Jan 30, 2012

Lessons Learned From A Fixer-Upper

I have spent countless minutes hours, no wait maybe days ...if you add it all up, complaining to my husband about living in our fixer upper.  Our home was sooo ugly to me the first time we walked though it that all I could think about was getting out of there (not exactly the kind of feeling you're looking for when purchasing a home).  It's dirty orange shag carpets, dingy white walls, and golden appliances were not in the least bit about to win me over. 

{June 2009}
But they won my husband over.

Almost instantly the wheels started turning in his head.  {"Uh-oh", I thought!} He started going on and on about how we could take a wall out here, we could add new paint and new light fixtures there, we could add on an amazing addition to the back of the house, it was such an amazing deal ...yada, yada, yada.

Still. For me, all I could see were those orange shag carpets, dingy white walls, and old golden appliances.  The only single word that kept rolling around in my head was, "Eew!, Eew!, Eew!"
But after a couple of days, I guess I just finally gave in to my husband's plea for this house, or at least I realized how happy my husband would be to get his hands dirty on a project house like this.  And I had faith in his abilities to fix the house up nicely.

So, we bought the house and then had to deal with the reality of living in a fixer-upper while fixing it up ...and at the same time, continue raising our three young children in the midst of the mess.

And now, after living in this house for 2 1/2 years and after lots of complaining (ok, I'll be honest, the complaining still hasn't stopped because there are still rooms in this house that still, visually, disgust me), I just recently figured out God's hand in blessing us with this home. 

I was lying in bed just a few nights ago and realized that God has been and continues to use this house to teach us a whole lot of valuable lessons.

Lesson number one:  Patience.
It takes a lot of patience to live in a home that you have a pretty vision for, but are not able to make happen over night.  We can't just snap our fingers and have everything look the way we would like it to. 
Things like not enough time or not a big enough budget, often play into the lack of "instant gratification" as far as having our home look as lovely as we would like it to ...as quickly as we would like it to look that way.  So we are constantly learning patience as we wait for more time to work on projects and for our tiny budget to grow bigger.
Lesson number two and three:  Creativity & Thriftiness
When you are working with a tiny budget, you learn to become more creative with what you've got.  You learn to re purpose things you already have.  You learn where to buy less expensive/but just as good supplies.  You learn to love thrift stores even more than you did before...almost finding them to be a necessity to get certain projects done.  You learn to look at a space with new eyes and you turn it into something that, had you had a large budget in the first place, you probably wouldn't have even taken the time to think and think and think about how to make it something other than what it already was.

Lesson number four:  Self-Reliance
This also relates to lesson number three.  Because when you have a bajillion projects left to do and little money to get them all done with, you learn to do a lot of them yourself.  You become a DIY-er.  My husband has always been handy.  Early in our marriage, he even ran his own handyman business.  But because he has long work hours and has a wife who sometimes has problems waiting for him to have time to work on certain projects (Ahem), she has learned to do a few handy things around the house herself.  Yes indeed.  I have learned to sheet rock a big whole in the wall, patch it up nicely, and make it all look lovely again.  I have learned how to install molding around doorways (I've successfully installed molding around five doorways already!), I can install wainscoting by myself, I can caulk around a tub, and I'm almost getting brave enough to have my husband teach me how to replace a light fixture.  All those crazy wires scare me, but I'm up for the challenge ...I think.
God was and continues to increase our talents as we work to make this house our home.

{living room - late 2011}

So although I always imagined myself in some pristine newly-built-just-for-us-customized home, that's not what was meant to be for us.  Not exactly.  A lot of our home will be newly RE-built and it will be customized the way we want it to be.  The only difference will be in how it got there.  Not only will our home be full of character when it is finished, but we will have built more character within ourselves too.
I may be a slow learner regarding some of life's lessons, but I'm incredibly grateful that God has been and continues to be patient with me as I learn them.


Kelly said...

GREAT post, friend.

Sooooo right there with you. Your home is beautiful!! I feel like, we've finally done enough stuff to our home that now, when we return from another home that is perhaps newer and more updated than our's...I don't get that same twing of jealously or envy. I truly love my home and the progress we are making towards it being what we envisioned that first day we walked thru... :)

DeAnne said...

this warms my heart :)

Linnae said...

I know what you mean! One thing I do enjoy about the constant projects is how much better we like it once they are done! I must really need to learn patience, because I seem to get all kinds of opportunities for that one--living in a fixer-upper with a busy husband definitely being on the list.

preeti said...

I am in a verge to buy a fixer upper home. Thank you for the tips, i will ask my hubby to keep the home simple for further complications.

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