I love houses, and decorating, and fixer-upper anything and making something forlorn into something wonderful or at least usable again. And with several successful home renovations under our belts we were looking for another project. I was thinking of something like this:
But we didn't expect life to turn topsy-turvy on us and need to move asap. Being a military brat, I'm somewhat used to having to pack up and move, but this time I would be doing it on my own, sans the Handyman, and with just the cash left from the last house sale, $32,000.
I began the search for a rental, online. I found the last 3 houses online and this time our move was out-of-state. Immediately my biggest problem was our dog, Freckles, small for a Great Pyrenees, but apparently too large for most landlords. Finding an affordable home, large enough for me and 4 teenagers was not going to be easy. Plus we hadn't rented in 14 yrs and I hated the idea of making improvements for someone else or not being able to make improvements at all. (I was a Girl Scout - "Always leave a place better than you found it" and a 4-H leader- "Make the best better")
I'm a real believer in the power of prayer and experience has taught me to pray specifically for what I need, in this case, a 3-4 bedroom home, fixer-upper, 2 baths, a separate dining area, fenced yard for dog, in a nice neighborhood and if possible 2 living areas (4 teenagers, need I say more) quite a list... and oh did I mention I only have $32,000 to spend.
As I browsed the listings there was only one house in my price range-a manufactured home (ugh- not a big fan) but the outside looked nice.
The ad read: Fixer Upper! 3 bedroom, 2 bath that needs some love. Previous occupants abused this spacious doublewide on a lakeview lot. Vaulted ceilings, large kitchen, 2 living areas, detached carport and shed. Family room with built-ins and fireplace. Oversized lot. And the asking price, $37,900.
From the other photos I could see that there were holes in the dry wall in some rooms and the carpet was rank and there was possibly a hole in the floor in 2 rooms- so I was prepared for a mess when I saw it. It was a hot day and the place reeked of pet odor, there was a broken down boat in the back yard alongside a big pile of trash, but the ac worked, there were two large living areas, a large kitchen and a huge deck in back. This house also has lake views out the front picture window and the back. And the neighborhood was nice (a small street with other mf homes and across the street, a half mil$ home, we call Hogwarts because of it's stone tower.
The victim of violent abuse, every room had a hole punched in the wall, most doors were missing doorknobs, a cabinet door was kicked in in every room, one bedroom had a large hole in the floor and holes in the walls. Apparently the last residents were unhappy about being foreclosed on. But I could see potential here and sound structure as well as 1900 sf.
Since this was a foreclosure and there were two other offers- I offered $28,000 cash since I wanted to make my offer as appealing as possible especially since I was offering way less than asking. The bank countered with $34,000. Since that would have left me without funds to make it liveable, I countered $30,000 and bought a house, on my own for the first time.
The next month of weekends were spent ripping out carpet, applying Kilz to the subfloors, cleaning everything, and having some leaky pipes repaired and we moved in. Well not all of us. A week after I signed the paperwork, my oldest announced she was getting married, and the Handyman still has his business to take care of and the sale of our old house before he can join us.
Now houses have auras, and this one had an angry aura--I think it is energy left from the people who lived here. But I noticed we were arguing (more than usual) and my son, Don Juan Jr, kept telling me his room was haunted. I don't believe in ghosts and noone had died in this house, but I know the teenage boy who lived here did most of the damage to the walls. The tribe and I got together and talked about the negative energy and what our plan of action would be. I believe that as we change these rooms and make them our own, we cover over and push out the past energy and imbue the rooms with our own energy--that makes paint our number one weapon. Second recognizing the negative energy and making an effort to push it aside and relate to each other positively also pushes out the bad stuff.
My goal is to make this a happy home, so I will be using happy colors and decorations. I will also be almost totally using 2nd hand items to furnish and decorate this home. Styles I'll be using are Shabby chic, French, Coastal, Cottage and 2 Teen bedroom motifs: one for boys, and one for girls. Although this house is located near the lake and not an ocean and I don't know if you can label an mf home a cottage by any stretch of the imagination-It has a nice feel to it, relaxed. It is our Lakeview Retreat. This blog is my record of turning an unhappy house into the Lakeview Retreat it was meant to be.
I'm sharing all this because it may encourage someone else who's going out on their own for the first time, or trying to cope with an unplanned life change, or just trying to survive in a bad economy.
House Tip#1: When selling a house, especially after a divorce or other unhappy event, Painting the walls can counter negative energy and give the house the feeling of freshness. A house with a good vibe will sell faster.