The Truth About A Fixer Upper

Fixer Upper Thing To Know


You know when you watch those HGTV shows, like Fixer Upper, and it all looks really cool and fun? They buy this house that is a dump, and then they turn it into this amazing dream home. It is a really interesting process, and it all comes together so well (although if you do watch them, there is inevitably a budget snafu).


This isn’t the real deal. Well, let me restate that. If you have a huge budget and a designer and a team of people to help you implement your dreams, then perhaps it is the real deal for you.


But that isn’t the case for us. First of all, we don’t have a big budget. We bought our fixer upper at a non- fixer upper price. So we have a pretty tight budget. Second, I am not a designer and Charlie isn’t a contractor, so we don’t really know what we are doing all of the time. We also don’t have a team of people to help us. It is mostly just us, with some assistance from my parents, and the occasional workmen to do things like pour concrete and lay brick which aren’t things we are comfortable with attempting.


So before you go running out thinking you want to buy your own fixer upper & be the next Chip & Jo, here are a few things I think you should know about them.


It is really time consuming.

I mean this in any aspect that you can possibly imagine. If you don’t have a big budget, like us, then the projects can take months. You save up enough money to do one project. Then you save up enough money to do another. Also, I refuse to have too many projects going on at once. We are taking it a room at a time. Although, we currently have our kitchen cabinets painting project AND our screened in porch project going on at the same time. I messed that one up.


If we plan a project and we think it will take 2 weekends, it typically takes 3 or 4. Everything takes SO much longer than you think. Something is going to happen. If it is an outside project, it is going to rain. Our main issue has been holes in the wall. We took down a mirror, and it was glued to the wall. By the time we got it down, there were huge holes in the walls. Same thing with taking down our kitchen backsplash – enormous holes in the wall.


Besides the actual implementation, the planning is really time consuming. If you have no idea what you want, you spend a lot of time on Pinterest. And you just don’t realize the small things that can really eat into your time. I can’t even count up the amount of hours I spend looking for a kitchen sink. I really wanted a farm sink, but because of our cabinets (which we are not getting rid of), there was only 1 sink that would work. And it was backordered for months and months. So then I wanted a white undermount sink, and guess what? They are practically impossible to find (I didn’t want acrylic or cast iron). Things like finding the right sink, or the right hardware that can really be time consuming and put a halt in the project.


It is extremely expensive.

The costs associated with fixing up a home are incredible. Besides the materials, the paint, the fixtures, you also have to consider the workmen and the extras that add up. Who knew concrete was so expensive? Not me. Every project costs more than you initially budget, so I suggest having some money set aside for those extras you don’t anticipate. But my feeling is this – I want to do it right the first time, so we don’t have to redo it in a year or two. So I would rather spend a little more now, then have to do it all over again later.


It is extremely frustrating and overwhelming.

I am not great with home design. So to start, it is frustrating because I have no idea what I am doing. I spend a LOT of time on Pinterest, watching HGTV and reading HGTV magazine. But with that being said, I do know what I like. So when I see it, I know that is it. I have really been overwhelmed with the bathroom. It is a complete disaster and needs major work. But bathroom renovations are really expensive. Like, they are one of the most expensive things you can do. That is why we decided to do a mini makeover in our bathroom, instead of the gut job I want (more about mini bathroom makeovers here).


But there are a lot of things I have wanted to do, like the farm sink, that just haven’t worked out. Our budget won’t allow it, or we have to choose between one thing or another. Another good example – I despised the light fixture in the entry hall (actually I hate all of the light fixtures in the house). And I found the perfect one, but when I measured, it was really too long for our ceilings. So I had to go back to the drawing board on that one. I love the one we ended up with, but it is super frustrating having to rethink things.


Also, having to do basically the entire house is really overwhelming. Sometimes I get so caught up in how much work there is to do. I just have to stop thinking about it, and only concentrate on the project we are working on.


You have to actually live there.

This may or may not be the case for you, but we are living IN our fixer upper while we fix it up. Now, it isn’t a falling down shack, and we aren’t doing any gutting, so it isn’t the worst. But we do have to live in a some sort of construction zone all of the time. My kitchen has been a disaster since the beginning of September when we took down the backsplash because Charlie has been fixing holes in the walls, and I have been slowly working on the cabinets.


You may not have to live in your fixer upper while it is under construction, but we didn’t have an option since we knew it would be an extremely lengthy process for us (like years).


It is also really rewarding.

Finishing a project is one of the most rewarding experiences. I look at our living room now, and look at the pictures before and I am amazed at what we did. It looks like a completely different room! Every time we complete something, even if it is a small project, it is so exciting. We are always so proud of what we did!


It can be fun.

If you like home decor stuff, fixing up a house can be fun. You are getting to do what YOU want! Yes, you are working with what you have (assuming you aren’t gutting the place), but you can customize it to your desire. I want a mostly white kitchen, and I am going to have a mostly white kitchen.


So if you are considering buying a fixer upper, my suggestion would be to thing long and hard about it. Let me know if you have any questions!


For more on our fixer upper, check out our before pictures, our fireplace makeover, and  a look at our living room before and after.

Striped Bell Sleeves

Striped Bell Sleeves


If you haven’t noticed, statement sleeves are EVERYWHERE this fall. You might remember, statement sleeves was one of my fall must haves. From sweaters to blouses to tees, it is all about making a statement with sleeves. Not only can you find them in just about any style and material, you can also find them at just about any price point (Target has some really cute ones I saw recently).


Truthfully I wasn’t 100% on board with the bell sleeves at first. It felt SO 60s / 70s (also so early teens for me … anyone else?). But, you know, fashion styles are always being recycled and coming back around so I thought I might as well get on board because they are everywhere right now. There is a lot coming back from those eras in the fashion world, have you noticed? Especially 70s it seems.


Striped Bell Sleeves



Since there are so many styles out there, they really work for anything. The blouse versions are perfect for wearing to the office (and also for layering). The sweaters will be great for the winter. And a t-shirt version like this one works for just about any time. Plus the bell sleeves means you don’t need a lot of other things going on, since they are the focal point.


Striped Bell Sleeves


I got this one from J. Crew a little while back, and I love it. First of all, it is striped, and I love anything striped. Second, it is a thick t-shirt material, which means it is super comfortable. Plus it has these great looking bell sleeves which as so fun. (Side note – it is supposed to be boxy but it also runs big, so I would size down). There is also a cute similar short sleeve version, if the bell sleeves really aren’t your thing.


Striped Bell Sleeves


I love it paired with this skirt, but I also have plans to wear it layered under dresses. It would also be cute with jeans or dressed up with a pencil skirt.



Striped Bell Sleeves

Shirt: J. Crew; Skirt: J. Crew (sold out, but this one is cute); Shoes: Kate Spade (several years old, but these are similar)


So how to do feel about the statement sleeves? More specifically, the bell sleeve trend?

Book Review: The Lying Game

The Lying Game Book Review


The Lying Game is the third of Ruth Ware’s books. and the third one I have read. If you remember, she also wrote The Woman in Cabin 10 and In A Dark, Dark Wood. I was really excited after I read the first two that a new was was coming out soon!


What would you do if the secrets you had as a teenager never went away? What if you continually worried that the past would rear it’s ugly head again? This is the reality that Isa Wilde and her friends Fatima, Thea and Kate live with. The girls were at boarding school together and were the best of friends. Although they rarely see each other, they have a deep, unbreakable connection that continues to haunt them as adults.


When Isa, Thea and Fatima receive text messages from Kate with only “I need you,” the three rush to Salten, the home of their former boarding school and where Kate lives at the old millhouse. As teenagers, the four girls were inseparable. They played what they called “The Lying Game” – telling lies about everything just to mess with other students and faculty. The game has lots of rules, like never lie to each other and abandon the lie if you are going to get caught, and they received points for different lies, but the points didn’t really matter. The game made the girls completely unreliable and isolated them from everyone else (not that they minded). On the weekends, the girls would stay at Kate’s father Ambrose’s millhouse, who was an art teacher at Salten, and Kate’s stepbrother of sorts Luc.


The girls were mysteriously expelled at the end of the year, co-insiding with the disappearance of Ambrose. And now, after all of these years, the girls are returning for the first time to where all of their lies began.


I really liked The Lying Game, but it took me a little while to get into it. It was kind of a slow burn type of book, if that makes sense. Having read her other two books, I kept thinking, “There has to be more to this.” The other two have a lot more action, whereas The Lying Game is a slow unraveling of events. I am not saying that is a bad thing at all. I am just saying it is a different type of suspense from the first two books. There are a lot of twists and turn, and it is definitely another great psychological thriller.


If you are looking for a new book, and like thrillers, I would definitely recommend it!

The Ultimate Boot Guide

It is that time of year again – boot time! Well, almost anyway. It is still in the high 80s here, so I am not quite ready to break out the boots, but we are getting close.


I really love boots. I remember my first pair of boots. I was in the 8th grade, and a friend of mine came to a dance in her sister’s knee high boots. And as soon as I saw them, I needed my own pair. I loved them. So I got a brown pair and a black pair and wore them for years and years. And then I kept adding to my collection.


You can never have too many pairs of boots, or shoes in general. Last year, I needed to replace one pair, and I ended up with 4 and none of them actually replaced the pair I had worn into the ground.


There are so many different types of boots! So if you are thinking about purchasing a new pair (or a few), this is the post for you! Today is all about boots.


Boot Guide



Booties are great, especially this time of year when it is still warm but you want to break out the boots. They come in all colors and heel heights. I have several pairs in my boot arsenal.


Riding Boots

Riding boots such a classic boot. If you don’t have a pair already, I strongly suggest you invest in one!


Tall Boots

By tall boots, I mean ones that are just below the knee. Again, you can find them in a variety of colors and heel height.


Over the Knee Boots

You may not think you are brave enough for over the knee boots, but once you try them, I don’t think you’ll go back. I love them with tights and a skirt (very Serena van der Wootsen).


Winter Boots

You can’t forget about winter boots! We don’t get much winter weather here in the south, so I stick with my Hunters but there are a lot of great options out there.


Any boots on your wishlist this year? I ordered a pair of booties during the Nordstrom sale that were backordered, and I am still anxiously awaiting their arrival.

How To: Fall Front Porch

Fall Front Porch How To


I love fall front porches. I was so excited to decorate ours this year. As soon as October hits, I start the decorating!


Fall Front Porch How To


Fall Front Porch How To


There are several components to making a really great fall porch. Even if you don’t have a very big front porch (like us) or even no front porch at all, you can still incorporate some of these elements! Even if you live in an apartment, some of these are doable!


Fall Front Porch How To


Mums: I love mums. The more mums the merrier, in my opinion. This year, we went with mums and daisies. My favorite mums are the dark red ones. They feel so fallish!


Pumpkins: You can’t a fall front porch without pumpkins! Instead of having one big one, I like doing several and mixing up the sizes. Just like the mums, more pumpkins look better! Don’t just mix up the sizes but also the colors too. White pumpkins contrast really nicely with the bright orange ones!


Plants: You can also mix in other fall plants with your mums and pumpkins. We saw some really cool looking kale that I wanted to get (but didn’t) at Lowes.


Hay Bales: I realize if you don’t have much space, the hay bales are a hard thing to incorporate. But I love the way they look, and the way they add some height! Plus the hay adds some really great texture. You can get small ones like ours from Hobby Lobby.


Wreath: You can either do a fall wreath or a Halloween wreath. I love Halloween, so of course I opted for Halloween! See my DIY Halloween wreath below. This one is less Halloween and more fall, but it still has the pumpkins!


Door Mat: You could go fall or Halloween for this too. I love the Halloween, but this fall one is really cute too!


Lanterns: I have seen some really cool front porches with large lanterns, and they look great! We don’t have any lanterns this year, but I am definitely going to remember it for next year!


Fall Front Porch How To


This is my Halloween wreath. I made it several years ago. It took me hours and hours, and I burned all of my fingers doing it. But I love it and it was worth it! I feel like I saw it on Pinterest, but I swear I don’t think I even knew what Pinterest was when I made it so I don’t know if that is where I saw it. All I did was take a styrofoam wreath and wrap it with black ribbon. Then I used a bunch of different Halloween ribbons and hot glue gun them into loops. Then I glued the loops on the wreath (pack them in so it is really full). Then I painted the letters and glued those on.


The only thing I still want to do is find a door mat. I am looking for one I can use all fall and winter (even though I really want a Halloween one!) I had seen a black and white buffalo check one on Pinterest, but I can’t find anything like it anywhere! Hopefully I find something.


Have you decorated for fall / Halloween yet?