Almost five years ago I packed up my little city apartment and moved to a big Victorian Style home on a couple acre lot, in a Hamlet in Southwestern Ontario. For those city folks who don't know what a Hamlet is, it's "a small settlement, generally one smaller than a village".
I'm sure you get the drift. It was a big change.
The house was beautiful. Many people's dream. But I hated it. And the more I tried to convince myself not to hate it, the more I did.
You see, before me, my husband lived there with his ex-wife and kids. They had bought the house four years earlier. From what he told me, it was their dream property.
To be honest, moving into "their home" made me feel extremely uncomfortable, but I didn't think it was fair to come in and ask that he up and move the kids because I wanted a fresh start. So I unpacked my bags and tried to make the best of it.
But I felt like I had moved into another woman's house.
Probably, because I essentially did.
Even though she was gone there was still remnants of their life together. Junk drawers with receipts from trips, belongings left in the storage rooms, decor that was her style not mine. It just didn't feel like my home.
.. and just when I would start to get used to things, something would happen to set me back.
For example, about a year in, JUST as I was starting to feel comfortable, I received a phone call from my husband's first wife.
"Hey Jamie do you have a cake topper for [stepson's name] birthday?" (sidebar, i didn’t even know what a cake topper was)
"No, sorry I don't think so"
"There should be one in drawer to the left of the stove"
My stomach sank.
She knew what was in my drawers...
Because they were her drawers too...
And in that quick moment, I was back at square one
Look if you think I'm being a whiney brat, I'll tell you this. Like many challenges that come with being a stepmom, this is something you won't understand unless you've been there.
In fact, I'm sure any non-stepmom reading this is thinking "oh get over it girl"
It's okay. I'm not offended.
The good news is, I did
Six years later, I'll say this. Feeling like you're living in another woman's home is something that can only be cured with time (and a little redecorating)
Seriously, as time goes on and you create new memories together, things that once made you feel out of place and insecure, won’t even cross your mind.
Slowly but surely, I have redecorated and put my touch on the place, while still respecting the memories and traditions that are important to my husband and the kids.
I've cleaned out those junk drawers, organized the storage room, painted walls, purged, donated and added my own personal style. Five years later, this place looks completely different.
In fact, now, my husband and I talk about this as OUR forever home. I don’t think I’d move if you paid me.
One of the major steps in the transition was our kitchen renovation. When I originally wrote this post a year and a half ago, I would have said it was the final step in the transformation, but I still have lots of plans for this place!
We completely ripped out our kitchen and replaced it with one that we both love.
This renovation was more than just a renovation to me, it was a major step in the transition. There is something about a woman and her kitchen right?!
It's amazing how as this space has transformed, my feelings towards our home have too. It now feels like OUR HOME! To be honest, now I rarely think about the fact that it wasn't always like this.
Here are some before and afters of our Kitchen Transformation.
My girlfriends are always asking me where I bought our black and white bowls, so before you ask, I'll tell you too!
Much of the decor on our floating shelves comes from Indigo. In addition to the Kate Spade polka dot bowels, we purchased our sugar dish, marble cheese plate and wooden board from their Home Decor Section.
(Speaking of moving from the City to the Hamlet, Indigo is one of the things I miss most about living in the city. I simply love puttering around the store looking for new books and unique decor. When I still lived in the city, I must have been there every week! Now I can't stay off their website.
They just launched their Summer Collection! Be sure to check it out!)
I even purged old cookbooks and bought new ones from Indigo. My husband asked if this means I am going to start doing more cooking around here... I had to tell him... "No honey, those are just for decoration".
The picture frame is also from Indigo! Inside is a picture from a photoshoot I gifted my husband on Father's Day when we first started dating. It was of just him and the kids and I feel like it symbolizes the beginning of a new chapter for them. The photos are so precious to him, and can be found all. over our home!
Yes that's one BIG island, and it's our dream come true. Nothing makes my heart happier than having all four kids hanging out around the island. It's the perfect gathering place and already has so many memories!
If you're a also dying to change your space, but a reno isn't in the cards right now, my good friend Abby from Abby Campbell design has put together some tips Changing The Vibe of Your Space on the Cheap! I personally used these tips while I was savings my pennies for my new kitchen, and these small changes really can make a difference!
You can find her tips HERE!