The First Wills Casa…Wills Casa Uno


I should prep you that this post is full of terrible photos, but the story of our first house has such a huge impact on us that I have to share it. It was 2005. I was 20, and Nick was 19 (almost 20) when we bought our first place. We tried to buy a house before we got married, but there weren’t many options on our tiny budget. We were in college full time and worked part time. (Read: We were poor yet still oddly interested in owning real estate.)Our 1st House

We had a short apartment lease and a mere 10 months after we tied the knot this gem popped up on the market right when our home search resumed. (This photo is from our inspection report. Yes I have the inspection report for the house we bought in 2005 but no good photos of my house.) We looked at tons of terrible houses. This one was on the market for a day when we looked at it.

Specs: 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 994 square feet, split bedrooms, huge back yard

Hilarious aside when we walked around we were oohing and awing then said, “Where’s the 3rd bedroom?” We wrote an offer that day. There were multiple offers since it was completely refinished inside and priced much lower than market value for a quick sell. Spoiler alert they took ours because they liked that we were a young couple not an investor looking for a rental property. It was one of those meant to be things.

Our 1st House

Even though everything was new in the house – paint, cabinets, flooring – all new but definitely not our style. There was lots of peachy brown. Early 2000s neutral happening all over that 994 square feet.

That’s my little sister (who is now 19!!!), our friend Chase (the talent behind this – scroll down to mine), me (representing UT Arlington), and my mom/realtor.

Our 1st House

Here’s the other side of the living room just to give you some idea of how small it is. Use my sister for scale. The fireplace is straight up peach. I think this is a classic example of when you pick a paint color with a swatch without sampling it especially when you are going for earthy neutral via a brown tone.

You might be wondering why the house was completely redone and then priced so low. Well word on the street is the seller’s son lived in the house but was having some personal problems that led to some disagreements in the family. Then the house was vandalized. I don’t know how true any of that is, but the fact is everything was replaced and the seller wanted out.

Our 1st House

The kitchen cabinets were a strange sort of dead flesh tone that was equal parts terrifying and repulsive. The wall color wasn’t helping that out any. The appliances were bisque but new, so that was a plus. There was a small window over the sink.

Our monthly payment was like $600 which was less than we could have rented a one bedroom apartment even an on campus apartment. It might seem crazy to buy a house on 2 part time incomes while in college, but it was the best decision we ever made.


This (and the first picture) were taken at my sister’s wedding in Mexico about 2 weeks before the real start to the story behind our first house…

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32 Responses to The First Wills Casa…Wills Casa Uno
  1. cassie says:

    oh wow- the flesh color of those cabinets…. i might start bringing that back.
    and i love that you guys bought a house at 19 and 20! love!

    • Amber says:

      You forgot to add dead when describing the flesh color of those cabinets. Seriously creepy. Although if anyone could bring that back, you could Cassie. 😉

  2. How sweet. I love how the flesh tone cabinets are tanner than me. No, Im a bit distressed to be honest lol. It looks like such a good starter home- great bones!

    • Amber says:

      It was the perfect house for us since kids were not even on our radar at that point. We were close to our college and the hockey rink. Nick played hockey for UT Arlington, so that was a huge selling point too. Priorities you know!

  3. Wow! You guys look soooo different! Oh, first homes…the memories. I have found memories of the first two places we have lived and each one had a different style. So fun! xo Kristin

  4. Haley says:

    First house at 19 and 20?! I’m so jealous. I’m starting to think about getting my first house, but worried about the financial aspect. How did that work financially? Did you have a downpayment?

    • Amber says:

      Things are completely different now than they were in 2005. It was before the market crashed, so mortgages were a lot easier to qualify for and interest rates were very low. I think the seller paid a portion of our closing costs, and we rolled some in. Also Nick had a really great job even if it was only part time. We could afford the house on a single income (Nick’s) which we knew would happen when I did my student teaching. I did work 2 jobs in prep for that time as well.

      I had a year left in college, so I knew I’d have a real job teaching soon enough. We had no credit card debt or car payments. The biggest thing was the house was super cheap with a monthly payment that was lower than we could even get if we lived in on-campus housing. We had a mortgage that freed us up more than renting would have, so it worked out really well financially.

  5. What a fun starter home! Oh! and that hotel in the background of your Mexico picture is where we got married:)

    • Amber says:

      Ah crazy! I’m not sure if that’s where my sister got married or not. We stayed at a hotel, but had a nice drive to the actual beach where she got married. Destination weddings are the way to go! :)

  6. Katie says:

    I am really impressed you had the wherewithal to even consider purchasing a home during college. I could barely make the decision of what to feed myself back then. Was that the home in which you caught the design bug or did that come later?

    • Amber says:

      Looking back it was crazy, but it made the most sense financially. Both my parents are realtors, so I’ve heard the renting vs owning argument a million times. This home was definitely the one where our conversations about design started. When you start that early, I guess it’s easy for it to become a part of who we are now.

      • Katie says:

        I was in the same boat — just a lot later (I was almost 24). My mom was recently widowed, and I was perfectly happy (okay, most of the time) living with her and helping her financially rather than paying some stranger’s mortgage. Then I found my teeny, pre-foreclosure space and the miniscule price point made me a homeowner (and DIY-er, and dead pigeon-finder). I’m glad it worked that way but can’t believe it will be 5 years this summer.

        I am clearly responding to this post because your new one breaks my heart.

        • Amber says:

          That’s not a lot later! Anytime you buy a house in your 20’s you are doing something right. I’m sure that house prices in NC have skyrocketed in the last 5 years. There’s just something about owning your own space and being able to make it yours. Also I feel like there’s a really good story behind that dead pigeon! :)

          Sorry about the rough post today. Last night Nick said we are going to make everyone depressed. But as always you were on to something yesterday when you asked about catching the design bug in this house. We may have even caught the building bug or the massive renovation bug.

          • Katie says:

            Not to start a whole dialogue in the comments section, but as deeply sad as it all is, it is also very real, and very human. Inexplicably difficult things happen sometimes, and it is refreshing as a reader to learn about and from the tough parts — not just the shiny, glossy, pretty parts. Because we all go through them to some degree.

            Thank you for your openness. We all benefit.

          • Amber says:

            I’m all about starting a dialogue with you in the comments! :) You always have the best things to say! Thank you for your sweet words. I’m grateful I didn’t blog then because I think having to deal with those emotions publicly when they were so raw would have been too much. I am however glad I can share it now and point to it as an experience that changed us. It’s a great reminder that we (people in general not just us) are resilient and capable of more than we think.

  7. Tamsyn says:

    I love flash backs!! You guys were so cute and so young, and I’m so impressed that you were organised enough to buy your first home so young. Sean and I are started looking when we were 24 and ended up building at 25. We’re still living in that home now :)

    • Amber says:

      I’m even more impressed that we were married so young and are still married! Just kidding I knew we would be. Well sounds like you did it right the first time! Building the house and marrying Sean! :)

  8. I love house buying stories! Especially the ones with creepy fleshcabinets involved :) We bought our first house a few months after we got married, and it made everyone very nervous. I was like, “well, the mortgage is $200/month less than our rent on a one bedroom apt was, so I’m not really seeing the problem.” We got lucky and made a ridiculous amount of money on that house, so the moral is “Gretchen is always right” 😉

    • Amber says:

      I mean clearly you and Dave making it was questionable, so I see their concern. 😉 Everyone was nervous about us buying the house too. Not as nervous as they were when we got married, so there’s that! Think of how you saved on rent on top of the profit you made on the house. You are always right indeed! :)

  9. Love this trip down memory lane. That was a very smart purchase. At 21 I bought my first tiny tiny studio apartment and paid 125 dollars per month, I think.

  10. I’m thoroughly convinced me and Aaron would be best couple friends with you and Nick. We were only married 3 months before we started our home buying process, and moved into our house 6 months to the day of our wedding day. Everyone thought we were crazy for jumping into a home purchase so soon. Joke’s on them though… we now have over &70k equity in our house which is leading to some pretty exciting things for the Burton-Crowder clan. So when do we get to go on a double date is the bigger question.

  11. It does work out pretty nicely. I think we need to come up with their celebrity name. Bevelyn? Eveckett? Beckelyn?

  12. Anu says:

    Looks like a great starter home. My husband bought his first condo here in Toronto as soon as he turned 18. We were married about a year after it was built. We’re in our fourth home now, but it was a real blessing that he invested in real estate when he did especially here in Toronto.

    • Amber says:

      I bet it’s gotten pretty expensive in Toronto. Seems like jumping on buying the right place early is the easiest investment. I know it all depends on the market, but we’ve made money on the last 2 houses which has allowed us put more money down for the next place. Solid investment plus we absolutely love owning a house.

  13. Julia@Cuckoo4Design says:

    You guys are so cute and I love the portrait of you guys

  14. Nichole S. says:

    Such a sweet little house. I cannot believe everything that happened there:( isn’t that stuff supposed to happen in your 40’s or 50’s!?!? You were just babies:(

    • Amber says:

      The only upside is think of all the stuff you accumulate by the time you are in your 40’s and 50’s! At least we didn’t have a ton of sentimental things lost!

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