The origin story…

It was a decision that I made in December of 2009 that was going to significantly influence the next decade of my life.

For the past few months I had been casually looking at real estate listings in our area. Unfortunately all the real estate was significantly out of our price range. One Friday night as my husband and I were watching a movie this little house popped up in Redondo Beach. It was just in our price range, 1350 SF and about 2 miles from our little apartment. There was only one thumbnail photo on the listing so I convinced Andy to come with me to the open house the next day, I told him it was “for research”. This is typically what I tell him when I know he is not 100% on board with an idea. Leaving our tiny beach front apartment was not high on his list of to-do’s.

When we arrived at the house the following Saturday it was an absolute wreck. The whole thing smelled like cat pee,  was filthy beyond belief and needed some major upgrades. Despite the state of disrepair at least twenty people walked through the open house just in the hour we were there. This was the cheapest house in all of Redondo Beach and everyone knew there was potential.

This was a photo I took walking up to the house

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I should take this opportunity to apologize for the grainy questionable photos. This was back in 2009, long before I had thought about blogging, photo quality or staging before and after photos. Since this is where it all started I have to make do with what I have.

Back to the story, call it blind enthusiasm or just plain stupidity, but when we walked out of the open house that day we agreed that this house could be a great opportunity. We called our realtor and put in an offer.

It just so happened that ten other people were able to ignore the cat pee and filth and also see the potential. It was a battle, but in the end the bank accepted our offer over everyone else’s.

The night escrow closed we picked up our keys and headed to our new house with hammer and tape measure in hand. It took me all of thirty seconds to start hammering away at walls knocking off every faux brick that crossed my path. I swear in that moment I knew that I loved renovating…it makes sense why Chip Gaines loves Demo Day so much!

After feeling very satisfied with quickly knocking a few bricks off the wall I glanced over at Andy. He looked sick…eyeballs as big as saucers and a bit pale. I think working with his dad for years in the painting business gave him a better sense of what we had just gotten ourselves into. While I was blindly hammering away at walls, thinking that I had this renovating thing in the bag, he was mentally calculating the amount time and money we were going to have to spend to make this house whole again.

I’ll save you the long story and get to the punch line. In the end it cost double what we thought and took a full four months to make the house livable. We spent every waking moment after work and on the weekends working on that house. It was super fun, exhausting and quite an accomplishment. Looking back now, eight years later, I am so glad we took that leap of faith together. We both learned so much about renovating, DIY and each other through this first renovation.

Here are a few Before and Afters

The kitchen- 2 days into renovations

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Kitchen — After

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Kitchen -After from a different Angle

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Family Room


Exterior – Front Yard Sometime during renovations

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Exterior – Front Yard After

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Exterior – Front Yard

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Exterior – Front Yard After

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Exterior Upper Patio

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This little house was quite the diamond in the rough. We lived here for four years when we decided it was time to sell. Our family had grown with the addition of our daughter and we now had to juggle being working parents and raising a baby in the Los Angeles area. We decided to relocate closer to family a few hours away from Redondo Beach.

Armed with the experience and a bigger tool collection we decided to take on another fixer upper. I love how this next house turned out and I can’t wait to show you some of the details in my next post!


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