Buying your first home is a big deal. Like a really BIG deal. It is such a huge step in a persons life that is filled with many first time questions and loads of new lingo that it can often times be overwhelming and intimidating. Where should I buy? What type of home? What can I afford? Who will offer me the best mortgage? What is a mortgage specialist and should I trust them to find me the best rate? Property taxes? Lawyer fees? House inspection? The list goes on and on and on some more.
For us, as we’ve bought our first few homes in the last five years, we had many of those questions as well. Once we figured out that we could afford a home and found good interest rates/mortgages, we decided to prioritize what was most important to us when looking for a home. Because there are SO MANY OPTIONS out there, it’s really important to make a list to help narrow down your search. Come up with some “non-negotiables” like number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, basement/yard space, etc. Along with that criteria and price range, your realtor will be able to pick a handful of homes that will suit your needs perfectly!
For us, we love to entertain (as if that’s not obvious). We’ve always been social people and really love opening up our home to entertain others. I can remember squishing 10 people around our coffee table for Christmas morning brunch in one of our teeny tiny apartment rentals because our dining room was actually too small to pull out the chairs and use the table. But that didn’t stop us from having people over.
So when we look for a new home, entertaining needs is always HIGH on the non-negotiable list. I’ve always said that I don’t need a big house, but I need a space big enough to house my friends. The last home we lived in had a nice open concept feel where the kitchen and dining room were one big room and then the living room had a narrow wall that separated it from the kitchen. So when we hosted parties there, people were sprawled all over both spaces and it still felt like one big party but yet had enough room for everyone to feel comfortable.
When we moved to the Greater Toronto Area last year, we knew that we would be downsizing due to affordability and availability of homes in a very hot sellers market. Even with having to loose a 4th bedroom and about 600 square feet, I knew that I still needed a good space that would be able to meet our large entertaining needs. It wasn’t easy as we saw home after home after home and I was eight months pregnant at the time with our third baby…so needless to say, there were some emotional moments.
In the end, we ended up in such an amazing space, that is brand new and we were able to customize it to our liking. What’s best is that even though our space is smaller than our previous home, we still have an amazing home that we are able to entertain from. We often say that our main floor, which houses our kitchen, double living room and den, is what sold us on our home because we could envision parties in that space.
When we moved into our home, we had a four week old who had only been out of the hospital for two weeks, due to some health complications at birth. Needless to say, it was a super busy season and we took our time settling into the home and neighborhood before we really started to entertain.
We started slowly having people over for smaller dinner parties throughout the first summer in our home and then it wasn’t until the end of the summer, for my son’s 3rd birthday, that we finally decided to go all out and throw a party! A Thomas the Train party, to be exact! I actually have yet to blog about it, so let me tell you a bit about it here.
Seeing as it was our first party in our new home, I had to start from scratch, not knowing where everything would just naturally end up. So it took a little bit of extra time to think through the whole party in terms of how guests would come in, where they would go, would there be enough space, where would we serve the food from, etc.
We decided to set up our “main” table in the living room, in front of our closet doors. This seemed like a natural spot for people to gather and it still left the kitchen table open for the kids to be able to eat at and then make crafts. Because our space is a bit smaller, we did have to rearrange some furniture to allow for more seating but it all worked out great. At the time, we didn’t have grass in our backyard, so I was a little worried that if the house felt too small, there would be no other option. But because of the way we planned and invited the right amount for the space, it all worked out perfectly!
We utilized our space in an effective way that allowed for guests to be all over our home (which is three complete levels). I created a fun railway and train car boxes so that kids could pretend to be riding the railway in their Thomas train cars. I used painters tape to create the tracks on the floor and old diaper boxes, wrapped in plastic tablecloth for the train cars. This was such a blast for the kids and allowed them to
run drive all over our home.
Since then, we’ve done SIX other large parties in just ONE year! (I told you, we like to entertain!) A few I have shared with you already including my daughter’s Frozen Ice Party, my son’s first Geometric Aztec Birthday, my blog launch party and my son’s fourth Transformer’s party! Most recently, I hosted a Toronto Bloggers Soiree which I will be sharing more about next week! Here is a sneak peak, in the meantime.
Even though we love entertaining on a big scale, we’ve also really enjoyed gathering with one or two families, around our dinner table for a nice evening of food and fellowship. We live in such a crazy, busy world and we are so blessed to have this home where we are able to invite friends over and really connect one-on-one with them and their kids. I recently shared about our Greek Inspired Dinner Party that we did with some of our dear friends. It was such a lovely evening and I can’t wait to do another one again (we have some in the works, you just wait!)
In the end, it’s really important that when you go to purchase a home, that you prioritize what is most important for you and your family. For us, we didn’t need the biggest house, we just needed a space where our kids could grow and for us to be able to invite friends and family into to celebrate life together.
I am so excited to have partnered with RBC for their First Home Campaign to bring you this post! We will be joining in with their RBC First Home Twitter Chat THIS coming Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 at 8:30pm EST. Just for RSVP’ing to the Twitter party, you will be entered in a draw to win 1 of 3 $100 Visa cards! Then during the party, there will be additional giveaways, including 5 $100 Visa cards! I am SO excited about this party because it will be a great chance to learn from experts in the field all about buying your first home. Some of these experts will include mortgage specialists, lawyers, realtors, home builders, designers and more! Plus, I’l be there too! Click below to RSVP and be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card! And I’ll see YOU Tuesday night at 8:30pm!
Love & Blessings,