We purposely bought a house that wasn’t a fixer upper. After viewing houses with red-carpeted bathrooms, abandoned swimming pools, and 5-foot-high basement ceilings, we decided to add thirty grand to our absurdly low house budget. As much as we wanted something at a rock bottom price,
we’re incredibly lazy we knew nothing about home repair and wouldn’t be able to handle any major renovations. We also didn’t want to dump our life savings into something we didn’t at least sort of like.
We ended up choosing a 1930’s colonial with original hardwood flooring, less than a block away from the best park in town. Although it had a few issues—like a massive, inefficient furnace—the price tag was equal to our combined annual salaries and we’ll have it paid off in five years. Plus, it was just so freaking perfect that we put in an offer the day after the walk-through, lest someone else snatch up our dream home.
But with each subsequent visit, I started to notice small issues; the porch steps were crumbling, the bedrooms were too small, and the paint was chipping around the door frames. When we finally moved in, I would get annoyed whenever I saw the permanent stains on our (very fifties) kitchen floor, or when another door handle or cabinet knob would get stuck as I tried to turn it.
Our house inspector told us to wait a year before making any major improvements, so each time we saw an imperfection, we would add it to our to-do list. The thing grew to a massive size, and we agonized over the priority of each home improvement and the strain it would add to our budget.
We started fixing some minor things—I stripped and repainted the front door—but everything took longer and cost more than we’d originally planned. I would spend hours researching home improvement online and agonizing over each purchase at Lowes. Completing every item on the list seemed like a Sisyphean task.
Then, slowly, I began to realize that none of it mattered. We could pay someone to repaint our faded shutters or pour cement over the dirt garage floor, but nothing bad would happen if we didn’t. I decided to do nothing—a option I previously hadn’t realized existed.
In addition to this passive approach, I also made an active choice to be grateful for my home instead of annoyed about its imperfections. I’m incredibly fortunate to have a warm, well-provisioned house. The little imperfections are still there but I see them differently.
Sure, all of the door and cabinet knobs still stick, but I remind myself to be grateful to have cabinets full of food and multiple rooms to hold my stuff. Plus, it’s kind of fun when our friends can’t figure out how to exit the one bathroom with the trick door handle.
We’ve even grown to love our giant, asbestos-filled octopus furnace, whom we’ve affectionately christened Otto. He started out as the main argument against buying the house, but now he’s part of its charm. He makes a lot of random banging noises I’ve never been able to figure out (when we puppy-sat, the dog kept thinking there was someone in the basement) so it’s kind of like having a lovable monster living under the house.
And the stained, fifties-esque, black and white tile kitchen floor? It’s now a part of the quirky personality of our home. We recently visited an old-fashioned butcher shop in our neighborhood and were unreasonably excited that it had the same exact floor pattern.
Although this approach to home improvement is unlikely to inspire an HGTV show, it’s saved us from unneeded stress and spending, and fits perfectly with our
lazy frugal personalities. Through acceptance and gratitude, I’ve already made over the entire house.
What have you grown to love about your home? Leave your answer in the comments.