Our Fixer Upper Journey

Our Fixer Upper Journey

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Nearly a decade into renovating, flipping, and living in the biggest projects of our lives , here is an honest outlook to our DIY journey!

It is so easy to fall into the false realty of home renovation these days. The good ole’ boob tube is plastered with DIY networks that stream home renovation shows around the clock. This new wave of being obsessed with your home has its perks and falls for sure, though. It can brainwash everyone into thinking that they themselves can take on any house project, leaving them disappointed or, even worse, broke when an attempt fails. A huge perk of tuning into these shows is the inspiration. An instrument of guidance, if you will, to take on a project you have been aching to tackle.

For my husband and I, home design and décor ran through our blood. Even as renters in college we called our landlord to ask if we could make unnecessary improvements to our condo solely because we knew it could be better. That early itch grew into an even bigger scratch when nearly 10 years ago we intentionally bought the crappiest house on the block. A darling, neglected colonial just screaming to be loved again. We were able to purchase the house for a mere $60,000 when the market tanked, giving us the wiggle room to afford the improvements this house needed.

You see, this is where the story gets a bit more REAL. Realer than reality TV, if you will.

In a 30- to 60-minute nutshell, we watch budgets being set at tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. A timeline of 8-12 weeks paired with an entire team of contractors, designers and engineers. The dirty work is handled by a team of experts. At the stage of completion, the homeowners walk into a perfectly designed space with all new furnishings and it looks like the cover of a magazine. In that instant, you’ve been bitten by the fixer upper bug. Just look at what they’ve created! Surely you can do it, too!

Our fixer upper segment was not three months condensed into 60 minutes. It was YEARS. In reality, as a family with little ones, sometimes you can only afford to do bit by bit. You mix old furniture with new. You can complete half of a room to your liking.   You try something new and hate it. You waste money on new paint colors, screw up dozens of boards that you were trying to cut just right for that beloved shiplap wall. You follow a picture you stumbled upon on Pinterest and come to find you hate it in your own home.

As we went along our journey of being first-time home owners, we had to pick and choose the spaces we could renovate and make improvements as the months passed. To not rush the process. To give ourselves grace. To grant ourselves time. To LIVE in the house and get to know how our family best utilizes the space so that our renovations made our lives function better on a day-to-day basis. We did so many things wrong. Projects that were to cost a few hundred dollars would cost thousands. There were fights, tears and plenty of regret stepping into our first fixer upper. Remember, this was long before the time of reality home improvement shows; we were really truly winging it.

That is the dose of reality I want to share with you. Not only as a tried and true “fixer upper” herself, but as a realtor, a mother and a friend. There is an ample amount of reward being able to see past the rubble in a property you may be interested in. The payoff surpasses financial benefits when you land yourself a home in an area you love, and your sweat equity shows in every nook. You must be fully prepared to face the ugly days. The leaking pipes, holes in the wall and rooms left untouched for months on end, your kitchen unpacked on the dining room table while you paint cabinets.

Four years later, in 2014, we sold our first home and made a nearly $40,000 profit. You bet those dollars that we turned our profit onto a much bigger fixer upper in our current city of Hudson.

Our lessons over the past decade of renovating everything ourselves, bit by bit has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. We have turned properties that were falling apart into the homes that we share family gatherings in, and fill to the brim with holiday parties. The tears, the sweat, the money was worth every single drop. We now live in the neighborhood of our dreams, raising our three little boys in a school district we adore and a house that will be filled to the brim with the most amazing memories.

If you are currently house hunting for the perfect house that needs a bit of love, I have a few pieces of advice for you.

  1. Determine immediately what work you need to hire out, and what work you can accomplish yourself. Attempting a project that is far from your skill level can be costly. Figure out what you will splurge on, and what you can save on labor for.
  2. Look for more than just “good bones.” Sure, that goes a long way. But if you do not plan on adding square footage, make sure that you either love the current floor plan or that one day walls can be opened to achieve the look you are going for.
  3. LIVE in the house for a bit until you make big decisions. Even for picking paint colors, paint large 3×3 swatches on the wall, and pay attention to the color change during different times of day. Painting is the best area to save on labor and do it yourself. But, screwing up on the paint color can add up after a few gallons! You will be surprised after living in your new home for a few weeks that quirks you thought you hated upon immediate viewing you will come to love. So, put down the hammer, and give your home the time it deserves to be lived in and loved. You may save a ton of money by learning which way you want things to be, instead of jumping the gun and jumping to conclusions!
  4. There will always be trends in renovation and décor. From shiplap, to gray walls, granite counters and stainless-steel appliances. BUT trust me when I say, they come and go. Decorate and make decisions based on what YOU like. For goodness sakes, you are the one that will be living there. The things you love, that you truly enjoy looking at will never ever go out of style.
  5. House hunt with an open mind.  There are so many wonderful homes in the greater Cleveland area that just need a little bit of love!
  6. If you’re in need of a realtor, I would love to help you on the journey of finding the perfect home for you! I am part of an amazing team of realtors, Kurtz and Company team – part of Keller Williams Chervenic Hudson office! Contact me at [email protected]

Happy house hunting!

About the author

Abby Thome is a long time blogger currently residing in Hudson. A stay at home mother to three little boys, and wife to Dan. Her blog, The Thome Home, started as a place to journal her family life, and quickly turned into a space for readers to follow her journey fixing up the homes Abby and Dan purchase and live in! Over the years, the blog has grown into a wonderful community of followers who enjoy Abby's style of keeping it real with life stories, home renovations and recipes shared on the blog! The Thome Home is Abby's place to be creative, connect with others and share her family's journey raising three boys in their fixer upper!

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