What can we buy, build, or make to commemorate our first home?

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Claddagh Foundry Door Knocker
Claddagh Foundry Door Knocker
I’ve reached that stage in my life: the stage where I want to paint my walls, hang pictures, build a deck, choose carpet colours, and give my fiancé a list of broken things to fix. So at long last, we’re moving out of our tiny, rented unit and buying a sunny, three-bedroom home in the suburbs. (So cliché! I love it.)

I’ve been looking for a way to commemorate buying our first home together — something I can buy, build, or make. That way we can keep it forever, and whenever we look at it we’ll know we’ve had that since we moved into our first home.

Has anyone done something like this? I would really love to hear ideas and suggestions from all of you wonderful people. -Sophie

First of all, congrats on your first home purchase! You should totally be perusing our new home archive.

Second, have you thought about something like investing in an awesome door knocker? It’s the first thing you see when you walk up to your door. Practically everyone who comes to visit will be grasping it and giving your house a little handshake. And it’s something that you can take with you from your first home to your last home, bringing with you all that houseguest hand-shaking mojo.

Or you could check out and steal some ideas from this post: Making an event out of moving in together.

What other first home commemoration ideas do YOU have, Homies?

Comments on What can we buy, build, or make to commemorate our first home?

  1. I don’t know if this is exactly what you’re looking for, but I love having stuff that my grandmother gave me from her home. It’s not just a connection to where I’ve lived, but other people from my past as well. Is there anything that you can ask to be “gifted?”

    The same thing is true for me about art. My parents gave me a piece from their kitchen that I have always loved when we moved into our new house. It instantly made the place feel like home.

    I have found that the most meaningful items in my home are the ones that were gifted from others, because it keeps me connected to all of those wonderful people. Maybe ask for an “impractical” housewarming gift from friends/family? You’ll buy your own steak knives, but not the amazing vase.

  2. Oh oh oh! Along the lines of doorknocker…I think something that you’ll see every day when you walk up to the house would be good. Like a sturdy, handpainted flower pot (my parents bought 3 when they moved into their 2nd house–one for each kid). A custom welcome mat. A porch swing (or DIY porch bench). DIY stepping stones that you can decorate together (craft stores usually have the kits).

    Or, if you’re thinking more along the lines of indoor objects…a key rack near the doorway (I’m thinking one that looks like the house would be cute), a coffee table, heirloom furniture, antique lamp, swanky set of hangers for the front hall closet (if applicable).

    I usually like small meaningful things, because that way, if the situation ever changes, you almost always have room for it wherever you go. 🙂

  3. We didnt do anything to commemorate our first home but I do strongly regret not taking pictures of it the way it was.
    Since we’ve moved in we have done a lot of work on the garden and redecorated quite a bit, I would love to have old pictures to document the changes.

    Leading on from that I think that a nice framed picture of you and your fiancé in or outside your new home as soon as you move in / before you make changes would be the perfect commemorative piece. Its simple, portable and will never clash with future decor!

    • I have been taking pictures around our home as we make changes to it and I love being able to go back and see the progress we have made since moving in here. It has only been two and half years but we have taken on a few projects and I am so glad I have documented them.
      The changes we have made so far have been out of necessity (mostly), it is still fun to keep a camera handy and take a few pictures while the work is getting done.
      We did some bedroom renovations after we found mould in the closet, yuck! We are both much happier with the room afterwards, we not only fixed the mould problem but changed the layout completely.
      The next year we had a small leak in the roof so this summer we had a new roof and gutters put up, and after talking with the roofer and complaining about the lack of weather protection over the front door, we live in the north west so it rains a lot, the roofer said ” I can build you a small portico and it will only add about $700.00 to the work we are already doing.”
      Yay! So now we have a small portico on the front of our house, we can get in and out without getting soaking wet and it really changed the look of the front of our house for the better, it was very flat and boring before now it looks cute and cottage like.
      The other thing we did that I am so happy about is that we bought a really beautiful original piece of artwork when we moved into our home, it is one of the first things everyone sees when then come in the front door and it is a lovely reminder of all the excitement that came along with our first home.

    • I always made it a point too that I would snap a panoramic photo of the living room as I just moved in once I bought my own place.
      Hasn’t happened yet.

      Other than that: MAILBOX. Or a grill. A coffee table. A lamp. A doormat? My aunt made a giant stuffed dog, I think. That would be nice too.

    • We took lots of “before” pictures, and are now taking “in progress” pictures. I’m glad we did because I know that when we’re done no one would believe how gross it was before.

  4. Good question! I think we are putting in an offer on our first place this week (overpriced Toronto condo that needs work.)

    I look forward to the answers you receive – one thing I already planned to do was definitely take a picture of us (selfie?) in the space the day we get the keys.

  5. What about making a copy of the key and framing it in a shadow box? Spray paint the key a color that goes with your house (maybe the color of the door when you first moved in, or some other color significant in the house). It can be a cool collection if you end up moving to another house, or it can always be the reminder of the first home you owned.

  6. It seems like almost every culture or part of the world has a symbol or sign that signifies “welcome” to guests. For example, in the American South, it’s a pineapple. It come from the old colonial days. Find something from your heritage, religion or culture or just something you think is cool or has meaning to you. Purchase or make it in some form – whether it is a sculpture or little statue, wall hanging, piece of art, something that you place near the entry of your home to welcome your guests. It can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want. It makes for a nice conversation piece and offers a welcoming vibe to those who enter.

    • That’s pretty cool! I’d never really thought about “welcoming” objects and symbols as they vary by culture. A cursory search uncovered the boar’s head (European heraldry) and bread & salt (Slavic/Eastern European). Now I want to find some sort of resource to discover more of them…

  7. you could always plant a tree in your yard. that’s something we do. then we can watch it grow over the years. if you have to move, though, you can’t take it with you…just gotta plant a new one in your next place.

    • This. The bf has a green thumb, so while I was up in northern cali this summer I bought us a redwood sapling. We’re not even starting the house building process until next summer, but having a little tree to care for (well, for him to care for and me to admire from a distance (I manage to kill bamboo)) while we wait makes the waiting easier. And we’re planning on planting it when the house is done to commemorate us creating our first home together.

  8. We’ve been bouncing around from one spot to the other while we house shopped, so all of our stuff is in storage…including all of the cool vintage stuff I keep collecting. So now that we’ve bought a house to fix up, we’ll have ALL KINDS of “new” stuff. But one item in particular to signify the “new house”? Hmmm…

    How about an awesome mailbox? If you have one that’s on the side of your home (as opposed to the roadway) then it’s probably safe to get something neat.

  9. I got a custom holiday ornament made – it’s white ceramic, shaped like a 2D house, with our zip code stamped in it. It makes me smile to hang it on our tree every year!

  10. We bought a poster calendar that had the whole year on it (and an art print that showed St. Louis-south-city-style houses), circled the date of our closing, and framed it! I love that it represents our house while being art on display.

  11. When we bought our first home together, I took photos of everything from the bottle of wine that I got for celebrating exchanging contracts (with ‘special exchange wine – do not drink!’ written on the label), to the boxes everywhere and building work in the bedroom in the first few weeks, to the changing seasons in the garden (which just kept on surprising us – the previous owners had planted bulbs that kept springing up in waves for months); and also pictures taken out and about in our new neighbourhood.

    After a year, I had them printed in a hardback book, with dates and notes on every photo. I actually gave the book to my grandmother, but I have a digital copy.
    It really means a lot to look back and remember all the things that happened that year. It’s also a great reminder of how much we have done to settle down and make the place our own, which is easy to forget/not notice.

  12. –Tons of artists on Etsy can do a nice ink or pencil drawing of the front of your house, if you send them a photo. Get an 8×10, frame it, and hang it inside. Then you’ll never forget what it looked like when you bought it and you can take that to your next house.
    –I’ve always wanted a hand carved or painted sign that says, “The Johnsons, Est. 2013”
    –Custom address plate, maybe ceramic tiles numbers?
    –Google “pennsylvania dutch hex sign” – the kind people put on barns. I think they would look cool on a house if you find one with symbolism you like.

  13. A guestbook! My husband’s grandparents have a guestbook, and it’s so cool to read old entries in it — including the entry that says something like “Thank you for the wonderful daughter”, from their now-son-in-law. If you get it when you move into your first home, and then have all your guests sign it, think how cool that would be to look back on in 50 years!

  14. I may be a Christmas freak, but I plan on doing an ornament for mine. I’ve seen ones where they get a mini-house made online for their tree and I think that sounds awesome!

  15. A house blessing. There are tons of them. There are traditional ones from some religions or cultures, and other ones that are just nice. I lived in a dorm once, that had “May all who through these portals pass, bring peace and joy within” engraved in the stone over the door. I embroidered the quote and framed it before I moved out. It always reminds me of that wonderful two years!

  16. When my parents moved into their first house, they painted their names on the ceiling of one of the closets. It was in such an unobtrusive place that when my mom stopped by 20+ years later, that signature was still there—the current homeowner had never noticed it! Of course, that’s not something you can take with you and it might not last, but I love the idea of leaving your mark in some small, secret way.

    If you have pets, it can also be a little exciting seeing your new address on their tags. It’s a useful thing to update and you can hold onto each of the old tags as you move from place to place. As a renter/frequent mover, I have a good collection of them going already, and it means a lot to have that little memento of where I’ve lived and the fuzzy creatures I had with me.

    • love this. When we built a new deck at my brother’s house, the four of us who worked that day all signed the joists underneath before we finished it with the date. Someday someone will find that when it needs to be ripped out and replaced (hopefully no time soon.)

      • When my step-dad was doing some work to their house a few years ago he found a family photograph (Mom, Dad, and 7 kids) in the wall. The picture was dated on the back, 1927, but the house was built in 1928 or ’29 so it might have been the first family that lived there. I believe he tried to track them down, but, sadly, may have hit a dead end.
        Adding little ‘time capsules’ like that to renovations (or new) is a neat idea.

        • oh, this happened when i was helping my stepdad remodel my parents’ home years ago too! it wasn’t a photo though, it was postcards dated 1922 and 1923 (the house was built in 1918), and a little ceramic doll in the wall. my mom made a little time capsule of her own in a half-pint jar and we closed that up in the wall for the next remodelers.

          someone somewhere along the line also put new windows in and shimmed them with newspaper. those were all dated in the ’60s sometime. it was neat because you could read most of the text on them.

  17. This may be a smaller gesture than you want but I have some friends that move around all the time like 3 countries in a year. And they have a charm that hangs on the back of the door. Its the first thing moved in and the last thing moved out. Wherever that charm is, is where home is.

    • A custom address stamp is a great idea, especially if you’re engaged and will have many invites and thank yous to send out in the near future!
      It’ll also be great for your first Christmas cards sent from your new house

  18. I picked a few leaves off of the maple tree right outside next to the front door during the fall of the first year we moved in to our house – JUST as the leaves were changing from green to yellows, oranges and reds. I pressed them in books, framed them and now they’re hanging in my daughter’s room. 🙂

    • I LOVE THIS!

      I planted two apple trees in the garden and I have always been saddened to know they would never move with me…This is the perfect way to bring a little piece of them! Thank you!

  19. My beloved had a photo of our first home we bought together laser engraved on 5 x 7 a piece of granite. Our names and the year are engraved on it as well. He gave it to me for Christmas. It was a true surprise that melted my heart and I keep it on a small easel style stand on our mantle. Ours was done at the mall but I have seen other places online.

  20. You could make a family identity statement. Although we did this with our kids, I think it’d be a cool thing for a couple to do, too! Basically, you come up with the things you want to define your family (your values, goals, etc.), get yourself a nice looking piece of lumber, use carbon paper to trace the letters onto the wood, and then use a woodburner to make it official. More detailed instructions here: http://afamilyinthecity.com/?p=115

  21. Along the lines of a Claddagh door knocker, I bought all my friends and family “Cead Mile Failte” door signs when I went to Ireleand a few years ago — Gaelic for “A Hundred Thousand Welcomes”.

    My mother’s a practicing Catholic, and when they moved into their new house, she buried an old broken rosary somewhere on the property. One of her coworkers had told her it was a protection against house fires (that’s how we lost our first house).

  22. When my partner and I moved out of our first home, we kept one copy of our keys. We went to the craft store and bought a nice frame and craft numbers that matched our (former) address. We covered the cardboard insert of the frame with a piece of fabric from the first piece of furniture that we bought (*our* couch and sadly could not take with us…it was kind of a big deal for me) and then glued the numbers on the now-pretty insert and the keys above them. We have this as a keepsake and have hung it up as a memento of the first place we called “home” *together*.

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