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How It All Started

Moving into a fixer upper was not in our plans.  Let me start at the beginning.  Almost a year and a half ago, we were happily renting a home in a great area of Orem, Utah. We had been renting there for several years. Our landlords, who were also our next door neighbors, came over and handed us a letter that said we had 30 days to vacate the house, because they had a relative that needed a home and our house was the one they wanted. So, what to do. We had asked several times, if we could buy the home. The house was built in 1963, and needed to be updated. My husband is a licensed architect and design and construction knowledge is his thing. He redesigned this house several times over in his head. He knew exactly what needed to be done. The house was in a great neighborhood and the location was ideal. It felt like you were out in the countryside away from city noises and life. In actuality, it was in the middle of the city with banks, the post office, the shopping mall, restaurants, etc. all within 2 to 5 minutes away. Our back yard overlooked a beautiful golf course and beyond that we had a spectacular view of the local Wasatch mountains. We loved it there.

Now, our lives were in turmoil. We had to leave. Where would we go? How are we going to find a home to buy, and pack everything up in just 30 days???

In the Meantime

It just happened that some friends and neighbors of ours had purchased a loft type townhome in town in addition to their current home. They didn’t quite know what to do with it. They were also just offered a temporary job in eastern Europe and would be gone for about 5-6 months. They tried to sell their big current home, but with no buyers. So, they thought we should move into the loft/townhome while we look for a new home. It was a win-win situation. We rented a large storage unit, and began to pack everything up with the thought that we could go through things later. We didn’t have the time to do anything  pack. We did decide that hauling up our furniture into the loft as something that we just couldn’t do, so we hired a local moving company with beefy guys to lift our furniture up the many, many stairs. We did all the boxes of basic kitchen stuff, clothes, sheets, towels, etc.  We moved all the boxes and “unnecessary furniture” into the large storage unit. We had moved a few times before, so this was not new to us. But, this time, mother nature reminded us that we were older than the last time we moved…it was exhausting.

We spent 5 months, working with a realtor, and just driving around every neighborhood in our county trying to find that “just right house”. We couldn’t find it anywhere. Nothing felt right. Everything seemed to be just out of our price range. Finally, one day, my husband and I were driving through a neighborhood that was desirable, and feeling that nothing was affordable. This was an older neighborhood and we could tell that some homes were being renovated. We wished that we could find something to buy. At this point, we just needed to buy something, whether or not it felt right. We turned a corner and there was the house. It seemed to “sparkle” at us. We called our realtor and had him make us an appointment to go through it. The house had just fallen out of escrow, and they had lowered the price.

The tour through the house was dismal. Everything was still in 1971 décor and shape. I thought to myself that I had made a mistake. This was not the house for us! Every room but the living room was wall papered. The living room was painted in pink and the carpeting was a dark pink. There was even a red wall phone still wired to the wall downstairs. (I think that we should somehow showcase it).

Moving Into a Fixer Upper

We decided to put in an offer on the house and it was accepted. Twice we thought about getting out of the whole thing. We knew we would lose our earnest money, but we just weren’t all that sure. The whole buying process happened rather quickly and we soon found ourselves at the title company signing documents and a set of keys in our pocket. Hmm now what? Instead of gleefully rushing to open the door to our new house, we went back to the loft condo, and looked at each other, and said, what did we do???  We just bought a fixer upper!

Finally, that evening, we went to look at our house through owners eyes. Terry opened the door and oh the smell! We didn’t remember it smelling so bad before. But, it stunk. Terry reached into the car and fished out some box cutter knives. We started that evening and worked until midnight. We pulled up the carpeting in the living room and got it outside. The next couple of days, we pulled out the carpeting from the two bedrooms upstairs, the dining room, hallways and the bathroom. (Yes, there was plush carpeting in there too!)

We noticed that there was a sale on new white toilets from a local plumber. We called them up and purchased two new toilets over the phone and they said they could install them the very next morning. The upstairs as you can see from the before pictures, had a matching blue toilet, sink and bathtub. Downstairs, was a groovy 1971 avocado toilet and sink. The vanity was covered in bright orange Formica. Lovely combination back then.

Remodeling our blue bathroom at our 1971 fixer upper house.

Our 1971 Fixer Upper Avacado Green Bathroom.

Terry and I sat down and made a list of things to rehab/ renovate/ update whatever you want to call it.

Here is Our To-Do List

  1. Take down the walls that separate the living room to the dining room and kitchen to make it an open floor plan and to let more light in.
  2. Switch the Dining Room and the Kitchen. It just makes better sense. Then the new Kitchen will be next to the back door and the garage.
  3. Completely redo the bathroom upstairs and downstairs.
  4. Fill in the patio off the back door to make it into the new Laundry Room and a small Powder Room.
  5. Wall off the hallway that leads from the front door to the bathroom upstairs and make it into a deeper or a walk-in closet for the Master Bedroom.
  6. Outside – Takeout all the overgrown bushes and hedges in the front yard. Take out the 40 foot evergreen bush-trees that line the fence between us and the backyard neighbor.
  7. Purchase new kitchen appliances.

There is a lot to do! We have completed #1 ,#6 and #7.   We are in the middle of #3 and #5. It seems that a lot of our money is going to be put into things that can’t be seen. Such as, the updating the electrical wiring and getting a new electrical panel. Also, we need new plumbing for the new kitchen, and bathrooms. We have also put in all new energy efficient windows downstairs, and we have to resize the new kitchen window upstairs and put in either a new big window in the new Dining Room or some French Doors. If we put in new French Doors in the new Dining Room, then we would have to build a new deck off the Dining Room.

Whew, there is a lot to do!  But, so far it is fun to see things change, and to know that it is only going to look better, fresher and updated when we are done.  I am excited. Here is a preview of the Before and After of our guest room downstairs. Read more of the article here.



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