PHS Editor Christy Kate McKenzie lets us peep through the keyhole into her gorgeous home...
In 2011, my husband and I took our son home to North Carolina and found our dream house. We were still renting a house in the UK, since we hadn’t decided if we would be staying or not. Immediately when we returned, we set down a plan to move from the UK back to the US. It wasn’t that we didn’t like the UK. We had lived her for nine years and hadn’t even thought about going back until that trip.
We looked at ways to buy the house while still living here, checked out the costs of moving kids, pets, and our belongings, and started researching the job market. We thought we had it all figured out. What we hadn’t included in our plan was the gorgeous souvenir we had brought back from our holiday—she was born in April 2012.
Having a young son (he was 5) and a new baby, moving across the pond was out of the question. We didn’t really want to move anywhere. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a choice. Our landlord abruptly returned from living abroad to tell us she needed the house back. She was terminally ill and wanted to put her affairs in order. We understood but suddenly needed to move fast.
We set out to find another house to rent, but there was nothing in our price range. One day, I convinced Mr M to go view one below our price range and one above in hopes that it would give us a better idea of what to expect. The house below our price range was dismal—out-dated; poorly kept; in dire need of decoration… The house above our price range was stunning.
It sat on in an estate built on the old US air base in town with US-style houses. There was a fantastic primary school a three minute walk from the house and a huge park and playground in between the two. There was a local pub and a Sainsburys a stone’s throw from the primary school and it was close to the motorway, so it would be easy for me to commute to work in Liverpool.
I remember thinking it was a dream house—so bright and big. All it took was discovering a door from the house that led into the garage and Mr M was hooked. He asked me to call the estate agents immediately, while he returned to work, and within a couple of week it was ours.
We have lived in this house for just over four years now. Downstairs, just inside the door is the door to the garage, the staircase, and doors to the living room, dining room, Man Cave (formerly a study), toilet, and huge kitchen with a separate laundry room.
The living room was decorated by Mr M in a very ‘worldly’ style. He has travelled much more than I have and even lived in Tokyo for four and a half years. My favourite piece downstairs has to be my big farmhouse dining room table. I have served Thanksgiving dinner on that table nearly every year that we have been in the UK.
Upstairs there are 5 bedrooms, 2 en-suite, and a family bathroom. We didn’t need this much room when we got it, but we have certainly moved into it! Mr M and I share the master bedroom which I redecorated to reflect our mutual love of the ocean about a year ago. I had started by decorating the master bath and then decided I like it so much I’d do the entire bedroom. I should NOT be allowed in The Range without adult supervision.
My mother-in-law moved in with us to help with the children last summer and she has the other en-suite. I wouldn’t take pictures of it, because I don’t like to invade her space, but I can tell you that it’s very pink!
My son has a room which is always a mess of Harry Potter, Pokemon, and superheros, of course. And my daughter has a horse-themed room with emphasis on show jumping—she wants to be a show jumper when she grows up.
The last bedroom is my favourite. Because I often work from home, but more likely because I have entirely too much craft stuff, Mr M let me turn the last bedroom into my home office. Originally it was beach-themed, but when I re-did the bedroom, I decided to re-do my office as well (again, who let me go to The Range?). It now has a very bookish theme, with deep red tones and fairy tale decorations.
On one shelf there are bits of my 4 favourite tales—a book (Beauty & The Beast), an apple (Snow White), a seashell (The Little Mermaid), and a rabbit (Alice in Wonderland). And before you ask—not Disney, I prefer the original, darker tales.
Another shelf holds a stack of my favourite books and a candle. There are lots of candles… and tea cups. I love tea, so I have my favourite tea pot and tea cups plus an eclectic array of cups and saucers.
On top of my shelves you’ll find a Dolce Gusto (chai tea lattes, mmm), my 1935 portable Underwood, a collection of zombie princess dolls from Mr M (he is a fan of The Walking Dead; I’m a Hallmark girl), and even a collection of Lego figures.
My favourite parts of my office are my little pieces of the ocean. I have a 120l marine tank with corals, anemones, crabs, snails, and fish. It is stunning, but my favourite tank is a 1l pico reef tank with a few corals and macro algae, teeny tiny crabs, itty bitty snails, and the smallest, most precious fish ever. His name is Hank.
My office is always a mess (full disclosure—I had to move clutter from one side of the room to the other and back again to take pictures, lol), but I love it.
Every night, after I get the kids to bed, I tuck myself away in my office with my writing or crafts, a glass of red wine, and my writing assistant, Piper.
After a good deal of consideration, we have decided to stay in the UK permanently and will be looking to buy once our lease is up in another two years. We had considered buying this house, but probably won’t. Mr M has always dreamed of building his own house in the country. He wants a pack of rescue dogs and Little Miss wants a horse, so I’m hoping we win the lottery soon…
Looking back on the last five years, particularly the last four that we have spent here, I am so glad we didn’t move back. We both have jobs we love and I really do love the lifestyle. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to the time when we have a property in the country. I’m much more Converse and cowboy boots than a heels and handbags.
Someday, I plan to be sat out in the sunshine, watching the dogs play and the horses graze, writing stories—not knee-deep in business deals. But, until we do build our dream house in the country, this house is our home and we love it.
Christy is an aspiring author, fairy tale fanatic, peanut butter connoisseur, and wannabe mermaid. For more information about her and her writing, check out her website and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.