60 Comments

  1. Ellieliz
    June 30, 2013 @ 11:01 am

    oh! And one more thing, I have lived in a lot of fixer uppers and whenever I need a boost of confidence, (and a laugh) I will sit us all down with some popcorn and watch “Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream house”. Watch it! You wont be sorry!

    Reply

  2. Julie G.
    July 8, 2013 @ 6:07 am

    I love your honesty in these posts. It can be maddenly stressful when both of you are strong willed, opinionated people. I wish we were as ambitious as we were in the early days of our marriage, when we finished the renovation of a circa 1900 farmhouse. The previous owner suffered a heart attack when converting it into a two unit. The first floor was basically finished. The inside stairs connecting the floors were no more. It was lovely, fresh unpainted drywall, kitchen cupboards lined up and waiting to be hung. The second floor was a nightmare; debris everywhere, ceilings that sagged. The back bedroom had been used as a falconry. We invited friends over after we first moved in, had a candle lit ouiji board session in that bedroom and can’t remember what the question was but we all ran screaming for the (rickety) outside stairs when a detached door fell over after the question was asked.

    Ah yes, I remember those early days! My husband slipping on the muddy steps of the fieldstone basement on one of his many trips down into that dank and dark space to master the frustrating art of sweating pipes. Wishing he wasn’t alone. Wondering if he could crawl back up those steps! He did! This was the first of many impressive renovation accomplishments on that first house (including rebuilding and redesigning the inner staircase) but everything is always much more complicated than you expect. He’s a very goal oriented, get things done person and I agonize over the smallest decisions and constantly second guess myself. This is the guy who painted half of the exterior of our next house while I was visiting my sister, with paint I picked out, only to hear that I HATED it upon my return! Sometimes it seems like we have to do things wrong before we know the way we should have done it!

    Anyway. Here we are, 30 years later…agonizing over whether we should stay, or move to house number 5, (kids on their own, would like to be in town) but the idea of having to make so many decisions again is overwhelming as anything we buy will most likely need work. Other people seem to be able to do it. I have to say though…it’s pretty reassuring to read your blog and know that it’s not that simple or easy for everyone. Love your humor, and your (very honest) writing. Just started reading your blog.

    Reply

  3. Jill
    July 12, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

    This is absolutely hilarious! I can so totally relate to this. My husband and I closed on our first home together a couple of days before being married. Wow, we had no clue what we were getting ourselves into. We rented out our condos and decided to move in and do the work ourselves while living there. Great idea, especially in your first year of marriage 😉 This post especially had me cracking up and is just so on point with the male vs female ways of approach. Love it and cant wait to share this w/ my hubby!

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  4. Cue the Coldplay: The Prologue | dateswithdrywall.com
    September 3, 2013 @ 8:24 am

    […] from the outside (and we’re not the only example – everyone seems to agree that renovating a house is a recipe for conflict). And then you’re fighting, and there are power tools. […]

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  5. Tara
    October 16, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

    Thank you so much for this advice – everyone writes about the budget and the options etc etc but no one seems to write about the emotional stress!

    Reply

  6. danielle
    January 1, 2014 @ 10:50 pm

    Having grown up in a 100 yr old farmhouse under construction I understand. This sounds like my childhood. I have no clue how my mother handled it! I grew up swearing I would never do it, I had watched my mother crying over too many leaky roofs! Unfortunately time causes you to forget and I could see myself doing something crazy like this! Out of curiosity how many square feet is your house? I am trying to find more small houses(1000sq ft) to follow for insperation. Love your way with words!

    Reply

    • Holly
      March 2, 2014 @ 9:15 pm

      Danielle, my historic cracker house in florida is 1284 square feet, if you want to hear about our restoration. we don’t have any AFTER pics yet, but i can send you some BEFORE pics and ideas!

      Reply

  7. Patricia
    February 17, 2014 @ 5:18 pm

    Just to warn you, I nominated you for “The Homies” on Apartment Therapy site. Yes, you have ONE WHOLE VOTE from me …. kudos will be pouring in promptly from your many fans.

    Reply

  8. Holly
    March 2, 2014 @ 9:14 pm

    My husband and i bought a historic (yes, it has its own plaque by the front door!) in fort pierce, florida. built in 1918 and 3 miles from the atlantic ocean, 10 blocks from the indian river, it is so cute! and needs so much TLC! i guess i must be like Paul, we moved in and i immediately ripped out the kitchen. so, 6 months later, we are cooking with a hot plate, a toaster oven and electric tea kettle in a room we refer to as: the kitchen-bedroom. we left all our antiques and great furniture in South Carolina, in storage, as we didn’t want them to get in the way and get ruined. what we didn’t bargain for was sleeping on a mattress on the floor and eating on that same mattress because the one table i brought is now serving as a drying area for the dishes we do in the bathroom sink. and BTW, doing the restoration on a shoestring budget! i laughed out loud when reading your blog. especially about the parts about the house having holes. my house has holes in the floor. the original structure is made of heart pine; hell, the whole interior and exterior is heart pine. i have tongue and groove walls, ceilings (11 ft ceilings) and floors. along with some termite damage and some idiot former owner who thought it was a good idea to put thinset on the hardwood floors. thanks for reading my gripes! i hope my kitchen will be function in time for Thanksgiving, 2014. now i am off to sand the hallway floor on my hands and knees. Is there anything we WON’T do to rescue an old house?

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  9. Angela Sbano
    October 14, 2014 @ 11:26 pm

    Hello Victoria! I am laughing out loud at the capers you described, I have lived them in two past house “flips” that we lived in, and we just bought a historic beachfront house in Brooklyn and are embarking on round 3… although smarter and wiser this time around… living in my mother-in-law’s house temporarily while we gut the place instead of inside the demolition zone. The grass is definitely greener over here (although, being at one’s mother-in-law’s house has its own share of, ahem, challenges). All the walls are ripped open as we replace the guts, but we hope to move in in two months. With three little girls ages 1, 3, and 4, we actually had to be responsible grown-ups and sleep elsewhere. We’ve found lots of intriguing things buried beneath the wallpaper. I hope you’ll check it out on my blog: http://brooklynbeachhouse.blogspot.com/

    Sweet Design Dreams! xoxo Angela

    Reply

  10. stina
    November 9, 2014 @ 8:17 pm

    Regarding the dog bath: that basement would freak me the 4UCK RIGHT OUT. I don’t know how you got the chutzpa to buy that house. I’d walk in, see the basement, imagine all the murderous evil demon ghosts living down there waiting for the light bulbs to burn out, and go NOPE all the way out the front door.

    Reply

  11. Jasmine
    December 1, 2014 @ 1:25 am

    We have a 1915 farmhouse that we bought one year ago, they day after we married. Our attic is in the “before” stage — like pics on your blog but I envision it as an art studio (some day). I SO admire your SOH and Paul’s many talents, especially patience. Grew up near you, between Philly and Great Adventure, but now live in the midwest. Another Craigs List enthusiast. Blessings to you both!

    Reply

  12. Erin
    December 11, 2014 @ 2:46 pm

    Omg. Maybe we’re more similar than I thought. I think this blog post describe my life. My husband wants to start taking down walls, “just to see what’s behind them.”

    Reply

  13. Jenna
    December 28, 2014 @ 9:44 pm

    This might be the most hilarious s*** I have ever read – all 3 parts – so good!! But… omg. I might be hyperventilating a little. Because…. we just bought a victorian. That we don’t need… but that needs us desperately. And the ticker tape in my head is already running… because I’m the historian/rehabber/architecture know-it-all that’s already searching for lost fireplaces, re-plastering, and picking out the drapes in my head … but my hubby’s talent basically lies with a sledgehammer. Omg. What have we done. O__o

    Reply

  14. Jacqui
    January 9, 2015 @ 8:34 pm

    Oh my gosh, I LOVE your blog and your writing style! I laughed my butt off at this post. Thank you so much for sharing! I cannot wait to hear more!

    Reply

  15. Action Property Inspections
    July 30, 2015 @ 9:04 am

    I did have a good chuckle over the title of your blog. Have renovated with my partner and its the only time we ever fight.

    Reply

  16. Ej
    February 26, 2017 @ 8:54 pm

    This made me feel so much better. We have been in our fixer upper for three weeks. My husband moved into the guest room a week ago. His need for control over every of the projects….ALL the projects is making me crazy. After not having anything “I” could do…I ripped down the bulkhead s in the kitchen. He is not amused.
    I’m sorry but having a working livable kitchen is way more important than unpacking every box and stacking stuff because there is no were to put anything yet. He stayed up until midnight unpacking the kids board games…just to stack them on the sofa. I pretty much have decided to sit back and watch tv and let him deal with the house…after my kitchen is functional.

    Reply

  17. Ria
    April 13, 2017 @ 10:37 pm

    I know it is years and years later, but I have to tell you, I have been going through the SAME issues here for THIRTEEN years. Count ’em! 13! Unlucky for some, bloody ridiculous for me!
    I share a house we are doing up with a dear friend. He and I started this project as a fixer upper and to make a profit. Ha! Big fat zero profit! All we ever do lately is bicker and fight. I WANT the jobs done, and I want them done last year! But he is a person who starts one job and wanders off to do his own thing and then starts another job only to have the original job not finished and causing a mental bullet to the brain.
    If he WERE my husband then I would have divorced him years ago. Man, he drives me bananas! Yet I have no way of doing the heavy jobs myself. My advice to a renovating couple; Don’t. Very wise advice. Just run the other direction and have a happy life.
    I love your house, though. I WISH we had something similar here in Australia I could live in. Similar here would cost an arm and a leg, so I will stay with the unfinished kitchen, the holes above the windows, and just enjoy looking at your pics!

    Reply

  18. Lisa
    June 11, 2017 @ 11:23 pm

    Thank you for these posts! Tomorrow my husband and I are heading to see a home that was built in 1900. I’ve already set my mind on what color I will paint my step daughters bedroom, and we haven’t even set foot on the property yet. I really appreciated that you fell in love with the door hinges bc deep down I am recognizing myself in everything you said! So happy to have stumbled upon your blog!!

    Reply

  19. Toni
    July 5, 2017 @ 5:24 pm

    I know I’m very late to this party, but I was googling away just to feel some validation of my feelings about my house remodel. I’m at that VERY tired, frustrated, emotional, nervous breakdown phase where I just need a break from it. I can completely relate to your need for containment. Mine wish was to have just one room and one bathroom left livable for me to … live in. Mine was not a disagreement with a spouse, but with my general contractor over it. I was not doing DIY on the house.

    I read every part of your blog and felt that validation I sought. I also truly laughed out loud many times. I feel like I’m the you of the story. I’m the self proclaimed Queen of the House Decisions and Rules, and my contractor is the one trying to push on full steam ahead trying not to listen to me.

    I read this as I’ve hit my lowest point in the process, and you brought a smile to my face.

    Reply

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