It’s not about how big the house is,
It’s about how happy the home is.
I have never been keen on the thought of being tied down to one place. I love to travel and I always thought that buying a house would inhibit me from seeing the world like I want to, believing that owning a house meant that I wouldn’t have enough money to travel. However, after living in six different apartments in seven years being on the brink of a new decade in life, I began to really think about setting down some roots, to have one place that finally felt like a home.
As I began the home search, I found that trying to buy a house by myself on a non-profit salary left my options very sparse. I could choose from a decent house in a terrible part of town or a house that was falling down in a decent part of town. I wanted to make sure that I felt safe in my house, so I began looking into the decent areas of town to find a “fixer upper.” With the help of my family, and being a little handy myself, I thought that this would be my best option.
I found a house that was definitely a fixer upper, but it had good bones. It was solid, in a great part of town and had the character and charm I was looking for–underneath all of the wallpaper.
I have to admit that even thought this wasn’t the biggest or most gorgeous house, when I signed my name on the line as the new owner, I felt like I had just purchased my dream home. And in many ways it was. Though the thought of purchasing my own home terrified me, I always hoped that by the time I was 30, I would have something I could call my own. Closing on the house one month before my 30th birthday, made it feel like a dream had come true.
With the dream came a ton of work. There were holes in the ceilings, holes in the walls, an overwhelming amount of wallpaper in literally every room of the house and no updates made in years. But the hardwood floors were almost perfect, the archways were beautiful and there were so many small quirks that I was excited about what this house could be. I was a bit apprehensive that we could do it all ourselves, but with such a small budget for renovations I didn’t have much of a choice. So we jumped right in. I was pleasantly surprised how much one coat of paint can completely change a room and how new decor and small updates can really bring an old house new life.
Below are a few of the updates that we have done so far. Though this isn’t anything you would see on HGTV, it was a few things that I could do with the help of a few family members, some elbow grease, a little drywall and a LOT of paint.
I think the biggest thing I took from this small reno is that you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars to make some significant changes. If you’re considering taking an old house and updating or fixing it up, I would encourage you to do so. As long as there are no significant problems (aka plumbing, electric, roof, foundation) there are so many things that you can do with a few friends (or family members) to brighten up an old house.
And the best part is that I can still travel. Keeping my costs down on renovations and updates meant that the majority of my money can be saved to circle the globe, while also allowing me to have a spot, that is all mine, to come home to.
The things I did are definitely not everyone’s taste and I’m sure the designers and interior decorators out there are rolling their eyes right about now. But it is exactly how I pictured my home to be. Partly because it’s cozy, inviting and pretty accurately represents me. There’s not a theme and nothing matches (an illustration of my life perhaps?) but there are books in every room, relics and souvenirs from all of my travels, photos of those I love and furniture passed down from generations. All of the things that mean the most in my life.
It has become a place that there is always a spare bedroom for anyone who needs it. A place where people can come over without invitation or calling ahead. It is a space that encourages laughter, creativity and community. A space where everyone is welcome, conversation is shared and many dinners and drinks are consumed.
It was a very proud moment for me to see where this house was and how far it has come all by the work of my own hands and the hands of my family members. Maybe there will be bigger and better homes in my future. Maybe not. But for my first home, this is definitely a dream come true.
(*all before images taken from sibcycline.com)