Tag Archives: diy home

5 Reasons You Should Consider Purchasing a Fixer-Upper


You know I couldn’t write a post about 5 things I wish I knew before we bought a fixer-upper without also writing it’s cheerier, happier counterpart, could you?

While that post was kind of Debbie Downer, I truly do feel those are all things I wish I had taken more seriously before we took the plunge. We were, and still are, starry-eyed about the whole home renovation and DIY process, but are now wiser! I hope.

The DIY life and fixer-upper journey are not for everyone. It’s a commitment and a lifestyle, but it can be a lot of fun and a great experience.

Here are 5 reasons you should consider buying a fixer-upper:

1. It Can Be Everything You’ve Always Wanted!

The main motivator for doing all the hard work is that it will reflect YOU! Since everything is getting ripped out and replaced, you get to replace it with exactly what you want! You’re not stuck with in-good-condition-but-not-your-style bathroom tiles or tied down to contemporary handles on your cabinet doors when you wanted chunky knobs. The great part about starting from the bottom is you can take your home wherever you’d like it to go.

2. Fixer-uppers can be fun! No, really!

When I’m not moaning about the constant vacuuming, dumpsters killing our grass, and Home-Depot-induced zombie trances, renovating can be pretty fun. The key is to pace yourself and not get in over your head (Repeat that to yourself again for maximum impact). Our first year of renovations was full of blasting music, Chipotle runs and eagerness to tackle the next project. It was fun! Since then we slowed down and now DIY in waves. Taking breaks from the work keeps it fun.

3. Built like a Rock

They don’t build ’em like they used to. Take this point with a grain of salt, because there are MANY caveats to this. Our house is old, and crumbling in parts, but our house is also built like a rock. Our building inspector said he has never seen a house so solidly built before – the rafters in our attic are like tree trunks. The original craftsmanship is beautiful – we have big, thick molding, lovely built-ins, curving ceilings, and tons of character. Sometimes crumbling houses still have a solid base. (Again, you’ll want to make sure you get a very thorough home inspector before buying a fixer-upper so you know exactly what you are getting yourselves into.

4. The Warm Fuzzy Feeling

Pride. Every few months when I feel overwhelmed with house projects or feel like we’re not making progress, I look back at all the photos I took of the house when we first bought it. And it makes me feel really good. We did this!!

5. Bang for your buck

Let’s be honest, if I could have bought a nice, new house that checked off all the boxes for us, for the same price we bought our fixer-upper for, no contest. I like DIYing and the constant projects… but it’s nothing like an HGTV episode. By purchasing a fixer-upper you’re better able to leverage the investment you make into your home. You will learn full-well there is a reason your home was priced so much lower, but it lets you buy something you might not have been able to afford if it was shiny and new.

So there you have it – 5 things I wish I knew before we bought a fixer-upper, and 5 reasons it might be the path for you. Choose wisely. What I will always call our “renovation adventure” has certainly had high and low points, it’s been quite the ride.

While we often say “never again”, sometimes I think we’ve signed ourselves up for a life of DIY. It’s addicting!

Do you DIY? Do you want to?

DIY Home: 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before We Bought a Fixer-Upper

5 things to know before you buy a fixer-upper - DesignLively

We are on our third year of renovating our 1940s New England Colonial fixer-upper and have learned quite a bit along the way.

From the likes of this blog you would think all we’ve been doing is gallivanting around all summer swimming at the beach and eating ice cream! Such is the impression of the internet – the truth is we’ve been doing a LOT of work lately. Hopefully I’ll get to posting about it someday soon.

The first year we were wide-eyed and naive newlyweds attacking each project with gusto. The second year we were weary and sprouting gray hairs. In our third year we’ve started to plan our exit plan. As in, renovation wrap up. We’re hoping sometime in year 4 will turn into regular house maintenance projects for us. (Could that possibly be the dim light of a normal life at the end of this tunnel?)

I hope it doesn’t sound like I am whining, I love our house and we are extremely blessed in this home. : ) It has, however, been a lot of work and these are some thoughts I’d like to share with the rest of you who are considering it!)

Here’s a list of what I wish I knew before we bought a fixer-upper.

(and a few photos displaying the crazy adventure we’ve taken!)

5 things to know before you buy a fixer-upper - DesignLively

1. Old houses are… OLD

Living in Boston, where there are plenty of properties dating back to the 1800s, owning a 1940s house hardly sounds decrepit. But let me tell you, it’s certainly old enough.

The problem with old houses is, well, they’re old. The house has long-settled, so none of your rooms are square. The house was built when standardization didn’t exist, so you have to custom-fashion your dry-wall so it’s the same depth as the rest of your house. Old pipes, old wires, old plaster… all waiting just for you!

5 things to know before you buy a fixer-upper - DesignLively

2. Everything takes longer and is more expensive that you think. No, Seriously.

As two over-eager and frugal minded people, I expected we were above the curve on this general expectation regarding renovations. I remember when I’d watch Flip That House and smugly thinking we would manage a renovation budget unlike some of those yahoos.


It takes longer because suddenly your permit was rejected, Home Depot won’t have the item you need in-store for another two weeks, the weather has been too humid for X project. It’s more expensive because your house is built on-top of granite and you need to hire rock-demolitioners to destroy your front yard so you can run a wire.

Unless you take out a construction loan, you’ll need the means to make it happen. Make sure you have the resources to finish a project before you start.

5 things to know before you buy a fixer-upper - DesignLively

3. Your passion for DIY comes and goes in waves

Plain and simple: sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s not.

You must persevere and accept. Otherwise you’ll live in an eternal construction zone. Picking out paint colors and hardware? that’s fun and over in about .02 seconds.

Ripping out drywall and insulation at 2am because you’re on a deadline? That’s about just as fun as it sounds.

5 things to know before you buy a fixer-upper - DesignLively

4. Flexibility is the Key to Success

That’s a motto I learned on a missions trip back in my freshman year of high school and I repeat it to myself often. DIYing means putting up with a lot. We lived without a fridge for a month, and then lived with it smack dab in the middle of our kitchen for another 3 months.

I can fall asleep to the sound of power tools.

While it’s easy to dream and scheme, you will learn that some things just can’t be changed. That wall you wanted to remove for your “open-floor plan” might just be load-bearing. Your floor joists run East to West so your toilet can only go one of two places.

5 things to know before you buy a fixer-upper - DesignLively

5. Goodbye Relaxing Weekends

Unless you’re an heiress with a penchant for power tools, it’s pretty likely that you have a job. You need a way to pay for all those power tools, right? That means all our projects either have to happen on weeknights at 8pm, when I’d rather put my feet up and watch a re-run of The Office, or on a sunny Saturday when I’d rather skip down to the beach. Oh yeah, and normal life obligations like laundry, groceries, socialization and errands are still going on too.

Lots of people will tell you how they also have a fixer-upper and have had to “paint and put new lights in every room.” And inside your head you will laugh wickedly.

5B. You are giving your husband the excuse to buy every power tool under the sun. Consider yourself warned.

Don’t let a DIY house scare you away – there are also MANY PERKS, but sometimes I wish I really understood these things before we were ankle-deep in plaster dust.

We’re on year three of this house – and we definitely thought we’d be done by now. But, we’ve also been able to do a lot more than we ever thought we’d be able to. Pros and cons.

Are you DIYing your house? What’s your favorite, and least favorite, parts? Have you ever wanted to?

Before & After: An Old Painted Dresser

First – Happy Saturday!

We’ve had several men working on our house for the last two weeks residing our house. (!!) The  old siding was rotted and peeling beyond repair. We also were able to knock out that awkward window in our shower and side right over it!

All this to say, they are working right outside of the window I’m sitting in front of and I feel a little rude. So this post will be short today.

Earlier this spring I posted another dresser that I was tackling – my mom’s dresser that she had when she was a kid.

Refinishing an old painted dresser

You can see more of the “before” photos and how I stripped the paint here in this old post.

It took me a long time to refinish this piece because there were many layers of paint, and also needed quite a bit of sanding to take out a lot of dings and scratches.

I am happy to say that it has spent the last month happily living in my bedroom!!

Today I’ll share an “after” and I’ll be back to explain the sanding and pre-staining process I tried this time around.

Refinishing an old painted dresser

Happy Saturday!!

What are your plans today? I’m getting together with one of my best girlfriends!

I Speak for the Trees

I wish I had something more exciting to share with you regarding our current DIY adventures, but it’s spring. AKA yardwork season. Not typical spring yardwork here – pulling weeds and planting flower bulbs.

Oh no, our adventure is far less romantic than that. Our yardwork is, true to Kat+Moose form, is a project on a much larger scale, way less fun and a lot messier.

We started small.  We started by cutting down 10 very tall trees in our yard.

Yes, really. I wish I was kidding. Our Lumberjack Party turned out to be prophetic.

I apologized to them as I surveyed the yard once I got home.

Moose felled the trees with the help of some (amazing!) friends of ours. [Insert obligatory message here about not messing around with trees unless you really know what you are doing. Chainsaws are not a joke.]

Wait, does this story sound familiar? It should.

Only this time instead of letting 4 cords of chopped wood sit in our yard for six months we are sending it to a happy home heated by a wood burning stove. And we were able to get rid of all the brush in two days with the help of a wood chipper and burning (our town allows burning brush during certain seasons).

Before you go and call the Lorax on me, you should know we live on a very wooded lot. So we still have trees in abundance. Nonetheless, I miss those ones we cut down.

Except now our yard looks a lot bigger now. It’s similar to getting a major haircut when you’ve got a head of long hair. It’s painful through the process, looks strange right away and then you realize your yard (or face for the purposes of this analogy) looks light years better.

It wasn’t exactly by choice anyways. There’s a much longer story at hand here that has been brewing since we bought this house two years ago. But I’m going to spare you the gory details.

The short story is we are excavating our entire front and back yard, laying down some pipes for drainage, and will be hopefully gaining a pretty grass lawn for the first time we’ve lived in this house. We will also be putting in a patio and expanding our existing deck to cover the old deathtrap of a crumbling staircase in our backyard.

photoJust a fraction of what we are dealing with here.

I’ll be back later this week with some patio inspiration I’ve been collecting. That was actually the goal when I sat down to write this post, but I’ve babbled on for long enough.

Our existing “patio” is a mudpit. So pretty much anything will be an upgrade. I’ll do what I do best. Ignore the work at hand and find pretty pictures of what I want the end result to look like. : )

How are you welcoming spring?