2017 in Review

January 4, 2018

This has been a crazy year! One year ago today we were just moving out of cabin #2 to renovate the lower half of a duplex that we owned and waiting to hear back on an offer on our (now) home.

I’ll rewind to right before we moved back to the city. Last year we bought a second cabin (in addition to our first little cabin) to temporarily live in and renovate to eventually rent out on VRBO/Airbnb. We bought cabin 2 partially because cabin 1 was doing well, and partially in hopes that we could delay buying in the cities until the housing market cooled off.

Well, the housing market did not cool off but we managed to find a foreclosure that would work for us, after a ton of renovating. We put in an offer and had to painstakingly wait over christmas to hear back. Just after Christmas we heard that we got the place! This meant we would soon have 3 renovations on our plate (finishing the cabin, lower duplex unit, and our new home.)

the new “for now” house (pre-exterior reno)

Starting the new year, we packed up a lot of our personal items from the cabin to make room to renovate, and Eric temporarily put his online business on hold. I was working as an independent contractor for an awesome web design company and was also dabbling in a couple of start up companies, which meant for some very long work days. The cabin was almost done being renovated, except the basement. We got to work and turned the lower level of cabin 2 into a game room for guests. We finished in just a few weeks, listed the cabin for vacation rental, and moved into the lower duplex unit back in the city.

When we moved into the duplex it was completely torn apart. We literally had one back bedroom with a mattress and some blankets and pillows and the rest was a disaster. For awhile we had no toilet….. I won’t go into detail on that. We did our first DIY floor refinishing on 100 year old maple floors, which was one of the most exhausting experiences of my life. We gutted the entire unit and installed a brand new kitchen and bathroom. The good news is we got awesome tenants into the unit and it looks sooooo so much better. I feel great about it and I know it will last for a long time.


Then came our home. We closed late January, and got to work a few weeks later. We painted the whole interior and refinished the floors before moving in. Where was all of our stuff during this? Well, we rented a storage unit for a couple months. Not long after moving in we started on the guest bath renovation, which went fairly smooth. A couple months went by, as we settled back into life and did our jobs/start-ups. Come May, we got antsy/sick of looking at the nasty kitchen and ripped apart the main living space and kitchen. Our house was a great space, but the kitchen was just awkward and we couldn’t make it work with the layout, so we ended up completely flipping the dining room with the kitchen. We re-layed the subfloor so the tile would be flush with the hardwood, rewired everything, drywalled, tiled the floor and assembled and installed all the cabinets. I almost forgot, we decided the main living space felt small so we took out 3 walls, added 3 skylights and a sliding glass door.


Other updates we have made:

painted the entire exterior

refaced the pool 

Side note – We are still working on the basement of our house, but someday we will have a finished home. For now, there’s just two of us and a couple of pups, and we are content. After the pool reno, we were getting a little burnt out. We took a break to go relax at cabin 1, and happened to notice a vacant lot down our road for sale. Our road, so far, is totally private and we are the only cabin. With our cabin business partner (shout out to David, the most awesome, hardworking, trustworthy business partner ever) we walked down the street to check it out. We all agreed it would be a stellar spot for another cabin rental. Each of us came up with a portion of the down payment and wrote the offer a few days later. We got the lot, and plan to build sometime in 2018. Do we know how to build a cabin? Nope, but we will figure it out!

After the kitchen reno we told ourselves we’d slow down and focus on our wedding plans and our jobs. As the wedding planning, startup work and contractor job became too much, I almost lost my mind. After a mental breakdown of sorts, my husband and I decided something had to give. I loved doing home renovations and believed in the mission and plan of the startup, so I took a huge leap and quit my main contractor job/source of income.

Soon after, I was blind-sided by my business partner. I felt slighted, used, and deeply hurt. After a lot of time to process, I realized that all I had done for the last year+ was let myself get taken advantage of to help other people build their dreams. With a years work down the drain and having quit my “day job,” I was left with a lot more time on my hands, not enough income, and a lot of determination. This experience gave me a unique perspective on the other start up I was part of. This time, I felt that someone else was being cut out unfairly (not me this time) and I just couldn’t let that happen without saying something. In the end, peacefully and with mutual respect, I left the other startup as well.

I realized it was time to do what was best for me and my husband, and with his permission I took the opportunity to wrap up my real estate licensing. *very important side note – I also took some of this time to spend with my amazing/incredibly adorable baby niece who was born in January. One day into placing my license with a brokerage, Eric and I decided to set up some showings and tour some houses for fun/market research. After a seriously frightening encounter with a tenant who threatened me and ripped a key out of my hand (happy first day as a realtor!) we stumbled on a super solid duplex in our ideal area. We were not at all looking to buy, but we both knew it was too good to pass up. Later that day I stumbled through my first offer and confirmed the details with my husband, who happened to be off to his bachelor party (half in-the-bag at the time, and truly difficult to communicate serious topics to, LOL.) After a few calls to the listing agent and some negotiating we got the place and closed on my birthday in October.

A few weeks later we were off to get married in Carlsbad, CA. It was the most awesome/stressful/beautiful/love-filled weekend and we will never forget it. Sharing that weekend with everyone that we loved could not have meant more to us. I would not wish wedding planning upon anyone, but it was all worth it. Post wedding we got to celebrate some of our best friends’ wedding back in the midwest, and then headed off on our honeymoon to beautiful New Zealand.

We got back from the honeymoon both ready to work and got moving on the new duplex. We sanded the floors, tiled the shower, painted the whole unit, removed the popcorn ceilings and fixed drywall/plaster and rewired the whole unit. Still to come: bathroom floors and kitchen install. Early 2018 will bring a freshly renovated unit, and we will start on the downstairs unit soon! Right before the end of the year, I also started working on my contractor’s license, so we can legally renovate other people’s homes. Hoping to wrap that up in the next few months!

As I wrote all of this I somehow forgot to mention the 6 amazing foster pups we had the honor of hosting this year and helping to find furrever homes. I am confident that saving puppies is my life’s mission but also know I have bills and such and have to be an adult so I will keep renovating homes (which I absolutely love, but not nearly as much as puppies…duh) in hopes that someday I can start a dog shelter.

current foster pup zula

I’m feeling this quote so much right now “What’s coming is better than what is gone.” Knowing that all these major moves this past year have ended with us in a happier and exciting place and we can’t wait for what is to come.

Takeaways from 2017:

  • Save all the puppies
  • Make the time for family and friends
  • Stick up for yourself
  • You can’t do all the things, so work smarter not harder
  • Think ahead instead of drowning in all the tasks or you will keep drowning in all the tasks

Sending much love,

Steph, Eric, Zeek, Roscoe and Zula (current foster pup)

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