We Bought a House with 'Potential'

It's always been my goal to incorporate into my blog all of what 'garden inspired living' has to offer, but renting an apartment has made it difficult to share all of the DIY, cooking, gardening and decor projects that my little heart desires. We needed room to grow, room to plant more food and more creative. Well, last weekend we closed on our first house; a short sale in the suburbs that just needed just a little TLC to reach its full potential.

This is what 'potential' looks like!
Now, a seasoned homeowner would sigh with pity at my mentions of 'short sale', 'TLC' and 'potential', but sometimes even the most beautiful homes start out as nothing more than filthy dumps... and I won't deny that ours fits the bill. First off, without going into too much detail, it must be said that buying a short sale was probably the most stressful experience of our lives and that we'd never do it again under any circumstance. Finding a decent house in this market was next to impossible, and even though our short sale was faster than most, we still spent a couple of months with absolutely no control over the situation.

As soon as I replace the fence and rip out the grass, this will be an herb garden.
My future gardens are now covered with roofing nails, garbage and rusty garden tools hidden within waist-high grass, but at least that's just outside. The stench nearly knocked us off of our feet when we opened the front door for one of our walkthroughs, because the power had been turned off and the previous tenants left the fridge door wide open so that flies and their maggots could help themselves to the rotting food. "At least they found the house's hidden potential" I thought, trying not to retch at the smell. We had a new roof installed to replace the leaky one, but as I ripped out rotting baseboards in search of that elusive potential, all I found was mildew.

Slowly chipping away at the front yard garden!
One week after closing, however, the house almost looks as good as new. My generous mother-in-law spent the last week expertly painting the walls an 'Earthy Mushroom Taupe' while I scrubbed the blackened and stinky grout lines of our floor-to-floor tile with a glorified toothbrush. I planted a foundation planting of 'Little John' azaleas, matchstick bromeliads and silver Mediterranean fan palms, and daydreamed about all of the things I could do with our modest backyard. I loved living at our apartment complex, but standing out on my own front porch and watching the world go by is an experience that I never would have understood before. When I called the HOA to ask about gardening restrictions, my heart must have skipped a beat when I heard "You can do pretty much anything you want, as long as you keep it neat."

All in all, we lucked out. We got an affordable home with no serious problems, and our real estate agent had the patience and integrity we needed to move forward with the sale. However grungy the house looked a few weeks ago, it's now almost as good as new and ready for all of the fun projects we have in mind; whether it's a backyard veggie garden, a cottage-style kitchen, a citrus hedge, new trim, a Florida native garden, a cheery art studio, or hummingbird and butterfly gardens outside our kitchen windows. I'll still maintain the gardens at the apartment complex every weekend, but there's something to be said for having total creative reign. We're going to have a lot of fun.


  1. CONGRATULATIONS! There is such JOY and EXCITEMENT in owning your own home, even after a lot of years. :-)

    Enjoy and have fun and post pictures, lots of pictures.


  2. Congratulations on getting your new home. It sounds as if you've been working hard to set the place up, and now you can really enjoy making it your own little corner of paradise.

  3. Congrats! Youngest son has just bought a house like that.I have been recruited to help with the garden.....At least the weather will be cooler.....

  4. Congratulations, having done the same last year, I know how stressful it is and the joy of being in the house. Sadly ours needs a lot of building work ( we knew before we moved in) so we can't start the garden until the builders have finished trashing it. But it has given us time to get used to the space, the lights and sun helping me thing of ideas.

  5. Congrats on your new home. I can't wait to see how it evolves. I know your yard is going to be gorgeous!

  6. You are going to have some great stories to tell about your house "with potential" once you're settled in and things are the gorgeous of your imagination. Congratulations!

  7. Congratulations, looking forward to how it all develops

  8. Happy for you both : ) ah youth...work, work, work : )
    projects, projects, projects....enjoy ! : )
    The so/far plantings look nice : )

  9. Good luck, its going to be great seeing how it develops!

  10. I bet you will have great fun with all that space


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