The Thing Is…

There are so many things that go into making this a livable home that, quite honestly, are just not exciting. Especially since this is a home that was once used as a rental property for the last 20-some years. Because our house wasn’t owned by the seller himself (at least, this is our theory), we’ve found that many of the projects we’ve been tackling lately are simply getting this place up to snuff – a home that someday, we’ll feel comfortable walking around in barefoot (as opposed to our constant state of slippers and flip flops). While the first level of this two-flat was (sort of) kept up – from what we can tell – with a floor mopping every now and then, the second level was not. The yard has been uncared for, and the garage (and back deck and front porch) was definitely an afterthought.

The last week or so has been us handling the most mundane of tasks – tasks that are no fun, but they need to get done so this house will start feeling right. It’s for these reasons that so many of the items we’ve been checking off the to-do list absolutely, under no circumstances, require their own glorified post. We’ve put down the sledgehammers for now, and over the past weekend, Scott’s parents stayed with us to brave our list of omg, we have no more energy to finish this and turned it into done, done and done.

Between the four of us and our cousin Matthew (who drove down from Milwaukee to lend a hand!), our weekend looked like this: run to Home Depot for supplies, really clean and set-up the second floor bathroom, weed the lawn, trim back tree branches, create storage in the garage, scrub and unpack the kitchen, run to Home Depot again, replace damaged lattice, pressure wash the house and deck and patio (at least one round of many), run to Home Depot again (f@!#), fix a broken lock, and clean, clean, clean.

The truth is, it’s the culmination of all these things – these unglamorous tasks that even our DIY-loving selves would rather skip – that make all the difference. (A lot of) little things.

While the parents were in town, we did, however, take time to enjoy meals outside of the house, take ice cream breaks and spend the evenings over glasses of wine and bottles of Spotted Cow (hands down, my favorite beer!). We fell into bed each night so exhausted and happy. It’s just too bad the trip was so short lived, not only because we love having them around, of course, but holy cow having 10 hands on deck beats 2 any day.

Now, we’re reviewing quotes from general contractors, HVAC specialists and window repairmen. We’re nixing wish-we-coulds off the list until we can squirrel away more moolah, and we’re staring at our finances for far too long, deciding on what needs to happen right now (the ceiling!) and what can wait (the laundry room addition). And while we’re not exactly to the point of picking out appropriately sized area rugs (I could stare at rugs all day long; like, it’s a problem), we are excited to shop for a larger studio desk, build whole storage rooms and pin someday-ideas to our hearts’ content.

Fellow old-home-fixer-uppers (or just good ol’ fashioned home-lovers): what’s been your least favorite to-do?

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  • You’ve just described our exact situation. Our house was so dirty that the windows wouldn’t open because they were so sticky! We’ve been in the house for 3 years now and have cleaned multiple times, but I still won’t use the bath because I know what it uses to look like!ReplyCancel

  • Giuli7.31.13 - 8:38 AM

    Wow!! I’m exhausted reading this but I can sympathize. My husband and I went through the same thing with our home 10 years ago. It was a rental property as well and not loved at all. We bought the worst house on the best street and after a few years, it fits right in. Needless to say the neighbors were very happy. Good Luck and don’t forget to Have fun too!!ReplyCancel

  • Anna K7.31.13 - 9:02 AM

    Sanding drywall mud! It is the WORST! The dust gets everywhere and it is impossible to sweep up!ReplyCancel

  • jackie7.31.13 - 9:33 AM

    You guys rock!!! I can’t wait to see your place evolve!ReplyCancel

  • Laura at Rather Square7.31.13 - 9:37 AM

    We too are in the stage of “must get fixed vs. want to make pretty” decisions. Things we have done that have not been super fun are: cleaning a raccoon nest out of the garage, killing weeds, bleaching the basement floor, and filling all the cracks in the stucco exterior. I will be posting about that last one soon, but the others are just a little too unpleasant to recount.ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly @ Turning It Home7.31.13 - 10:00 AM

    Right now, my least favorite to do is working outside (it can get miserable during Florida summers) and painting (more like keeping the kids away from wet paint and cleaning up the mess), but after reading this… I think I have it easy compared to your to-do’s. Keep on trekking on, it will all be worth it later on!ReplyCancel

  • Jaimie7.31.13 - 10:47 AM

    I’m right there with you. There are so many things that need to get done, and not enough time or money to do them all RIGHT NOW, so things are getting prioritized by what’s most urgent to make the house liveable (such as ceiling fans and storage).

    Our seller only rented our house out for a year, but it was a hot mess. And he lied to us about making it move in ready after the tenants left (since when does move in ready not mean removes nails/screws in the walls, patch holes, and touch up paint??)

    I’ve been pulling nails, screws, and upholstery staples out of the walls for longer than I care to admit. UPHOLSTERY STAPLES. That is my least favorite task, pulling those out of the wall without damaging it.

    I would estimate there are probably over a thousand holes in the walls that aren’t filled. And I found out that all of the interior paint peels from the walls if you pick at it. *sigh*ReplyCancel

  • Kim7.31.13 - 11:02 AM

    Kimberly – thank goodness it wasn’t hot this past weekend! It was actually a little chilly, so at least we weren’t sweating to death.

    Jaimie, SAME! Everything in this house was adhered to the walls with staples or caulk. EVERYTHING. Medicine cabinets were installed with NO SCREWS. Just caulk. Crazy. Good luck with your staple-pulling adventures. We’re right there with you!ReplyCancel

  • Heather7.31.13 - 11:49 AM

    Dry walling the basement was my least favorite. I spent an entire winter muddying, sanding, scraping, and priming in a poorly ventilated area. You’ll start to hit that point where rooms start to look livable and you’ll get a second wind. Other times you just have to stay in bed for a week and watch Twin Peaks or Buffy on streaming and refill your tank. :)ReplyCancel

  • Julie7.31.13 - 12:12 PM

    Oh how heavenly to have so much help even if for just a short time! I don’t envy you all these projects, but the mundane will add up to beautiful and satisfying at the end (is there ever an end to house projects?).

    My least favorite project of all time was removing all the lawn from our backyard with our two shovels, then shaving 6 inches off uneven dirt off the top of the whole backyard, shovel by shovel full in 90 degree heat. I distinctly remember looking down at a trickle of sweat down my tummy, that made a clean streak on my disgustingly dirty skin. Yes, I had to go ghetto and wear a bathing suit top to do yard work–it was SO HOT!

    You guys are doing great–love watching all your progress and if we lived in your town, you know we’d be helping!ReplyCancel

  • Any kind of yard work gets a thumbs down from me. I think a lot of things contribute to placing that last on the list. It’s always harder and hotter and sweatier than I expect, and the results usually aren’t instant. Planting a tree = waiting years for it to grow. Painting a wall = instantly done.ReplyCancel

  • Kim7.31.13 - 12:59 PM

    Julie, we wish you guys were here! We have so many “Jim Jobs” that we’re sure Brian would know how to fix :D

    Heather, I’m not a fan of yard work either. I’m thinking that’s going to need to change soon though!ReplyCancel

  • jenn7.31.13 - 4:27 PM

    just wanted to say i am in awe of you guys. my husband and i just bought a hundred year old house a few months ago that was a very soft flip (white painted wood paneling EVERYWHERE), and we haven’t had the time or money to do just about anything we really want to it. your recent posts have been inspiring and give me hope (=ReplyCancel

  • Kate7.31.13 - 7:04 PM

    Stripping away old flaky grout in our master bath so we could lay down fresh new caulk took way longer than I thought, but was also pretty satisfying to do myself!

    Good call on the Spotted Cow – we had it at our wedding! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Helen7.31.13 - 11:08 PM

    The multiple trips to Home Depot in one day (sometimes one afternoon) sounds oh so familiar and yes it is frustrating. Every time we end a project, I alway say f it! Next time I’m hiring someone! But I always find myself picking up a hammer and DIY. You guys have such good taste I can’t wait to see it when done!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly8.5.13 - 10:27 PM

    So fun!! Mom & Pop Vargo are soooo cute too :) Can’t wait to see this in person some day [SOON I hope]!ReplyCancel

  • louize8.17.13 - 2:22 PM

    Oh I can so relate to the endless list of must do’s before the fun do’s… I have spent every weekend this summer pulling 80 years and 5 layers of wallpaper off every wall in my “new” apartment, often with sections of wall crumbling with the paper. I finally finished today. Now the plasterers can finish rebuilding the walls and I should get to start the fun stuff soon… although paying for the essentials – complete rewiring, major plumbing and changing all the windows has left me too broke for any other major projects for a while yet!ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.19.13 - 10:12 AM

      Louize – we know the feeling! Once you get the more “boring” projects out of the way, it’s hard to find the moolah for the fun things! Best of luck with your transformation!ReplyCancel


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