It was not until about a year ago, when we started looking to buy our first home, that I became aware of the One Room Challenge. I was looking at a lot of “home improvement” topics and I kept seeing that little ORC logo on all these beautiful pictures of DIY projects. I wasn’t ready to buy a home, let alone take on a girls bedroom renovation! But I just had to know what the One Room Challenge was.
Of course, once I discovered it I was able to dive down the rabbit hole of past participants’ gorgeous rooms they had designed and executed. When we bought a house that was a solid 8/10 on a fixer upper scale, and we knew we would have to do major demo, construction, and updates on every single room of the house, I kept returning to the One Room Challenge posts of years past for motivation and inspiration.
But it was months into renovating that my husband suggested we document it all. After all, sharing is caring, right? And he knew my passion is for writing, so he dreamed up this blog, and it easily became my dream as well. Still, it was another six months after the conception of The Welder and His Wife that it occurred to me that we could be those people. We could share our renovations, updates, and design with One Room Challenge. I mean, that is the epitome of being your own inspiration, right? We can do hard things too! And we are already putting the work into our home anyway.
So, here’s the scoop on our home in general, our particular goal for the Fall 2021 One Room Challenge, and all the juicy details.
We bought our 1980s home in November 2020. It was a rental with a tenant at the time of purchase but we were looking for a home, not an investment property, and the prearranged terms of selling the house were that the tenant would be moved out prior to closing. During our walk through, the family (a contractor, his wife, 2 teens, a dog, and a cat) still lived in the home.
It was an absolute disaster in terms of being able to see what we were working with. The tenants were some of the worst packrats I’d ever seen, and slobs to boot. There was a whole rotisserie chicken in the cat’s food bowl on the carpeted kitchen floor, if that gives you a little imagery. We couldn’t see the bottom ⅔ of any wall because things were piled high on each. You couldn’t even walk half way into 2 of the 3 bedrooms. And there was a vague smell that someone had once upon a time smoked and vaped in the house.
Even though we specifically set out to buy a home that needed some TLC (to help with the price point) we were determined not to buy a fixer upper. I was seven and a half months pregnant, folks, and we had a just-turned-one-year-old.
Well, we put in an offer, and it got accepted, and our inspection told us the home needed a lot done, but it still probably only counted as a TLC-needing home, not a fixer upper, so we went through with it. It wasn’t until the night before closing that the tenant was out and we got one more walk through to be sure we wanted to continue. The owners were selling as-is and we knew that whatever we saw that night was what we were getting.
It was SO much worse than we ever expected. Seeing it with no furniture or stuff in it made it seem a lot bigger, but made it abundantly clear that more work was needed than we anticipated. Every wall needed drywall repair before paint could even be considered. Every carpet was stained and had foul odors and unknown things caked into parts. Some had huge tears and pieces missing. Both bathrooms needed plumbing help. The kitchen sink had a bucket under the trap because the (contractor) tenant and the owner both refused to fix a leak. And I couldn’t be in the house more than 20 minutes without my eyes getting red and puffy and my nose stuffing up. Cats, you see.
We closed anyway. My husband, a welder who has spackled and painted before, had a vision.
This was a fixer upper, no mistaking it. Not a gut-it-completely fixer upper. But definitely a fixer upper.
I won’t go into detail here about the improvements we have made so far, but you can find much of that here in other posts, and even more visually documented on our Instagram page. But we’re here for the One Room Challenge. So what will we be doing?
I am very excited to say that we will be participating in the ORC with a girls bedroom renovation! Our oldest will be two years old this month, and “the baby” is eight months old. And they’ve both been living in cribs in our bedroom with us. Suffice it to say, that needs to change.
So what are we working with in this bedroom?
Until just recently this bedroom served as a staging room. When we moved in this room got all the boxes dropped off in huge stacks and we came in to get what we needed as we unpacked. You name it, if we haven’t desperately needed to use it, its stored in there. (One day the house will be finished enough to really furnished and decorate it…) But its all gotta go somewhere else.
The room needs a lot of help to even be an appropriately blank canvas for the One Room Challenge. After consolidating and removing the “storage” boxes from the room, we have to rip out the disgusting carpet and tack strips, patch damaged drywall in the ceiling and holes in 2 of the walls, skim coat the texture off the ceiling and a “bump,” for lack of a better word, in one wall.
The walls need to be painted, electrical sockets and switches need to be replaced, the closet needs a complete overhaul, the room needs a new window treatment, and we are replacing the ceiling fan and light. Flooring needs to be done, but that will not be part of the final reveal for the One Room Challenge because we’re doing laminate flooring continuous (no transitions) in the whole house all at once, so for now a rug will suffice.
On top of all that, for making the room move-in-ready for the little girls, we have a couple pieces of furniture we need to paint or modify, like a second hand toddler bed, a bookshelf, and potentially building some toy storage solution.
Does it sound like we’ve taken on enough?
I cannot help but to laugh at myself. We really didn’t know how to do anything besides fill little nail holes with spackle when we bought this place, but we’ve come a very, very long way in less than a year!
I think conceptualizing live-in whole-home-renovations is difficult if you’ve never done it. Heck, it’s hard to conceptualize even while we are doing it! Especially with 2 under 2, and DIYing every step, it has been a very slow process. We get most of our work done on the weekends when my husband isn’t working. I stay at home but with the girls and my much more limited knowledge of any aspect of the trades, it greatly falls to my husband to do the brunt of the work.
In addition to being slow, we are doing this the debt-free way. When we got married we did the Dave Ramsey program and paid off over $40K of debt in a year and a half (we were dual income at the time). But since then, with the exception of our mortgage, our goal is to stay debt free. Paying to have two children since that time has curtailed the savings we have to put towards home renovations, but we wouldn’t change that (or future little ones) for the world. But. It needs to be said that we make all our decisions from a place of trying to keep our budget down. All of our furniture and probably half of our building materials, fixtures, features, and home items are second hand. And we’re 100% okay with that! So I don’t know the typical budget for these beautiful ORC rooms, but our goal of staying in a very small budget doesn’t change for a challenge, it just ups the ante.
So without further ado, I must get back to work on this girls bedroom renovation. In our next post I’ll fill you in a little more on the labor-breakdown for the project as well as a little more about the motivation behind this challenge, and progress for week 1!
In the mean time, check out the following links for more ways to follow along with us and with others on this challenge!
- The ORC link up page to see all guest participants
- See all ORC posts for The Welder and His Wife
- Our Instagram
- The ORC Instagram
- Our ORC Bedroom Pinterest Mood Board
Thanks for stopping by and following along! Sign up below if you’re interested in getting all our linked and not linked ORC posts straight to your inbox! (Unsub any time.)
Let us know what you think!
Tessa and Jefferson