The REAL fixer upper

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Here’s the skinny. The stories that no one tells you about owning a home. The lessons I’ve learned and the blessings I’ve seen!

It really is a money pit…

…but the best kind! not only is it expensive up front to buy the house itself, but don’t drain your bank account because you’ll need appliances, furniture, and deposits for all your utilities. those are sneaky little (big) surprises! You’ll also want to add a vacuum, lawnmower, air filters, and tools to your list. You may as well buy stock in Home Depot now, cause it will seriously be your best friend.


Kitchen on the day I moved in…
…Andddd after! Since this photo, I’ve also added window blinds, no more wrapping paper!


 Save Up…

…for the first year supplemental tax bill and the unexpected emergency. I made the mistake of not doing so and got surprised with a hefty bill about 10 months into the year. And since going to jail is not on my immediate to-do list, I guess I’ll have to suck this one up. Sigh. Some “emergencies” (like that silly toilet plunger thing) are $10 fixes while others can be upwards of $500! (Now taking bets on how long my water heater lasts…) Yikes!!


There’s so much you can do to your new place. I have a severe case of dreamer and need to be reigned in. One–because it’s not physically possible to do that many projects at once and two–because ain’t nobody got money for that.

Inspiration for the pantry, courtesy of Pinterest of course.
pantry before
Pantry before!…
pantry complete
…Andddd the finished product!
 Open walls at your own risk…

…no joke. I get anxiety every time we take down plaster, wood paneling or a light fixture for fear that there will be a colony of rodents inside. or termites. or dry rotted studs barely holding up the wall. I’ve been blessed to have avoided most major things so far with the exception of this nasty pipe. what used to be a 2″ sanitary sewer from the bathroom sink has 81 years of (??) built up. yuck!! (pic below, view at your own risk)

nasty pipe
The aforementioned pipe… Dis. Gus. Ting.
 Don’t wait…

…for projects to be done to invite your people over. I have successfully hosted game nights without furniture, life group without a working kitchen, and dinner parties with 9 people at my four person table. It’s the memories that matter not what everyone thinks of your place. Plus, if you wait until everything is done, you’re literally never going to have anyone over. Ever.


Writing on the walls… 


Think about your long term plan…

…is this your forever house? Is it a 5-year adventure? When will you sell next? Is it going to be a rental? Asking these questions will help guide every decision you make in investing money into your property. For example, if you’re replacing floors, and you’re planning on keeping this home as a rental, you’ll want something low maintenance and easy to maintain. If this is your forever home, it may be worth investing in solar or other energy upgrades, since you’ll be the one reaping the benefits.

buried wood floors
I really hit the jackpot pulling up the carpet in most of the rooms! Original wood floors are in WONDERFUL condition.
nasty wood floors
But it’s not all roses and rainbows. When I pulled the carpet back in the dining room, I found this! …then I put the carpet right back and sat down with a glass of wine and a movie….
Look for rebates!

For nearly everything home-related, there are rebates galore. But be leery of “funding” or “financing” that looks too good to be true. It is. Stick to reputable companies like PG&E or City/County/Federal government programs for trustworthy sources. Just do a little research before you go giving away your SSN and mother’s maiden name.

It won’t change everything…

For some reason, I thought that owning a home would force me into a community and meeting my new neighbors. It hasn’t been that easy! It requires an intentional effort, like most things in life and is something that I haven’t prioritized enough. Goals for year two!!

Goals for year two:

– Remove the cheap nasty carpet and refinish the hardwood floors.

– Paint the wood paneling in the mud room.

– Save up for a new roof

– Anddd enjoy my home! Share it with friends, family and strangers. Make it a comfortable, easy to maintain sanctuary that people love to be in.

What have I missed? How was your first year(s) of homeownership?? Feel free to add your own stories in the comments, I love hearing that I’m not alone in this journey!

❤ Stephanie


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