Our First Fixer Upper

I can’t really say what exactly I had in mind for our first home. Perhaps something up-to-date, lots of space and newer would be nice.

HA. Yeah right. In my dreams…that’s not in the price range of someone in their early twenties with a butt-load of student loan debt and a sub-par job.  Instead, the search for our first permanent residence consisted of old-smelling, out-dated shacks that were a bit more obsolete than we cared for. Actually, I think we really only looked at three houses…but they were all pretty bad.

Then we came across one what turned out to be the one. We drove by a few times…inquired…and decided it was worth taking a look at more seriously. A quaint cape cod nestled in a quiet neighborhood out in the country. As the listing online read, “the main level living room has a large built-in shelf and leads to the den…the Master Suite is located on the main level“. A den sounds fancy..and a master suite?! Hot damn…slap my ass & call me Sally! I bet there’s a Jacuzzi tub..

Nope. What we walked into was a tiny laundry room off of the back porch and a small, narrow kitchen covered in painted paneling to give that primitive vibe. That cool sounding living room? Covered in the most god-awful wood paneling..on one wall it was floor to ceiling. The carpet that was in the living room and up the stairs was that old, brown cobblestoney looking stuff that you’d find in your great grandparents game room or something. Hideous. And while the ‘master suite’ was indeed roomy…there was no jacuzzi tub. Boo. However, despite its flaws, we thought this house had some potential. So we went for it. Shortly thereafter, we became homeowners. Awww, cute right? Welcome to what we’d like to call, The Paneled Primitive.


We took this picture and then went straight to a local winery because….adulthood. We sat in the garden of Greendance Winery and soaked it all in…all of the wine, that is. If I would have known then what I know now, I would have drank a lot more that day. 

James is pretty handy when it comes to wood-working projects. He made our queen-sized bed with matching night stands and other pieces of furniture. And my father-in-law had past experience with building houses…so we’d be fine, right? Yeah. Of course. Nothing to worry about. Knock down some walls, pull up some carpet…no biggie.

Literally, I suck. I’m wrong about so many things in this. The day we closed, James had already started shiplapping the master suite and by the end of the first weekend we basically had the house in shambles. Here’s some pictures of what we were workin’ with before we went all…Chip & Joanna Gaines #demoday cray cray….


We both agreed to take down the two walls separating the kitchen from the den, and the den from the living room to create an open concept and make the space feel bigger. We also decided that the kitchen cabinets needed to go and that the laundry could finally return down to the basement. I remember taking that sledgehammer to the wall…it felt wrong, but ohhhh baby did it feel soooo right. To make it short & sweet, we pretty much ripped everything out….carpet, flooring, ceiling, cute kitchen pantry and especially all of the freaking paneling. Gah. Here’s a glimpse of the chaos…


Some of the ‘fun’ things we got to experience were blowing insulation into the entire main floor on a hot Labor Day weekend and removing a load-bearing wall, jacking the house up and putting in a support beam. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

I’d like to suggest a few things to those undertaking a fixer upper such as we did. Always check your shoes for nails…you never expect to jump down from a truck bed and have a nail go through your foot. Make sure your tools and materials are durable…having your broom break in half when you just started cleaning isn’t cool. AND watch out for sharp objects lurking on the floor…you never know when a saw blade could jump out at you and go through your foot! Here’s some of the things I’m talking about…take note that pretty much all of the bad stuff happened to me and not James…


Putting the house back together was…interesting. Two major things we decided to do was to plank the ceiling throughout the main level and sand down the stairs to the natural wood and eventually stain them something nice or something like that. I had no idea how to use a sander or nail gun…I’m a learn-as-you-go kinda gal…I basically just did whatever James needed help with or told me to do. Looking back, it feels like the last few months of the renovation flew by. We had dry wall up, sanded and painted…James had the kitchen cabinets built and ready for install (yeahhh that’s right…my man can build) and this place that was just a house, was becoming our home. Please excuse me while I go grab myself a tissue.


And last but not least, the final product. …..


After four long months of  renovating, injuries, long days and longer weekends….we moved in a just a weeks shy of Christmas. Our house was a home and more importantly… our marriage survived this crazy project.

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