For the first two years of our marriage, Hub and I were eager to be homeowners. But the time just wasn’t right. I was finishing college and establishing my career and Hub’s job had the potential to move us within a year or two. So instead, we spent a lot of time looking at homes and figuring out what we wanted when the time was right. We swore we’d buy an old fixer upper and make it our own with a little sweat, handiwork and tears. After a few years, we came quite close to buying two different historic houses while still living in Ohio. Thank goodness we didn’t – we found out we would be making the move to Savannah just as the housing market crashed. So with job delays and life delays (hello, pregnancy!), it took us longer to get to the point in life when it was right to make that big purchase. By then, our lives had changed drastically and although we would have loved to have a historic home and all the character it provides, there was no way we could manage a major home renovation with a little one in tow. So we bought a house that was relatively updated and didn’t need any major immediate work.
But that doesn’t stop me from being a bit envious of friends who have the time and resources to spend on making their first house a perfect home. Paint colors, crown molding, backyard havens – ah, that’s joy. A blank canvas just waiting to be transformed with a bit of elbow grease and a smidge of personality. With the Pinterest explosion, I could spend hours pouring over pins showcasing repurposed pallets and hidden libraries. But I get my real world renovation fixes from two dear friends, each undergoing their own versions of home renovations.
I’ve known Jessica at My Front Porch since we were wee ones and it’s been a joy to follow along as she and her husband update and personalize their first home, a 1950s ranch near where we grew up. The newlyweds purchased it late last year and through the chaos of planning a wedding, have diligently working to make the space their own. I love the log benches they recently bought (which were made and sold locally). I miss those Pennsylvanian summer nights around a bonfire.
They’re currently focusing on the outdoor space and are trying to incorporate a lot of recycled goods and low-impact items – things found, made, raised or bought locally. Jessica is super thrifty and has become a master at finding things used. Her husband isn’t bad at it, either, and found their front porch rocking chairs for sale in the newspaper. All their flowers and plants are from a local Amish farm.
Up next for Jess is figuring out how to fix and update original home items that are no longer made new – hmm! Sounds like a challenge to me.
Here in Savannah, Megan at Diamond in the Rough has been working diligently for over a year to bring her 1950s ranch home into 2012. We visited her home this weekend to see the progress and folks, let me tell you, this house is great. Compared to the “before” photos, it’s amazing what just one girl and some ambition can do. She’s blogged about her updates along the way and has shared a huge amount of her renovation and design knowledge. Megan has a degree in interior design so you better believe her house is looking great. Basically every room was either wood paneling (which she was actually able to resell) or wallpapering (which took hours to remove) and she has done the vast majority of the work herself in the evenings and weekends. We’re talking power tools and demo, people. That is impressive!
Check out the before and after shots of her craft room:
For Megan, one of the hardest parts of renovating is living amongst the chaos. I can completely relate to this only my chaos originates from two tornado children and their plethora of toys, not sandpaper and spackle. She moved in shortly after closing so it took her about eight months to get all the boxes unpacked as she worked on each room.
To me, one of the hardest things about owning an older home is not knowing when something big is going to bust. There is nothing like a leaking roof or a busted pipe to make you wish you had a landlord. Megan is dealing with this now so her major renovations are on hold until she gets her leaky furnace and the surrounding floor fixed. Buzz kill. In the meanwhile, she’ll focus on the finishing touches for past projects and scouring the internet for additional inspiration.
So, there you have it – my favorite home renovators! I’m feeling inspired now; maybe I’ll finally finish painting my bedroom (it’s only been a two-year project). Check them out and follow their journeys at My Front Porch and Diamond in the Rough.
Would you ever do a major house renovation? How do you make affordable and creative updates to your place?