for can still be done on a budget – our half bathroom is a good example. Family room furniture shouldn’t be an investment since that’s probably where you’ll spend a majority of your time so the stuff will wear out faster. Whereas an expensive dining room table might be worth an investment if it isn’t used often and can be a special showpiece in your house. Really, it’s all up to you and your preferences.

Don’t: stop enjoying your home!

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the daily to-do’s and maintenance of home ownership. Not to mention if you’re like us then you’re constantly looking to the future and asking “what’s next?” While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, and let’s face it – life never stops – don’t forget to take a second and appreciate what you already have. Buying a house is without a doubt the biggest purchase most of us will ever make, so we might as well enjoy it!

Any home ownership tips or advice you’ve learned through the years?

I’ve been pretty good about documenting our home ownership adventures and projects, so be sure to check out how far our 90’s fixer upper has come!

Leave a Comment


  1. 1.28.19
    Biana Perez said:

    Happy 4 years of home ownership! We’re on year 2 🙂 I agree on not rushing into things, living in the space then deciding is best! xo, Biana –BlovedBoston

    • 1.28.19

      I can’t believe it’s already been two years for you guys – I remember when you announced that you were buying your place. Time flies!

  2. 1.28.19
    Debra Stachelski said:

    Such good advice and I have to admit we’re still learning some of these things after almost 40 years in our home! You and Ryan have made such a beautiful home in such a short time!

  3. 1.28.19
    Brittany Steinkamp said:

    Ah, I love this post! Your house is so pretty inside and out! I would have to say knowing when to save and splurge is the hardest part – we had to give and take so many times for our kitchen and bath remodel. So worth it though!

    • 1.28.19

      It can definitely be a struggle, I agree! Especially with big reno’s like kitchen, bathroom, etc. Home ownership is definitely an adventure as you know. You have the cutest house from what I’ve seen!

  4. 1.28.19
    Nadia said:

    Wow 4 years already?! I remember when you had just bought the house! Really great advice. We’re coming up on our first full year next week and I have to admit at times it’s felt really frustrating having to wait to make changes or find the perfect pieces but I know it’s worth it to be patient and not settle even once you’re in the house!

    • 1.28.19

      Crazy how time flies, right?! It is so tempting to rush out and change/buy all the things right away, but it really is worth it in the end. You’ll be so much happier when you find things that you really, really love and plan on keeping for a long time.