Love it or List it?

Have you seen the show? It centers around a family whose current home isn’t ideal, so they are either going to renovate their current home or buy a different one.

It’s mildly entertaining, although I sincerely dislike the drama that happens every episode when they “happen” to hit a snag. Didn’t they plan for snags when they started? Is there a need to be so crazily dramatic over a change in plans?

Nathan and I are in a “Love it or List it” dilemma, another big decision that’s been eating up a lot of our free time (and preventing me from blogging often!). We like our house very much. It suits our needs well, although there are definitely a few things we would change (Like: We don’t have a sink in our laundry room! Weird.). It’s a 3,000 square feet, 4 bedrooms (3 up, one in basement), 4 bath two story with a look-out basement.

We have had our eye on the Northfield market for a while, knowing that we want to make Northfield our permanent home. We are a little more serious now that we are considering #2 at some point. We haven’t seen anything existing that fits exactly what we are looking for, and after touring a new model home, we toured the other build-able lots near the model. The best lot – in our opinion – was still open, and because we could put a 30-day hold on it without penalty, we decided to. That would give us time to weigh our options.

The lot! It’s at the end of the cul-de-sac. Our lot would start to the left of the fire hydrant (you can see the curb cut for the garage there). Its graded perfectly for a walk out.

See the pile of black dirt to the left? That’s where they are building the running path. It’ll connect to a previously built path/bridge system, which will be really nice.

City park land. This would be our view. Very private feeling for just being a mile from Greta’s eventual elementary school and about 1.5 miles from downtown, the library, post office, etc!

Much prettier now that Spring is here and things are growing in!

Our current house:
The good: 
Great flat lot – great for playing catch, fetch, soccer

Quiet neighborhood
Close to a park
It’s always cheaper to stay put (and moving is a real hassle)
We’ve put so much work into it!

The “Great Room” when we bought it
We’ve done so much work to this house! Hard to leave those memories!

I love our landscaping that Amy Olson at Scenic Spaces (also super speedy TNC masters athlete!) did for us 2 years ago! Nate tells me we can re-hire her at the new place 🙂

It’s stunning now that it’s had a few years to grow in!
Landscaping at the corner.
LOVE this paver entry sidewalk!
Again, so many fun changes!

The wants: 
-Larger kitchen that looks into the great room, informal dining room bump-out.

Current kitchen set-up. Informal dining space right where I’m standing to take the picture.
After the informal space, the “Great Room”. Usually sunnier/lighter – bad time of day for a picture.
One Parade home we really liked. Love the big windows and fireplace with TV above the mantle in this “Great Room”

Same house as above. The kitchen looks into the great room, with a bump out for an informal dining room.

The realtor was pumped to pose for a picture 🙂

Downstairs of same house

-Large laundry room with a sink and room to iron (ours is tiny) – and maybe a quilting station!!! AHH, that would be amazing! 🙂

Laundry – with a sink!
There’s something I love about this laundry room. Can’t quite put my finger on it!

-Specific workout room with higher ceilings and gym-material flooring. We are using the downstairs bedroom as a gym – works okay, but the duct work splits the ceiling making it harder for Nathan to run/do pull-ups/to tall-person stuff.

Same house again. I am standing in the workout room. It was large, with gym-type flooring. Nathan commented that we would want the doors to swing out to give us more room in the gym, but I don’t know… I guess you don’t use the wall space in a family room as much as you might in a gym.


-STORAGE!!! Our home has so little and now that Greta is outgrowing some of her big infant toys, we are struggling to find places to store them. We hauled a load down to my parents last month. I imagining we will only need more storage space as she gets older?
-4 bedrooms + Exercise room would be ideal. Right now we have 4 bedrooms. Ideal: Master, 2 Kiddo rooms, Spare bedroom (could be kiddo #3 if we decided to be really crazy…).
-Walk-out basement
-Energy efficient – the house we were in was built nicely, but they cut corners. As in, our fireplaces aren’t insulated so the heat inside of our house escapes so easily in the winter. Argh. Why cut corners when it comes to energy efficiency?
-Space efficient – making sure that what we build is functional and useful.

Example: Our master. We’d build something smaller, as there is a lot of space between the bed and the door that is sort of “wasted”. 

-A little more privacy. Our lot is nice, but it butts up right to our neighbors. The castle house looms above us atop the backyard hill.
-Quilting area/nook. Maybe a part of the laundry room, maybe a little nook somewhere.

Love it: Keep Our House
If we did this, I think I’d want to add on to our laundry room and remodel our bathroom (take out tub, make walk-in tiled shower). Price tag: ?? We wouldn’t get a return for our money, likely making our home over-priced for the neighborhood.

List It: Build:
– The lot is in a cul-de-sac and our lot backs up to “city park land”, basically trees and brush that a river winds through. It’s a pretty awesome backdrop, very private feeling, but yet right in town. There won’t be a lot like this available in the next 5+ years, per our realtor.

-Obviously a lot of decisions and stress. But, if we are to do it at some point in our lives, now might be best while we just have Greta, I have a fairly flexible lower-stress job (vs. anything corporate), etc.
-But then I think, do we know *exactly* what we want? I look through pictures of kitchens and think: ohhh! Then I see the next one: ahhh! It’s like I’m watching the fireworks on the 4th of July. Each one is brilliant. And what if #2 becomes #2 AND #3, at one time? Is it smarter to wait until we know our exact family/kid needs?
-We’ve crunched the numbers and for the house we would like to build (3500-4000 sq ft), we would be increasing our monthly payments by $500/month. Granted, our current payment is very affordable – but $500/month is still $500/month, irregardless of the starting point.

One comment on another blog post has stuck with me: Everyone always wants a bigger house with kids. They think more space, more rooms, and larger spaces are better. What we’ve found is that a 1200 sq. ft. ranch style home is best. There is minimal upkeep, and we can spend so much more on experiences with our kids. Kids don’t care about a house. They remember doing things. Experiences.

The new mortgage payment wouldn’t strap us at all, but that comment still sticks with me. Building would be great, all of these spaces custom to us would be a lot of fun, but they aren’t necessary. They’re a want, not a need.

I grew up with Mom and Dad teaching me very clearly to differentiate between the two. But now it has me stuck choosing “the want” or “the need” — and I don’t know how to make the decision when there isn’t an obvious big negative!


Yep, this post has nothing to do with running. Oops. You’ll have to stay tuned for a running update. There has been so much going on lately!

Now, it’s your turn. Any thoughts/comments/life experiences regarding building/staying/etc would be much appreciated! Love it?


Or… List it?

Just like this one, right Nathan?!? 🙂

Similar Posts


  1. Maybe ask yourself what you'll need in 3-5 years. Are you just bored with your house now that you've seen the possibilities or have you outgrown it (layout wise) and will continue to. How will building a space make your lives easier (or more enjoyable) and is it worth leaving your renovations for?

    P.s. If you go down the build it option, I hope you have high ceilings so mesa can continue to howl and have it fill the upper floor.

    1. Definitely both: we are inspired by new possibilities, and I think we are outgrowing our current space a little.

      PS – I wish you lived closer so I could teach Fitz all sorts of terrible tricks 🙂

  2. If you're going to go big make sure that you use your space appropriately. We have 3500 Sq ft but 3 bedrooms & 3 "living spaces." After 10 years & 2 kids I'd rather have an extra bedroom then a 3rd living space that goes unused. The benefit of building is you get to choose 😉

    1. 3 living spaces… do you live in a two story? Main floor living area, down stairs living area, and upstairs "bonus" room?

      Interesting that it's a large house, but only 3 bedrooms!

  3. I get irritated by that "twist" every episode, too. You're young – if you want to build, now is an easier time to do it than with more kids to schlep and put to bed. You gain nothing by waiting in terms of costs or energy. Plus it's a sellers market and you have a beautiful current house that will no doubt sell quickly. Plus I want to live vicariously through you!

  4. Could you both build and keep it "smaller"? I hear you on the functionality needs of a different space, and also agree with things like new build masters often feeling like they have wasted space. We are one of those families that have just around 2000 sq. ft. with three kids – there are often times I feel like we're on top of each other, but by the same token, we spend a lot of time together because there isn't the space to go to far corners of the house and not interact with one another. It also forces us outside a lot more than I think we would otherwise. We've talked on and off for years about looking for somewhere "bigger," and then circle back to things like us being able to have season tickets to the Ordway, and can travel more flexibly with the kiddos because of where finances stand with a smaller mortgage. Either possibility sounds like a win, just in different ways!

    1. That's what I would LOVE to do – keep it smaller! The builder has already warned that "2 foot-itis" almost always affects future owners – where they want to add 2 feet here, there, almost everywhere after plans are almost done. Sort of like a "Why not?". My hope is to try to have the opposite mindset – where can I take out two feet? I'll have to run our plans by you!!!

  5. Follow your heart!! I would list it, i can see the layout being an issue, a lot of stairs esp if u have baby #2, no storage, BUT it is next to the park. I don't want you to get overwhelmed. Not sure how certain triggers effect you now. Im sure u will look at a million photos and do all the research. But again, follow your heart!!!

    1. I do love being close to that park…

      As for triggers, stress isn't one for me. I don't know what my triggers are for alcohol – maybe the thoughts that come along with severe depression? (i.e. wow, things are terrible. I may as well drink. That will make things happier and fun.) I haven't thought about alcohol is so long that I forget I need to be mindful of my stress levels, happiness, etc. So – keep reminding me!

  6. So mich obsession . . . KEEP IT SIMPLE.

    Also, while it can be exciting to imagine and make up stories about what you think/hope thngs will be like when the new neighborhood is built out, this remains to be seen.

    My two cents.

    1. I know… This post is a lot. It's the culmination of two months of thinking through the pros and cons. Only to realize there isn't a "right" or "wrong" answer.

      Good point at the neighborhood… there's no knowing what it will look like. I do know the names/ages/former occupations of the home being built next to "our" lot, and that I'll be about 5 houses down from a colleague from the Church.

      Keep reminding me to keep it simple. I know I overthink things!

  7. We moved 2 years ago, when Ellie was 20 months, into what we considered our "forever" home. It's 2700 feet (a surprising amount of which goes unused), vs our prior 1500 Sq foot home. Although I love the house, for me the location, neighborhood, and neighbors are what make me LOVE it. We have access to everything, can walk to so many places, have great running options, and have wonderful neighbors. To me, those things influence quality of life way more than particularities of the house. So wherever that puts your love it or list it analysis, those are my thoughts.

    Also love the show, and HATE when they get mad about "surprises." News flash: it's not the host's fault that you have asbestos!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *