This is the story of life in a fixer-upper
Hi, I’m Annie.
I live in a 1920s craftsman in Nashville with my husband, our son, two dogs and two cats.
I have always lived in a fixer upper, really. One of my favorite pictures from my childhood is me in overalls carrying my toy tools while wearing my dad’s safety goggles standing in the construction area of the renovation they were doing at the time.
When I was in 6th grade, we moved across the street to fulfil my dad’s dream of living on waterfront property. We left a house that my parents had lovingly renovated over the course of a decade, to a house that needed just as much, if not more work. I will never forget that November when, right after the contractors had taken the roof off to start on the second floor addition, we got an early snow and had to catch melting snow/ice in black contractor bags from the sagging ceiling tiles. Or a few months later that spring when I was home alone from school, a man fell through the ceiling before the stairs were built.
I also remember saying to my mother:
“I am NEVER going to live in a house that needs a renovation.”
Famous. Last. Words.
For a while, that was true. I lived in dorms and on and off campus apartments through college and graduate school and my first few years as a professional. But when we moved to Nashville, I knew I wanted an older home. We couldn’t afford one that had been already updated and, often, I didn’t like how they had done it anyway. So we found our current home. Initially we thought we could get by with some cosmetic changes until we were ready to hire contractors to do a bigger renovation. Turns out, that’s really expensive too – especially in Nashville. So we put it off, and put it off, and put it off. Until, when our son was a year old and we still didn’t have a working bathtub, my dad suggested we consider just doing the bathroom renovation ourselves. He would come help with the demolition and get the plumbing and electrical roughed in and we could handle the finishes. We could be done in a matter of months. That sounded like a reasonable plan. As most renovations go, we found more work than we bargained for and renovating mostly on weekends with a toddler is slow going. So, here we are, more than a year later, still trying to finish that first bathroom. And, here I am, living in a state of perpetual renovation. If only my 15 year old self could see me now!
We have learned so much over the last year and become much more confident that there isn’t much we can’t handle with a little hard work. We have learned how to run water and drain lines, level subfloors and ceilings, run electrical, build walls, frame doorways and windows, put up drywall… We’ve gotten side tracked by a leak in the laundry room which resulted in a renovation there too which spilled out into the kitchen with a new coat of paint. And we will never forget that weekend we found out that a river of water was flowing through the crawlspace when it rained washing up a dead possum. If you had told us 2 years ago that would happen and we would fix the possum problem and the water issue without professional help, we wouldn’t have believed you. There is something deeply empowering about embarking on an extensive DIY journey – I’m not sure we will ever stop!
I started out just documenting our progress on Instagram @lifeinafixer but I realized I often had a lot more to say than fits in those tiny squares. So here is where the nitty gritty details about our life and renovations will be!