At Home in Wellesley
After living in nine apartments in three cities over the last decade, a family puts down roots in New England.
Words: Laura Lee Huttenbach
Images: Jesika Theos
At the beginning of last year, Jenny Hughes and her husband Tim were living in a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan with their baby son Wyatt. It was their ninth apartment in nine years — spanning the country from Boston to San Francisco — and Wyatt was just learning to crawl. Tim was traveling often for work, and they were craving the closeness with relatives they’d found in their Greater Boston hometown. They were ready to put down roots and have more space. “We were tired of the hustle of city living,” Jenny recalls.
The couple didn’t want to house hunt from another city or worry about having to coordinate their apartment’s lease ending with a closing date. So they decided to move in with Jenny’s parents while they searched for their new home. “My parents were so excited to have us,” she says, adding with a laugh, “Well, maybe not so much for me and my husband, but definitely to live with Wyatt.” They left New York on February 24, 2018. The following afternoon, they were at an open house in the suburbs of Boston.
You didn’t waste a day getting into your home search.
Jenny: I know! We wanted to get the process started right away. We wound up not being interested in the home we saw that day, but the best thing was that [Compass Greater Boston agent] Tricia Parmele was hosting the open house, and we clicked immediately. We had similar tastes and lifestyles, and she just got what we wanted right away. We felt that we could really trust her, and she took us under her wing.
Out of all the Boston suburbs, how did you pick Wellesley?
Jenny: For first-time homebuyers, the whole process can be kind of overwhelming. My husband and I decided that, for our family, the community was almost more important than the house. We asked ourselves, “Where can we build the life that we want to live?” When we lived in Boston years ago, I taught fifth grade at an elementary school in Wellesley and fell in love with the community there. I always kept it in mind. It helped that Trish is a longtime resident of Wellesley, so she could guide us all along the way.
What was on your wish list for a new home?
Jenny: One of our biggest desires was to have an open layout between the kitchen and the family room. When he’s not traveling, my husband works from home, so it was important for him to have a quiet retreat. His office is on the third floor, so Wyatt and I don’t have to worry about making noise. Architecturally, we love a colonial-style home with wainscoting. A classic look.
How did you feel the first time you saw your home?
Jenny: We’d been looking for two or three months before we saw this place at an open house. Before, it always seemed like the homes in our budget were either smaller or older than we wanted. This was the first time we felt like we were on the right track for a growing a family with a two-year-old and a baby girl on the way, due in May. This house had the layout we were looking for, and space for us to grow into. There were a few cosmetic things we wanted to renovate, and we had time since we were comfortable staying at my parents’ house. At the end of the day, we loved the Wellesley community. We put an offer on the house a few hours later.
That was fast!
Jenny: We knew we had to jump on it, and Tricia was amazing. When we first started working with her, she advised us to draft an offer letter so we’d have it ready to go when the time came. She told us to write a bit about our family and why we wanted to live in the community. I wrote that I had taught in the elementary school where this home was districted, and that I would love to send my children there. So once we knew we wanted the house, Tricia whipped everything together. She also knew the other realtors — Tricia has a great relationship with just about everyone in Wellesley — and the owners accepted our offer that night. That was on April 7th. We closed on May 24th. We moved in after finishing the renovations on September 6th!
Tell me a bit about the home renovations process.
Jenny: I like my home to be a blank canvas, and Tricia, with her many connections, was instrumental in helping us find the right vendors to make it our own.
When we bought the house, it was wood and beige everything and the kitchen had granite countertops. We made it all white, we added seating at the island in the kitchen and a little peninsula just off the sink. We redid the fireplace. Downstairs, we stained the hardwoods a darker color. Upstairs, we ripped out the carpet and put in hardwoods. It’s an ongoing project, but it’s so much fun.
You document a lot of your home projects on your blog, Hello Hughes.
Jenny: Yes! When I stopped teaching and became a stay-at-home mom, I wanted to have a creative outlet. I also wanted a place to document our journey. Motherhood can be a hard thing to navigate, and you need to find your ‘Mom Tribe.’ Through my blog, I get to connect with so many amazing moms.
On your Instagram, @jenniferjhughes, you posted a picture of the move-in gift you received from Tricia. Tell me more about it!
Jenny: She gave me a membership to the Wellesley Mother Forum, a community organization with tons of mothers and activities built in throughout the year. Tricia had mentioned it before, and it sounded exactly like what I was looking for. The gift was really thoughtful. I don’t know what we would’ve done without her!