My Home Story: How We Flipped Our House

This article is brought to you by HGTV’s Flipping the Block

Gather around and pull up your carpet square because it’s story time at Home Stories A to Z!  It has been years since I have told the story of how we flipped our house, and it is definitely worth retelling! Back in 2008, my husband accepted a job in the area. We had less than 3 months to sell our home located outside of West Philadelphia and find a new home in Central Pennsylvania. We searched the available homes within our price range, and I disliked them all. It didn’t help that the home I was selling was over 100 years old with heart-pine wood floors, original millwork, exposed brick, and tender memories of our early years of marriage. How could I possibly find a home that I loved just as much? Lucky for me, we discovered that some college acquaintances had begun a home flipping business in the city we were moving to. We checked out their work, and I fell in love! All of the beautiful front porches, pocket doors, columns, corbels, stained glass windows, turrets, and slate shingles had my heart racing! It felt like home.

city row home porch

However, when I looked around our immediate neighborhood I was a bit scared. Our home had sat abandoned for 30 yrs and was the product of flood damage. Over the years, it had been used for all sorts of sordid activities. Veteran neighbors’ let us know that our house was “the worst on the block” and “the one the children were never to go by”. Can you hear the pride in my voice? And our home’s twin wasn’t much better. It also lay abandoned, smelled horrible, and was disgusting to look at. To top it off, over eight other homes on our block were (at the time) rundown and vacant. So why on EARTH would we want to move here?

Because I had caught the vision! I saw what my friends were trying to do, and I wanted to join in. There is something magical about tackling a hopeless situation and creating something redeemed in it’s place. That curbside coffee table, that 1970′s tchotchke, that outdated wingback upholstery all hold the same potential for redemption. I think this is why we are all so attracted to before and after pictures! We love to see people create beauty out of chaos and unveil the mystery of how they did it. And when I looked at my surrounding neighborhood, I saw the potential to do just that. I saw the potential to redeem a community.

DIY oversized letter with succulents
We took a leap of faith and put a contract on a completely gutted shell-of-a-home. When we signed the contract, our house had no walls, no real stairs, no windows, no nothing inside. I was so sad to realize that none of the historic interior elements of our home could be saved, but it was either buy this house and customize, or buy one which had been already completed for us. I knew I would be happier with a blank slate! My friends allowed me to make every design decision along the way. I designed the floor plan. I picked out every fixture, every piece of hardware, every door knob. I was completely in my element.
exterior rowhome
Three months later, our house was finished and my friends were thrilled with the outcome. So thrilled in fact that they hired me to help spread beauty throughout our neighborhood. I first began helping with our home’s twin (you can see the full transformation of that home with befores and afters here). And then I cast a vision for these Victorian beauties on the corner….
victorian twin rowhouse
One project led to another, and I was designing kitchens and picking out paint colors for several other other homes in the neighborhood! Today our neighborhood is filled with shiny happy houses and has transformed into a much healthier and safer place to live.

Falling in love with my house had everything to do with falling in love with a dream—a dream of a better life for an entire community. My neighborhood has been a Cinderella Story in the making, and I have been honored to play a small part. I believe that any home story that includes creating beauty out of chaos, and style out of scraps is a story worth retelling.

This article is brought to you by HGTV’s Flipping the Block – airs Sundays at 9/8c on HGTV.

Four teams, four run-down condos, one winner. Host Josh Temple will lead you through the action as the teams compete to completely remodel a condo before selling it at auction. The team with the highest sale price wins the $50,000 prize. Watch as some of the country’s most talented handymen and handywomen test their skills each week through a series of challenges, ranging from repair work to full construction builds.

Comments

    • Beth says

      Thanks Richella! I can’t really take much credit at all for the changes in our neighborhood. There are some amazing “house flippers” that have completely transformed our area, but it’s definitely been fun to play a very small part.

  1. says

    What a great story and I’m so glad homes like that are being saved instead of demolished. To paraphrase Linus from a Charlie Brown Christmas…”I never thought it was such a bad little tree (house), maybe all it needs is a little love!” :)

  2. says

    Great post! I am addicted to HGTV and all things DIY. I agree with Richella – HGTV should do an episode on your home renovation journey. I absolutely love your front porch!