How to Survive a Fixer Upper

Thursday, September 14, 2017


Ever since I was a little girl Ive been drawn to transformations. Makeovers, home renovations, weeping at those sob stories about the homeless person on the street who now has a job and career? Yep, me. I have binge watched What Not to Wear and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition like you wouldn't believe. And as Ive grown older, this weird obsession has only grown...except now it manifests in a love of home restoration. Taking a space once dated and "old" and making it fresh is something I have found I love! Building a new home is of course wonderful...but there is something uniquely beautiful in restoring old homes...

When hubby and I first walked into what we affectionately call our "suburban farmhouse", we saw the "good bones" immediately. I walked in and immediately envisioned stockings on the fireplace, beautiful dark wood floors, white trim, all the neutral, chippy goodness! Did it have those things? Oh, no. Not even close. The walls were different variations of orange and there was carpet. Yucky, gross carpet. But I saw the potential and we were ready for the task....

Or so we thought...

Here we are, four years later and YES our home is shaping into the vision we had when we first bought it. BUT the blood, sweat and tears in between? That's another story.

Here Im going to share with you my top 5 tips for how to survive a fixer upper!

1. Don't stop living life.
One of the most dangerous things you can do is to get so swept up in the renovation that it consumes you. Friends wonder if you're alive, family wonders if you've fallen into a deep depression (and maybe you have lol)...Make time for dates, friends and chill nights. Its important because if you keep working and pushing you'll break. There were points throughout this process that my husband and I did just that. Not at the same time, thank GOD, but it happened to both of us, nonetheless.

2. Prioritize.
This brings me to my next point, prioritizing tasks. My wonderful hubby is just that, wonderful, but he definitely likes to just jump in to projects! And since Im the more passive of the two of us, I just sort of fall in line and go with the flow. But there comes a point, in large renovations, when you need to know whats next. Money is FLYING out the door and its hard to know if your priorities are in the right place. Make a plan, together (if you're doing this with your partner), and stick to it. List priorities, find compromises and make sure you are each in the know of what is next. This will help keep focus too. We gutted our ENTIRE HOME. Its so easy to get distracted midway through one project and do something else. Listing priorities and having a plan helps keep focus, which in the long run, is far more efficient.

3. Renovate a space for you, first.
Our home had two bedrooms, with the potential of four when we renovated the upstairs. We knew we were going to have a temporary bedroom on the first floor so we started there. This was the BEST decision we made. You guys, there are moments in this process where you are CERTAIN you're going to lose your ever-loving mind. You need a safe haven. A space where there is no dust, where it feels finished and clean. There were many nights Id go into our bedroom, light some candles, put my headphones in and watch a movie. I couldn't hear the saws, hammers or sanding and I couldn't see the  dust. Well...for the most part---you guys know that sanding dust travels like a mother. Grrrrr. Anyway, I digress. DO THIS. Make a safe haven and you will get through this process with much less frustration. Trust me, theres plenty of that to go around.

4. Roll with the punches.
You guys, its not going to go perfect. Its not going to stay in your type-A timeline, things will go wrong, pipes will bust and you'll find mold when you knock a wall down. Its ok. Breathe. You'll get through it...but if you expect the unexpected, and know that restoring an old home means old shhh.....stuff happens...you're better off going in. Trust me!

5. Learn to make some amazing toast...

No but for real though. We went more than 5 weeks without a kitchen at one point. I don't recommend that but, hello, remember point #4? Yeah. Roll with it, girl. See the photo? This was where the magical food happened for those 5 weeks while we renovated our kitchen. Im Irish, so my kettle was the first thing I unpacked; the toaster a close second. And hey, we survived. You can too!





Bonus Tip: YOU-CAN-DO-THIS! I speak from experience...taking an old home and restoring it into something beautiful is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do! Take a deep breath, jump in, and have fun! 

Stay tuned for some before and after's coming soon....because you know your girl loves a good transformation ;) 
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