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New Home Tour: Tips for the Home Buying Process & Design Inspo


Exactly one year ago I was just about to finish up a week long IMSE OG training for school, when I took a quick break to search on Zillow to see if any new homes were listed on the market. I had grown so used to feverishly checking for new listings that I noticed Thursdays and Fridays were always going to be your best bet in discovering something new. Keep in mind we had just moved our wedding back a year and we were still very much in the middle of quarantine due to the pandemic. Looking back now, I really don't know what we were thinking. Nevertheless, we carried on. 

I thought I would take the time to share some home buying tips for you, while also sharing some glimpses of our "new" home and reasons behind some of my designs. If you're here and like what you see, you can also shop my decor and lifestyle posts on liketoknow.it here! 


House searching and the whole buying process had been the exact opposite of what I dreamed it to be. Jeff and I had started casually house shopping in 2019 and didn't begin pursuing it seriously until winter 2020. We quickly got that sense that things weren't lasting very long on the market. Somehow I had this fantasy that we would just stroll on in to tour as many homes as we liked and we would take as much time as we needed to really think about whether it was going to be the house of our dreams or not. Welp. Jokes on me because my "dream house must haves list" quickly became.... "Does it have 4 walls and a roof? If so, then check I'm sold!" This might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but if you are currently or recently have been in the process you can relate. 

Let it be known that we put multiple competitive offers in on homes that I swore would be "our" home and we didn't get them. We lost to all cash and 60k over ask offers and we lost houses that we couldn't even have had the chance to buy because during the pandemic they were limiting to 30 minute showings and only 5 showings a day due to social distancing. As each day went by, I was losing more and more hope that we wouldn't get (not even find)something. Looking back now, I wish I had just trusted that for something so significant and that would likely be such a huge part of your everyday life for an extended amount of time, taking just one more day each day to find a home is a small price to pay. There were lots of tears (on my part) and plenty of sleepless nights that I feel quite certain sparked a serious battle with anxiety last summer, but here we are a year later telling the tale. 

It's also important to note before moving to my next tip, that even when you have an offer that is accepted, you must still take it one day at a time. Unfortunately unexpected things can come up along the way and there may come a point where you need to decide if it's still the house for you or not. Especially if you decided not to waive inspections, or if you choose to do inspections on your own. 


Acting fast in this market can make all the difference! Having a spreadsheet with all the balances of your savings and checking accounts, retirement accounts, investments, pensions, etc. can be so helpful! Each time you put an offer in, you'll need to list all of this information and exactly where the money is each time. You may put an offer in in May and then again a few months later.  This can mean balances change significantly. This also goes for any debts you may owe. When making an offer, you'll need to present your full financial profile. 


We didn't hear about this tip until it was too late, but it's a great idea if you really think you are serious about a property. As you know, one of the most competitive features of an offer is to waive inspections. Honestly, that really wasn't something Jeff and I were comfortable with. We ended up offering that the inspection was for "buyer knowledge." Meaning, if something serious came up we would know about it and we could still pull out of the deal but that buyers wouldn't get too afraid of us asking for anything major. However, we heard that people often take an inspector with them to tour a house that way you already know before putting in your offer what you're working with and can then waive it. While I don't regret our decision to hire an inspector, keep in mind that they are generalists and often not experts in every craft. After having lived in our house, there are things we uncovered that our inspection didn't find. Nothing that would have changed our minds about purchasing, but would have been helpful information to have. 


When we first started looking we found that sites like Zillow automatically connect you to a local agent when you request more information or set up a tour of a property. Since we were "matched," we didn't really go through any interviewing or researching process to find a real estate agent. At first, we didn't give it much thought since we developed a good relationship with the agent we were initially matched with. It wasn't until we consistently lost offers that I started paying more attention to realtor names. I found it funny that all the homes I was interested in in the area had the same listing agent. Jeff and I gave it some thought and knew that was the agent we need to connect with! Maybe they can help us find something even before it hits the market! We reached out, set up a call and both had a great feeling about them and their team! I got a sense of their competitive nature so to speak and knew they would be able to get it done for us. Sure enough the first house they helped us put an offer in is the one we current own! We've stayed in touch since and I am so happy that we ended up making the switch.



I'm guilty as ever when it comes to "picture shopping" for homes. One quick look at an open floor plan, a white kitchen, and a cute porch and I go weak in the knees. However, I quickly found that was just consistently setting myself up for heart break. I would find the most "perfect" home for the pictures, but then find that it's actually in the ground right above a major gas pipeline (true story). When you find a home you are interested in, ask your real estate agent for the disclosure. This is a document that tells you the specifics of the property (essentially everything you really need to know). It's more than just the number of beds, baths and square footages. It can tell you things about a home that you would never expect, like which kind of pipping, history of water damage, termite records, radon, etc. This piece of the house buying process alone prepped me for all the sigh *joys* of home ownership. It allows you to do your research and get a true picture of the home- behind those glorious white cabinets and then decide if you want to schedule a tour. 


TIP 1: Create An Atmosphere 

Long before we even started looking at homes, I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted to style it. Rather than selecting the perfect "pieces," or furniture that spoke to me, I focused on how I wanted my home to feel. There is no better feeling than when you walk into a resort on vacation and immediately your shoulders start to relax. I hoped to recreate this atmosphere and so when we would go on our family vacations to the shore, I would trek into each and every beach decor and interior design shop I found. Carefully I would pay attention to the fabric textiles- all neutral and woven, with hints of blues. I took note of the textures,- rattan, cane, woven and the colors- a balance of creams, whites and wood tones. Once we got our home, this was the direction I headed in and slowly overtime I assembled furniture and decor accents that matched this aesthetic. 

Tip 2: Place the Furniture Together in the Space and Don't Be Afraid to Return

When you walk into our home, you enter our living room and can see into the dining room. Our house is 100 years old and the former owners knocked down a few walls to achieve this. This was definitely a big selling feature for us. We wanted to be able to entertain and have family over without feeling crowded. Since this space was going to be the heart of our home, I wanted to start styling it first. Seeing the furniture come together in the space is so important. You want to make sure you have wood tones that compliment each other and fabrics that soften and balance it out. This might mean ordering furniture, assembling it and possibly even returning it if you don't think it feels right. Creating a vision board such as this might be a good place to start. 

Below I have shared product links for your shopping convenience. Each time you order a product, I earn a small commission that helps to support the blog. It takes a great deal of time to assemble these links so if you choose to purchase a product I shared, I would really appreciate it if you shopped these links. Thank you!

 |Wood Everett Foyer Table | Round Lattice Wood Coffee Table | Cosa Mesa Round Rattan Side Table

| PB Comfort Slipcover Couches | Brass Tripod Floor Lamp | Cane Basket | Rattan Basket with Lid | Rug Details

TIP 2: Mix and Match Furniture Sets 

As you can see, your living room opens into our dining space. Since our kitchen is rather small and closed off, this is our main eating area. I wanted it to have a formal and yet casual feel since we would be using it every day. Something about the coastal farm table look drew me in. Since I wasn't planning to use a rug for the space and we have original hardwood floors, I wanted to add in a pop of color. Rather than going with the benches and/or chairs that came in the set, I paired it with the navy and white riviera chairs. This somehow to me makes me feel like I'm eating at a bistro in the south of France. More importantly, they are super practical because they don't stain (hello Jeff and future children).  The bench in this space has become our "dumping ground" for bags as we come and go, or if we have guests. 

Below I have shared product links for your shopping convenience. Each time you order a product, I earn a small commission that helps to support the blog. It takes a great deal of time to assemble these links so if you choose to purchase a product I shared, I would really appreciate it if you shopped these links. Thank you!

Toscana Extending Dining Table in Sea Drift | Riviera Dining Chair  | South Seas Bar Cart (Console Table) | Shore Bench

The wall that separates the dining room to the kitchen will hopefully be a space that we will work on in the future. Jeff actually came up with a great idea of turning it into a wet bar, with a mix of open and closed shelving, cabinets and drink fridge! Stay tuned- I'm really excited about the potential. 

Below I have shared product links for your shopping convenience. Each time you order a product, I earn a small commission that helps to support the blog. It takes a great deal of time to assemble these links so if you choose to purchase a product I shared, I would really appreciate it if you shopped these links. Thank you!

Magnolia Table Vol 2 | Limestone Knot | Styling Boxes | Hurricane Vase | Woven Striped Lumbar Pillow | Oversized Woven Textured Striped  | Cotton Textured Oversized Lumbar  | Throw Blanket | Gray Malin Beaches Coffee Table Book | Ginger Jar | Cane Pitcher  | Dip-dyed stool | Montara Mirror


TIP 3: Don't Fight with the Original Style of Your Home

The age or our home is something we loved most about it! The character and charm of old homes can be difficult to recreate. However, this also comes with some renovation and maintenance challenges. The bathrooms for example are small and have specific features about them that can be costly to renovate. Rather than fighting it, I decided to choose decor aspects that highlight it's unique features rather than hiding it (hence the exposed pipes). 

Jeff and I are also waiting on some kitchen and bathroom renovations so I've chosen to pause the home tour here for now! Hopefully I'll be able to come back with more specifics and before/after pictures of those spaces.

If you're still reading, I really appreciate you following along and hope this brought you some insight. 

Styling a Bar Cart or Console Table


Styling a bar cart or console table is one of my favorite areas in our home to decorate! I love the idea of having so much space to add small subtle details that can make a big impact. This space is different than an end table or coffee table because it won't have as much of a functional use for every day life, which makes it a little easier to incorporate special decorative accents. Since Jeff and I are just beginning to grow into our home, we are careful to leave a little extra space for us to add momentos from our future travels. 

In contrary to my classroom, our home is filled with lots of calming neutral tones. One of my favorite places to be is the beach, so the energy and vibe Jeff and I have choose to create is a the feeling that we are on a vacation in our own home. This feeling radiates through the many different combinations of natural textiles that we have paired together. Rattan is one of my favorite textures to style with. It has such a warm, comfortable and causal feeling.

 I have had my eye on the South Seas Side Cart from Serena and Lily for some time now, but couldn't justify pulling the trigger with so many home reno projects on the horizon. I felt like I won the jackpot when I found this knock-off at HomeSense. We eventually plan to use this space for a custom wet bar and dining built-in, but since it won't be a few years until we dive into that project, I needed something to fill the space. It was one-third the cost of the Serena and Lily piece and can hopefully be repurposed in our furnished attic space in the future. Although I can't find an exact match, I have shared some similar styles at all price points. You can find affiliate shopping links here! 

When styling the cart, there are some important tips to keep in mind! Add some fun coffee table books with a decorate accent in a fun shape to add depth. Think of the hues you are worth with and find items with different textures. Also, add a vase with fresh greens or flowers to give it some life and a bowl or tray. Last, add a mirror, frame and candle sticks to give it height variation. 

You can shop some of my favorite costal style decorative accents below. Click the link here for more information! 

Lunar New Year

 Over the years I have loved acquiring and collecting books for every season and holiday. There's something so exciting about learning about different cultures and traditions, and celebrating along with the characters and my students. As educators or caretakers, we know it's so important to build a diverse collection of books and instill a love of celebrating our differences, as well as model acceptance, antirasist actions and working to stop implicit bias. I too have made a promise to do this necessary work in my classroom and as a (one day) future mom!

I've rounded up some of my favorite fiction and narrative fiction books for Lunar New Year, as well as a fabulous nonfiction learning video. The video shares the legend of Lunar New Year, how the Asian culture celebrates and the meaning behind their tradition. 

Below you can find shopping links to add these books to your classroom or personal library. If you're looking to narrow it down to one to two- my top favorites are The Runaway Wok, Lunar New Year and Ruby's Chinese New Year.

*If you get a redirect notice for these links, it is safe to click to continue ahead. It's only to notify you that it is an affiliate shopping link*

Bringing In the New Year | Dumpling Soup | Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas

Ruby's Chinese New Year | The Runaway Wok | Lunar New Year | A New Year's Reunion

If you make a purchase from these links, please know that I earn a small commission that helps support the blog.

Other great books to add to our collection that aren't  associated with the Lunar New Year, but would be additions would be The Name Jar and

Fortune Tales | The Story of Lunar New Year

This learning video was created by Panda Express TV and can be found here. I take no credit for it's content, but love their attention to detail and the way they included all Asian cultures by calling it The Legend of the Lunar New Year.

One of my favorite learning activities to incorporate with this video and read alouds are learning some Asian conversational words and how to write numbers 1-10. Also, we decorate the classroom with paper lanterns and sometimes I give students a lucky red envelope!

My sweet friend Maria from KinderCraze  has shared a primary learner friendly lantern craft. All you need is some red paper, yellow paint and these star cookie cutters used as stamps! If you want to find out more about this craft, read about it here

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