Q: My husband Tim and I just bought our first fixer upper two weeks ago in Fort Worth, Texas. It is our second home and we hope to make it our last. Falling in love with our home was the easy part, but the thing is we just don’t know where to start. Should I mention that we have a 19 month old little ball of energy “helping” us? I know you don’t know what our house looks like nor do you know what our plans are for it. I won’t bore you with the details, I just want to know if you have a post about getting started; about how to go about making a plan so that we can go about this process efficiently. Or maybe I’m over thinking it and we need to just dive in? – Amanda
That big “where do I begin?” question is something we get asked a lot, both in comments on posts like this, and in emails like Amanda’s. And since we’re at “the beginning” again, it felt like a good time to write about our process. So here are six questions we’ve asked ourselves after moving into each of our houses that have helped us prioritize our to-do list.
#1. What’s necessary for us to safely inhabit this house? If you’ve bought a fixer-upper (or any house that revealed some surprises during the inspection), this is probably a question you’ve been faced with. What’s broken, malfunctioning, or so deteriorated that it must be rectified in order for you to move in?
Is there a mold problem? Broken windows? A heating system that’s not up to code? A swarm of bees living in the attic? Some of these may not be cheap or “glamorous” projects, but it’s probably a no-brainer to put them at the top of your list. In our most recent move that list consisted of four get-on-it inspection items: a malfunctioning furnace that needed to be repaired or replaced, a few dangerous trees that needed to be removed, some rotting wood and siding that needed to be redone/repainted, and an old roof that was actively leaking.
#2. What would be easier to do now, rather than after we’ve moved in/unpacked? This is a tougher question because almost everything could fall in this category. Bathroom remodels. Kitchen gut jobs. Heck, even simply painting each room. They’d technically all be easier to do in an unoccupied space, but it’s often not a realistic goal to accomplish a bunch of major renovations before you move in, and sometimes you just like to live somewhere before rushing into picking every wall color anyway. So we’d suggest picking your tasks wisely. We actually think kitchen and bathroom renos turn out better if we live in the house for a while (that’s the only way we ever would have thought about closing off a door to gain almost 65% more cabinetry and counter-space in our first kitchen).
This time around, Sherry and I chose to tear up musty old carpeting upstairs, spray all of the blue/mauve trim up there white, and install hardwood floors before move-in day. Out of everything on our list, it was the hardest to imagine doing those things after all of our furniture came into the space. The good news is that we were 100% sure about what flooring we wanted. But if we weren’t able to find flooring we liked, this task would have been put on hold and something else would move to the top of the list.
So one tip would be not only to brainstorm what’s the most helpful to tackle first, but also to make sure you’re going to be happy with that new look/material/choice for the long haul. If any part of you is uncertain, it’s probably best to move on to something that you’re more sure about instead of rushing into something you’ll regret. And since we’ve painted two houses worth of rooms/ceilings after moving in (and prefer to think about wall colors over time instead of choosing them all at once) that approach works well for us.
#3. What will make us feel comfortable and “at home”? In all of our moves I’ve experienced a period where I feel like I’m living in someone else’s house. Something about living amongst their design choices makes it hard for me to feel like the home has become ours. Obviously big gestures like tearing out the kitchen would do the trick, but that’s neither an easy or a quick fix (aside from it being one of those things we like to think through for a while). So we prefer to tackle a few simpler tasks after moving in that make things feel more like us. Like getting rid of dated curtains and carpeting – or, my personal favorite: painting. I remember how painting the first wall in our last house was the turning point where I felt like the house finally belonged to us – even if we ended up changing the color down the road. It was an important momentum-building (and morale-building) step for us.
Oh and this feeling of not being able to relax in “someone else’s house” is probably compounded by the general chaos and exhaustion that goes along with moving and unpacking. That’s why I think it’s helpful to put something on your list that will help you feel like you can put your feet up and fully “settle in” to your new space. It could be small, like setting up a reading nook with your favorite chair and a lamp or even just hooking up the TV so you can decompress after a long painting session. In our last two moves we set up Clara’s room on the first day to make sure she felt at home quickly, and then moved on to our own bedroom. Because sleeping on a mattress on the floor certainly didn’t scream “comfort.”
#4. What can we afford? This one’s pretty self explanatory, but if you have ten things on your to-do list that you can’t wait to tackle, but you can only afford to take on three of them, bump those guys to the front of the list and get going on them while you wait for your savings to build up again for the larger/more expensive tasks. For example, when we had those four important inspection items to take care of from tip #1, they made us feel like we turned the money faucet on high and drained our entire bank account. So we dove into nice cheap (and even free) projects, like stripping wallpaper, painting trim, removing an old glass shower door, ripping up more carpet in the sunroom, painting a bathroom, painting our front door, etc. They’ve definitely helped us stop the money bleed and made us feel more in control while we slowly build our savings account back up.
#5. What’s quick and easy? If trying to answer the above questions didn’t leave you with any clearer sense of where to start, then just keep it simple. Getting a new shower curtain or organizing your silverware drawer may not constitute an earth-shattering design decision, but it’s certainly better than doing nothing at all. Accomplishing lots of fast and affordable things can add up to an updated room – and eventually, an updated house.
#6. What will make us the happiest? In the end, you can throw all the logic, reason, and worry that you’re doing the “right” or “most important” thing first – but it really comes down to doing what makes you smile. And often times, that’s something free and something that you consider to be more fun than work. On our first night here I was initially surprised to see Sherry playing around with the items on the built-ins in our living room. Of all the things to do, that seemed pretty far from crucial. But as I sat on the sofa resting my weary moved-ten-million-boxes bones, I could tell that it was her way of relaxing into our new space – and that having one not-trashed corner to rest her eyes was her way of finding peace among the chaos.
In the end, the good news is that it’s hard to mess this up. Because no matter what starting point you pick, you’re already doing something right by doing something at all. The truth is that the right starting point (or the right order) is most likely different from person to person and house to house. How do you guys figure out where to start or what project to tackle next? Are their other questions you ask yourself that help you sort through your to-do list. We’d love to hear ’em, because we’ve got quite the list going on ourselves!
Great post. :)
This is a great post. And I definitely agree with #6!
Love this post. The hubs and I are saving for a down payment on our first house and we have had numerous conversations on where to get started when we find the perfect one (which will most certainly be a fixer upper). Thanks for the affirmation and the guidance here!!
I didn’t see this mentioned, but you might want to take a look at the landscaping. If you want to plant something that will take a while to mature (like trees), it’s good to get them in at the beginning of your time there. That way you’ll be able to enjoy them!
And living in a kitchen for a while before remodeling is a very good idea. So many solutions will come to you at random moments, so be sure to write them down!
I was going to suggest this same thing! Especially if you want to plant a vegetable garden, some of the best things take a couple of years till you can harvest – rhubarb, asparagus, blueberry bushes. My husband and I have a list of thing we’ll plant the first year if/when we ever buy a house :)
I agree with the list making, too! You never know when inspiration will strike. My sister took things a step further; she bought a fixer upper a year or two ago and she literally has a piece of paper taped up by the light switch in each room (ha! great decor!). Neither of us are very “plugged-in” people, so Pinterest isn’t as helpful as just having that running to-do list of ideas and plans in each room to physically look at and cross things off of! Maybe when the house is “done” it will be nice to put those in a book with before and after photos or something. For now it’s nice to see all the chicken scratch and things crossed out and updated. :) :)
Also good to keep landscaping in mind for the time of year. Some things need to be planted or transplanted at only certain times, and you’ll regret it if you delay and then have to wait almost a year before dealing with a bush in the wrong place or planting bulbs to get spring flowers.
On landscaping, I’m more for waiting a little time before making big landscape decisions. It takes some time to see what areas of your yard get the most sun/shade, which areas have good drainage or are wet/damp, or even what areas need attention first. Make sure you plant the right plant for the right area.
We just bought a house last September and after living in it a while, some of my initial landscaping ideas have changed now that I’ve gotten to know the property and what I really need.
Awesome post, love reading your thought process when the task seems so huge. Especially love #6 – so true! “Whatever floats your boat honey” = too precious. Thanks for keeping it real, per usual!
Anele @ Success Along the Weigh says
Great tips! Definitely bookmarking for the future!
Judy Beeksma says
It was so interesting reading this post…We have been in our home for seventeen years! Wow that is hard to believe! But we moved into a brand new home with painters beige on every wall. We decorated over the years to our liking and it was great. But we are in a spot right now that is kinda peculiar. I want to freshen it up make it new again. And although that can’t happen, the cues from your post have helped me clarify “where to start”. Thanks so much!
We just bought a new (old) house and have decided on a similar order of things as well. First up repairing rotted beams under deck and replacing the sewer because those are kind of important. Next up drywalling over paneling in kids rooms and removing popcorn ceilings (because both of those are super messy and I’d rather not have to move furniture out after we move it in). We are also gutting the master bedroom and bathroom and plan (hope) to have the bedroom complete enough for carpet prior to our move date (next Saturday, eek!) but the bathroom will not be done and I’m ok with that because we can use another bath for a while. Once we get in we’ll get to all the fun stuff like painting and door knobs, and windows.
Laura B. says
Nice post. We are saving up for some paving stones in our yard. While waiting I am slowly (and stiffly) removing the dirt. It will be months, maybe even Spring, but when the money is there I will be ready.
You do a good job. Thank you for all your posts. I especially like your reader redesigns. It is so interesting to see how other people solve their household design issues.
This is fabulous you guys and exactly what I’ve been going through right now with the surprise kitchen reno.
One technique you do beautifully and something I’ve also done since I was a kid is to break bigger projects down into digestible chunks (I call this the one bite at a time method of eating an elephant). Listing out the smaller projects that break up a big project make the entire work more manageable.
I’ll also break them further down into individual tasks if I know I need even smaller jobs to manage. For example, if I know I’ll be doing some things after work, I need them to be of a really short duration. So that project to re-do the bathroom will have a sub-project of modernizing the linen closet which will have an individual task of clearing out the stuff in the closet. If that is all I have time to do at night after work, then I can get it done and the next night take off the doors. The next night it is paint the doors. The next night it is paint the closet. etc.
It’s OK to have small objectives when in the end it will all add up to the larger objective.
Oh yes, this is a great note! The one day at a time “small manageable chunks” method is so helpful! It makes big things on the list (ex: gut the bathroom) feel a lot more doable!
Great advice! I SO agree about painting – it is always the turning point for me from feeling like I’m in someone else’s house to feeling like it’s my own. I always wait way too long to do it (color indecision / paralysis) but the house feels a million times more “mine” after we do it. I also agree about getting kids’ rooms fixed up first thing, since adults can process change and chaos in a more deliberate and rational way, whereas kids just feel what they feel, and what we hope is that they feel settled and at home. And I really love the last tip, ie: Sherry fixing up the shelves – there are always little things like that, that just help you feel excited about the house and are just fun. It gives more energy for doing the less fun stuff.
I have to paint first. Even if it is a basic neutral place holder until I later decide on an actual color palette, I have to paint. It makes it feel so new and fresh and clean–not someone else’s mess, but my home. It can be time consuming (our most recent house sucked up the paint like nothing I’ve ever seen!), but right away that makes it more “mine”.
Also it helps cover up the former owner’s house smell! Especially if the former owners were smokers.
I highly doubt you guys need reinforcement from little ol’ me, but THANK YOU for this post! We just bought out first place (a brick rancher in Chesapeake, VA!) and I have to say it’s been comforting knowing you guys are “starting over” in a new house, too. We’ve been in our house for about 5 weeks and it still looks like we just moved in. This list reminded me that it’s a process for everyone, not just slow-pokes like us!
Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) says
This is such a great post…it’s exactly how I felt when I moved (many years ago now.) In between those big jobs, like painting rooms, striping wallpaper, or renovating a whole kitchen, it’s so nice to celebrate and enjoy those small, immediate victories like beautifully styled living room shelves. :)
Tess @ Cross Country Cajun says
Thank you for writing this! We are about to close on our second house/first fixer right near Fort Worth, TX and have been a bit overwhelmed with the where to start question. I will definitely be sharing this with my husband as we plan our remodel! We are pulling a ton of inspiration from your site!
Janelle @ Two Cups of Happy says
I really, really enjoyed this post! I love list making, but prioritizing the list is often the hard part for me. “You’re already doing something right by doing something at all.” This is a real gem for people wanting to try a new activity/project/idea but they just keep wishing, dreaming or thinking about it instead of trying it! Thanks & happy Friday!
Well, this post was timely since my husband and I just bought/moved into our first house less than a month ago. We went from a tiny 2 bedroom apartment to a pretty large 4 bedroom house. Luckily, we didn’t have any major repairs to do and all the paint and flooring is very neutral. We have plenty of time to build the rooms based on what furniture we like in the space and then paint accordingly. Paint’s a relative cheap design element, so I prefer to spend my money on rugs, furniture, etc. before I try to design a room around a gallon of paint.
One tip I would add is to set a move in budget. Since we moved at the beginning of summer (when as teachers, we don’t have nearly as much income), we gave ourselves an overall amount we could spend until school starts again. This helps with the “we’re bleeding money!” panic that happens when you realize that small items like trashcans and hand towels add up especially when combined with larger purchases like a guest bed, dining room set, etc. You know you can afford for that money to go to new house purchases, so you don’t have to feel guilty for spending. And it also helps you keep track, so you aren’t just spending, spending, spending without checking in on your finances.
I haven’t commented in a long time…when you guys revealed you’d bought a new house, I said, “I knew it!” Something about your stride seemed off to me and I couldn’t place what it was exactly. Now we all know you guys had your hands full! (and that’s saying something, after juggling a kitchen remodel/book projects/clara, etc.) But reading this post today made my heart smile– it feels like the same down-to-earth real and rugged YHL from back in the day. Love you guys and I’m so glad you’re happy in your new home!
Aw thanks Emily! It’s nice to be back to only having one house to worry about and a pace that doesn’t make us feel too crazed. Feels like the good ol’ days to us too :)
I was about to comment and say the exact same thing – but probably would have said it less eloquently – so I’m chiming in to say ditto! Especially feeling this way with the past few posts this week.
Just love your blog! Random question…can you tell me where you got the teal/green duvet on your bed?
That was from West Elm a while back.
Laura C says
Great tips – I especially love the tips about setting up a little space to decompress and tackling smaller/cheaper projects while you save up for the big ones. I also find that it’s important to give yourself permission to take a day off now and then. If you push yourself too hard you risk burning out and then nothing gets done.
This is a great post. I cannot echo tip #2 enough. My husband and I are currently living at my parents’ house with our dog while our hardwood floors are refinished. We moved into our 1960 ranch three years ago. When we moved in I thought we could refinish the floors down the line. I dont know what I was thinking! We rented a POD and put it in our driveway, and also filled up our garage with furniture. My only other tip, if you can’t do projects like this when you first move in, is to do them as soon as possible after that. Then you won’t have three more years of acquired stuff to move out. ;)
Megan @ Rappsody in Rooms says
What a great topic! As someone who is three years into their first house, this still helps! I don’t know if I touched anything substantial in the house (except unpacking boxes) for the first year. It was so daunting! But then living with it for a while automatically created a list of things I can’t stand the most. Staring at that crummy orangey/yellow trim in the bedroom made me not be able to relax and moved to the top of the list. Saving to replace nasty yellow laminate countertops was also on the “Save for it” list.
Gina (Lady Goats) says
I agree! The first year in my house was minimal at best. And now I feel like I can’t “do it” fast enough! Granted, I don’t feel that I’ve done anything substantial still, until I realize that I knocked down a wall and got rid of all the crazy, southwestern archways! Slowly but surely, right?
Great post! I agree with everything that you wrote and I have noticed that you also do something that I think is important–walk around the neighborhood and get to know the neighbors. It seems like you have mentioned daily walks. I think meeting people and starting to become friends really helps you be happy in your new home. We didn’t do this in our first house in a new town, but I definitely did this in our second house when we moved cross country.
You’re totally right! That helps us feel at home too! Great tips everyone. Thanks for sharing.
Crystal @ 29 Rue House says
Good tips! I totally agree about living in a space for a while before making the big changes. I’ve recently struggled over whether to do small projects all the time OR save up big bucks to redo our bathrooms or get the new fridge and kitchen floors we need. I’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t realistic for me to not do any small projects because I’m saving for the big ones (I’m way to obsessed with decorating/DIYing). So for now, it is lots of small projects for us and later down the road as our expenses/bills decrease (two kids in daycare, mortgage and law school student loans), we’ll be able to start saving and tackling the bigger things.
Sign up for email notices & coupons from places that sell appliances. Start shopping & saving for a new fridge while yours still works. This will enable you to make an informed choice & get a good deal. Don’t forget to check out the scratch & dent products as well. I used the cash in the envelope saving system for a new washer & dryer. Every time it had $100 in small bills I would change them out for a big bill. It made it easier to not dip in it for a few bucks here & there.
Julia at Home on 129 Acres says
I agree with the live in it for awhile too. If it’s habitable and functional and not too ugly, you can probably make do. And if you’re not exactly sure what you’re going to want long term and you dive in anyways, you may end up regretting or ripping out a lot of hard work and money.
Wendy @ New Moms Talk says
Two things we always asked ourselves when moving as a Navy family (same for my hub’s Navy family and his life in the Army) were…
1. For how long will we (realistically) be in this house?
2. What needs to be done seasonally? Moving in the winter versus spring or summer means a different set of immediate priorities.
With every move, we always made sure we were “us” in the new places. Establishing our routines, our likes, etc. were key to feeling at home.
When we grew older, simple things like a scavenger hunt through the new house made for easing the adjustment time.
christina @ homemade ocean says
Such a great question! I always have to remind myself to be patient and that it doesn’t all happen overnight :)
I moved into my husband’s house a few years ago. The first thing I did was paint the bathroom a single shade of white. It was about 6 different colors & $20 worth of paint gave me a whole lot of piece of mind. Then I started saving for the things needed to keep the house from falling down. We’ve done most of the medium $200 to $500 fixes & 5 of the $3,000 to $6,000 fixes – the HVAC was completely replaced including duct work, rotten siding was replaced, the inside & outside was painted, spray foam under the house, & the oak floors were professionally refinished in the living room, dining room, & the hallway. Up next for the small fix is caulking the base boards. The next medium fix is turning a window into a wall. The next big fix is installing a beam & several new pilings under the house. We are still saving for the huge fix of a new roof. Gotta do the beam first so the roof doesn’t need repairs after.
I’ve always had it in my head that a gallon of paint is around $20. That hasn’t actually been the case the last two times I’ve painted. Am I somehow missing the elusive $20 gallons of paint at the store? Or maybe you didn’t buy a gallon? Our nursery paint job turned into a $100 project, even though I had the majority of the supplies already.
Gina (Lady Goats) says
Ashleigh, Where are you shopping for paint? A gallon of the Low VOC Olympic paint (which I buy at Lowe’s) or Valspar (also at Lowe’s) is about $20. I’ve only gotten the BEHR Paint & Primer from HD, which costs more (like $35 in my area), but I know they have similar options.
Always so helpful you are! I know quite a few people that are moving and this post will definitely help them….so I’m forwarding it on!
Ali B. says
Super interesting post! For us, just getting started was a huge victory. It’s easy to just stop doing stuff after the initial burst of move-in excitement. Also, we started with the public spaces first. Some others might start with private spaces first. For us, that public/private distinction made it easier to choose what was most important to us in the moment.
I’d add that it’s sometimes nice to find a room that’s “low hanging fruit”. If there’s a room that can be fundamentally DONE without too much trouble (eg- just paint and furniture accessory placement) it can be nice to just tackle it. I find I need a completed, project-free space to be able to relax so it helps to have one room crossed off the list asap.
Haha, I love the low hanging fruit theory!
Just wondering, in the thick of all the new projects, do you ever miss the old house and it’s “doneness”? Or are you more excited than ever for the potential of the new house?
I think there’s so much “magic” about this house (finally getting into our dream nieghborhood, being on a private wooded lot on a cul de sac, having two floors which feels hilariously novel, etc) that we just feel like it’s where we belong. I miss specific things about the last house and our first house (ex: the first house’s granite counters, the second house’s marble fireplace) but the feeling of being here is most like being home to us if that makes sense.
S & J, what an awesome feeling! So so happy for your little family. Warm fuzzies all around! :)
Aw thanks Larissa!
You always give the best advice and tips! I loved your Drawer-Ganization when I realized that we have the same silverware, Sherry! Got my at Target and love it!
Have a great week-end,
My current apartment and my last apartment were both studio apartments, so things are always kind of chaotic due to a lack of space. At my old apartment, one thing I did to make it mine was hang a ton of artwork on the walls and switch it out when I painted something new or wanted a change. At my current place, there’s not as much wall space because of a large attached mirror and huge closet doors. Not having art on the walls made everything feel impersonal for the longest time. I decided to tackle a huge art project (4’x3′ canvas) for over my bed, and hanging it up even though it isn’t done has been the best decision, because it feels so totally me and makes me smile every time I look at it.
I loved the end – John you are so sweet.
John- good advice and well written!
Christine @ Practical Decor says
This is a great post and SO timely for me as we’re about to close on our first home on Monday!!
We definitely have been attempting the list of to-dos in a similar way you guys have, but with two difference: 1) We are far less confident in our “design” choices as of right now, since we’ve never done this before, so we’re essentially moving into the home “as-is” and tackling it one room at a time. I don’t even know where to start with paint colors. I have an idea of what I like, but I’m nowhere near sure, PLUS, we haven’t even seen the house in almost two months since we were there for the inspection. I’ve kind of forgotten what it looks like! 2) We are also taking the season we’re moving into consideration. For example, we won’t be moved in until early August. By the time we get settled, Summer will be pretty much over, so we aren’t going to bother designing the “outdoor oasis” we dream of until next Spring. Not that we won’t find a way to sit outside this summer/fall to enjoy it, but we won’t take anything big on until next year.
Thanks again, guys!
Judy W. says
Christine, you don’t say where you’ll be living, but I’d suggest that you plant a lot of bulbs this Fall even if you do nothing else landscape-ish. You will be so happy to see them coming up in the spring, and you don’t have to do anything to them. They can always be moved later if you decide they are in the wrong place.
I totally agree with #5 — I had just bought my first house and it really didn’t hit until I put the silverware in the drawer that I realized that this was MY home and I had a kitchen!
I agree also with living with the space to get a feel for how you’ll be using the space. I was able to find just this week a pair of end tables for my basement at a ReStore in NoVA after living in the house for the past five months. ;)
Great job guys — I usually lurk and read your posts, they definitely motivate me and give me ideas. Thank you for what you do!
In our condo I had a looooong, lon,g long, and very fun list of things I wanted to do. I still love looking at that list. :) However, in our new house the initial list I made felt totally unmanagable. Mostly because of the “What comes first? Chicken or egg?” moments.
I really want to reorganize the kitchen… but moving the sink means touching the plumbing… and if we are touching the plumbing don’t we want to move/upgrade our boiler first… but before we move the boiler don’t we want to get the floorplan finalized… which means reorganizing hte kitchen… and on and on.
Finally I decided on just two things on my list at a time. One big ticket item (the boiler), and while I am saving for that do one cheap upgrade that will make me happy (paint EVERYTHING). Other things have snuck in here and there, but having just those two goals has made me feel more in control.
This is a great post! Wished I’d known all those tips before we moved into our fixer upper 2 years ago. Two tips I have are 1.) don’t feel rushed. We’ve lived in our home for 2 years and there is still skateboard wallpaper in one if the guest rooms. I prioritized our first floor bc that is the floor we entertain on. Having a comfortable living room space was important to me to feel sane in the midst of the renovations. My husband and I worked like dogs the first couple months renovating the first floor and then we got a bit burned out. We were both full time during the week at work and grad school and we didn’t want all of our free time spent on more work. I learned to let go of having everything in perfect order and realized that a cookout on the weekend with friends was more important sometimes than painting trim. Tip 2-if you can, close the door. We bought our house with the hope of one day having children here. Right now those bedrooms/study aren’t used regularly so that are at tag bottom of the to do list. It makes me crazy seeing the old wallpaper and floors so I make sure those doors are always shut. Out of sight out of mind! It feels more like my space when I’m not constantly looking at the old home owners design.
Thanks for the great post!
good answer! good answer!! :)
I moved into my first house about 7 weeks ago, and since then I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot! I have a “master to-do” list and each room has it’s own little project list that was inspired by YOUR lists. The trick is to not get overwhelmed so I don’t look at them TOO often! I figure I’ve got at least a few years in this place, so I shouldn’t be in any hurry. But I did paint the living room & my craft room, and this week I finally started taking down popcorn ceilings and painting all the dated trim in my house. It’s not super skill-intensive, they’re relatively cheap projects, and I can do a little bit each evening after work. Thankfully all my projects are cosmetic rather than necessary, so it’s all been a matter of deciding what I want. I’m pretty sure I’ll be repainting the living room but hey! That’s part of the fun……right?
Heidi P. says
Off topic, but… Do you guys have the Oneida Hammered silverware?? I LOVE those!! They’re on my “someday” wishlist!
It was from HomeGoods or TJ MAxx, but I don’t know if it’s Oneida. I hear they sell something similar at Target too.
I was going to comment on the silverware too as we have the same Oneida pattern. I love it!
robin @ our semi organic life says
In the last 2 moves we’ve made (over 3 years) we always try to get our bed set up, then fill the dressers & closet and unpack the kitchen. Those are most important. Later comes the TV and simple photos on walls.
Another tip that worked well for us, as we didn’t have much DIY experience, was to start in a less-noticeable room. We removed wall paper and painted two bedrooms before moving on to the living room. We learned that we really did need to prime everything in this house (walls, trim), how to prepare the walls, etc. We are still learning – we are now so much better than what we did in the living room, but probably no one else will notice and we can correct the issues when we repaint in the future.
Love all the tips guys! Thanks for sharing them!
I definitely suffer from decision paralysis. Last year I was feeling so inspired by your blog to improve our house but really overwhelmed about everything that needed to be done. Finally I realized our tiny foyer was something I could work on by myself and was a small-ish project that I could wrap my mind around. I started painting the trim in there and my husband (who was skeptical about the new color) ended up LOVING it. We both liked the new color so much that we ended up painting the rest of the trim in the house bit by bit. All because I finally did *something* rather than nothing. Woo!
(And yes, this post is very helpful for prioritizing!)
I loved the last point. I sometimes tend toward the projects that just make me happy in the chaos too… it drives my husband a little crazy. But, it’s true, that sometimes you just have to do what makes you happy. I think the first thing I did when we moved into this house was decorate the mantle! I was so excited to finally have a fireplace- that the fact that the entire room around it was cRaZy! didn’t matter to me. I was so happy to have my mantle!
In our current house, the first things we did were:
1. Paint the kitchen cabinets. I knew for sure I wanted them painted white, and I figured it would be easier to do before we moved all of our stuff in.
2. Get my son’s room ready – we wanted him to be in a comfortable space, plus I didn’t want to be painting the room he was currently sleeping in (he was 18 mos old at the time).
3. Make the back deck and upstairs balcony safe for little kids. The gap between the boards on the railings were huge, so we put lattice up on the inside to keep our little guy safe.
4. Tear down the 1980’s era room divider and take down a view-obstructing kitchen cabinet. Again, I was certain I wanted them gone, and they were fairly easy to rip out. It was several months later before we cleaned up the holes left behind, but at least they were down.
5. Install cat doors in the basement doors. This was safety-related: the cats needed access to the kitty litters in the basement, but I didn’t want my toddler to have access to the stairs.
Painting the kitchen cabinets was the only really time consuming thing. The other projects were safety or quick projects that we were 100% certain about, so we definitely followed the guidelines you outline above!
emily hassman says
Hanging things on the walls is my favorite way to make a space feel like MINE.
I went through a tough life phase once where I moved 6 times in 2 years. Ouch. Well, at least I got really good at moving… Move #4 was out of one (flooded!) apartment and into another unit in the complex. My dad was there to help and I asked him to re-hang all the artwork in the new apartment. He thought I was crazy but that was the thing I needed most to feel at home. It also takes forever if I wait for my husband to do it. Ha!
John, you are a good partner in regards to #6. My hubby would have been intuitive in that way as well, and that’s an important skill to have. Thanks for sharing!
Stephanie M. says
Awesome post. Very helpful tips for our next move.
P.S. John, I love your love for Sherry. So sweet.
I agree with having the beds set-up ASAP.
For me, I need to have the closets organized-cleaned and painted if need be ( so much easier to do when they are empty, right?), then organizers in place ( clear plastic trays, baskets, whatever works) ready for my stuff as I unpack.
I also like one room for all the boxes, instead of boxes in every room-I’ve always had a garage, so I work from there.
Fresh flowers somewhere in the kitchen don’t hurt, either.
Our place is now for sale. We are looking forward to this move, and hopefully will find our forever place when we do.
PS-I’m part of the spunky-colored blue door on a red-brick house club. Welcome!