Moving into an Older Home: What you need to know

Two years ago this month, we bought our first home. It’s a one story ranch built in 1951 with three bedrooms and two, smallish, bathrooms. We couldn’t have been more excited on closing day when we got the keys to something that we worked so hard for! When we walked through the house for only the second time that night, my excitement faded a little as I noticed all the things that hadn’t previously caught my attention. Of course it’s easy to miss the hidden dirt, the uneven floors, and the leaky faucets when hunting for a house. Those are things that are usually addressed to some degree when going through the purchasing process, but for some reason I didn’t pay that much attention- #firsttimehomebuyerprobs. The carpets were gross! The popcorn ceiling had cobwebs. The kitchen was AVOCADO GREEN- noticed that one first time around, don’t worry. I started making a list of all the things we needed to do, and it added up FAST!

Here are the pictures of our house when it was listed:

There are so many things I could say about these pictures. Suffice to say I HAD PLANS!

When you walk into your outdated home for the first time as the new homeowner, it’s important to think about a couple of things before you move the first piece of furniture in.

First, do your own inspection and make a list of priorities. For us, the non-negotiables were to shampoo the carpets, steam clean the tiles, give the bathrooms a GOOD scrubbin’, and wipe down the cabinets and closets in every room. This took the better half of one day even with a few helping hands!

Second, paint the rooms you will spend the most time in, if you wish. When we moved in, I immediately painted the dining room because it was the first room people saw when they walked in the door! I know, I know, the avocado kitchen remained with us for some months… I proceeded to paint all the bedrooms because I believe you should sleep in spaces that are welcoming, and institutional gray is nothing if not off-putting.

Finally, move in the big items and make the spaces yours. If you find later that you don’t love that paint color, or that light fixture, or even that stovetop- those are all relatively easy to adjust as you go. We have big plans for our kitchen, which I cannot wait to share with you! We also hope to address the laundry “room” (aka closet) soon as part of a “get organized” mission for the new year. I’m all about function, beautiful spaces that are inspiring, welcoming, and foster relationships. There’s something comforting about sitting on a friend’s couch with a glass of wine and taking in the warmth that a room can provide. (For all you minimalists out there, I love you and I see you! Warmth is a relative term- whatever comforts you!) The point is to live in your space with a sense of accomplishment and pride- you made this new (old) house your home, and though things may not be perfect, like the popcorn ceilings and uneven floors, take a moment to recognize what you’ve already accomplished in purchasing a home, packing, moving, unpacking, and reorganizing your entire life!

There will, no doubt, be some hiccups when taking on an older home. We found out pretty quickly that we needed a new hot water hook up for our washing machine, and my husband and dad had to get under the house to jack up part of a sunken floor joist. These are things that were easily fixed, but others aren’t so lucky. I’m fully aware that we sort of slipped through unscathed when it came to major, costly, fixes on our home! It was quite a relief because it meant I could focus our resources on the cosmetic rather than the logistic. Yay!

Below is a gallery of pictures of my home in progress. I’ve lived here for two years, and there are still things I desperately want to change! That day will come, but in the meantime I’m proud of what we have accomplished on our own, with no small amount of help from family and crazy great friends! I’ve lovingly begun to call this house my DIY on a dime, with time. In the coming months you’ll see just what I mean. And I hope it inspires you!







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