A Fixer on the Lake
We had a family meeting on a Thursday night and decided we would be extending our lease for a couple years. We were happy with the house, it was in a great location, and we definitely did not feel like stepping into the real estate boxing ring that Seattle has become. We were decided, I had it on my list to call our landlords the following week. Monday night, we were under contract on a house by the lake, nestled on a giant lot among a thousand old trees, with about a million projects staring back at us - our very own Fixer Upper.
Now I won't sugar coat things - we got lucky with this house. The price was right, the owner was willing to work with us on some non-negotiable things so we could close (despite it being sold As-Is). But when I say Fixer Upper, I don't mean it needed paint and carpet. I mean there is not one single surface in this house that we won't be changing almost completely. Many out of real need from some years of neglect. Many, we already have, many I'm mostly just ignoring for now. To be perfectly honest with y'all - I don't love this house. I didn't at first, and even as we're making improvements, and I'm feeling less steamy hatred, there are certainly times that I really miss our completely done rental with awesome landlords, that was decorated and no maintenance was left to me. But my logical, more positive side says - "Hey this is temporary. You'll make this house awesome. You can live here forever and the payment won't go up. You can change what you don't like. It's 100% yours. And if all else fails - go look at the lake until you can bear to look at that hideous carpet downstairs."
When we saw the house, it was obvious it had not been taken care of. It was really dirty, really cluttered, hadn't been updated or maintained or really paid attention to in a very long time. It was built in 1970, and at that time was a model of craftsmanship. But 47 years will take a toll on a house, and combine that with a mid-80s shoddy renovation, and almost a decade of poor care... we had our work cut out for us. A lot of work. So much work.
After weighing the options, having a comprehensive inspection done so we knew exactly what we were dealing with, and a whole lot of gumption - we moved in. We closed in April, we took possession a few days before leaving for Europe, moved our stuff in the 9 days between Europe and my trip to Orlando (by ourselves with the help of a few volunteers. Bad idea... should have hired movers), and it's basically been a huge jumble of projects since then. And I'll be back soon with updates, but I did want to share what we started with. The day we took possession, the Sunday before Memorial Day, we had about 4 days until we hopped on a plane to Paris. We decided to have flooring done upstairs while we were gone and before we moved in, opting out of doing it ourselves mostly for the sake of time. So we came in and had to completely demo the old flooring out, prep the subfloor for hardwood, and paint because I wanted to avoid getting the paint on the hardwood. We came into the house, expecting to demo carpet, and realized the previous owner had left us heaps of trash and filth to deal with as well. So... these photos are from that day. None of this is our stuff, none of this filth is ours, and yes - it looks completely different now thank goodness. Although some things look exactly the same. But it'll get there. I just keep repeating that over and over and over until it no longer sounds like words and then I resort to the lake watching again.
I'm being dramatic, y'all. We did sign up for this, we took on this challenge. And it is challenging, especially when we have 3 year old twins, two dogs, Tomas has a busy career, I own a business, and we're also trying to maintain a small semblance of social lives. And I know that some of y'all are probably cringing and thinking we're crazy. And honestly... we are. Crazy, I mean. This is crazy. Taking on something like this wasn't an easy choice and it's not the easy way to live our lives and have a home we love. But we're taking it in stride, embracing our chaos, and living for the potential we see in this house.
In short... there was carpet in all of the bathrooms, it has been neglected (most of the neighbors thought it was vacant, y'all...), and we were crazy enough to take it on. And if I've scared you away with all of these really great selling points (#sarcasm), this is why we took it on. Because we walked through the house and saw a ton of things that needed change, knowing we could change them, and when we went outside, we saw this...
Okay the deck needs a lot of work too. And there's a giant swim spa where a giant outdoor sectional should go. And you may have noticed, but there are no photos of the basement. Because after taking all of these, I got extremely discouraged and Tomas had to come give me a pep talk while sitting on the living room floor about how we can do this. So, no photos of the basement. But you get the idea - it was rough. But like I said - it'll get there. We'll get it there. And in the meantime, there's literally a lake when I open my front door, there's hundred year old trees everywhere, our lot is expansive and incredibly private (ie - I'm getting a trampoline y'all!), and in spite of the massive amount of work, Tomas and I are both really excited and up for the challenge. And that's what really matters, right? Right.