On May 30, 2016, Matt and I married each other in our most favorite place to relax: along the shore of Lake Michigan. Our ceremony was simple, small, and sacred. We planned it in such a way that would enable us to feel most present, and we absolutely loved it.

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In our earliest days of marriage, we eagerly awaited the call securing our mid-June closing date on our first home together–a fixer-upper house in our most favorite place to abide: on the hill of Belknap Lookout, overlooking downtown Grand Rapids. We would move in as soon as possible–right after restoring the original 1890s hardwood floors and slapping some new paint on the walls. Until then, I’d just move myself and minimal belongings into Matt’s room at Clancy (a house shared by musicians). Only a couple of weeks before move-in! How perfect!

Or so we thought…

Well, we closed on our house almost two months later than expected. Renovation plans got moved around in all sorts of ways. Our proposed schedule had fallen apart, and not-for-long at Clancy turned into four months of marriage and some change. (Nothing against the roommates, we’d just hoped to live in our new home as husband and wife far sooner.)

On July 29, 2016, Matt and I finally closed on the house. We call it Livingston, just as we each called our previous homes by their street names. Almost immediately after closing on Livingston, we began renovations–in August, instead of in June. Making the place even remotely move-in-ready took us until mid-October.

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On our wedding day, our house was under contract

Yes, we were newlyweds, and our first several months of life together as “team Gabriel” were nearly consumed by tackling renovation tasks and sharing our space with several contractors, almost daily for five months.

On May 30, 2017, we celebrated the end of a hectic era: devoting our first year of marriage to renovating a house together, while living in it.  (And, no, we’re not actually finished with all of the renovations…but we’re considering ourselves “done” for now, with the rental unit completed and most of the main living spaces in our unit!) As you can see, we took on a massive project from the earliest days of our marriage up until our first wedding anniversary.


And now we can finally breathe.

We learned a lot from our experience, and the lessons are worth sharing.

Find some of them below!

maintaining sacred space

acknowledging strengths (+weaknesses!)

2 replies on “renovating as newlyweds

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