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oh joy builds a house update: cabinets!

oh joy builds a house update: cabinets!

I have never had to think about cabinets in my entire life in the same way that I have had to think about them over the past year. Building a house from scratch meant thinking about a ton of different types of cabinets (bathrooms, kitchen, bookshelves, closets) all at once. It some ways, it was completely overwhelming. And in other ways—with the help of Project M+—I was able to look at all the rooms of our house like a family...each member of the family could be different but were also united in some way.

oh joy builds a house update: cabinets!

When we first looked at all of the options we had for cabinets, I went for two opposite ends of the spectrum. We got bids for building everything custom to the exact size for each space. And, we looked at what was already pre-made and could be plopped right in. I thought maybe I could swap out hardware of existing pieces and save a lot that way! But it turns out that the completely pre-made options were really hard to make fit in this blank new space. Pieces were just a tad too small or too big. On the flip side, doing everything custom was completely out of budget. So we ended up doing a mix of a few different things...

oh joy builds a house update: cabinets!

We decided to go semi-custom for a bunch of areas using Reform cabinets. Reform offers modern options for cabinet fronts that get installed onto Ikea bases. So you have the convenience and great pricing of working with all the sizing options that Ikea offers. But you have more options for panels and fronts. We used them here to do a custom color in the laundry room shown above...

oh joy builds a house update: cabinets!

...and used Reform Degree here in a bright white in our kitchen! As well as the Chelsea in another (yet to be revealed) area in the very first photo.

oh joy builds a house update: cabinets!

oh joy builds a house update: cabinets!

For the major closets in the house (master, kids' rooms, and entryway closet), storage was essential to make the most of each space as possible. For these major areas, we worked with California Closets to design and maximize the use of each of these spaces.

oh joy builds a house update: cabinets!

oh joy builds a house update: cabinets!

Finally, for a handful of areas where a semi-custom option would not fit or would not offer the exact type of storage needed, we did have some custom pieces built. We saved the custom pieces mostly for bathroom vanities and this built-in storage/desk area in our living room. Custom pieces made sense for areas with a unique size and in rooms that will be used very often whereas semi-custom solutions worked really well mostly everywhere else!

What have you worked with in the past? Pre-made, semi-custom, totally custom? Tell me yours pro's and con's! Or, any questions you have!

{Photos by Lily Glass. Construction by Boswell Construction, Architecture by Project M+, Interiors in collaboration with Project M+. All cabinets linked above. Written by Joy Cho.} 

oh joy builds a house update: floors!

oh joy builds a house update: floors!

For the last 9 years, I've lived in an apartment with wall-to-wall carpet. I grew up with carpet in my parent's house so there's a certain coziness to it that reminds me of childhood. And, since we don't wear shoes in our house, carpet actually feels pretty great underfoot. BUT, carpet does feel a bit dated to me, and it's so much harder to keep clean with kids and pets and life! I can't tell you how many times a week we bust out our mini carpet cleaning machine to try and get some sort of stain out.

oh joy builds a house update: floors!

So when we had the chance to start fresh for flooring for our house, hardwood floors were a must. I researched a lot of brands and price points, and going with full-on true hardwood floors was just too costly on top of all of our other costs to build this house. So we decided to go with engineered hardwood flooring meaning that it's constructed of layers of both hardwood and plywood instead of just hardwood the whole way through. We chose Mohawk's Coastal Allure collection from Wayfair which features longer, wider planks in light, neutral tones so that the wood doesn't darken the room and makes it feels bright and open. This hardwood was also engineered to resist dirt and dents, hide scratches, and look oil-finished without all the costly maintenance. While we are waiting till next year to give you all the full final reveals, here are some more peeks showing you the wooden floors and details going in....

oh joy builds a house update: floors!

oh joy builds a house update: floors!

In our living room, we have a special hardwood floor detail...on the ceiling! This room has high ceilings and is meant to be the center for our family, so our team at Project M+ suggested adding wood to the ceiling to add a cozy factor to this modern home. This was one of the first areas that the wood flooring was installed and it really started to make the house come together. We chose a slightly lighter shade of the same Mohawk flooring for the ceiling (called "white" but is just a tad lighter shade of the floor color).

oh joy builds a house update: floors!

We have these hardwood floors throughout the entire house except in areas where the floors are likely to get wet (kitchen and all bathrooms).

oh joy builds a house update: floors!

oh joy builds a house update: floors!

And, we also were able to incorporate the wood flooring and mix it with other materials like this terrazzo tile detail on area of stairs!

Have you had experience with hardwood floors vs. engineered hardwood floors before? What do you think?

{Photos by Lily Glass and Morgan Pansing. Construction by Boswell Construction, Architecture by Project M+, Interiors in collaboration with Cleo Murnane at Project M+. Written by Joy Cho. This post is in partnership with Wayfair.}

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)!

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

For my entire adult life, I have dreamed of having a nice bathroom that wasn't tiny or falling apart or where the sinks didn't have to be fixed every few months (which has pretty much been my experience with my adult rental apartments). I just want a bathroom that feels luxurious...and works! So, when we started designing this house five years ago, I wondered how our new bathroom could give me my most "Calgon, take me away!" experience...

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

When McShane at Project M+ initially asked for our must-haves for the master bathroom, it was all about the bathtub. I haven't taken a bath in my home or apartment since I lived with my parents over 22 years ago. To me, getting a grown-up home meant that I would get to draw myself a luxurious bath at the end of a long day and let Calgon take me away. I even made Bob get in the bathtub when we visited the Ferguson showroom years ago, so that we could find one we both felt comfortable in.

Other than a focal bathtub, my only other requirement was to have two sinks. I longed to never again have moments where our heads are butting over the sink while trying to wash faces and brush teeth on an early Tuesday morning while getting ourselves and our kids ready for the day. So here's a look at the design plan that came about...

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy! // original design

On the left of this drawing is a large window which serves as the focal point of the bathroom. The bathtub sits right by that window. Next to it, there is a separate, smaller shower. On the other side of the shower divided by a pony wall is the toilet which sits next to a double vanity. Five years ago when this layout was designed, we had one kid with one on the way. We didn't know how our lives as parents of two would really be and so the bathtub seemed like something that should take priority back then...

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

Fast forward to earlier this year when the house was being built and the rooms were being framed. It was the first time we got to walk through the spaces and feel everything come to life in true scale. When we walked through the space, it felt as if the jewel of the bathroom (the large window at the end) was mostly being taken up by this large tub that I wasn't sure would get used very often. I felt bad to question its presence but I knew if I didn't, I might regret it later. By the time we were seeing this stage of the build, we valued a great shower and didn't see baths being something we would take very often.

Perhaps we would take baths more often than we do now, but we wouldn't take them enough for it to take up a major footprint and leave us with a much smaller shower for daily use. So, we made the call to change the layout of the bathroom mid-way through construction, and we...REMOVED THE BATHTUB!

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy! // new design

In the updated layout, the area by the window (that was previously the bathtub) is now a large shower with two shower heads (one on each side of the wall if you can imagine one wall being where we are looking from). While the double shower might seem like a sexy boutique hotel detail, it honestly came out of practicality on those days where time is at a premium, and we both need to get ready at the same time.

Then, the toilet moved to a semi-enclosed area where the shower used to be. It has two pony (short) walls which means you're separated from the shower and vanity but not fully enclosed. By moving the toilet, it allowed the vanity to run the remaining length of that wall so we could really spread out a bit more. I am super happy with the changes and glad we caught it in time to be able to make a change that made more sense for our current lives.

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

Here's a peek at the space in real life in the process of being built!

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

Now, when it comes to tile, I love the clean and sophisticated look of the carrera marble tile, but I felt that we needed some other texture or color elsewhere so it wasn't all white and neutral. I still wanted it to feel serene and not as busy as some of the tile we have in other areas. So, while we were designing the interiors with Cleo at Project M+, we decided to change the tile that was planned for the vanity area to this Clé Tile zellige version instead. Because of the variance in color and texture, it added an extra depth to the bathroom that we were missing in the original design.

1. Clé Tile zellige in Tea Ceremony (for vanity backsplash), 2. Clé Tile Carrera Marble tiles for shower and floors, 3. Caesarstone Pure White for vanity countertop, 4. Schaub & Co. Lumiere Brass T-Knob for vanity pulls, 5. white oak vanity (custom).

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

Here's a look at the tile going in! Just when we thought this bathroom was done with changes, the grout went in and the contrast was just not right. When we chose grout way back when, we matched the grout to the marble tile grout thinking that it would look more consistent. But once it went in, the high contrast grout did not do this beautiful soft blue/green tile justice. It seems like such an obvious thing to choose grout that works with the tile, but we've had to make a millions little decisions along the way, that I just said YES and didn't look at it again before the grout went in...

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

While I love the tile, the grout on this type of tile should not stand out in order to let the tile really be the focus of the wall. Luckily, our installer has a tool that makes it easy and not expensive to make this change, so we are changing the grout this week to a lighter grey that will blend in much better.

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

Here's a sample mock-up that we looked at to compare the colors! I've learned my lesson now that that was something we should have looked at more closely before it went in.

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

Here's the fixed grout that JUST went in a couple days ago. It looks SO much better and now you really see the tile because the grout fades away more than it did before.

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

So, what do you think? Are we crazy for removing a bathtub from a master bathroom or changing the grout color? Would you have done the same or not?

{Photos by Lily Glass. Construction by Boswell Construction, Architecture by Project M+, Interiors in collaboration with Cleo Murnane at Project M+. Renderings by Project M+. All other layouts by Joy Cho. My boots are Red Wing Heritage*.} 

oh joy builds a house update: tiles, tiles, tiles!

oh joy builds a house update: tiles, tiles, tiles! / via oh joy!

I am SO close to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel! We are not quite finished yet with our house project, but I am hoping we will be in by the end of the year! In the meantime, I thought I'd share a peek at some progress happening by way of...all the tile! I've found a new love for tile with this house project because it allowed me to work with so many different materials and tile combinations that you don't get to even consider when you're renting an apartment (like we've been for the last 9 years). Here's a peek at some of the tile that's going into our home as we speak!

oh joy builds a house update: tiles, tiles, tiles! / via oh joy!

oh joy builds a house update: tiles, tiles, tiles! / via oh joy!

Here's an update look at our Girls' bathroom which I shared the inspiration for back in February. There were so many helpful votes about which tile shape to go with, and we went with option two to keep it clean, yet fun, and to pair well with the rest of the accessories and colors that'll be in this room. I love this glass tile by Fireclay (in Rosy). It's sophisticated, yet soft, and adds a lovely glow with the glass.

oh joy builds a house update: tiles, tiles, tiles! / via oh joy!

oh joy builds a house update: tiles, tiles, tiles! / via oh joy!

oh joy builds a house update: tiles, tiles, tiles! / via oh joy!

The floor of this powder room is coming to life! I love the touch of brass inlay in this cement tile by Tabarka. We were able to use this tile because the room is super small and it added some lovely detail. It would have been too expensive and not as practical to implement this into a larger bathroom. But for this guest powder room, it's just perfect.

oh joy builds a house update: tiles, tiles, tiles! / via oh joy!

oh joy builds a house update: tiles, tiles, tiles! / via oh joy!

I'll be sharing a full post about our Master Bathroom soon (which had A LOT of changes and headache along the way), but here is a peek at some of the tile going in there with carrara marble tile by Clé Tile which is beautiful, versatile, and so durable. Along with this Zellige Tea Ceremony tile (not shown yet), it's going to be a dream...

oh joy builds a house update: tiles, tiles, tiles! / via oh joy!

oh joy builds a house update: tiles, tiles, tiles! / via oh joy!

Here's another guest bathroom (which we've yet to show you the full inspiration, but that's coming!). But, I just had to show you this combination of Fireclay's Venetian Green tile on the shower walls with Concrete Collaborative's terrazzo tile on the floor. It's beautiful, handsome, and playful all at the same time.

oh joy builds a house update: tiles, tiles, tiles! / via oh joy!

oh joy builds a house update: tiles, tiles, tiles! / via oh joy!

oh joy builds a house update: tiles, tiles, tiles! / via oh joy!

Finally, these Fireclay tiles in Harvest and Fallow were a fun way to bring pattern into a couple of other spaces. There's some super fun wall tile that will be paired with both of these floors, but that's to be saved to share with you on another day :). Plus, we still have all the tile in the kitchen to show you!

I feel like an expert on tile now, so if you have any questions about why we used what and what I'd recommend for various rooms and spaces, please feel free to ask in the comments below!

{Photos by Lily Glass. Construction by Boswell Construction, Architecture and Interiors by Project M+. Written by Joy Cho.} 

beautiful and functional pieces for the kitchen...

beautiful and functional pieces for the kitchen / oh joy!

Our kitchen is currently being installed so slowly (but surely), I'll have a new kitchen to make memories in! As I've been purging and sorting through our kitchen supplies to get ready to start packing, I've unearthed so many pieces that I've had and used for 10 years or more. There are some pieces that I use almost every day, and some that I haven't touched in years. Moving can be SO painful, but I'm excited to purge and keep only the things we really need. And, after living in the same place for 9 years with the same kitchen pieces, it will be nice to refresh with some quality pieces that can last us another decade. Here are a few of my favorite, beautiful, and functional pieces to use in the kitchen. These also make great housewarming gifts or as a treat to yourself!

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oh joy builds a house: our master closet!

oh joy builds a house: our master closet!

I might be jumping for joy right now because this is the first room in our house that is currently pretty much complete! I can't show you the full reveal just yet, but I'm excited to walk you through the process of designing our master closet! Come along with me for a magical journey...

oh joy builds a house: our master closet!

So, first things first! Here's the closet I have had for the past 9 years. It's served me really well as it's super functional with cabinets and drawers that we had put in about five years ago. It's helped me purge often to try and keep it from busting at the seams. But, let's be honest...it's still small, and I find myself unable to keep a full wardrobe in there.

I have off-season items and dressier pieces divided up between the back of my kids' closet and at my office! Who keeps their clothes at work?! So, when we were designing our house way back when, I opted to have a smaller bedroom and a bigger closet. I honestly have no need for a giant bedroom or master suite. I really wanted to give that extra space to storage so that I could finally have the closet of my dreams!

oh joy builds a house: our master closet!

Here's a look at all the dreamy materials! For this closet, we wanted it to feel special and sparkling, yet warm. While I typically defer to white cabinets, Cleo and her interiors team at Project M+ convinced me to go with a lighter wood to give it a warmer and richer feel for this space. To add some special details, I came across some magical wallpaper and added hardware to top it all off.

1. Drop It Modern Wallpaper in Wavelength Bomboleo (with glitter paper), 2. Studio Cope Wallpaper in Speckle Sea Glass, 3. Schaub and Company City Lights Knob, 4. California Closets in Natural, 5. Schaub and Company Haniburton Pull.

oh joy builds a house: our master closet!

For my section, we opted for the rainbow and jewel-like wallpaper shown above. It will peek through all the open areas and behind hanging clothes and shoes. For my husband's section, we opted for the wallpaper behind to be a bit more subtle but still playful in it's own way! I love the way  they complement each other, yet are still so very different!

I'm so excited to be working with California Closets on this master closet! I have always loved the way they put so much thought and function into designing  custom closets to maximize space and create functionality based on your individual needs. Our designer, Nicole Caswell, was incredible in making sure she designed it based on how we live and what made the most sense for each section.

oh joy builds a house: our master closet!Here's a view of the closet from the top so you can see how it's shaped. It's sort of like a backwards "L". The process of designing this closet with California Closets was surprisingly easy as their CAD technology made it super easy to visualize exactly what was being done!

Bob's section is the upper left part. And my section is.....drumroll please...the REST of it! :P Well, not totally true. There are parts we are sharing with a hamper and an area to store our jewelry and watches. BUT, it's definitely like a 70/30 split. To help us figure out the best use of space, our California Closets designer, Nicole, had us count how many pairs of shoes we had, roughly how many feet width of clothes we had at different lengths, and even how many pieces of folded clothes we generally had. It helped her to decide how much space would be for shoes and accessories, long clothes, shorter clothes, tees, jeans, etc. Also, when someone makes you count how many pairs of shoes you have, you realize maybe you have an actual SHOE PROBLEM!

oh joy builds a house: our master closet!

Here's a look at Bob's section with hanging areas for all of his hanging and dress clothes. He mostly wears dress clothes to work so those will hang while his casual folded clothes go to the right of that section. Corners always create an odd area for storage so it worked perfectly to be for his shoes. His folded clothes will go in the upper cabinet as well as the lower drawers in that section. To the right of that, we transition into my section with our shared hamper. From there, any off-season pieces can go above and my shoes to the far right!

oh joy builds a house: our master closet!

And, here is my favorite part where all my clothes will be stored and organized! I have never had this much hanging space EVER, and I'm excited to be able to see my clothes and be able to organize them in some way now.

oh joy builds a house: our master closet!

And here's a tiny peek at what it looks light right now! Stay tuned for the full reveal after our house is finished. Plus, see my post over at Architectural Digest's Clever today for things to consider when designing a closet!

This post brought to you in partnership with California Closets.

{Photos by Lily Glass. Construction by Boswell Construction, Architecture by Project M+, Interiors in collaboration with Cleo Murnane at Project M+. Closet Design and Renderings by California Closets. All other layouts by Joy Cho. My top is The Odells, boots are Red Wing Heritage*.}

these are a few of my favorite things...

Wayfair Home Decor Favorites

As I've been working on designing the interiors for my house for the past several months, I've come across so many amazing pieces. Some of these pieces you might see when we reveal the rooms, and some which didn't find their way into our project but are still amazing, nonetheless. Wayfair has been a go-to resource for finding a variety of items from toilets and sinks to pillows and coffee tables. So, I wanted to compile some of the best-of's for you of things we've found and adore in case they come in handy for YOU and your own home renovations or room makeovers!

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oh joy builds a house: our master bedroom!

oh joy builds a house: our master bedroom!

We all spend A LOT of time in our bedrooms (sleeping, relaxing, getting ready for the day), so the bedroom for me needs to be peaceful space that still brings joy and surprise into it. Blues and greens have always been my go-to colors of choice when it comes to a relaxing space—maybe it's the tie to the ocean or nature? But I find those shades to always feel just right. When working with Cleo and her team at Project M+ on our interiors, I wanted to create that dreamy vibe but also have a playful element as well.

oh joy builds a house: our master bedroom! / a cool, calm, and playful master bedroom

The base for the bedroom started with a textural and shimmery Calico wallpaper to add color and sheen to the space. It felt like it needed to sparkle just a little bit! From there, we added an accent of silver paint with warm, light woods, whites, and blues and mustard to accent those base colors.

1. Cedar & Moss side lamps, 2. Calico wallpaper in vapor, 3. Portola Royal Satin paint in Arrow, 4.  Lulu & Georgia nightstands, 5. Blu Dot Credenza from Wayfair, 6. Cedar and Moss Terra Surface pendant, 7. Sarah Sherman Samuel for Lulu & Georgia rug, 8. Lulu & Georgia velvet lumbar pillow.  

oh joy builds a house: our master bedroom! / inspiration

When thinking about the playful element, I'm always inspired by boutique hotels and restaurants because they tend to add in details you never see in someone's home. I wanted something in this space that felt fun but also could endure over time and still work when we want to change up our bedding or add new colors to the space in the future. I'm constantly inspired by India Mahdavi's retail design work and loved these seats from a couple of her retail projects.

oh joy builds a house: our master bedroom!

So, we created this scalloped headboard behind the bed that serves as the focal point of the room. I love the roundness of it and how it adds a soft edge to all the other straight-sided furniture pieces in the space. BUT, I don't know if I want to keep the head board all in one color or do a mix of colors? Here are a few options I love from single color, to dual color, to ombre...what do YOU think?

P.S. You can see all past posts about my home build right here!

{Photos by Lily Glass. Construction by Boswell Construction, Architecture by Project M+, Interiors in collaboration with Cleo Murnane at Project M+. Renderings by Project M+. All other layouts by Joy Cho. My jumpsuit is Ace & Jig*, boots are Red Wing Heritage*.} 

oh joy builds a house: the living room!

Oh Joy! Builds a House: The Living Room / via Oh Joy!

I'm back with another house update! I'm excited to show you at peek at what we're working on for our living room. It's been so fun collaborating with Cleo and her team at Project M+ on our interiors. Together, we've created some really beautiful rooms that I can't wait watch come to life!

Oh Joy! Builds a House: The Living Room / via Oh Joy! // Peacock at Sunset Living Room

Our living room mixes rich and bright tones with wood, white, black, and brass. I'm calling the current inspiration..."A peacock at Sunset" with the bluish green velvet couch and accents of color in coral, mustard, and pale pink. It's meant to be cozy, yet chic.

1. Perigold desk chair, 2. Interior Define Charley Sleeper Sectional in Malachite velvet with Lulu and Georgia Sunset Pillows, 3. Modshop credenza, 4. Clare Classic paint, 5. side table from Lulu & Georgia, 6. Justina Blakeney chair, 7. Sarah Sherman Samuel for Lulu & Georgia rug, 8. Lulu & Georgia side table, 9. Mohawk wood floors in Beachwood Oak.

We have a few fun details that are coming to life that I can share progress with you on...

Oh Joy! Builds a House: The Living Room / via Oh Joy!

A Light Well! One side of the house is filled with large windows. And the other side is built into the hill where we can't have any windows. So our architects at Project M+ created light wells built into a couple areas of the house (like the living room). The light wells allow light to come in from the top down in a similar way that a skylight brings light in. It's a really beautiful detail that I've never seen before! We'll likely put a big, beautiful plant in this one.

Oh Joy! Builds a House: The Living Room / via Oh Joy!

Wood ceiling! To make this room feel extra cozy, it's been paneled with a wood ceiling that's a shade lighter than the floor. This was the first area of the house to get wood paneling (before the floors) so I love to look up at it already. This is the only room with this extra ceiling detail!

Oh Joy! Builds a House: The Living Room / via Oh Joy!

Help me pick fabric for the chairs! For the side chairs in the living room, I love these swivel chairs by my friend, Justina Blakeney. We're looking at two of these chairs but would change out the current white fabric upholstery with another fabric that will fit with the current palette yet also make the chairs more durable with kids. Here are a few of my favorite options, which do YOU like best?!

A. and B. Annie Coop Textiles fabric, C. Drop It Modern Line fabric, D. Drop It Modern Kitten fabric, E. Drop It Modern Azteca fabric, F. Drop it Modern Femme fabric.

And, check out my post over at Architectural Digest's Clever for my tips on things to consider when designing a chic living room that's also kid-friendly!

{Photos by Lily Glass. Construction by Boswell Construction, Architecture by Project M+, Interiors in collaboration with Cleo Murnane at Project M+. All other layouts by Joy Cho. My dress is Mara Hoffman (past season), sweater is Misha and Puff, boots are Red Wing Heritage.} 

what (finally) owning a home means to me...

what (finally) owning a home means to me / oh joy!

The home is my most favorite place to be. I'm the person who throws on my PJ's as soon as I get home, and jumps into my bed to relax as soon as my kids go to bed. Some of my all-time favorite memories are being at home having dinner with my family catching up on our day and having friends over and talking about anything and everything while our kids play. Today, in partnership with Unison, I'm reminiscing about our long journey towards home ownership and what it means to me to be finally (almost) a home owner...

The other day, on Facebook, a friend who is a real estate agent asked this question of her fellow Facebook friends...

"How old were you when you bought your first home?"

The answers surprised me. "22! 26! 32!" exclaimed the group.

I was floored. There are people who can buy a house in their 20's?! 30's sounded better to me, but I just turned 40 this year and have not yet lived in a home that I own. Sure, I prioritized the earlier years of my adulthood differently. I started a business at age 26 with no savings and have always put most of the money I earned back into my business to help grow my team. I have also always lived in large cities that are very expensive to buy in. From New York to Philly to San Diego to Los Angeles, I never made it easy on myself to try and save up for a home in a city with reasonable real estate prices. It wasn't until we were outbid multiple times on our attempt to finally buy a house in Los Angeles 5 years ago, that we decided on the very long and crazy process of building a house instead...because, as crazy as it sounds, that's actually cheaper to do in LA than to buy an existing one!

what (finally) owning a home means to me / oh joy!

Now that we are just a couple months away from finally having our very first (and forever) house to call our own, the emotions here are real. We'll be saying goodbye to our only other home in Los Angeles that we have been renting for 9 years since first moving to LA. In the summer of 2010, we found it on a whim. We got this place before we had kids with no intention of staying as long as we have. But the rent was cheap (for our neighborhood), and it allowed us to save and save and save for a house. But as every year passed, I longed simply for a backyard for my kids to play in, a kitchen and outdoor area where I could have friends hang out, drop by, or stay for dinner. Regardless of what this home lacked in space or amenities, it's the place both of our babies have called home since the beginning of their lives, and it will always have a special place in our hearts.

what (finally) owning a home means to me / oh joy!

Every week for almost two years, I have been walking through this new home we are building that will soon be ours. While it's been the most financially stressful experience of my life, I see this home as such an amazing representation of our patience and our hard work over the last decade to finally get to this place.

Owning a home always comes back to connection for me—connecting with my family, having my kids have a place to play together and connect as sisters, and inviting friends, family, and co-workers over and being able to connect with them. And, I can't wait for all the memories this new, forever home will bring for us.

Now's your chance to share what owning a home means for you! In partnership with Unison, you can enter the #UnisonDreamHomeContest for your chance to win $25K towards buying a home or to remodel your existing home. Find out more on their website right here!

{Color Photos by Lily Glass, black and white photo by Katherine Rose. Written by Joy Cho.}