One year ago today, Matt and I purchased our New England fixer-upper, and if you missed our year-long renovation, just head over to our Youtube channel to see it unfold. With our renovation coming to an end, I can usually describe the overall feeling of a chapter in my life. Yet when I look back at our home buying journey – for once in my life, I am at a loss for words. This year seemed to fly by so today I wanted to share exactly What We Learned After One Year In Our New England Fixer-Upper.
From purchasing our home, completely gutting it, renovating, and then moving in – all while settling into our fast past careers – we were on an emotional rollercoaster. Our lives have been filled with joy, stress, exhaustion, letdowns, surprises, laughter, and spreadsheets.
Truthfully, I feel like the year swallowed me whole. But, today for the first time I feel a stillness in my soul like I’m finally HOME!
The first lesson I learned – and it was a hard one – is making your house your home might take longer than anticipated. For seven years, I was constantly on the go. So, the thought of moving to a forever home made me feel uncomfortable. As a couple, Matt and I relocated several times strategically making moves as we paved out our careers. But, the idea of becoming fixed to one location was hard for me to swallow.
Now, a year later, I feel at ease. In fact, sitting in this new stillness has allowed me to take inventory on what I want next, what Matt wants for his future, and what life we want to create moving forward together.
During the home buying process, Matt and I adjusted with being comfortable spending money and investing in our largest asset. From the down payment to our renovation costs – this year taught me how to stretch a dollar. For years, Matt and I lived with very little overhead. We lived in the affordable suburbs of cities, rarely went out to bars, and focused on keeping our spending within reason – all to prepare ourselves for homeownership.
While a secure bank account may make homeownership possible, it doesn’t prepare you for all the unexpected costs thereafter – especially with a home purchased “as is.” We knew we’d encounter upfront costs like drywall, electrical, and cabinetry. Monthly oil tank filling, re-siding our house and shelling out money for new landscaping were unexpected. It was stressful getting used to the idea of investing so much money into one asset!
Throughout the year, Matt and I learned that allowing money to be an open topic of discussion in our relationship was really important. I’ve experienced the importance of having respect for your partner, roommate, and the overall space.
Buying a home is a huge endeavor! Whether you’re doing it alone or with someone, adding on any type of renovation can send you into a tailspin. Matt kindly allowed me to lead our home renovation which helped me to get outside of my comfort zone. However, during times of chaos, the decision to take the reigns left me feeling like I was carrying the weight alone. But, the truth was Matt was showing how much he respected my taste, decision-making skills, and personal aesthetic.
When Matt would say things like “you pick” or “it’s up to you” – I felt like he wasn’t being helpful. But, in reality, he trusted me to choose almost every piece of our home. From the doorknobs to the window trim, I handpicked everything, which makes it that much more special.
Truthfully though sometimes Matt was unsure of my choices. Like adding a clawfoot tub upstairs and doing floor to ceiling green cabinetry in the kitchen. Yet, he always respected my vision and quietly hoped each project would turn out positive.
If homeownership has taught me anything of value, it’s respecting each other and your new home is essential. After a year of hard work, money well spent, and light fixture debates it’s nice to enter a new chapter. Now, we can embrace stillness and open ourselves up to what the future has in store.
I have a feeling the next chapter is going to be the best one yet!
I hope that you enjoyed reading the lessons we’ve learned from one year in our New England fixer-upper. I’d love to hear if you own a home or the type of home you’d like to own one day below!