When you work hard, you appreciate what you have.
Two years ago, I bought a really ugly house. I mean, ew. It had so much potential. It had been on the market for two years, and nobody wanted it. So what did I do? I bought it, and said, “HA! Take that all you ding dongs, I am going to make this the house you were looking for!” Because I like to do what no one else is doing, and go against the grain so to speak, I bought the house that you couldn’t see because it was shrouded in ugly cedars; the house with school-tile floors so ugly and cracked and permanently stained that even javex, sweat, tears and a hard bristle scrubbing brush wouldn’t get cleaned; the house with a kitchen straight from the fifties, appliances and all. I bought this with no real money, but since it was so ugly and since no one else wanted it, I could afford the mortgage.
Over time, I made little changes. The paint, about $300 worth, changed the entire feel of the house at the time. No longer a stained white, it felt fresher, and better. Then, I tore out some of the cabinets and started making little changes in the kitchen. I couldn’t afford to replace the whole thing, or to pay someone to do it. Thankfully, I have the best dad ever, and he can do just about anything. In the spring, I found some old concrete pavers running along the “driveway” (really, it was a mud pile with some remnants of gravel in there). I dug them up and made a patio area by the porch. Then, I found a bunch of beautiful perennials. After cutting down the awful cedars around the house, and digging out the worst prickly bush in the history of mankind (ok, not really, but it took days and a lot of pent up frustrations coming out through an axe to cut off the roots and get the thing out!), I was able to start building some new gardens. Fast forward a year: a walk-in closet built in the bedroom, new floors and a new front door, booming gardens, and a kitchen with a dishwasher and custom built open shelving and Ikea “as is” cupboards, a new fridge and counter tops, and new flooring in the teeny tiny entry way, not to mention a new room mate (the best room mate of all, the wonderful woman who agreed to marry me, for some strange reason) … we have what seems like a totally different house. Every step of the way, I did it on my own, with the support of my family. I never hired anyone, and you won’t catch me bragging about how expensive everything was. In fact, you’ll find me bragging about how CHEAP I got things done for, if anything! (Seriously, my antique coffee table? From the garbage. I refinished it. Awesome table? Built it myself. Kitchen? All me, baby, and some planks of lumber from Home Depot.)
But even though it all was coming along, there was one thing getting in the way. The floors.
School-tile flooring that looked like …. I can’t even describe it. You’ll just need to see the pictures below. With our tax return money, we invested in some Click Laminate flooring. It’s great, because we have pets and they won’t scratch or get mucked-up nearly as easily as hardwood. We definitely didn’t want carpet, either. And, it looks like it belongs in the house. It’s got the look of what I was hoping to find beneath the old floor. It suits the soul of the house, and I couldn’t be prouder to say I live here. This is my home. We did this, with our own two hands. We didn’t spend a cent hiring someone, or give up when it was hard.
While there is still a lot to do (everything from the upstairs floors, finishing the kitchen’s backsplash and replacing a door with a wall, to renovating the siding, removing a porch and replacing it with a deck), I feel so fortunate and blessed to be the owner of a home that it everything I knew it could be. We’ll be planting our new perennial garden this spring, and it will continue to turn the home into one that I think others will gasp over, thinking (and maybe even saying) “I never thought that ugly place could be so beautiful.”
I appreciate having a place to live, and I appreciate that I can do these things on my own. I appreciate everyone who has helped us so far, and I appreciate that I can say that I am proud of what I’ve done. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to do that. So, I challenge you: don’t pay someone to do it for you; do it yourself!