disclosure: this post is sponsored by Homes.com

The other day I was organizing and rearranging and generally getting my life and the house in order after the giant cheese-fest of December 2019. In the back of the bookshelf tucked into a corner behind a stack of books was a photo album.

Remember those?

Before digital.

Before we used our phones as picture storage.

It was full of old pictures of birthday parties and days at the beach and dance recitals and tiny cheerleaders with bows bigger than their heads. As I scrolled through pages and pages of years well-lived, I found a picture that stopped me in my tracks.

Our very first house. It took my breath away.

It seems like yesterday we lived there, and yet.

It seems like a lifetime ago.

Before the blog.

Before Instagram or Facebook or Pinterest or social media.

Back when I kept all of my ideas in folders with pages I’d cut out of magazines.

So many hopes and dreams and design projects on a dime and the promise of amazing things to come.

I’m so happy to be joining Homes.com today in honor of Valentine’s Day and love and celebrating all the amazing moments in this life.

Here is my first home and the story of the house that love built.

When I first met my husband, he wasn’t a big talker.

A man of very few words.

He picked me up at the back door of the house that we live in now and I greeted him with a smile full of red lipstick, an add-a-bead necklace, 4″ high bangs sprayed with Aqua Net hairspray, and an amazing outfit consisting of a prairie skirt and a sweater vest covered in bows.

I think I might have even had on high-heeled shoes and socks with my name written on them with paint pen.

At the risk of stating the obvious……I looked amazing.

Maybe he was shy.

Maybe he was nervous.

Maybe he was intimidated by the socks.

I didn’t care.

He was cute with these dimples and brown wavy hair and big brown eyes that kind of looked like Johnny Depp and he had his own car—all the really important things in life.

And besides…..I remember thinking later…..I’m a talker……

……I could talk enough for both of us.


The date went horribly wrong.

I talked to much and he didn’t talk enough and when it was over and we pulled up to my parent’s house, I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough.  I hurriedly mumbled something about what a great time that I had and turned to leave.  And just as I started to open the door, he reached for my hand.

I stopped and stared at him.

And he stared at me.

It was completely quiet in the car.  No one said a word.

And then he finally found his voice. FINALLY. He looked at me and whispered, “What if I kissed you?”

And he didn’t wait for an answer.

Right there….sitting in a car in front of my parent’s house….wearing red lipstick and a prairie skirt and a sweater vest with bows…..

….I got the kiss of a lifetime.


I never looked back.

We were married two years almost to the day from that first kiss.

We drove across the country in a car without air conditioning to move to where he was stationed in California and then eventually we moved back to Texas after he finished pharmacy school and got out of the navy.

And in Texas we bought this.

I looked at that house with stars in my eyes.

My parents raised their eyebrows at the house.

But me?

I saw the potential.

I saw the dreams.

I saw the hope.

I saw everything this house could be and more.

(total aside: we bought the house for under $150,000. It seemed so expensive at the time. But now? You wouldn’t believe what it’s worth. It’s incredible how much housing prices have increased in our neighborhood.

To get an idea of how much this house is worth now, here’s house one block over from our first home.)

This is the backyard of the house.

There was the cutest little shed in the back.

This photo was taken from the doorway of that shed.

When I look back on these photos, it all seems so overgrown, but at the time—it seemed like a wonderland to me.

I mean—just look at that gate.

Here’s Denton in the doorway to the shed.

And here’s his little brother, Zack.

This is where we started our family.

We made over every inch of that house. I shopped yard sales and shopped the side of the road on trash day and furnished the house.

I painted a hallway with fake bricks.

We redid the bathroom.

We added columns and a new porch railing to the front of the house and relandscaped and painted rooms and added molding and painted the linoleum in the kitchen and added an office nook and re-textured the walls. I wish I had pictures of all of it, but I didn’t write a blog back then. But trust me—it was incredible.

It was the house that love built.

And finally…

….finally we were finished.


Until we found out we were having twins.

And it was time to move again.

So we moved down the block to this house.

And then to this house in Kentucky.

Then back to Texas again.

It’s been a lot of life.

A lot of moving.

A lot of projects and a lot of love.

And even now after all these years my husband can look at me from across the room with those twinkling eyes and smiling dimples with that look that is just for me and I still get goosebumps.

And then I count my blessings that on that long-ago first date this sweet, wonderful, incredible, brown-eyed man…..

……finally found his voice. 🙂

PS  I read this post to my husband and he informed me that he didn’t really talk because I neglected to bring up something really interesting….like “the unsolved mystery of Bigfoot.”

Of course.


Why didn’t I think of that? 🙂

PPS Wonder what our first house would be worth now?

You can see the value with these two listings that are just around the corner here and here.

And you can also see the results of the survey that you all took about moving for love here.

disclosure: this post was written in collaboration with Homes.com.

All opinions are my own.

Please see my disclosure page for more information.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Debbie Debbie

    I love this story and the pictures of the two of you. Thanks for the links to your previous homes. I have always loved the Kentucky home. Of course, I also love your present home. You made my heart happy. Have a blessed day.

  2. Image for Teresa G Teresa G

    Love this story! You two are absolutely adorable in that outdoor shot. Is that recent? You look 25. I would have loved to see the photos of how you redid that first place. I bet it was epic!

  3. Image for Connie Connie

    What a beautiful love story! I still have real photos made. I love making scrap books and adding in little pieces from the day the picture was taken. It just seems to bring back so much that way!

  4. Image for Erin Kaven Erin Kaven

    Believe me. Once they start on Bigfoot they never shut up. My kids can attest. Best to keep them silent. My husband received two t shirts in his stocking this year. One, Aliens are beaming up (or is it down?) Bigfoot, and one says "Bigfoot saw me and no one believes him." Stay away from Bigfoot talk!

    1. Image for Kris Kris

      Erin, you made me laugh out loud. This is SO much like my husband .... except, in his case, he never stops talking about a kraken (for the uninitiated, "The kraken is a legendary cephalopod-like sea monster of gigantic size in Scandinavian folklore.") Don't ask me how he got started on this. Let's just say that I was overjoyed to find .... drum roll .... a puzzle featuring a kraken (guess what he got for Christmas????). I will say that our house is never without laughter.

  5. Image for Toni Toni

    Ooohhh so sweet! I think the beauty of lasting love is struggling to build a home and life together and seeing dreams realized however small or big......that creates depth and intimacy in a relationship. Good things come from small beginnings. It’s so much MORE than what “Hollywood” shows. THANKS FOR SHARING THE REAL “stuff” of a successful marriage.....even without Bigfoot!!😂

  6. Image for Betsy Betsy

    I could sit at my desk reading your postings until I turned purple! One minute I'm feeling emotional, the next I'm laughing out load. xoxoxoxo


    I love your stories...I smile thinking of your children in those pictures..so cute...those lovely pictures of you and your husband. You have such a flair with decorating and writing heartfelt stories. Love Lorri

  8. Image for Heather Anne Heather Anne

    Oh my - I love this KariAnne - so much! I dressed our boy in henleys and oshkosh overalls until he outgrew their biggest size! Isn't God good - He has His hand on your journey every step of the way! Thank you for sharing!

  9. Image for Betze Betze

    KA, A Lovelypost in thought, word and deed. Be of good cheer and know you and your family are well loved. With love. Betsy

  10. Image for Dee Dee

    Thank you for sharing your homes with us past and present, it was really interesting strolling down memory lane with you I felt as if I was there! That is a sign of a good writer my friend and you are definitely a good writer! I love all the photos, so much sweetness and life being played out. Also, oh my the first house that you showed that darling darling home near your first home,with that white picket fence it looks like a fairytale and I wish I was the princess of that castle 😄

  11. Image for Paula Paula

    Love your wedding photo....no mistaking love there. And what a beautiful profile, Karianne. You definitely have the storytelling gift, and so many other gifts as well.

  12. Image for Linda Miller Linda Miller

    Oh how I LOVE your post. When my husband showed me the house we would live in on the farm after we got married (his grandparents former home), I babbled on to my parents that night about how SWEET, how PEACEFUL, about the wicker swing on the front porch (the FRONT PORCH!), and on and on. I had never lived in the country and they were concerned, Even more so when they saw the house, and my carpenter dad gave this look of "oh boy!!!". (insert eye roll here). But like you, I saw POTENTIAL...and you know that sweet house has gone through several remodels, and 47 years later I am still here and loving the house more now than the very first time I stepped in the door. Here's to all of us that see potential! ;-) Happy Friday my friend!

  13. Image for Marlene Stephenson Marlene Stephenson

    I love this story of your life so far, it's so wonderful and i enjoyed reading it, thank you for sharing.

  14. Image for Brenda Brenda

    I have to say, you're not just a " the glass is half full" type of person. You're a the "glass is overflowing" type of person. I love that about you! The story is wonderland so is your family! But have you seen the t-shirt that says..."World champion hide and seek player" with the silhouette of big foot. Priceless!

  15. Image for Carrie Carrie

    I love your stories. You could write a story about mud, but the you’d make it sound like the adventure I’d been waiting for!!!

  16. Image for Shelly Shelly

    Karianne, The pics of the house before Thistlewood had me thinking 'wow, she was so far ahead in decorating! She should have kept all that stuff because it's the way we decorate now!,' She was ahead of the game! Then I read it is now, not then when you lived there! Lol Looks nice and we'll decorated! She has similar taste as you!


    Such a sweet story! I too have moved a lot-even more than you have-but have been just like you making my houses into homes. Such a beautiful job you have done spreading love.

  18. Image for CherylB CherylB

    Girl!?! You should write a book series! Like an 80’s girl (with all your 80’s details 😂) about an aspring decorator Kind of like the bakery mystery series like Joann fluke! Your hilarity and words would be great in a consistent character series!! Laughs from snowy central KY

  19. Image for Barbara Barbara

    Love this and the photos are such treasures. I don't blame you for falling for that cutie pie husband of yours with the twinkling eyes. You both are so blessed to have each other and your beautiful family. And we are blessed to have all of your advice, wisdom, awesome stories and for making us laugh (and sometimes tear up) every single day!! Thank you♥

  20. Image for Julie Briones Julie Briones

    If the girls are not the BIGGEST mini-yous I have EVER seen, I don't know what is! That is CRAZY! Loved reading this, my friend! Pinned to my ThistleReads board! ;-)

  21. Image for Lynn Mosher Lynn Mosher

    Awww, sooooo sweet! You and Mr. Twinkly-eyes with dimples and you, Mrs. Red Lipstick, have kiddos that are so adorable, then and now! You know I love this. Your stories are always precious. ❤

  22. Image for Marian Zimmerman Marian Zimmerman

    Adorable ! can I have permission to put that gate in an oil painting? no wonder you like House #3 (I like the inside but had a hard time with the outside)

  23. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    We moved into a dilapidated old house with a new baby girl (one-month old) and we thought we could remodel it say--six weeks tops---well 7 1/2 years later we got it done. Lol With sweat equity, (and we had help from family) we made that house over from top to bottom! A lot of money, but it was worth it. We were able to build a new home from that, and had a lot of good memories in from that neighborhood. And I am still in love with my quiet guy after 43 years of marriage and a few more of dating!!!

  24. Image for Chris Horne Chris Horne

    I love this story. My husband and I got married almost 45 years ago and promptly got in a car and drove from Massachusetts to Colorado where he was stationed in the Air Force. When he got out we moved to a little house in NH that was just horrible in my fathers eyes but beautiful to me. I loved fixing up that house and five years later we moved to our current house which I also love. 36 years later we still live here and have welcomed grandchildren here. Life is beautiful and you remind me of that all the time.

  25. Image for Lynne’s Lynne’s

    You have such a gift for telling stories and this is one of my favorites! Such a beautiful love story! And...of course, my husband would agree about the mystery of Bigfoot!

Comments are closed.