January 20, 2019

The Story of Our Home

I've been writing a LOT lately about the DIY renovations I've been doing since August. I've done everything from removing a textured ceiling, taping and mudding drywall, sanding until I developed carpal tunnel (gah!), priming and painting (we've gone through about 17 gallons of paint and 6 gallons of primer!), building countertops, laminating countertops, making an epoxy countertop, building my own island, and a bunch of other stuff.

If you're not into DIY stuff, then I'm sure you've lost interest long ago. For those of you that are, I hope the stories are mildly entertaining, at least. I happen to love seeing others' DIY projects!

Anyway, I've been going through photos so that I can do a large "before and after" type post when we are totally done. And it made me think about all the changes we've made over the years (nothing nearly as big as what we're doing now). It's fun to look at the old pics!

It also gave me the idea to share the story of our home and how we came to live here when we got married. What had been a "starter home" is now where we plan to stay for the foreseeable future.

So, here's the story of our home. We live in a "manufactured home" (a.k.a. trailer, double-wide, whatever you'd like to call it.). Jerry and I usually refer to it as our "house", unless we are frustrated at something that falls apart or needs to be replaced or upgraded, and then we say "trailer", hahaha). I am not knocking trailers--this one has been good to us, and I actually really like it.

When we got married, we bought a plot of land in a neighborhood, picked out the layout and color scheme of our home, and hired a contractor to get our home onto a foundation within a timely manner. We never really thought we'd stay here this long. And we actually put our house up for sale way back in 2005 (we moved here in 2003).

However, I got pregnant with Eli, so we postponed the sale... and then lots of time went by. The housing market had crashed within a year after we bought it, so we would have lost quite a bit of money if we'd sold it.

And now, we really like it here. Our house will be paid off in about four years and the size (about 1600 square feet) is fine for us. I've never had a big desire to have a huge house--I prefer cozy, probably because I grew up in a household of six people in a 1700 square foot ranch. I REALLY love the land plot that we bought, which is my main reason for wanting to stay here.

We live just across from a state land nature preservation (or, as we call it, "the woods"). We see deer, ducks, geese, turtles, squirrels, eagles, beavers, and even a fox or two just across the street. We are a five-minute walk from Lake Erie. We live in a neighborhood (which I prefer to having a large property).

Also, I really like our house. We have looked at others through the years when we've thought about moving, but I couldn't find a layout that I liked as much as what we have now. I love the size of my kitchen and my pantry. I think our home feels intimate, and not too "sterile". I like to think that people feel comfortable coming over.

It's interesting, because Jerry and I are totally cool with living here--we like it. But when we moved in here, the "grown-ups" in our lives kept referring to this as a temporary "starter" home. A lot of people don't understand why we don't want to upgrade to new construction or to find a house with acres of property.

I had a garage sale one time, and this woman who came lived at the tip of the peninsula nearby, so her house was right on the water. I run through that area all the time (or, at least, I used to) and I've never had the desire to live on the lake. I'm just not a lakes/oceans person. Anyway, this woman commented to me about how horrible it must be to live across the street from the woods. She literally shuddered and said, "I don't know why anyone would want to live here instead of on the water".

I'm not joking. How rude! Her comment was very ignorant, so it didn't bother me. And seriously... how pretty are the sunsets?

Jerry and I were basically kids when we moved in here. We got married in August 2003--I was 21 and Jerry was 22. We lived with my parents until December 2003, when our house was finally ready to move in. At 21 years old, I knew NOTHING about keeping house. (And when I'd chosen to get a manufactured home instead of build, it was just simpler.)

In choosing the layout and materials and all that for the manufactured home, I didn't think to ask about upgrades. I did upgrade the roof pitch (at my cousin's suggestion) so that it was higher and didn't look so much like a trailer. After living here for several years, we started to notice more and more the poor quality of materials that were used.

I've always been very thrifty, as you've probably noticed from my blog. I rarely buy new clothes (I love Salvation Army!), "garage saleing" is a verb in my family, I borrow library books instead of buying books, I buy used furniture, and I'm just generally very aware of costs.

I pick and choose where to spend money--I may only buy used clothes, and I always pick up a penny when I find one on the ground, but I did spend over $200 on a set of Brooklinen bedding. (COMPLETELY worth it! If you want a $25 coupon, you can use this link; it will also give me a $25 coupon for referring you, so you will be my best friend). People choose how to spend their money, buying what is important to them, and I don't judge that at all.

Anyway, we've always wanted to make improvements on the house. There are SO many things I wish we'd have done differently when we moved in, but we were young and stupid, and had no clue what we were doing.

Now, we are seeing all the problems that occur when living in a manufactured home--nothing is standard! The doors, the faucets, window sizes, and even the WALLS are different from a standard stick-built home. So, finding replacement parts through the years has been challenging, to say the least.

As we've been giving our house a makeover recently, we've discovered several things we can do that we didn't think we were able to. Like our bedroom doors, for example. I have always HATED that we have a huge gap underneath the doors--2 inches! (As you can see below, having toddlers meant there was no hope for a sex life, hahaha)

A couple of months ago, I started digging deep into why those gaps are necessary. And you know what? I learned that they aren't! If we have another form of cold air return to the furnace (like any house needs, not just trailers),  then we don't have to have giant gaps under the doors. So, we bought some door slabs from Lowe's to finally hang new bedroom doors (and they were cheap, like $35 a piece!).

And I love them! The doors alone made a huge difference in the overall look. We have a couple more to do (Eli's room needs a new door frame, so that's a bigger project). I really wish I'd done this years ago.

Our house isn't anything amazing or breathtaking or whatever. But it has character. My doctor probably could have diagnosed my bipolar simply by walking through my house, hahaha. I'm a little eclectic and I like color, so my taste is spread throughout ;) But the most important thing is that Jerry and I like it, because we've chosen this to be our home.

That said, we definitely have hideous taste in décor. When I was looking through photos, I couldn't stop cringing! But with the changes we've made over the last five months, I love love love the new look. Whether it's what's "in" or not, we make decisions based on what we like and what is practical for us at the time. Even if we cringe about it later! ;)

And now that we've been making improvements on the inside, changes that make us feel excited about, we are proud to call it our home. Once we are finished with the current renovation, I will post photos to see the whole "after" effect. It's pretty dramatic!


  1. I love seeing your updates. We are not diy people unless we have to be but I thought Of you recently when my husband was sanding and sanding the ceiling after he had to tear out the old one due to earthquake damage. That stuff is tough, I’m so impressed you are taking on these awesome projects!

  2. Love that you are doing things the way that makes you happy!

  3. Screw what anybody else thinks- I love that attitude!! I'm sure your home is lovely. It's great that you can do you 👍

  4. Your house is gorgeous!! I can't wait to see more "after" pics! You've done such an amazing job with this remodel!

  5. My husband had a double wide when we got married. We lived in it for 12 years until we had two kids and just out grew it. It was only 1000 sq ft. We ended up selling it and building a house on the existing lot. You have done a good job with the make overs. I always hated the little strips that held the wall panels up. Did you figure out a way to get rid of those? We now have a double wide as a lake property.

  6. I love reading this! You have a great attitude about your home and that is what makes it so special and why people would love coming over. We live in an old farmhouse that is over 100 yrs old. I understand what you mean about standard anything. there is nothing standard in our home, from doors, to windows, etc. Everything will have to be either special ordered which will be very expensive, or completely remodeled. There is a lot of work that needs to be done and we are slowly working on it, but it is our home and I love it. I can't wait to see your before and after pics.

  7. I think we all cringe when we see old pictures of our homes...or hair styles, or fashions! I love that you do exactly what you want and aren't afraid to tackle anything. What a great lesson you are teaching your boys. I love that you don't worry about what people think....it took me a long time to get there myself. I enjoy your writing style, your funny stories, and how you make me think and laugh! Thanks for sharing with us.

  8. I think your choices are great! What a lot of people don't think about when they choose their McMansions is what it will feel like to live life in debt. You guys have chosen to live within your means and in four years will have paid off your house which is AMAZING. Think about what life will feel like when you have that money every month in your bank account! Jerry can cut back on work or you guys can travel or just sock it away for the future. So liberating!!!

    I think Americans, in general, make really poor choices with their money. I think it is almost always smarter to spend less and save more so you can relax instead of working every minute to pay off your debt.

    Not to say your house isn't nice! It looks great! And the neighborhood sounds amazing.

    I am living in Mexico and for my first year ended up in a more expensive house because i had to pick sight unseen. Next year I am planning/hoping to move into a house that is half as much so that i don't have to stress as much about money. Even if it's not in as nice as a neighborhood (I would rather get a nicer house in a less nice neighborhood than a smaller house in this neighborhood, if I have to choose.)


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

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