Tag Archives: fixer upper

Buy this house: Ahoy, Matey

In my ongoing quest to save all the houses, I recently took a peek inside this amazing – but dated – home in our neighborhood. Someone needs to buy it and hire me to re-design it. And by “hire” I mean “just let me do it, please PLEASE PLEASE.”

I mean, LOOK AT IT. It’s like the Boy Scouts went into residential architecture.

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If you are brave enough to embrace the quirky/unique front facade, you’re in for a treat. This 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house is over 2500 square feet and sits on more than half an acre of land. It’s listed for $269,000, but it’s been on the market for a while.

The previous owner was clearly in the Navy or Coast Guard. There are anchors everywhere, and the kitchen door has a sign reading “Private Mess.” Although, I guess that could also be a commentary on someone’s cooking. I don’t know their life.

Let’s step inside, shall we?

One of my biggest problems with this house is that there are about seven different types of flooring throughout the space. There are tiles in the foyer, different tiles in the living room, parquet in the dining room, yet another tile in the kitchen, etc. Each of the bedrooms has different flooring. It’s baffling. So, to start, I would put down a single type of flooring throughout the house.

The foyer/entry is a good size, but daaaaark. It sports dark wood paneling on the lower half, and a dark woven wallpaper on the upper half. It’s….. a lot.

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Here’s a closeup of the wallpaper:

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In this space, I’d replace the sassy brass light fixture, replace the dark paneling with bright white wainscoting or board-and-batten, and freshen up the paint color. If there was a bit more money, I’d replace the front doors.

Like this:

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Moving on to the formal spaces. The living room runs off the foyer along the front of the house, then the dining room is at the corner, and the kitchen is along the side of the house. I would reconfigure this space so that the old kitchen and dining room became one large kitchen, and the living room became a good-sized dining room.

Here’s a picture taken from the corner of the dining room, which is also the corner of the house.

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I’d expand the opening into the now-living room (on the left), and take out the wall between the now-dining room and now-kitchen (on the right). Because this kitchen is 1) small and 2) not very awesome.

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The new kitchen would be roughly twice as long, and you could make it a double-sided galley kitchen, like this:

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Or an L-shaped kitchen:

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Continuing down the side of the house, we come to a washer/dryer closet and then the first of two master suites.

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Please note: yet another type of flooring, and the terrrrrrible, soul-crushing light fixture.  The same flat, square, recessed light is in every bedroom.

I think ideally I would borrow some space from the kitchen to make a proper laundry room and walk-in closet. But barring that, new flooring, new lighting, and paint would go a long way to improving this room.

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The bathroom has plenty of space. I’d replace the vanity cabinet , re-tile the shower, and maybe move the toilet to the sink wall (but moving plumbing fixtures adds a lot of dollars). I’d also rip out that wallpaper and burn it in the yard. Dayum.

The house is basically U-shaped, and we’ve now covered the right arm of the U. Now let’s go back to the center of the U, which is this quite-frankly-amazing room at the heart of the house.

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Again, there is a LOT going on in the room, texture-and-color-wise, but it would be pretty easy to simplify. I’d remove the paneling, replace the floor, and (if the homeowner could not embrace the rock climbing wall/fireplace surround) cover that fireplace wall with brick, stucco, or more millwork to echo the foyer.

Like so:

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The back of the room makes almost no sense:

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The bi-fold doors and smoked-glass windows look out on… a hallway. I’d remove the entire back wall and side wall to open up the interior corridors, which are dark and cramped. If safety was a concern, I’d add a waist-high metal railing or a half-wall around the corner. And, despite its awesomeness, that bar would probably have to go.

The left side of the house’s U-shape consists of three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The middle bedroom is very small, and has no closet. I would cannibalize that space to upgrade the master suite, adding a walk-in closet and expanding the bathroom.

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Also: burning the very, very plush floral carpet. Shudder.

The bathroom features reflective patterned wallpaper. Everywhere.

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Both master suites, as well as the living room, open onto a large multi-level deck.

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There’s a detached garage with workshop, and a paved courtyard at ground level.

Despite the dated appearance, the house was clean and looked well-maintained. It just needs someone to love it. With the interior opened up some, it would be a great house for a family, or for entertaining – or both.

If you’d like to see this house, call a realtor. If you don’t have one, use mine – her name is Patty Wilson, and she’s great.

 

 

 

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Happy House-iversary!

One year ago today, we bought ourselves a sweet little fixer-upper.

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Snooort.

It feels like we’ve lived here forever, pouring our blood, sweat, and dollars into this home – but also our love, energy, and attention. Cosmic balance!

I asked Jason last night:  at what point we will have sunk more money into the house than we will ever recoup? For example, if the value of the house is X and the purchase price was Y, is X minus Y our renovation budget? We’re not interested in selling any time soon, but we also recognize that a big four bedroom house (with an upstairs master suite) may not meet our needs for the rest of our lives.

I don’t think there’s a good answer. We got an amazing deal on the house, and we’ve paid for all the renovations in cash. Even if we used the formula above, where list price minus asking price equals renovation budget, we’ve only spent half that amount. In that sense, I feel good about the choices we’ve made so far. And, with any luck, the value of the house will continue to increase over time, which means the reno budget is always usually expanding.

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How do I love thee, house? Let me count the ways:

  1. I love that this house was designed for this particular climate. It has deep porches and an airy crawlspace, which makes the house relatively easy to cool in the summer.
  2. I love, love, love the amount of natural light we get. I frequently forget to turn on the lights when I’m cooking in the kitchen because the windows provide so much illumination.
  3. I love that we were able to move my mom over here; that our guest house has been the perfect accommodation for her. It’s separate but close, and she feels safe there.
  4. I love that we will never, ever, ever run out of projects. Ever.

I don’t miss much about our previous house, but I do miss having alternate “living” spaces. Previously, we had a formal living room, a family room, AND a sun room. Here we have a living room. We use the porch as a second living space, but it would be nice to have an indoor, TV-free area.

We’d planned to take the first year to complete the big-ticket, necessary renovations, and by and large we’ve done that. I think we both hoped to be done painting by now, but no such luck. We just started painting Hollyn’s bedroom a couple of days ago, and the rest of the children’s rooms need addressing.

Next up, we’ll tackle projects that are not strictly necessary, but which will increase our happiness. Remodeling the kitchen is high on our list, as is adding a sound-dampening fence along the Thomasville Road side of the house. Jason would like to add a plunge pool, and as the summer drags on, I’m warming up to the idea.

We are not on a television show, so we’re not on any kind of deadline. I’m comfortable living in an unfinished house, as long as each improvement we make is thoughtful. If it takes us another year to get the house “done” (or rather, “done enough” – a house this old is never done!) I’ll be happy.

I am happy. I’ve loved our first year here.

 

 

 

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