Buying Our First Fixer Upper: Before Renovations

The Dutch House: Before Renovations

Over the last four years, we have worked countless hours reimagining and redesigning our little ranch house into a home we (mostly) love. There has definitely been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears shed over these 1,500 square feet, but there is no doubt that she's better off than when we first moved in. 

Buying Our First Fixer Upper

When Nate and I got married, he put his house on the market and moved into my one-bedroom apartment. This made the most sense financially and logistically. My apartment was only seven minutes from his work, where the house he bought in college was a good 30 minutes away. Since we both had lived on our own for a few years before getting married, our one-car garage quickly became a storage space filled to the gills. While we enjoyed the months free of house maintenance, we were both anxious to find the place where we would settle down.

What we were looking for in a house:

I remember looking at dozens of homes and not feeling like we were finding what we wanted. We were on a budget but wanted to find something that we would be happy with for the next 10 years or so. Here are a few of the things that we really wanted:

  • A big yard with trees
  • A quiet/safe neighborhood
  • A fireplace
  • Some character – or at least something we could improve
  • An open floorplan
  • At least three bedrooms
  • A basement
  • Less than 20-minute drive to Nate’s work

The one thing I remember distinctly about the first time we visited the Dutch House was pulling up the long driveway and being amazed at the beautiful yard, huge walnut trees, and the little basketball court. We were in love! And then we went inside the house.


Talk about a buzz-kill. While there wasn't much about the actual house that we loved, we did see the potential.  There was literally no character, the carpet was obnoxious, and every room needed a serious coat of paint. But we kept coming back to the fact that we could always update the house, and the property was exactly what we wanted. It didn't check off all of the boxes on our wishlist, but we were satisfied enough.

After one sale of his house fell through, we finally were able to sell it to a nice couple with twins. The day we signed the papers to close the sale of his house, we signed the papers to put an offer on the Dutch House! 

Fast forward through the notorious paperwork and a less than attentive real estate agent and Nate and I closed on our first house together in December of 2013. Since we are always looking for adventure, we decided to move in on the day we got the biggest snowfall of the season! That made it interesting, to say the least. ;)

Here are a few photos (Excuse the poor quality photos – the lighting was terrible and I was a little distracted.;)) Needless to say, the house needed a lot of work.