Our adventure starts a little something like this. It’s summer time. We are living in our tiny little starter home that we bought the year before we got married, and we are bursting at the seams. Our dreams of entertaining piles of friends and family get a reality check every time we try to host more than one couple for dinner in our 999-square-foot home.
We’ve been house hunting for two years.
That’s right, two years! Admittedly, we are being picky. We desperately want more space. But we want this next home to be our last, so we need to be sure it’s right. We have our “must-have’s” and our “nice-to-have’s.” At the top of the list we know we want at least a few acres tucked away near forest or farmland. And after little-by-little always picking away at renovating our first home (a foreclosure property that needed some love), we know we don’t want another fixer-upper.
*Pause to appreciate the foreshadowing and insert witty comment about irony.*
We’ve gone for a couple houses that we didn’t get, and are starting to feel like we are spinning our wheels. I check the real estate listings every. single. morning. This usually ends with some sort of temper tantrum, or sending the hubs a dream show-home exponentially out of our price range with a text that says something along the lines of “maybe if we just sell a few organs…” But this morning something catches my eye. I see an address on the “just listed” page, and I know the neighborhood well. It’s the one we really want. A small neighborhood just minutes from town, but backed up to a State Forest. It’s the neighborhood my husband grew up in, and where my in-laws still live. The square footage is right, the acreage is on target, the location is perfect, it has a pool (#1 on our wish-list), it’s below our targeted price range! Yes, the stats are perfect, but the listing photos are terrifying.
Picture after pictures of dated, overgrown, grungy, scary mess has my heart a-fluttering in that blind-date-gone-wrong sort of way. But something in my gut says this could be something. I have a new favorite show you may or may not have heard of, and a little birdie named Joanna Gaines is in my head saying “Rip out the carpet! Open up a wall! Shiplap! Light fixtures! Cabinets! It’s going to be beautiful!” What… don’t you have a Joanna Gaines in your head too?
On my way to work, I tell hubs we need a lunch date. “I found a house. I don’t think you’re going to like it, but I want us to go see it anyways.” We meet up for lunch and I make my case. I lead with the location. He’s intrigued. I give him the stats: square footage, age, 2-car garage. He’s excited. I show him the pictures. “No.” Swipe after swipe of images like this one:
And this one:
He’s saying “Are you crazy?” He’s reminding me “Move in ready! We want move-in ready!”
And then I land on this one and the story changes.
“Let’s go see it,” he says.
The pool is like a beacon of hope. Clear and blue–not to mention HUGE–it’s like a tiny glimmer of something that might, just might, not need help in this poor, sweet, neglected home.
We call our Realtor, and make the appointment for that evening after work. The pictures do no justice to the mess. It’s a dreary evening after a day of rain, and everything outside is slimy, drippy, and overgrown. Our truck barely gets down the driveway through the brush, and I’m ducking under branches to get to the front door (Note: at only 5’1” ducking is not a regular occurrence for me… it was bad). Everything, inside and out, is worse than I thought. There’s no surface in the house I can imagine leaving un-touched and I’m re-evaluating our time, budget, and sanity. I know what I could do if I had Joanna’s Gaines’s money, staff, creativity and resources… but what I can do with my own is not coming to me. We get in the car and I say to the hubs, “well, at least we tried.” And he hits me with “let’s buy it.”
Insert that blank stare you give your spouse when they say something you just can’t wrap your brain around.
It’s late, and we are hungry—not to mention potentially insane—so we are off to date number two for the day. Over dinner and a beer or two we go through the pros and cons. I’m convinced that if I don’t have an outrageous budget and the time to knock out walls and go fully custom on every square-inch, I can’t make this house my dream home. Hubby is convinced that if we let this one go, we’ll regret it. I need to sleep on it. By sleep, of course, I mean spend the night scouring Pinterest desperate for images that will help me fill in the blanks where my usually overactive imagination is coming up short. But my gut is telling me this is the one, and by lunchtime the next day we are ready to put in an offer.
In another bit of foreshadowing into our whole renovation experience, this is not without it’s twists and turns. Turns out, despite getting into the house its second day on the market, we are one of five offers. But after several days of back-and-forth craziness, and what felt like decades of waiting, we got the news. We got the house!
It was a few moments of kisses and squeals, and then a whole lot of “what did we just get ourselves into?”
So welcome to our craziness! Up next, let’s take a closer look: The Before Tour- Outside Edition.
How did you feel when you bought your first home, next home, or forever home? Did you “just know,” or did you have to think it through? Did anyone else out there have to duck under branches to get to the front door?