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    Advice, Living, Real Life

    Helpful Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

    Tips for first-time home buyers | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    I currently rent my apartment, mainly because I love the flexibility of being able to pick up and move, and it’s reassuring to know someone will come fix the dishwasher, sink, or other scary appliance when it breaks (which has happened…more than once). But, even though renting is a great option for Fritz and I now, we realize we’re not making a real investment. You’ll hear people say renting is the equivalent of “throwing money away” each month, and it’s true. When I think about how much I spend each year on rent, it’s enough to make me cringe…

    Many of my friends are starting to buy houses, which has encouraged me to think seriously about making the investment in the next few years. If you own your home or are currently in the hunting process, you know that buying a house is a different story – a completely different story. The journey can be long, painful and frustrating, especially if it’s your first time buying real estate.

    Before I make any big decision or purchase, I like to do my research and ask around. I turned to the best, most experienced realtor I know (a.k.a., my lovely mom, Nancy), for her advice to those starting the home buying process. Read below for some of her top do’s and don’ts for a first-time home buyer (I’ll be referencing these tips soon enough).

    Tips for a first-time home buyer | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    The Do List

    Take the time to review your credit report

    A strong credit score and financial track record can help you more easily obtain a loan and at lower interest rates.

    Get pre-approved for a mortgage

    It’s important to understand the various options available and become comfortable with an estimated monthly payment for budgeting purposes.

    Think about your lifestyle today and in the near future

    Will your home offer enough space as your family grows? Remember, your first home will more than likely not be your last.

    Make a list of the features you would like in your new home and separate into “must haves” and “would love to have”

    Consider number of bedrooms, baths, garage spaces, private office, etc. This will help you make choices if you have to compromise to fit your budget.

    The Don’t List

    Don’t rush into a decision

    Take the time to review the homes that fit your criteria, but remember to keep an open mind. The best fit might not be your initial choice.

    Don’t be tempted to go over your budget

    Make sure to factor in the down payment you will need, closing costs, property taxes, and monthly expenses so you can make an informed decision. Also, you will want to set aside a budget for cosmetic changes in addition to saving for entertainment and vacations.

    Consult the professionals

    A mortgage loan officer can provide you with detailed information in order for you to understand various financing options to make an informed decision. An experienced real estate agent with years of market and negotiating experience can provide invaluable neighborhood expertise and provide you with one point of contact to view all properties of interest and negotiate the best deal possible.

    Be patient and do your homework

    If you plan and follow these helpful tips, you will know when you see the perfect home. And hopefully, you will enjoy the home buying process along the way.

    Have you recently bought a home or are currently going through the process? What are some tips you’ve learned along the way?

    Thank you to M/I Homes for sponsoring this post. And thank YOU for supporting the brands that make Natalie Was Here a happenin’ place to be!

    I recently visited a model home in M/I Homes’ new community in Minerva Park (Westerville area) and was so impressed with the layout and decor. The community will be home to 250 houses, and pricing ranges from $212,900 – $249,900 — perfect for first-time home buyers. To learn more about the new community, click here.

    Keep up with M/I Homes on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


    Here to Disrupt LLC: The Group That’s Disrupting the Culinary Scene (In The Best Way)

    This past Sunday, I had the opportunity, along with eight other bloggers and social media influencers, to attend the most insane rooftop brunch of all time, co-hosted by Here to Disrupt and Kaufman Development. We gathered around a Pinterest-worthy table and enjoyed boozy drinks, sweet treats and savory dishes. It was an experience I will remember for a very long time. Seriously, I didn’t feel cool enough. I still don’t. But, I do have the photos to prove I was there, so maybe that will up my blog cred by a few points.

    If you haven’t heard of Here to Disrupt, I can guarantee you’ll be seeing a lot from them in the near future. They are a group of passionate, creative individuals who are changing the culinary scene in Columbus, one pop-up event at a time. The events are held at restaurants and nontraditional locations and venues, with the goal to showcase sous chefs from across Ohio. And let me tell you, these people are talented.

    Here to Disrupt 4This particular event celebrated the pastry, and as a girl who loves her sweets, I was fully on board. Dishes were prepared by pastry chefs, Aaron Clouse (pastry chef for LBRANDS/owner of Cakes by Aaron), Andrew Worth (owner of WORTH) and Amanda Erckert (owner of Tablspoon). The sweet treats ranged from a German berlinger filled with lingonberry jam, to sweet corn fritters and Greek loukoumades with toasted walnuts and honey. The savory menu option was a quiche stuffed with shitake mushrooms and emmental cheese, with a side of asparagus.

    And to top everything off, we had the opportunity to try a more savory dessert, Bloody Mary sorbet with orange sponge cake, vodka soda and grilled shrimp. The flavors were so unexpected, but worked so well together. The way I think about dessert forever changed the moment I took a bite of that salty and savory sorbet. It was UNREAL.

    HTDHere to Disrupt 2Derek Reno of The Reno Reserve kept the drinks coming. Because everyone knows a good brunch usually involves alcohol. Extra props to the bartender when your glasses look like this.

    DSC_1315Here to Disrupt 3 Here to Disrupt 6 Here to Disrupt 7

    Here to Disrupt 8

    I was so honored to be a part of this event. The food was sweet, and the company was sweeter. I can’t wait to see what these guys do next.

    Living, Real Life

    Apartment Tour (Before): One Month Down

    Fritz and I recently moved into our first apartment together and despite the slight learning curve for both of us (I’m messy, he’s not), it’s been an amazing month. We now have a legit adult apartment to call home. I mean, seriously. The place has a dishwasher, garbage disposal, air conditioning and a washer and dryer.

    My last one bedroom apartment was 100% mine, and while I loved that place and all of the life lessons living alone taught me, I didn’t always love scrubbing melted cheese off of plates by hand, or shoving my arm down the sink to fish out random pieces of food. Or calling the fire department at midnight because the wiring was so old the place literally almost burst into flames. And don’t even get me started on the creepy basement I had to do laundry in. I’m convinced it was at one time a crime scene.

    Read more

    DIY, Living

    DIY to Try: Marble Plates and Bowls

    I am so into the marble trend lately. Laptop cases, cutting boards, shirts, bags. So into it.

    DIY Marble Plates_NWHWhen I moved into my first place, I made a trip to IKEA and came home with a very blah, very IKEA dinnerware set. The six sets of plates and bowls have held up nicely over the past year, which is impressive considering the $30 price tag. But now that I’m in my mid-twenties, I decided it’s time to step up my style game. I’ll blame my Anthropologie catalog for the sudden shift in perspective…

    DSC_0275I wanted to revamp my set but didn’t know where to start. And then I saw this project…marbleized mugs using nailpolish. Brilliant! GENIUS. Mind-blowingly awesome. Seriously, why didn’t I think of it before?

    Suddenly, my sad little dinner plates and bowls had so much potential and I finally had a serious plan in place for their much-needed makeover.


    You Will Need…

    • White ceramic plates and bowls
    • Nailpolish (I recommend you don’t use a quick drying or gel formula like I did…it can get more tacky)
    • Toothpick
    • Bucket
    • Warm water
    • Non-Toxic waterproof sealant (I prefer to use ModgePodge)

    1. Pour nail polish into warm waterDIY Marble Plates 3DIY Marble Plates 2

    2. Gently stir to swirl colors together

    Make sure you work quickly because the polish starts drying almost immediately.

    DIY Marble Plates

    3. Dip into the water and remove, let dry

    Wait for the polish to dry and continue repeating the process until the desired amount of marble effect is reached. *Optional: use a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover to remove the marble effect from the center of the plate.


    4. You’re done!

    Coat with your waterproof sealant and follow curing instructions before using.

    Now just try to refrain from marbleizing everything. I dare you.


    Please keep in mind these are not really dishwasher or microwave safe. But they sure are pretty, aren’t they?

    DIY, Living

    Cheap and Easy Way to Update Your Fireplace

    One of my favorite features of my charming (and very old) apartment is the amount of fireplaces it has — three, to be exact. Now, three fireplaces for one person might be just a tad bit excessive, but I love how they add character to each room.  If you take a look at the “before” photo below, you’d probably agree that the brown tile was downright u-g-l-y. I wanted to brighten things up a bit, but didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg on a place I don’t own (the struggle is real).

    The solution? Paint, of course!


    Really take in the ugly here, guys. The tile was dark and blah. Talk about depressing.



    See ya never, dark tiles. With a coat of white paint, this fireplace transformed into a focal point that’s bright, fun and inviting.

    fireplace4fireplace5 fireplace2

    Speaking of paint, see how I turned this plastic toy into a chic jewelry stand here.fireplace3 fireplace

    Supplies used:

    • Behr paint in “Ultra Pure White”
    • Paint brush
    • Painter’s tape
    • Paint tray

    And that’s it! What do you guys think of the transformation? Have you done anything similar? Share in the comments!


    8 Ways to Add Charm to Your Rented Space

    DSC_0388_edited2Moving into your own apartment/condo/house is a new adventure, in every sense of the word. If you live alone, you might be pretty excited about the fact that you can binge watch Netflix for four hours, or rock out to your favorite pump up jam at 6 a.m. with zero judgement or glaring eyes coming from the bedroom down the hall.

    If you’re moving in with your significant other, you might be looking forward to lazy Sunday’s, home-cooked meals together and spending more time with the person you care most about.

    Or, if you’re living with three other roommates, two dogs and your roommate’s boyfriend who basically lives with you, then you might be excited there’s always, always something going on and someone there to talk to.

    The point is, getting your own place is like the turning point on your road to adulthood.

    But, if you rent an apartment you probably know there can be restrictions. Some landlords tell you you can’t paint, while others freak out if you try to nail a hole in the wall (helloooo, Command strips).

    For all you renters out there, read on for tips on how to make your home feel like, well, home!

    1. Get Creative with Storage


    Image via

    I don’t have a ton of space in my kitchen, which isn’t exactly ideal. As someone who loves to cook, making dinner can often bring on feelings of anxiety and frustration because stuff is LITERALLY. EVERYWHERE. When you don’t have counter space, think up. This shelving unit is a great way to maximize space in your apartment by using the space that’s available — your walls. After all, the more counter space, the better — am I right?

    2. Upgrade Your Bar Cart


    Image via

    A bar cart is a necessity in a twenty-something’s apartment. When I was in college, we loved to display our wine bottles on whatever surface we could find (i.e. the fireplace and on top of kitchen cabinets). A bar cart gives a grown up twist to the whole “displaying your spirits for the world to see” thing. Plus, they’re just so cute.

    3. Curate Your Own Gallery Wall

    gallery wall

    Image via

    I nerd out over a good gallery wall. I can’t get enough of the idea. I’m pretty sure my entire Pinterest board is filled with gallery walls, which means either a) I have a problem or b) I know what I like. I’ve collected a lot of art over the years. Most of it is completely random — flea market and thrift store finds, etc. But the great thing about gallery walls is the display is supposed to be random. The more interesting the pieces, the better.

    4. When it doubt, fresh flowers

    flowersI love the way fresh flowers brighten up a space. ‘Nuff said.

    5. Mix Vintage Elements with Modern Ones


    Image via

    This is one of my favorite things to do. I absolutely love the way a lucite chair contrasts with an intricate wooden desk. If you live in a more modern complex, adding vintage pieces here and there will help it from looking too stale. And if you live in an older home? Try incorporating industrial, modern pieces for a look that’s sure to get noticed.

    6. Experiment with Temporary Wallpaper

    wallpaperTemporary wallpaper is a great idea for renters because well, it’s temporary. Use it to create a fun accent wall, liven up a piece of furniture or to create character in unexpected places like a staircase (if you have one).

    7. Play with Prints


    Image via

    I’m lucky to have hardwood floors throughout my apartment. They’re pretty on their own, but a patterned rug takes things up a notch. IKEA has some really great, affordable options. If you’re not looking for an area rug, printed pillows or a fun throw are great alternatives!

    8. Light a Candle or Two


    Image via

    There’s just something about candles that instantly make a place feel more homey — know what I mean? I love lighting festive candles around the holidays. They make my apartment smell like cinnamon. THE BEST.

    Did I miss anything? What are some of your favorite ways to add charm to your rental?