Dream home ideas have been on my mind since I was old enough to sit up at the table and point my way through a magazine, and later to cut my way through magazines choosing everything appealing from frilly pink bathroom décor to stark modern architectural design images. To this day I find myself drawn to entirely whimsical designs. My family worked in restoration when I was a kid. The Dream boards of my childhood were meticulously crafted posters full of adult commonalities that were so wondrous to a dreamer who is really a planner. I’ve been planning for this long, now the time has come to see some of these plans come to fruition.
We purchased our first home in 2017. The circumstances around the purchase are for an entirely other post, but for the sake of explaining how we ended up with this crazy renovation project I’ll just say our rental was no longer an option, our budget was slim, borderline unachievable at all. We were unbelievably blessed with help. We narrowed it down to two options in the area we wanted to stay. We had VERY LIMITED time and the selection of homes in our area was slim. In the end our choices came down to a townhome in a reasonable neighborhood fully finished, hot tub, garage, and it really ticked most of our boxes. The other option at almost the same price was a 4 bed suited home that came AS IS on a large lot, right beside schools, shopping, parks, trails, and not far from our previous rental. The choice for us was fairly easy. Bill was more inclined to the fully finished town home but we both agreed that we wanted the outdoor space and freedom from strata rules and fees.
Guys I’m not gonna lie, Pinterest has a pretty major role to play here. I don’t know when Pinterest “BEGAN”, but I swear I was there. I have been pinning things since my early teens. Pinterest is a freaking gold mine / Doom hole, of spectacularly beautiful and similarly deceiving how to projects. Some of these ideas are borderline genius and as far as hacks go, make the do it yourselfer life much more attainable for your average Joe, or Jane, well… us.
The AS IS part came in pretty pivotal after the purchase but before that, we were fairly optimistic and willing to put in the elbow grease needed. We had a full and pricey home inspection, nothing alarming came up apart from the dryer dysfunction, the roof and hot water tank which we were expecting. We had some experience, lots of tools, lots of pointers and suggestions from interested parties, and really no idea what we were doing. A positive attitude and optimistic outlook, can carry you a long way. We really operate on a well this needs to be done, let’s carry on, do some planning, consult alexa or google, ask around and make sure our idea of a solution isn’t absurd and then just do the next right thing. Obviously nothing is perfect. Bill and I have had to drag each other kicking and screaming through parts of this journey, because home ownership let me tell you is as much of a burden sometimes as it is a blessing.
So a year into this restoration project we called living in it and fixing as we go because that was the only option. We spent our entire renovation budget making the house livable. All of the appliances went. The appliances in the suite went, the laundry machines the dryer…they all had to go for one reason or another….. This is the reality of buying a fixer upper home. You have to ask yourself how much you value the home and working on it, vs how much you value your time, and how you actually want to spend that time. What’s your time worth to you?
I have always romanticized the idea of restoring a vintage home into a beautiful home of craftsmanship. The reality of that is I’m no professional trades person, and that shit is CHALLENGING! It’s also so satisfying when you get it right, or just rig it together and make it functional. Our goal for the home was always to first make it functional for us to live in (which has been challenging with too much clutter. Oh yeah did I mention this place came with so much random furniture STILL HERE, and we were given so much. It took us a while to even clear this place and clean it. In the beginning no shop space to work in. Bill and I have been really leaning into the era of GOOGLE. “Hey Google, Search laminate Flooring installation demonstration”. (thank you friends and family who have helped in all of these jobs. Google can only tell us so much, sometimes we need human advice and hands on help).
We put gardens in as soon as we moved in here. These gardens were neglected when I was pregnant during the spring and summer but they have always managed to yeild us healthful produce everything from tomatoes and cucumbers to broccoli, turnip, carrots, chives, parsley, kale, even corn and pumpkins. We are growing everything we can manage to keep alive while also keeping these kids alive and well fed. We recently put in or second edition of the composter. The first one was a crash fail. We learned a lesson, and now we have a perfectly functional pallet compost in the yard. We have been working to build them up and make more garden space on our 3/4 acre lot in the heart of our community.
We have been here now (2020), for more than 3 years. The home has seen a lot, a lotta love. We can confidently say everything is… functional, and dare I say, legally up to code. There’s beauty here, but it’s still the squint your eyes to see it kind. Not quite polished. Do we dig in, put in the work and make this place a home that functions for a family with three growing boys? Do we list it and start fresh in the homestead of our dreams? The market is good now for a sale. We’ve gutted most of the house. Decorations are scarce, storage is questionable, and bedroom situation is less than Ideal. I wouldn’t say we’ve outgrown it, but rather “We’re too different, it’s not you (house), we’ve changed”. Maybe we should start seeing other houses?
We’re so grateful for this piece of land, and the home we have made here for our family. I’m grateful for all the sink baths in the undersized kitchen sink, and all the playful messes we have cleaned up here, but it seems to be so dysfunctional and time consuming. I find it hard to love this neighborhood with the rising tragedy of the street populations tainted drug use, and carelessness resulting in dangerous waste. We know so many amazing people here and I work just a few streets over. It’s hard to overlook the Location. Some places can be fixed with sprucing and tending, but when the location with all it’s plentiful beautiful ammenities is overtaken with such a problem, it’s hard for any individuals to hope for change when the problem is ever increasing, the pandemic is ever looming and surely supercharging the existing muddle with it’s promise of more doom and gloom to come.
We’re taking a love it or list it type of approach. This winter in our greatest sort of depression, we’re challenging ourselves to really look at what’s important to us and what’s taxing us. This home is where our children have been growing. One of them was even born here. We have cherished memories here. Only time will tell if we can make this place into somewhere we love that functions for us fully, or if we move on, and appreciate what it had to offer in a first home, while finding somewhere permanent, that is more representative of the incredible natural beauty of this province and landscape.
Be Kind. Be Well. Be Wild.