Why I Sold My New Construction For a Fixer Upper

November 10, 2015

why i sold my new construction for a fixer upper

Two years after marrying my husband, we decided to purchase our very first home.

The home had everything we were looking for:

Cottage Style Design and New Construction…

exterior 2

Beautiful trim work , old home character and hardwood floors…

living room 3

Granite countertops with white cabinets…
kitchen 2

A spa-like master bathroom…

master bathroom 2master bathroom


A formal dining room…
dining room

And it truly felt like home…it felt like “us”. It had good vibes.

As soon as I unpacked our last box, I began to decorate. I went crazy- spending probably thousands of dollars on furnishings, drapes and decor.

It was the first blank canvas I ever had the pleasure of designing. Sometimes, I would sit on my couch with a glass of wine in hand and just admire the place.

living room 2

Fast forward almost three years.

I had just given birth to my first son and made the decision to work from home and raise my son as a work from home mother. I had to take a pay cut in order to maintain my current job without commuting, but it was so worth it.

I was home a lot. With more time on my hands…. more time for Pinterest and HGTV.

I started to long for a project of my own. I needed a challenge…a Fixer Upper type of challenge. Yes, I wanted to be my own version of Joanna Gaines.

One year after the birth of my son, New Years Day, we put a contingency offer on a 1980’s run-down ranch home. They accepted our offer and we listed our beloved new construction for the outdated rancher. Here is a photo of the home when we first moved in.


” Why in the world would i do that?”, you ask. Let me try my best to explain.

More Privacy and Land

In Chattanooga, it seems impossible to find a new construction home with much of a lot or privacy. New homes are always wedged so tightly together.

When we were “kid-less”- working and going out all the time- this didn’t bother us so much. But a baby changes everything. We had officially become home bodies. Look how close we were to our neighbors. We had zero privacy.
back yard

We were not ready to commit to buying land of our own and building , so an older home was the only way we were going to be able to afford more privacy and a bigger yard.

Now we live on a wooded , 1 acre lot with no nearby neighbors and I love it! I can run around the house naked if I want.

ranch house makeoverI‘ve even skinny-dipped in our pool on a few occasions and let me tell you….it is truly liberating.

And instead of looking out the window and seeing other homes (as was the case in my new construction), I get to see a beautiful view of surrounding mountains and lake from my street everyday.

view 2
view 3
Not too shabby of a view, huh? I love all of the gorgeous wildlife my scenic city, Chattanooga, has to offer. In the winter, the view is even


I wanted A Custom Kitchen

I was over my builder grade kitchen.

kitchen 1

I longed for subway tile backsplash, an island, a wall mounted oven and a vent/hood. I wanted the look of an upscale, custom kitchen on a builder grade budget. Our run-down ranch had a lot of what we were looking for and with some paint, new backsplash and appliances, I knew we could make it nice.


And I think we did a pretty good job with the budget we had…

renovating your first home
transitional kitchen decor interior design

whitewashed brick in kitchen

It felt like MY calling from God

I knew there had to be more to life than sitting at a desk all day, plugging in html code and  working for someone else. I knew I had a passion and talent (hopefully you will agree) for interior design.  I felt by buying this home and fixing it up myself,it was like taking a step closer to capitalizing on my true passion and acknowledging the dreams that God placed in my heart. I was not satisfied simply being “mommy”… nor was I satisfied simply being “wifey”… nor by just being an “internet marketing consultant”. I needed to find myself. I could no longer deny that, so I took a leap of faith. I know it may sound a little dramatic, but it’s my truth.

Lower Mortgage

Taking on another mouth to feed while also losing some income, I wanted to be more financially savvy. I have never been a coupon queen or a penny pincher, but I thought by buying a home that we could fix up ourselves, as we go, would be a great place to start. Our run down ranch home cost us almost $100,000 less than our new construction! And with the money we made from the sell of our new construction (we made about $20,000), we were able to pay off credit cards and apply the rest to renovation costs.

Initially, we only wanted to invest around $10,000 to $15,000 in renovations, but we have already exceeded that. Unfortunately we had to address some not-so-fun issues like siding, electrical, a new balcony and proper flashing.  I think we are currently at around $20,000. Either way, we have a significantly lower mortgage and  I believe it has allowed us a better quality of life.

Floor Plan

After living in our first home, we had formed very specific floor plan needs. Once our first baby arrived, we decided we did not like having a two-story with a stair-case….it freaked me out! We also wanted a large great room and an open-concept kitchen. We could not find a new construction with our specific floor plan requirements and were, to be frank, so over the cookie cutter floor plan we were coming across in all of the new construction homes.

After a lot of paint and elbow grease, we were able to have the great room we always wanted.

living room transformation

living room light and airy transformation

That is not to say the process was not stressful at times and I could not honestly tell you that at times I don’t miss the “new home” smell of our other place. I do feel, however, that this was the right decision for us. Is this our forever home? Probably not. Would I do it all over again knowing what i know now? Absolutely!

This renovation has given me the courage I need to pursue my dreams of interior design consulting and blogging,  and am so glad I took that leap of faith.

We now have a home that fits most of our criteria and we were able to accomplish our goals without breaking the bank. To see the full tour of my fixer upper, including before and afters, click here

I hope this has inspired some of you to take a risk and follow your dreams! Now go out there and design some good vibes.

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Pinterest and Facebook.

Special thanks to Jenna from Rain on a Tin Roof. I found your experiences so reassuring. You motivated me to continue to follow my own path at a time when I was second-guessing myself.

why i sold my new house for a fixer upper

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More about Designing Vibes

    1. Wow! You really have done your own Fixer Upper! I thought your first house was beautiful, but I LOVE what you have done with the second one.

      1. Thank you so much, Ellis. There are times when I miss my new construction home, but it is so much more gratifying to look at something you transformed with your own two hands. Thank you so much for the feedback!

    1. Wow Erica! You have such a knack for decorating a house into a home! The purchase of the old house with your talent was definitely worth it!

    1. Great job Erica! You did an awesome job decorating both houses. I think you are very talented and should follow your passion. I did that also as a mom to three little girls, I went back to college and got my degree in Interior Design. I am so happy that I listened to my heart and took the leap of faith. My best words of advice for you as you start your new career, put a portfolio together of all your design jobs for the next few years to get yourself established. Make sure that it includes many different interior styles and budgets from small to multimillion, commercial to residential. Good luck!!!

      1. Thank you so much for the advice, Julie. That is so awesome you were able to follow your dreams even after having 3 children. Inspirational!

    1. You definitely have what it takes to make it in the design world! I love what you’ve done with your “fixer upper” – it truly looks amazing! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us at the Talented Tuesday Link Party! I can’t wait to see what you do next!

    1. I would have done the same thing – the views, and the privacy – you can’t beat it.

      Great job on making it your own –
      Enjoy your Thanksgiving in your new home.
      It’s beautiful.
      Much love

    1. You.are.too.precious! And I mean that in the best possible grandma-type way. Can’t wait to follow your story, I know it’ll be fun, blessings!

      1. Ha ha! That is so sweet of you. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thanks for stopping by. Much love!

    1. Great post!! Much of what you described are the reasons why we wanted a ronovation project. We took it on 10 years ago and though we are still in the midst of constant renovations, we are happy with our choice. I love that everything we do and put into it makes it truly OURS. More than our first two cookie cutter houses we owned. I won’t lie, it’s exhausting at times, but the satisfaction is well worth it!! 😉

    1. I am looking forward to getting more inspiration from you. We moved into an older home a few years ago and I am just getting around to starting to transform rooms and I am looking forward to transforming our spaces and creating a beautiful home like yours. Just lovely!

      1. That is so great to hear, Mimi. It is a process, but it is so rewarding. Starting out is the hard part. Good luck with your renovations!

    1. Erica that certainly was an eye opener. I can really sympathize with the privacy issue. And that view is to die for. Hang in there. My husband and I built our home 20 years ago and it is still not finished.

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