Editor’s Note: The idea of purchasing and renovating a home is a dream that many carry, but few of us stop to consider the complications and complexities of the process until we are already knee-deep in drywall debris. Lisa Przystup, a writer, florist, and frequent contributor to Front + Main has been kind enough to share her journey of home ownership with us. Check out the first installment here. Enjoy!

west elm - Hosting A First Thanksgiving In A New House

Illustration by Tallulah Fontaine
Photography by Sarah Elliott

When we bought our first home in upstate New York last year we had a list of things we knew for sure we wanted to do. Whitewash everything? Check. Well, kind-of, sort-of “check.” The painter we hired was a nightmare and we ended up doing most of it ourselves—it’s been a year since we signed the papers that made that farmhouse ours and we’re still painting. Then we found out that our porch was crooked and structurally unsound. And I haven’t even mentioned our ongoing battle with cluster flies/yellow jackets/ ladybugs (that’s right, ladybugs).

Happily the dining room was hands down the easiest room to put together (thank you law of averages). Our dining room table floats serenely in a space that seemed like it had been waiting to become the stage for food-centric special occasions.

The table that now lives in that light-flooded room, lapping up sunshine in front of a large picture window, used to hang out in the middle room of the house, which was more proportional in size to the table and the six seats around it but felt a bit crowded and dank. There was something undeniably grand about moving it into the larger, brighter room. We bought it and its chairs from the previous owner along with two beautiful sideboards and a rug. Once we moved it the only other thing we had to do was find a little something for the corner of the room to act as a visual bookend of sorts to the table. Happily we had an antique wooden curio that I filled with enough nature-based tchotchkes to make John Derian proud. As a finishing touch we added sheepskin throws to the chairs, crowded a prehistoric plant into the other corner, and tacked an afterthought of a woven fan to the wall behind the head of the table.

Last year we hosted our first Thanksgiving despite everything not being “perfect,” which of course ensured that it was perfect. All this just a few weeks after we moved all the loose ends of our apartment and the contents of our storage unit into our new home. Dinner was just the two of us and a couple of friends who happened to pass by. Since then we’ve hosted pancake breakfasts for family and friends and sat across from each other eating cobbled together late-night pasta under the meager glow of a single light bulb. I’ve happily found my favorite chair at the table—the one that catches the most light—which isn’t surprising given the fact that I consider 60 degrees “freezing.”

We’ll be hosting Thanksgiving dinner again this year, this time to a proper full house of family—eight people to be exact—and we’ve had a whole year to prepare. That doesn’t mean that we’re not using the urgency of hosting the biggest dinner of the year to squeeze in some last minute ill-timed projects—installing a pellet stove that we’ve spent a good part of the year arguing over, putting shiplap paneling up in the guest bathroom and retiling the floor—you know, just a couple small projects because we’re a pair of total and complete ambitious masochists.

The universe had a funny way of intervening though. Just this past Monday I headed back downstate—that 5:30 am wake-up call and ride to the Rhinebeck Amtrak is just about the worst way to start the week—while Jonathon stayed upstate to take on both projects. Alone.
But…the tile was delivered three days late and the wall we were going to thread the stovepipe through was riddled with plumbing, which meant that both projects were a no-go. And somewhere in my frantic, perfectionist mind I found a small slice of resignation acceptance that those things were not going to happen. And that this was totally okay because the reality is that we’ve found ourselves in the very lucky position of having both our families under one roof, which is what this holiday is all about anyway. Not the perfect photogenic shiplap-paneled bathroom or the dream of a stove to heat a room. Those details are borne out of mix of ambition and ego. Our home is beautiful and next Thursday it will be even more so thanks to the people in it. But don’t think we’re not going to be using the next five days to craft the perfect overly ambitious Thanksgiving dinner. Wish us luck.

BEFORE

west elm - The Things Nobody Tells You About Buying And Renovating A House, Part 1

AFTER

west elm - Hosting A First Thanksgiving In A New House

west elm - Hosting A First Thanksgiving In A New House

west elm - Hosting A First Thanksgiving In A New House

west elm - Hosting A First Thanksgiving In A New House

west elm - Hosting A First Thanksgiving In A New House

west elm - Hosting A First Thanksgiving In A New House

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