So this is the back story on why we live where we do, how we came to live here, and why we chose this particular house as the home for our family. Living in this home hasn’t always been easy or fun. There have been times when we have been tempted to walk away, to choose something not quite such a fixer upper, or maybe even build a home from scratch.
But I’m so glad we’ve stuck it out. This house IS home. Our home. And looking back in hindsight, I feel this whole journey has set us up to put us exactly where we are meant to be in this moment. Our blog would never have started without this home. At the end of the day, this place our family returns home to every night has become a haven. And like the old saying goes, anything worth having is worth working for.
Back when we first moved in our current home, money was tight. We had just welcomed our miracle baby Ansley six short months prior. We moved in a whirlwind frenzy after selling our first house just 4 days after it was initally listed on the market and to top it all off, only had one week to move out of it. Needless to say, my plans on a well organized move bit the dust. Heck, I was just thankful to have stuff thrown in boxes at this point.
We had fallen in love with our current house the moment we walked in the door for the first time. Not before that, mind you. We were not fans of the outside. And in fact, I believe I may have made the comment when the house was first listed for sale that I had no interest in looking at a bilevel house. I thought the outside was strange and lacked curb appeal. So, you can imagine my surprise when we fell head over heels for it.
I can’t explain it. It just instantly felt like home, you know? I was actually 12 weeks pregnant with our first child at that time when we first looked at it and I could already envision her playing in the backyard, the family movie nights in the basement, the family dinners in the kitchen with everyone laughing.
We had done quite a bit of DIY work in our first home, so we were no strangers to a fixer upper. However, the sheer square footage kind of scared us off. 1500 square feet on each floor may not seem that much to you but it was more than double the square feet of our first home. It seemed like such a daunting process being newly pregnant and trying to prepare for a baby.
Fast forward one year later, Jeremy, me and baby Ansley are still living in our 1189 square foot first home literally bursting at the seams. You couldn’t open a closet door or cabinet without shielding your face in fear of something falling out and hitting you. We had made our first home work for 7 years but once you added a baby and all the baby things, we needed a change.
As luck would have it, our current home was actually still on the market. Maybe it was meant to be? We reached back out to the realtor and scheduled a second look. Before you knew it we were signing our life away on closing day and giddily turning the key in the door for the first time. Keep in mind, I already had about 20 secret Pinterest boards full of dreams for this house. I knew exactly how I wanted to decorate down to paint colors.
So, should be a breeze, right? I already knew what I wanted. Um no. It was going to be expensive. Replacing light fixtures in our old house was no big deal. We had, what? Maybe 8 or 9? There were 17 in this house. Our old house had just 6 windows. This house had 17.
Just doing basic upgrades was so much more expensive than I had anticipated, let alone a large project like knocking down walls or a kitchen remodel! My Pinterest dream board quickly dwindled down and I had a huge reality check. Granted, I knew it was going to be a slow process. I just didn’t have any idea how slow. Slower than slow. Still slow. So sloooooow.
Not to mention, that within the first two weeks of moving in our home, our basement flooded. After some investigating we found out the master bathroom shower needed to be completely gutted and was unusable from that point on.
Next came the second flooding in the basement. This time the sewer line backed up. Even better! Nothing is much more stress inducing than trying to sanitize the floors your baby crawls all over after it was covered in 6 inches of disgust. Evidently there was a main sewer switch or plug located in the back of our property that connected into the city’s sewer line. I learned it wasn’t unheard of for this to happen to homes located close to these switches. The city came out and flushed the lines and knock on wood, no further issues have occurred.
I could continue on. I really could. Just know that we have had our share of bad luck with this house. And yes, that’s a part of home ownership. I realize this. But it just cast a bad vibe over an already stressful move at an already stressful time in our lives.
But you know what? I absolutely love our home. Still. In spite of, or maybe because of this journey in DIY. It’s where both my daughter and son took their first steps. It’s where we got to experience Ansley’s first Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and then later experienced our son, Cole’s, first holidays.
Not to be sappy or anything, but this whole ongoing process really has built my character and taught me discipline. I’ve learned to be more patient and more content. And it has forced us to make sure the decorating decisions we make are things we actually want, not some passing trend. Even inexpensive things like paint can be costly mistakes when taking on a home from scratch.
You can guarantee, though, that every design decision in our home has been thoroughly and exhaustingly thought out. And we always have the big picture in the back of our mind when making decisions.
Guys, we have truly been able to make this not just a house, but a home in spite of all that. This is home despite the ugly bathrooms and outdated kitchen. Slowly, with each update that is done, it’s feeling more and more like “us.” I can’t even imagine the elation when we finally have it finished.
So why go through all this? Believe it or not, we actually enjoy the process of getting to put our stamp on things. I wouldn’t have wanted a move in ready house where someone else had already picked out all the finishes. And we wouldn’t have been able to afford what we wanted in a move in ready house. DIY really is a lifestyle choice. It’s not for everyone. I get that. I just know one day when we have the finished product, it will be worth all the blood, sweat, and tears. (It already is!)
What’s the point in all my ramblings? I just want to encourage anyone out there that may be in the same boat I was in (and am still in), to not give up. There are ways to make your dream home a reality, you just have to look for them. My advice to anyone starting from scratch in a new home with a small budget is to start with one room. I would recommend a living area or bedroom.
Why here? These are usually lower cost areas that tend to not need more than a coat of paint and some basic cosmetic upgrades. Visit the thrift stores in your area or Facebook marketplace, one of my new favorites. Don’t take things at face value. Ask yourself, can I make this prettier? Could I use some spray paint or chalk paint to improve the appearance? It’s amazing what a little vision can do. Don’t be afraid to take hand me downs from relatives or friends. Even a couch in a color you might not have necessarily picked can be easily updated with some fluffy throw pillows and a textured throw. Or maybe you inherit a bed in a color you’re not fond of. Paint that puppy!! Trust me, it will be transformed.
So…. go get started! Or if you’ve already started but maybe are stuck in a rut, go do something! Maybe you’ve already finished your home… great! Send me all your tips and tricks! Just don’t stop enjoying the process. Live and enjoy your home while you are doing these upgrades. Happy DIY!