Our biggest financial mistake

While I can budget and design myself out of seemingly any situation, ten years ago I made a stupid, stupid financial decision.  I purchased a house in 2006. For some of you, that's enough said. If you don't know what that means, here is a little more detail:  I was a soon-to-graduate college student at LSU looking to purchase a house in Mobile that I could renovate with cosmetic fixes...AKA flip.  With a job offer but no pay stubs to prove anything, the mortgage company approved me for a 250k loan.  Even I knew that was too much of a payment for me to make on my entry salary so I decided to find a house for half that price (after all, I am a budget shopper, remember?).  I ended up purchasing a 1964 ranch style home on .5 acre complete with original blue and green carpet, gold countertops, and pink bathroom tile.

It was a nightmare but all I could see was potential. My future husband and I ripped out carpet, laid hardwood floors, covered the counters with new laminate, and sprayed fresh white paint over the pink tile and tub. I designed a fresh landscape plan and installed some major curb appeal as seen in the photo above.

In the meantime we got married and had our first child.  I styled the house and we listed the house for sale and purchased a SECOND home - our lovely cottage that we still live in now - and hoped and prayed the first house would sell during the worst housing market crash in recent history.  Unsurprisingly, it didn't sell.

We made the decision to rent the house out just to cover the payments and upkeep while still maintaining hope that someone would want to buy it eventually. We owner financed it for two years (that fell through), and rented it to another family for five more years.  The house sits empty again, and for comparison, this is what it looked like when we pulled up to the house after ten years away.

This is our personal lemon that we've been dealing with for TEN YEARS.  It probably seems silly if you haven't experienced this, but it's been an ongoing stressful situation. For the first couple of days after the last renters moved out, I just sat and cried.  We thought about moving back into that first house and selling our precious midtown cottage. We've considered renting it out again, and even considered things like walking away and just letting it ruin our credit. Instead, though, we've decided to make Lemonade from our big, fat, 10 year old lemon. I'm putting on my big girl pants and digging in once again. After all, along with ten years of improving housing market and economy, we now have a decade of design and construction expertise under our belts.

The biggest change will be the kitchen.  Can you spot all the changes so far?

The biggest change will be the kitchen.  Can you spot all the changes so far?

I say curb appeal sells houses, and I preach design on a budget.  Well, friends, it's time for me to stop talking and start doing. We're getting back into our first home, renovating, and putting her back on the market. You're all caught up on the before photos and moving forward I'll be showing you the entire process including money saving design tips and DIY tricks of the trade. The updates will be here in your email inbox as well as on the blog  (www.catherinearensberg.com) but I'm updating via Instagram Stories (@CatherineArensberg) if you want to see several updates a day as we work to complete the project. I think you're going to love the transformation and with any luck I can come back in a few weeks or months and tell you it sold.  And if it doesn't, I'll have a whole lot of lemonade to share.