The Kessenich (Raised) Ranch - Part One

Split level. Bi-level, Raised ranch, split entry. Call it what you will, but as a Realtor and lover of homes in general, I can tell you that most people do not chose these homes first. I especially had disdain for these homes because I grew up in one and remember when we moved in thinking, this is it? No character? No fancy finishes? No customization? All the things I desired in my future home, I thought.

Fast forward to circumstances that I couldn’t control and here I am living in a split level. Let me tell you the blessing that it has been… I have to start at the beginning…

My First Home

I moved approximately 8 times in 6 years. I never stayed still for long, bless my parents hearts- they moved me every single time. I started to slow down when I bought my first condo. It was under 700 square feet. It was perfect for me! It was a stand alone style so it was this cute, tiny little house with 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, a living room and a teeny kitchen. I loved it there!

Exactly 1 month after buying the condo I met my now husband, Kevin. We didn’t date for long before he moved in. We stayed happily in that condo for 2 years. During that time we got engaged and began planning our wedding. I figured if we could survive living together in 700 square feet, we would be happy anywhere!

Our First Home

The summer of 2008 (before we got married) we decided it was the perfect time to upgrade to a new home. We over paid for our colonial home one month before the market crash. We didn’t really care because we were on the 5-7 year plan and in no hurry to move. (We knew if we had kids we’d be moving into a different school district.)

We began doing upgrades and updates to make the home our own. I had lots of plans for our 2 story colonial. I began to love our home, and homes in general. I gained just enough confidence to purchase a few things and start decorating. We were married in September and were having a great time being newly weds, despite being broke. Kevin was trying to build his Electrical business in an economic downward spiral and I was working at the hospital as a surgical tech. I made a decent wage, but not enough to support our lifestyle by myself. Looking back, we had a rocky start. But we didn’t know any different. We did our best to make ends meet and still have some fun.

We were counting down the days to our 1 year wedding anniversary vacation when the world as I knew it came crashing down around me. Long (funny in hindsight) story short, I found out I was pregnant the day after my husband’s birthday, weeks before we were heading to California. That was a twist we didn’t expect and it changed the trajectory of our lives. I didn’t want to stay in a home that I couldn’t continue to modify and improve. I also didn’t want to put more money into a house I knew I wasn’t going to stay in. No problem! We’ll just sell our house! Or not. We were upside down and did NOT have a couple tens of thousands to bring to the table to sell our house. So we held out as long as we could. We had a healthy baby boy and decided to be patient. (Not my strength!) We definitely had time before the school district was an issue. As everyone knows, it was a long recession, and the next time we tried to sell our house we had no better luck. Thank God we had a plan B!

Our Split Level

We asked Kevin’s Dad how he felt about letting us rent his house. He spent most of his time at his girlfriends but was not interested in selling his home. So it was a win win. He moved in with his girlfriend and we began our new life in Cottage Grove. Easy Peasy, right? Not exactly. It was a hard transition for my father in law, seeing us take his things off the walls and moving our stuff in. He just figured we would move in and live there as he had! We still to this day, 7 1/2 years later, have some of his belongings in the bowels of our home. He is 99% out though and I am not complaining!

original kitchen:


Phase One Remodel

Demo started before we moved in! We had a 1 year old and there wasn’t a safety railing above the stairs. Which was a blessing because it meant new floors. We have continued improving our house, almost daily. For real. For the last 7 years. My friends and family literally want to come to my house just to see what I have changed since the last time they were here. Funny not funny, depending on who you ask.

Yes, it’s exhausting and sometimes I want to just move out. This home has been such an Achilles heel, but it has made me get REAL creative. It made me appreciate the importance of loving your space and finding ways to make it your own. It’s the reason I became good at decorating odd spaces. I can think outside the box because rearranging my house on the daily forced me to get creative.

kitchen remodel phase one:

This house has taught me so many things. It is literally the one seed I give credit to for the business that has blossomed. It introduced me to some of my very best friends. People that are now family. The people I vacation with and spend my holidays with, even though I see them on a regular basis. This house is the reason that I became a Christian. It brought me to a home where someone had prayed for her son and his future wife, and it introduced me to one of the best Jesus followers I know. She introduced me to the church we belong to now. A church and a church family I love so much! THAT is the true blessing of this home. That’s what I remind myself when I’m frustrated with our entry or the small dirty old garage.

This home has changed my life in so many ways. I have also changed IT in so many ways…haha!! I don’t think it’ll ever end, and I am (finally) ok with that.