First House Vs. Current House

Q: I just read an old post of yours where you compared your last house to your current one – and it looks like you preferred the old one in some ways because you had done more renovation, etc.  I think it would be awesome if you did a do-over of that post now that it has been so long and you’ve done so much to improve your new house! – Thanks for all the inspiration, Sarah

A: You’re right, it’s high time we revisited this weird little comparison of our first house and our current one, so let’s get right into it. It all started when someone (ironically also named Sarah) said this about a year ago: “I love your videos and it’s crazy to see the difference in YHL style from the first house to this house! If you wanted to do a side-by-side of rooms past and present, I wouldn’t hate it :)” We decided we wouldn’t hate it either, so we had some fun with it. And now over a year later it’s baaaaack. It’s a battle to the death. First house vs. current house. Cue the dramatic music and picture me singing while Simon Cowel says “you sound like a dog trying to lay an egg.” Of course it’s kind of an unfair fight since we’ve only been in this house for 20 months and it took us four and a half years to finish our first one (and we definitely expect this one to take us a few more years since it’s bigger and we have crazier plans) but on the other hand, after over six years of figuring out what we love and learning by trial and error, we’re definitely in a more confident place than we were when we started out, so some things haven’t taken us as time to figure out. Oh and we stole most of the current house pics from our House Tour page, hence the big “progress” label on the bottom of those. Anyway, it’s on:

The Front Yard, First House:

The Front Yard, Current House:

Winner: The first house. Our current yard has definitely improved by leaps and bounds from the bushy overgrown lot that we inherited (you couldn’t even see the house from the curb), but our first house took us over four years to upgrade it from this craziness, so we’re guessing we still need a few more years with our current one (from other angles it still looks pretty rough).

The Front Porch, First House:

The Front Porch, Current House:

Winner: Tie? We actually would give the front door win to our second house (we loved the red but we lurrrve the yellow) but we still have big plans for boxing out the porch columns and staining the concrete and doing about a million other things at our new digs – and the hanging ferns and tan-and-cream stripes on the first house’s porch were a few of our favorite things. So… lame, but let’s say it’s a tie for now.

The Living Room, First House:

The Living Room, Current House:

Winner: Our current house. Although we’re still hoping to upgrade things (like converting an old dresser into a media stand, etc) we never really used our formal living room in the first house (we had a den for TV watching and chillaxing), so we feel tons more at home in the current living room where we can sink into our giant sofa and zone out.

The Kitchen, First House:

The Kitchen, Current House:

Winner: Our current house. This might be a you-have-to-be-here-in-person thing, but the floor plan and smaller size of our first house’s kitchen just felt a lot more closed in and separated from other rooms and the new kitchen is truly the heart of our home (with two giant openings leading to the hall and the dining room and two other doorways that connect it to the office and living room). It’s hard to explain, but when I’m sitting at the peninsula approving comments while Clara plays on the rug by the fireplace and John cooks up something yummy for dinner, it’s just a nice place to be.

The Hallway, First House:

The Hallway, Current House:

Winner: Current house. We’re so thankful to have a nice wide, light-filled hallway. And the giant family gallery of frames just does it for us.

The Spare Bedroom, First House:

The Spare Bedroom, Second House:

Winner: The first house. Although this picture is stolen from an old post about how messy the playroom was before my mom helped me clean it, once again it looks almost this ca-razy (and has a lot more major furnishings in there since it’s full of secret book projects, hence the need to use an old pic). So yeah, the clean little room with a daybed and a desk made me a lot less sweaty and clammy. Someday I will show this room who’s boss. Until then, the door will remain firmly closed.

The Nursery (Formerly The Third Bedroom), First House:

The Nursery, Current House:

 Winner: Current house. But it was a hard call. We loved the room that we took Clara home from the hospital to so much. It just was such a sentimental space. But the bigger closet in the current room (which Clara now uses as a reading nook) gives her newer room the edge. And we can’t wait to do a bit more in here, like add crown molding, paint the ceiling, refinish the floors, etc.

The Master Bedroom, First House:

The Master Bedroom, Current House:

Winner: Current house. Although the built-ins that we created with doorless Ikea wardrobes to flank the bed in our first house (and to provide some much needed storage) will always have a special place in our hearts, our new bedroom is easily the coziest room we’ve ever slept in. Especially since we rearranged everything and painted the walls a dark and moody color. And of course having a walk-in closet and a master bathroom that’s actually connected is a huge step up in the function department.

The Master Bathroom (located in the hall), First House:

The Master Bathroom (actually attached to our bedroom this time), Current House:

Winner: First house. By a mile. We loved that complete bathroom gut job more than words can say. And although we did some small easy upgrades to our new one, it doesn’t doesn’t make us feel quite as shiny and proud as the first one did after a few months of serious work. But there’s a chance that we’ll love our current one more someday (perhaps after we redo the flooring like we’ve talked about) just because it’s attached to our bedroom and doesn’t have to be shared by everyone else in the house.

The Office/Guest Bedroom/Playroom, First House:

 The Office & Guest Bedroom (which are now separate rooms), Current House:

Winner: Current house. The office in our first house was such a great multi-tasking space, but it was teeny and it made us feel a little cramped when we were all in there. And when guests came to town it was hard to do blog stuff (which definitely doesn’t stop on nights and weekends) since the office was occupied by family & friends. So although our first home’s office/playroom/guest room was such a fun space, it’s a lot more functional to have a separate office with a nice built-in desk and our own cheerful guest room (with its own attached bath) for guests.

The Den, First House:

Winner: The first house. 1) Because our current house doesn’t have a den, and 2) Because our first house’s den was one of our favorite rooms ever – so cozy.  Although the room that we call “the living room” in our current house could have been a secondary living space/den, we opted to turn what used to be a formal living room into a spacious dining room to accommodate our huge family who couldn’t squeeze into the dining room behind it (which we made into the office). We don’t regret our decision to just have one huge casual room for TV, reading, playing, & hanging out, but we just have a special place in our heart for the comfy den that our first love – er, house, offered. I remember sitting on that sofa holding our newborn baby with Burger to my right and John to my left like it was yesterday. Sniffle.

Dining Room, Current House:

Winner: Current house. 1) Because those curtains are my babies and we’re enamored with the dark teal color that we painted on the back of the built-ins, and 2) Because our first house didn’t even have a dining room (it just had a dining nook in the corner of the living room). Well, originally it had a small dining room off of the other side of the kitchen but we closed off that doorway to turn it into a third bedroom which later became the nursery since we needed that space far more. It’s all much more clearly explained here.

The Laundry Area, First House:

Laundry Area, Current House:

Winner: The current house. We love our new laundry space. Even though it’s narrow and we don’t have a surface for folding, it just feels happier. Plus we don’t have to fight all of our normal human urges to resist clutterering up a big long counter near the door like we did in our first house (it was always full of incoming or outbound stuff). And it’s more fun to fold laundry in front of the TV on the sofa in the living room anyway.

The Hall Bathroom, First House:

Hall Bathroom, Current House:

Winner: The first house. The stripes and the fun glass chandelier were so charming, and we loved the pedestal sink and the pocket door too. But the new hall bath isn’t just a toilet – there’s a tub in there, which is where Clara takes all of her baths. So maybe the current house wins for function but the first house wins for sweetness? Either way, that blank slate of a bathroom in the current house is begging for some love, so we’ll count this as a point for the first house until we tackle the new one, since that was our first instinct.

The Sunroom, First House:

The Sunroom, Current House:

Winner: First house, all the way. We have about ten million things on the list for the current one though, so maybe in a year or two it’ll give our first one a run for its money…

The Patio, First House:

The Patio, Current House:

Winner: Current house. Just because it’s more spacious and cozy/shaded. But most of all because we did it ourselves (we hired out the first house’s patio since we were three weeks away from our backyard wedding and worried that if we tried to DIY it we’d get married next to a half-finished mud pit).

The Deck, Current House:

Winner: Current house. 1) Because we didn’t have a deck in our first house and 2) because John built this one with his bare, manly hands and I got to get it furnished. We can’t wait to stain/seal it and fix a few more things up out there (ex: hide the utility box, hang some shutters, paint the siding so it feels more balanced, etc).

The Basement, First House:

The Basement, Current House:

Winner: First house. Because we’ve obviously spent a little more time on the first one. Haha. But you never know what we’ll do down there with our current one as soon as we can make it not resemble a pile of junk…

The Backyard, First House:

The Backyard, Current House:

Winner: First house. We still miss that lovely flat grassy area surrounded by pretty woods. Someday we’ll hopefully make a little grassy spot for Clara and Burger to romp (after lots of transplanting, I imagine).

So there you have it. I think the final tally is 10 to 8 with our current house squeaking ahead by two (last year when we did this our first house got a 9 and our current house got an 8 since we didn’t have the deck in the mix yet). It’s interesting to see how our style is gradually evolving (more color/contrast/risks), although we’ll always have a soft spot for the tone-on-tone look of our first baby- er, house. And as for what’s still on the agenda at this place, here’s a big ol’ rundown that we shared a few months ago. What do you guys think? Have you ever looked at photos of your current house next to photos of a previous house to compare what you liked or disliked about them? Isn’t it funny how a new house is a chance to completely reinvent yourself, yet you’re usually working with a lot of existing furniture, so it still has “glances” of your first house going on?

Psst- Check out a full source list for where we got nearly every last item (and what paint colors we used) in our first house here and our second house here.


  1. says

    Looks like things are shifting in your current house’s favor… and that’s great! Your new house really fits you where you are right now, while your old house fit you back then.

    It’s so exciting to find your style and really start to go with it. When we moved into the Little House a year ago I didn’t even know we had a style and now… we’re making changes right and left that are just so us.

    PS. That bathroom gut in the old house is probably one of my favorite things ever, too!

  2. says

    Our first flat (that we shared as a couple) was partially furnished, so our new (unfurnished) flat wins every time because it just feels so much more like US. I hope next time (maaaybe a house we own??) will feel even more amazing, but right now I still have the biggest crush on our flat. I love it so much. I haven’t updated the blog with pictures for a while, but here’s a few after the first three months:

  3. Erika says

    We are about to convert our office/spare room into a playroom but am anxious to see what you do first! :) I wonder if your book will reveal any of your playroom ideas!

    • says

      There are definitely a few ideas from the book that would work in a playroom, but we didn’t actually start working on our playroom yet or anything- still full of stuff! Hopefully within the next 6 months to a year? Clara is still so happy in her crib and the doc said that was great, so we’re taking her lead and just going to move her to her big girl room whenever she’s done with her crib.


  4. Marije says

    I’ll always love the living room (yes, I LOVED that space) and bedroom in your old house. But it’s also so good to see you guys making this new place beautiful :)

  5. Brenda says

    Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen pictures of your first house! It helps get some perspective about how far you’ve come since you moved (kitchen reno, anyone?), and how many things you haven’t done yet. You always talk about all the things on the to-do list, but it wasn’t until I looked at the side-by-side comparisons of how complete your other house was that I really got it.

  6. says

    Your first house was nice, but I think your current house wins by a landslide! I love how you guys are taking risks with color in this house (comparatively, it makes your old house feel, well, old. Like for old people!). The current house just feels so fun and happy! I bet having Clara has influenced that. I know my 15 mo old has changed my style to more colorful and fun! Loving what you guys are doing and I love your blog!

  7. Lindsay says

    Did you leave behind a lot of the furniture in your basement (storage cabinets, desk, carpet tiles)or bring it with you to use in the new house? Love the comparison!

    • says

      We actually conveyed that (sold it to them with the purchase of the house). We were worried about trying to move all of that stuff and it worked so well for that space, so it was like the bedroom built-ins and our bed (which we also sold with the house).


  8. says

    I love them both!

    Question: Where did you find your glass coffee table from the living room in your first house? I’m looking for something similar at the moment. .

    • Braelin says

      I actively looked for that first house coffee table for YEARS (in regular stores, online, thrifting, craig’s list- you name it). I wanted rectangular with a single glass shelf on the bottom (to see the cool rug through) and definitely no ornate grapes or anything (there was one that people kept showing me… except it had iron grape thingys in the corners… ummm… no, not my thing)! I searched high and low (I was willing to spend up to $250 for the right thing and the PB option was closer to $500). I finally found one online (but not actually for sale online..) at Pier 1 that was almost perfect- but there was a decorative cris-cross thing along the top– oh, and the finish wasn’t right (I wanted ORB or black but this one was nickle). In any case, it was on clearance for $90 (!!!) and I knew that I could spray paint… but the nearest one was 100+ miles away in Vail, CO (read: over 2 mountain passes that are typically covered in snow…). I bought it in November over the phone and they held it for me for 3 months… I got it, sprayed it, and love it (the criss-cross thing actually gives it some nice interest). Motto of the story: keep searching (it will be quite the hunt…), and check on Pier 1 (my model is not longer made, but they sometimes bring old things back and/or have similar items). Good luck! It WAS worth it.

  9. Stephanie says

    That was an awesome post. It was great seeing the comparisons between the two houses. I bet someday your current house will win on every category but you’ll always have a special place in your hearts for your first house.

    This is my first house and my first time living outside of my parents house so for me, this will be what I compare every other house to. It’s fun developing a style and seeing it evolve in the house. :) I’m trying to make it young and fun without being childish. I’m a single 27 year old girl… excuse me, WOMAN. It shouldn’t be old-lady-ish, but I don’t want it litte-girl-ish either. :)

  10. Liz says

    As much as your current house’s kitchen make-over has been awesome to watch, I’m still in love with your first house’s kitchen! I may be biased because we’re starting to plan our kitchen renovation for next spring as our kitchen is tiny. I mean, you can not open the fridge/oven/dishwasher/any lower cabinet at the same time kind of tiny. It’s scary, you guys. We’re considering knocking out a wall and flipping the layout to make a wider u-shape with the hope that it will give us more working room, like your first house’s kitchen – which we both love, it looks functional and beautiful for such a small space!

    Sorry for the long comment just to say, thanks for the inspiration!

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