A dream yard, by Sunset

A dream yard, by Sunset

One of the challenges my husband and I face when looking at our budget to buy a house is the “fixer-upper” status of the homes in our price range. Our price range is based between a 2.5 to 3 times our income calculation that puts us in the ranges of $250,000 to $300,000 comfortably. Living in Southern California, this price range will get us a smallish-sized fixer upper in an okay neighborhood. With that said, viewing homes within this price range is very discouraging. Imagining them “fixed up” is difficult, if not impossible since we’ve never owned our own home. One place where I acquire some terrific ideas is Sunset Magazine. A lot of my ideas come from here, and they aren’t a sponsored link or anything, I swear!

Here are just a few examples of fabulous fixer-upper ideas:

  • Losing the lawn. I’ve written a post about this before and Sunset Magazine has a variety of ideas on what to plant instead of a lawn to minimize water usage. They also show the difference between a boring green expanse of lawn and a colorful variety of textures and heights using drought tolerant plants.
  • What to do once you’ve lost that lawn. In the Phoenix -metro area of Arizona, many homes have replaced their lawns with gravel. Not a luscious landscape to gaze upon. Sunset Magazine shows what you can do instead of just throwing down the gravel. Mix it up a bit with large pavers and drought tolerant plants.
  • Extending the porch. I’m lucky to live in a temperate climate. Most of the year I can hang outdoors on my patio and enjoy a brewsky. Sunset shows how to take a small porch and turn it into living space incorporating a living area and outdoor fireplace.
  • Teeny -Tiny lawn ideas. There is always the possibility of my husband and I purchasing a tiny home on a tiny piece of property. Expanding the overhang of a porch, adding the right plants in the right place can make a small yard seem like a haven.
  • Private front lawns. We have been having a problem lately with a particular neighbor coming over almost everyday. We are just too nice to tell him to get lost. Sometimes, making your front lawn unapproachable is the best option. Sunset has creative ideas for that as well, like adding multiple walls covered in foliage making the home less approachable by strangers.
  • Deep-set lawns. A huge yard is great, but if you’re not sure what to do with all that space it can be problematic. Creatively using the space wisely is important, some ideas include adding overhangs, patio areas, and garden areas to make it a functional yard like the photo in this post.

These are just a few ideas I gleaned from their before and after yard make-overs.  Here is the link to their entire slide show. Of course, purchasing a fixer-upper and turning it into a gem takes a lot of hard work and elbow grease,…..oh yeah, and money. Yet, these inspiring photos make me think twice about the whole “fixer upper” aspect of purchasing a home.

Have you turned a house into a home? How long did it take you to create your “dream home”? Did you have to refinance or take out a HELOC to do it? What advice would you give someone thinking of purchasing a “fixer upper”?