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  • Writer's pictureMatt Keyser

Call us Chip and Jo, Cause We Just Bought a Fixer Upper

How I thought I would feel buying a fixer upper...

...I was wrong.


It’s 4:23 in the afternoon on Jan. 8 and I’m lying on the dusty, cold floors of my new house staring at a rusty, water-stained oval on the ceiling. The living room fan is blowing dust-filled spider webs along the walls.

I’m feeling … overwhelmed.

Two weeks ago, my wife, Elissa, and I closed on our new house: a one-story, three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom stucco home in a neighborhood we fell in love with the moment we first drove through.

It sits nestled next to a state park. Deers graze the front lawns. The nights are quiet and the stars are bright. It’s got a country-living feel mere miles away from the city.

But the house on the other hand…

It’s a 2,200-square-foot mess that hasn’t been properly cleaned in years, nor maintained, and is hideously designed and decorated.

The narrow kitchen features blue granite countertops with a multi-colored tile of red and black and yellow and blue.

A hideous kitchen with blue countertops and a red-, yellow-, blue-, and black-tiled floor. Gross.
Seriously, what is this?

The natural light—or lack thereof—is made worse by the purple, blue, dark red, piss yellow, and black walls.

I spent the afternoon removing dozens of nails from those walls. On multiple occasions as I went to pull out a nail, I discovered that it wasn’t a nail head but a dead fly carcass clinging to a disturbingly long spider web hanging from the ceiling.

Speaking of, spider webs are in abundance in the house, and not just in the low-trafficked areas, say, like, the corners of a closet. They fill the walls of the laundry room and hang from the ceilings in the living room.

There are layers of dust caked on the baseboards and the light fixtures in the bathrooms.

The previous homeowners also didn’t have the common decency to fully clear out their shit. We are left with years’ worth of junk that fill the garage attic—faux wood plantation shutters that were never used, random metal and plastic pipes, bins of nails, and random car supplies.

So. Much. Junk.

Behind a backyard shed is a single large tractor tire (wtf??!), three empty glass tanks, a large roofing fan, and random pieces of junk wood and tile.

Don’t even get me started on the weed- and leave-filled yard. UGH.

Before you ask: Yes, the previous owners lived in the house at the time we bought it. And yes, they had ample time to clean everything out.

So, what the hell?

We have our visions for what the house can be, of course. Rather, I should say, Elissa has a great vision for what this hellscape can turn into. We’re going to rip out all of the floors and dirt-filled baseboards. The hideous kitchen is gonna be torn down to the studs and rebuilt—along with the god-awful tile. We’re going to repaint the dark walls and brighten up the place. The garage attic will eventually turn into a media room with a half bath (slash semi-man cave?).

Above all, we’re going to give the house the love it’s deserved for all of these years.

But as I lie on the living room floor staring aimlessly at the ceiling fan spinning overhead, none of that crosses my mind.

All I can think of is: What the fuck did we get ourselves into?

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