for richer or for poorer : happy homeaversary (a few tough topics)

Hello lovelies! Well, I guess I have an obvious confession: I’m a little off my game right now. I was up until the wee hours of the morning editing our ebook, and Jamin, being my favorite person in the whole entire world, played it smart and displayed an act of pity on our children as he knows I’m on a high risk of morphing into some shemale version of the Incredible Hulk on the crisis crack that is coffee, and let me sleep in a little this morning. So all run on sentences aside, just like me, my post today is a little late getting up. Read me still?

Lately, on the ebook writing binge that I’m immersed in, I’ve been rummaging through some old photos, and was delighted to find some snapshots of our home when we first moved in circa Fall 2006. This was before I knew to actually take “befores” so shots like this are a real gem for me. Aiden was our one and only, at just over a year old. It makes my head spin sometimes, how quickly time passes. That means that we’re celebrating our 6th year in our little bungalow this October. We’ve lived here for over half of our marriage. Happy Homeaversary to us!

Here’s our living room right before we moved in. Builder’s beige nightmare + mysterious ghost orbs, aside…I kind of think it’s an improvement. (I kid about the ghost orb. It’s probably a dust spec. Maybe. Has anyone ever watched those haunted shows and realized what bad taste all those haunted homeowner victims have? I’m too distracted by a plethora of bad design to be afraid of the little boy ghost dwelling in someone’s kitchen. Or scary memaw ghost waiting around the corner to have her final say about something to do with a lost nightgown and a peanut butter jar. I have to say, I’m a little empathetic with the ghosts. I’d be all kinds of hauntingly mad if someone came into my house and totally trashed it, too. Future homeowners, you’ve been warned…If I die, and you decorate with mauve and hunter green and shag carpet and plastic furniture and deer heads decorated with empty beer bottles, I’m coming back to make you miserable a-la paranormal activity meets alien invasion. But alas, total digression.)

Since we decided we weren’t going anywhere last spring, we refinanced our home. Best. Decision. Ever. As anyone who is a home lover can relate, the process kind of made me nervous. They say cleaning your home doesn’t help, but the idea of a home inspector trudging through for the first time since we’ve made all these initial changes, kind of made me nervous. I was all kinds of scrubbing the baseboards for my own sanity. In the back of my mind, I was having a panic attack over whether or not he would penalize us for painting the cabinets…Adding board and batten…Pulling down those blinds…not to mention a few missing doors.

But let’s re-establish something. It took me a very long time to let go of my inhibitions. This was just a natural tug at my rule-following, people pleasing tendencies, and I had to shake it off. For a long time, we stayed in this house before we changed it, and did nothing. Because I was paralyzed with fear. I guess the issue was a double edged sword…I didn’t want to come across as “materialistic” and get rid of our perfectly good leather sofas for something I liked…or take away from the value of our home by painting those “perfectly good cabinets”.  I dealt with guilt. Silly to listen to myself say that now, but I did. It took me a while to shed the ideals and preconceived notions of others… to stop caring about what everyone else’s sister’s grandmother’s aunt’s cousin thought about painting over perfectly good wood, and start loving my home because it finally reflected us as a family.

It took me a while to realize that as morbid as it sounds, there may never be a “dream house” for me. So instead of sitting around all day wishing and waiting… I got up off my bootay and did something about it. I didn’t want to live in the future anymore. I wanted to love my home now, for what it is.

I think as we constantly do things to change our homes…in this economy there are a lot of people in the very same position we’re in. They want to make changes with the home they’re in, now. Because in times like these, a lot of people aren’t really going anywhere. A lot of people don’t want to. (Read: us) So that means enjoying what we have, now. And maybe that means making improvements. Making do with what we have. It’s a real defining moment and trend in our current, modern day culture.

Back to the home inspector: When it comes to making changes on the here and now, there’s a real leap between fear, and fearlessness. And beyond that, is the fine line between fearlessness, and actually affecting the value of your home. As DIYers, I guess we still have to ask that question. As much as I would like to shake the fear off completely, I’m not so sure it’s wise to ignore it all together, if you want to resell your home.

So when it came to an expert looking at our home, we were a little interested to hear what actually ‘matters’. They weren’t all that easy to listen to (who came up with these silly rules, anyway?) but here are a few morsels of surprising wisdom in what he had to say, and three main points of note we walked away with.


1. Is painting your cabinets bad?

Mr. Home inspector didn’t have a problem with our cabinets at all. It comes down to preference. He didn’t even seem to bat an eyelash at the missing doors. In my mind, I half expected him to peel up an edge, and start screaming that this finish, in this color with this method was unacceptable. I guess I was having anxiety flashbacks to a scary design professor I had in college. He asked if we’d added our kitchen sink because he thought it was different than what he usually sees on our corner of the world…and that was that.

2. I’ve been fixated on hardwoods. I hate my carpet. Do they add value to your home?

Don’t kill the messenger. I’m just repeating what he said, trust me, it hurt me to hear it. His words: We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that hardwoods = more value. Sure, they’re pretty. But the buck literally stops there. It costs more to put them in, but once they’re in, it doesn’t up the value. As far as what your home is worth, it doesn’t increase it when it comes to mortgages. Hardwood floors are actually not considered an upgrade, unless everyone else in the neighborhood has it.

I guess it really can be all about keeping up with the Joneses.

(At this point, I wanted to mumble sullenly that it would up the value for me…but I decided to let it go since he doesn’t make up the rules.)

And the really hard part to listen to…another side note on floors and something I was seriously considering:  Something like pulling up your floors all in the name of pretty painted concrete actually de-values your home. He’s witness to a lot of homes where designers pull up the flooring all in the name of ‘fancy’…All he sees on his little chart is a room with no flooring.

Yep. Ouch. I guess we’ll be staying with our carpet for now…all in the name of  ‘greater home value’. I’m officially sulking.

3. Anything you can do for your home in terms of adding square footage, is smart. 

Something we were relieved to hear we did right: We added our veranda a few years ago. We simply built a wall to close in our back porch.  {We’re currently extending our porch in the back yard beyond that, so stay tuned for that reveal, soon!} At the time, we saved, and paid a contractor 2,000 dollars to have it finished. (We’re DIYers, but when it comes to an outside wall, we weren’t taking any chances.) Our veranda is considered air conditioned square footage, even though we didn’t mess with our vents, simply because of the windows. It’s now like a part of our living room because the air is so well circulated. In this process, we added about 140 extra sq ft. Because of this, it was a 20,000 dollar increase for our house.

Will that hold? Who knows. What we do know, is that we will sell this house with more square footage than what we bought it for. Simple math should add more than what you paid for.

Which, means in this economy, we’ll probably break even. Just a little something to remember, though, when it comes to adding value.


I think these are some interesting points to consider when hitting the DIY factor of your home. Are there any real hard and fast rules, even though this home inspector just laid them out? I want to consider a few of them…and a few of them I truly believe are very relative. It’s all about preference and point of view. Location and timing. Sometimes, it’s all about the luck of the draw in terms of resale value…your own personal financial situation…sometimes it’s all about not voiding your roof warranty on your weird roof line to build a pergola, but finding a way around it…(coming soon).

These are very personal decisions, with lots of variables to consider before you begin each project. Saving for college…now there’s a tough topic. And a bit of a slap in the face from reality. Oh, the delicate line we tread with real life adult problems. The balance of enjoying your life, making improvements to your home… and acknowledging the need to save wisely, as well.

So maybe while I didn’t answer any questions for anyone but myself…It comes down to deciding what you can live with, and what you just can’t live without. All I know is that I’ll be enjoying this home now, for richer or for poorer…while I can. Hardwoods, painted cabinets…or not. It’s all about living in the now and enjoying our lives in the meantime.

That’s my home owner’s policy.

What’s yours?

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Responses to for richer or for poorer : happy homeaversary (a few tough topics)

  1. kat says:

    Great call on that dining room. Wow.
    So we just moved into a new house – I love it. Dream home. First major thing we did was paint my older son’s room blue (over barf pepto pink). It is a beautiful clear blue. As we painted I realized just how cream the trim is. Then I looked around and realized the whole house is filled with cream trim. Cream in your coffee cream, not off white, as I first thought.
    So what to do. Painting a room with 4 little kids and a big, old dog is one thing. A house full of trim. Shoot me now. We moved from crammed into three bedrooms to wide open floor plan and tons of square footage. Great, but projects are much bigger!
    We live north of Boston, so I’m sure the thought was creamy is warm, but I think beautiful colors are warm…cream is a little more…cream.
    Do I live for today and get to work painting? Do I work with what I have?

  2. love your home! I gravitate towards the same color pallette. I would have thought wood floors would have up’d the value a little bit. Oh well. I still want them when we can afford to do them.

  3. CJ Hodges says:

    So, so, so glad to hear a home owner making changes in order to actually enjoy themsleves instead of making them all at the last moment to market a home! As a local, top producing Realtor I experience exactly what you were talking about on a daily basis. I have sweet clients that will put down hard woods or install granite just a month or two before they call me to come market their home for sale, just to find out that it adds no tangible “value” at all. I always ask “did you enjoy…x, y or z” and sadly the answer is “that was not the purpose, the idea was to make the house worth more.” They should call me, or their own favorite Realtor,BEFORE making any costly decisions so thet we can advise them on what makes the most economic sense.
    I hope you have several more homeversaries in your adorable abode and I salute you for making it so, just for you and your family to enjoy! However, when you are ready to sell- GIVE ME A CALL! Best Wishes, CJ Hodges Beringer Realty Llc 334-233-5848

  4. Jen says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We moved into our first house two years ago and about 8 years to late. :) So we are already squeezing the seams with our large family and I desperately want to do some things to help me love the home we are in. I do hope there is a better suited place in the future and agonize about devaluing my home. Thanks for asking and answering those questions.
    I love your home. I love your design. I love your encouraging words today because I had one of those days where I gave up in frustration and started looking at real estate I can’t buy. Back on track to creating a space I love out of what I already have.

  5. Best inspiration was how you talked about getting off your bootie and making your house a home NOW, not later. I tend to ask myself, well what if down the road I want to tear off the roof. Well then, I will, but for now if I want to paint the ceiling, just do it.

  6. i’m in loveeeeee with your spaces….they are so very bright and clean and fresh and well….just plain happy. thank you for sharing and inspiring!!

  7. All I can say is wow. wow. wow. wow. Beautiful and amazing. I want to live there.

  8. Andrea says:

    I love what you’ve done with your spaces. They look very personalized, beautiful, airy, light, and like a lot of work, :) I personally gravitate to warmer colors as I live in a cold place and spend a lot of time psyching myself into uncurling myself from the fetal position under my afghan to actually accomplish something. Also, I find that simple lines help me think clearer and make things look cleaner when the kids make it not. BUT I DO love your advice to make our home something we love NOW. My mom was a military wife and said they bought a house (being told they would live there 3 years) and had to move in six months. That was a wake up call for her and she made sure to ALWAYS make our house a home ASAP. She did too, painting, wallpapering, tearing up carpets, and so forth. I’ve lived in my house 18 months and I have done almost nothing. I need to move forward and keep making my home what I like, not what the magazines say I SHOULD like.

  9. Kim says:

    Yes, we were told by our inspector when we were building our house that “finishes” don’t really matter at all the the bank. They are all about livable square footage.

  10. Your house is so RAD! I love every dang thing about it. How many gallons of white paint did you guys truck through? :)

  11. Amy Yingling says:

    I love this post. So inspiring! Thanks for sharing. It’s always nice to know you aren’t the only one out there thinking this way.

  12. Summer says:

    Amazing work! I love to decorate, and trust me, I KNOW how much “Elbow Grease” you put into that. Beautiful, happy, cheerful home :)

  13. Laura says:

    Wonderful post! I think any DIY work should be done with 2 things in mind: are you doing the DIY for you as a family or as a revamp with a potential buyer in mind? Depending on which you choose will determine what you do, how you do it and how much you spend. I think your home is fab and would buy it tomorrow!!!! xxx

  14. Lynn says:

    Really beautiful job! Please tell me where you got your wall unit in your dining room. Or is it hand constructed? Thank you!

  15. Rebecca says:

    What a delightful post! I adore your color scheme and learned so much from your post! Have a beautiful Friday !! :)

  16. I always drool over your house. Always. Always.

    Adding square footage is huge! Huge. And with our two “property ladder” homes we just did things like high-end looking light fixtures, changing knobs, and paint and it added so much value going from dated to Pottery Barn. Oh, and we did do a lot of moulding treatments which separated us from other homes in the neighborhood.

    Can’t wait to hear about these new additions! And I don’t know if any house is a forever house because you never know what kind of curveball life will throw. :)

  17. kristin says:

    I love your home but even better when I get to see all the before and afters together! Hmmm…ghosts?
    Thanks for sharing all the great info.

  18. You took a very nice house, and turned it into a spectacular home! I have owned many homes over the years, and I always considered each to be my “forever” home at the time. I wanted it to be something that my family and I loved, and I did not make decisions based on adding value. If it was a major change, such as turning an open porch into an enclosed sunroom, I questioned whether it would subtract from the value, just in case. But if it was break-even, I went for it. I think there is another plus in improvements, other than adding value: making a home easier to sell, making it a home potential buyers will want to buy. Maybe wood floors don’t add actual dollar value, but today, having them could make a sale. If a home looks like a place people can move into and be happy and comfortable right away, it will sell much quicker than one that potential buyers look at and think “gosh, we would have to pull all this carpet up and put down wood floors, and paint everything, and replace that old water heater–“, it makes it harder to sell, at least for a good price. Make it what YOU love, and chances are, if you ever decide to sell, other people will love it, too. I love yours!

  19. Shalagh says:

    Ashley, Sometimes what’s on your mind is an “ah yes” for others.
    We re-fied recently and I cringed to see the pictures the inspector took. Did the same sort of this in feeling as you with your porch by taking out a wall and evening up a floor and doubled the useable space of the kitchen.
    Alas, we too will probably never move as the fixer upper isn’t even fixed. We’ve reached the point of diminishing returns on our profitability. So from now on, we’ll just spend money on “our retirement house”. I can paint it any color I want to!
    My post tonight, ironically, is made of pictures of my house and how every room has something that needs fixing. Thanks So Much.

  20. Shayla says:

    Love love! Every little detail love!! Will you share with me what your white & blue wall colors are, cabinet color, and trim? They all work so well together!

  21. How interesting! I’ve wondered some of these same questions. I’ve heard that hardwoods can help a home sell faster… but I didn’t realize that they might not add any monetary value… Good to know. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Angie says:

    I absolutely loved this post. I’ve read your design philosophy before and whole heartedly agree. This post was just another reinforcement, to me, of the idea that our home should be lived in and loved on as ours, with our preferences. But not to completely neglect the fact that it could possibly be someone else’s one day.

    I love everything y’all do!

  23. Jen says:

    That was one seriously helpful post! I am a pastor’s wife and in our denomination, the possibility of moving could be anywhere between 3 and 25 years! There’s a small part of me that worries about doing all sorts of work to our house to make it ours, only to up and move in a few quick months. But it’s a process that makes our house our very own home – and it’s something my husband I enjoy doing together. So in the end? It’s worth it…but it’s also helpful to know some re-sale value tips.

    So…Thank you!

  24. Liz says:

    Where did your fireplace go? Can you explain how you removed it? Love your house!

  25. Julia says:

    Who painted your nest with eggs picture in the dining room?

  26. Erin says:

    Really good points here. I have found that desirability can really equal increased $ though- even if it doesn’t increase value or asking price. What I mean is that hard woods may not increase value, but if they help sell your house really quickly in a slow market, they can still pay for themselves. The house we bought was on the market for 3 years and I always suspect it was because of the gross carpet and 80s light fixtures. Laying down hardwoods, painting and replacing fixtures might have sold the place within a year- saving the homeowners years of paying mortgages on their new home and the one they were trying to sell. At least that’s how I justified making said changes ASAP :)

  27. Looks great! I too finally came to the conclusion that I’m going to do what I want to my house now so I can enjoy it:) I do have a question! How did you remove your fireplace? Thanks!

  28. Jane says:

    Beautiful, the hardest thing for me is picking that wonderful fresh color. Was it custom or something I could pick up? Do you mind sharing? (the color, not the actual paint)
    Also, you WILL save money on the wood floors, because you will never ever ever have to buy carpeting again, and your floors will continue to look wonderful. I went wood and love every nick and ding much more than I did every stain that the dog/cat/kids/hubby left on the carpet.

  29. Kira says:

    Wow! I actually had to have my husband read the part about your guilt over changing your home. Those are my exact thoughts about our home. We too bought at the peak of the market in 2007 thinking we would only stay a few years. We bought a beautiful tuscan style home with wood cabinets and tile/carpet floors. Of course my dream home would be a white farmhouse with wood floors everywhere and paint on every possible piece of woodwork. Do we stay and change it all? or Do we go? Its a constant topic and its exhausting. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this. It makes me feel so much better to know we are not alone. And looking at your home makes me think its time to make some big changes around here. Thank you for sharing!

  30. Allison G says:

    Love your site! Just found it this week and have been going through your old pages for hours! Your living room re-do makes me want to stop at Lowes on the way home for paint. Absolutely stunning!

  31. Oh. My. Gosh! I can’t believe that before/after! I live in a Tuscan/southwest home and was under the delusion that I could never make my house look like the bungalow I want it to be. Kabam! You just proved me wrong………….AND I’M SO GLAD YOU DID! Love love love it!!!

  32. Thank you for this. I didn’t know that about the carpet vs hardwood. My carpet is so ugly. The house was flipped before we bought it, and they used the CHEAPEST carpet imaginable. Walk on it for a week, and it’s flat and dingy already! I’d dying for some hard floors, but I’m waiting until we can afford it. Now to find a good steamer to rent…
    Loved this post!

  33. Sheri says:

    Love what you have done. Your home is beautiful!
    In the livingroom before and after photos, how did you handle the fireplace? Could you provide more details. Mine takes up a lot of valuable wall space and I need options. Thank you.