DIYstory of my life

We Bought a Condo!

Hi guys!!  Last time I updated you, I mentioned that CB and I were in the process of purchasing a condo.  We closed successfully on June 21st!!!  YaY!!!  Here’s a brief timeline of how it went down:


  • Get preapproved for a mortgage with Quicken.  They weren’t our first choice, but we were having a really difficult time with getting preapproved at local credit unions due to our somewhat unique situation.  Most places didn’t want to deal with us because of CB’s immigration status (re: he’s an immigrant. Yeah, that’s pretty much it.) and because of my work (seasonal, contract).  But Quicken had no problems preapproving us!
  • Did a complete 180 with our desires.  Originally we wanted a shitty little crack house that we could fix up.  However, thinking about how busy we are going to be the next few years with work + school made us reconsider.  We decided we wanted a condo with an HOA that would take care of all the maintenance for us.  Lawn work is for chumps (or people with more time than us!)
  • Get set up with a realtor based out of Clarksville that a friend referred me to.  She completely disregarded all of our wants and sent us listings for shit that made us go, “wtf, did you even listen to us?”  Things we never even considered.  Sometime around mid-April she fired us.  We had a modest budget and she found it to be too limiting.


  • A work friend set us up with a local mortgage broker who was fantastic, as well as an excellent realtor.  This realtor happened to be the manager of the Madison branch of his office, and he never treated us with anything but the utmost respect (despite our small budget).  Seriously, I’m sure he makes a shit ton more than that other lady, and he treated us phenomenally.  I am so glad we were referred to him!
  • Began looking at condos.  The market in Nashville is killer right now.  Things are going under contract within HOURS of being put on the market.  Our realtor was fabulous and repeatedly met with us after work, shortly after finding listings of agreeable places.
  • We bid on 3 condos this month and lost all 3.  :(
    • #1: close to Briley Parkway, 2 bedroom 1.5 baths.  It was our first bid and we weren’t so sure of the market.  We bid asking price, with only contingency being inspection.
    • #2: probably our favorite, on the outskirts of the Percy Priest community, 2 bedroom 1.5 baths.  It was beautiful.  We bid 8k or so over asking, only contingency being inspection.  We found out we were the 2nd choice… the winner paid all cash and like 5k more than us.
    • #3: the largest at 3 bedroom 1.5 bath with a full dining room also.  It was closer to Percy Priest lake and also gorgeous.  We bid 14k over asking, only contingency being inspection.


  • We were getting depressed and began looking at apartments.  The average 1 bedroom is about 1k a month, whereas we were looking at a $500 or so mortgage.  Continued to look halfheartedly at condos, and get more depressed at apartment prices.
  • Spent a Saturday checking out an open house on an actual house, as well as viewing several condos.  Really liked this one.  It was somewhat unusual, with the foyer opening up into the kitchen (I’ve never seen that before!) and the living room in the back.  But it was actually move-in ready (#2 needed a little bit of work; the owner was renovating and stopped before completing.  Nothing major, but still some work).  It had some nice upgrades, like plantation shutters installed over all the windows, a drinking water filtration system, garbage disposal, etc.  It also came with all the appliances (outdated, but still).  We decided to bid far too much over asking.  Like 17.5k over asking.
  • Our realtor came back later that day to inform us (sadly) that there was an issue with the HOA.  Did you know that if more than 15% of the HOA members are delinquent on dues, that most mortgage companies won’t lend on it?  It can impact the insurance/repairs.  Let’s say a tornado decimates the community.  If the HOA is severely delinquent, they can’t afford to fix it.  Our community was 20% delinquent and our local broker would not lend.
  • On a whim, I contacted Quicken.  Would they lend on it?  We were approved for a loan for a 5% downpayment.  Quicken responded and said yes – if we’d put down 10%, they’d take the gamble and lend.  We were able to do so!
  • Me and CB got excited.  Our realtor got excited.  Because this HOA didn’t allow rentals, it was VERY unlikely for there to be a cash offer (what killed us for #1, 2, and 3).  We decided to offer ASKING PRICE and ask for the seller to pay closing costs, gambling that no one else would be able to get a mortgage.  Of course, we were also gambling on the HOA revitalizing by the time we decide to sell in the future.  And as our realtor said, 20% delinquency isn’t anything like 50% — our HOA can still fix catastrophic damage, I just might not be getting new flowers put in my beds this year.
  • Our offer was accepted!!!!  CUE ALL THE CELEBRATIONS!!!!!!!
  • Inspection went very well.  Our home inspector said, “I’ve seen some sketchy places this week.  Yours is the first I would have NO issue moving into.  You’ve found a good one!”  There was a small issue with the HVAC return leaking — we asked the seller to have it repaired and it was!
  • Close date set for June 14th!


  • I took care of all the details like securing insurance.  Most condos don’t have typical homeowner’s insurance.  Ours has what is called “Walls-In,” because we are literally only responsible for the things that only impact our unit, like our HVAC system, plumbing inside our walls, and all of the interior finishings.  Our HOA is responsible for our roof, storage shed, yard, flower beds, etc.
  • I began to get worried because I wasn’t hearing about the appraisal.  My biggest complaint with Quicken was their lack of communication.  Finally I heard that our scheduled appraisal didn’t happen because our appraiser had a family emergency.  They scheduled another appraisal.  It happened 3 days before close.
  • That appraiser demanded a thorough HOA review survey.  This took my HOA week to finish.  Needless to say, we did not close on the 14th and we were very upset.
  • We got the final clear to close that Friday!
  • We met our realtor at the title company early on Tuesday the 21st, signed the papers, handed over a bigass cashier’s check, and got our keys!!


But wait, you may say, “I thought it was move-in ready?”  It was!  However, it was not aesthetically pleasing to us.  I will let the following photos do the talking.

In our subdivision, the condos are townhouses grouped in clumps of 4. We are an end unit all the way to the right. All of the exteriors are earthy brick or pastel “lake house” colors. Ours is a buttery yellow.
The kitchen
Like I said, our front door opens into an entryway that is right next to the kitchen.  Here we’re looking at the front door.  That door to the right is the half bath.  Notice the wallpaper.


It's a good-sized kitchen, but there's not a terrible amount of cabinet storage. Check out that original 1980s dishwasher! Those bifolds are our laundry closet.
It’s a good-sized kitchen, but there’s not a terrible amount of cabinet storage. Check out that original 1980s dishwasher! Those bifolds are our laundry closet.  I think this is the least offensive wallpaper in the house.


The entry hall, looking back at the front door.
The entry hall, looking back at the front door.


Our living room! (from the listing photos). I love that we have a real fireplace! I don't love the pink, flesh-colored walls. Or that fancy brass ceiling fan.
Our living room! (from the listing photos). I love that we have a real fireplace! I don’t love the pink, flesh-colored walls. Or that fancy brass ceiling fan.  Behind those shades are sliding glass doors that lead to our patio.


In this picture, I am at the top of the stairs, looking into the bedroom. Yes. It is peachy-pink, with a wallpaper border. On the plus side, it is huge.
In this picture, I am at the top of the stairs, looking into the bedroom. Yes. It is peachy-pink, with a wallpaper border. On the plus side, it is huge.  This bedroom also faces the rear of the house, and looking out those windows, all you see is woods.


That's my master closet back there to the right, and directly behind me is CB's somewhat smaller closet.
That’s my master closet back there to the right, and directly behind me is CB’s somewhat smaller closet.

he h

This is my mom standing in the bedroom directly across the hall. It's even larger, but lacks the same giant closets. It is covered floor-to-ceiling in a faux sponge paint wallpaper. This bedroom faces the front of the house.
This is my mom standing in the bedroom directly across the hall. It’s even larger, but lacks the same giant closets (behind those bifolds is a long, skinny one). It is covered floor-to-ceiling in a faux sponge paint wallpaper. This bedroom faces the front of the house.


I cringe every time I see this picture. This is our master bath. Godawful floor to ceiling wallpaper. Brass fixtures. Uggggh brass fixtures (sink too).
I cringe every time I see this picture. This is our master bath. Godawful floor to ceiling wallpaper. Brass fixtures. Uggggh brass fixtures (sink too).  And those funky cemented-in towel bars.  At least the tile looks new and is bright and shiny and timeless.


This is our back patio. HOA rules say you cannot own a grill. Looking through the neighborhood, everyone defies that rule. We probably will also. That is our storage shed to the left. It is useful.
This is our back patio. HOA rules say you cannot own a grill. Looking through the neighborhood, everyone defies that rule. We probably will also. That is our storage shed to the left. It is useful.


This is our view from the back door. Woods! These woods back all the way up to the lake! Isn't it lovely?
This is our view from the back door. Woods! These woods back all the way up to the lake! Isn’t it lovely?

We are tackling this in stages.  Here are some things that we have either already done, or plan to do:

Stage One:

  • Remove every last square inch of wallpaper.
  • Repaint all of the rooms in beautiful, soothing, cool colors.  No more warm colors!
  • Replace many of the light fixtures.  We are going full LED.  Those that aren’t replaced outright will get new bulbs.  All of the ceiling fans will either go, or be replaced with more modern ones.
  • Swap out the plumbing fixtures.  The brass upstairs has to go.  Downstairs has a shiny chrome that is more acceptable, but will still be replaced for continuity’s sake (same fixtures upstairs and down).  We also eventually want to change out the kitchen fixtures.
  • All new appliances.  Only keeping the stove (Whirlpool, convection oven, self-cleaning… you can tell it was bought recently).  Sell the old ones on Craigslist.
  • Make it a smart house with the Nest equipment.
  • All new door hardware.  From brass to satin nickel.  All metals will be either black, or satin nickel.

Stage Two:

  • New furniture.  All we kept was my pub table set.  We are living with the couch that the owner left for the meantime (mine were old and ratty, and this one is surprisingly comfortable).  We bought a new, king-sized mattress that is currently on the floor.  Our old queen is in the guest bedroom/gym.  We are currently waiting on our new bed to arrive.  We ordered from IKEA.
  • Install floor-to-ceiling bookcases in master bedroom that wrap halfway around the room.  Make them look like built-ins.  We are also currently waiting on these.
  • Convert coat closet by front door to a small mudroom area.  Remove the doors because they just get in the way.
  • Make closets more functional with closet systems.
  • Insulate/weatherproof the shed.
  • Better insulate the attic.  The entire upstairs is at least 5 degrees warmer at all times.  We haven’t decided yet on whether we’ll blow it in, or put down strips.
  • Pimp out a home gym, complete with power lifting equipment.

Stage Three:

  • Rip out the carpet and install laminate flooring.
  • New bathtub (I dislike this one.  It’s shallow and uncomfortable.  CB is not yet quite on board with this plan, but dammit, I’m hopeful)

Oh, and as for how we’re arranging things… since it’s relatively small, at approximately 1250 sq ft, we have to be very careful and mindful of what we use and storage.  We did some hard negotiating.  So what we came up with is a bit non-traditional, but it’s working for us!!

Kitchen: Stays a kitchen.  It is my favorite room in the house.  It’s almost complete and I love it.

Living Room:  This is our home office.  We are both constantly at our computers, either playing or doing homework (and one of my jobs is at home, on my system).  We don’t own a TV – we stream things on our computers.  So we’ve set up two desks, and kept the current couch.  This is definitely not your typical living room.  Maybe “den” is a better word?

Master Bedroom:  Houses a king-sized bed and my library.  I think this room is going to be gorgeous when it’s done.  Right now it’s a mattress on the floor, lol.  But I can see it coming together!  It’s going to be moody and comforting and romantic.  There won’t be any furniture in there except the giant bed and the massive bookshelves thanks to some smart closet systems.  Well, maybe there’ll be a cat tree.  It’s their home, too.

Second Bedroom:  This is our gym.  We’re setting it up with a power rack and full Olympic lifting equipment.  My bike is currently housed there because our shed is stuffed, and I may set it up on a trainer for the winter.  Our queen-sized bed is also in there, so this is also kind of a guest room.  But that’s definitely its secondary function.

And here is the paint palette we have decided on:

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Sherwin-Williams:  Essential Gray, Pewter Cast, Peppercorn, Tranquil Aqua, and Revel Blue.

We used Essential Gray, Pewter Cast, and Tranquil Aqua in the basement.  Peppercorn and Revel Blue were new picks to us and WE LOVE THEM!!  I’m so excited by our entire paint palette; everything looks so lovely!

So basically, everything has been wonderful.  It’s so incredible to have a space that we own.  So far our HOA has been doing a good job maintaining the exterior.  Our neighbors are exceedingly quiet (although we did get a really good neighborhood 4th of July show).  The neighborhood itself is great; super safe with kids playing.  I enjoy the location near the lake – I’m 20 minutes from work, 25 minutes from school, and far enough removed from downtown Metro Nashville that I don’t feel like I’m in the big city.

I hope you guys don’t mind me diverging from my typical food-related posts to present home diy things.  Don’t worry: more keto content will be coming.  Now that we’ve moved, I’ve literally cooked every meal but one (hit up B-Dubs for some .50c wings last Tuesday), and have been solidly keto again.  And there is this glorious little grocery store a few blocks away that has magnificent meats.  Don’t worry, recipes are coming!



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  1. Congratulations!! That peach paint/wallpaper.. really is.. special.. lol when was this place built..? It looks like the 70s or something o.o

    Seems like lots of house markets are just silly at the moment. Tom and I are in the process of buying a house as well! I can’t believe how quickly things are selling. Our first bid we bid under asking because that was what it had been a few months ago and we would have gotten it if wasn’t during 4th of July weekend.. literally the morning that the sellers got back from vacation someone else bid asking price with NO contingencies (no home inspection – nothing!).. like how can you compete with that lol

    Second time, the house was listed like 20k higher than everything similar in the area and the sellers refused to go any lower. Our realtor suggested we not go any further on that property as we didn’t really love it.. and she said that everything would be fine until the bank went to appraise it and it didn’t appraise to the selling price and then we would either have to come up with the cash to cover the difference or just drop out and by then have lost like 3 weeks. lol

    Third time.. a bit over our budget but we LOVE it and its in the perfect location.. our offer has been accepted we’re just waiting for all the mortgage stuff to be finalized and the home inspection tomorrow!!

    Can’t wait to see pictures of your place as you update it! (I’m definitely a sucker for home improvement shows.. and I loved watching your old place come together lol)

    1. OMG!! I’m so happy for you and Tom!!! :D :D :D

      There’s no way you can’t compete with no home inspection. I would NEVER buy a place without one. We got really lucky with ours, but it’s so common for the inspection to turn up hidden shit. I’m glad you guys got your dream house and that you’re getting an inspection!!! Let me know how it goes!! Give me some details on the house! Where did you guys settle? How many beds/baths? Will you share pictures (at least on fb?!)?!

      all of us Unpossible raiders are growing up!!!

      1. Hahaha oh the 80s lol Ugh like looking back.. what were these people thinking with their decorations! My parents bought a “vacation” place that was build in 1955 I think and OMG! The carpet in most of the house is like a grass green except one bedroom is bright red lol and then all the kitchen cabinets are the peach of your walls!

        I knowww, it’s so crazy how more adult we all are now XD

        Once we’ve closed and it’s officially ours I will totally post stuff on facebook! It’s in Columbus, OH, 3 bed 2.5 bath and we’re definitely going to like build ramps and everything on the wall/ceilings for our cats lol

  2. I’m absolutely thrilled for you! To have an END unit, backed by WOODS leading to a LAKE – OMG, it just doesn’t get any better than that. After all your frustration, you’ve really landed on your happy feet.

    I hope you’ll have tall cat trees up and down by windows as you know full well cats love to peer about from high up. My crew has never touched my furniture thanks to them and strategically placed scratching posts of all types. But you know all that, no sense chewing my cabbage twice.

    Meanwhile, I have severe kitchen envy (not to mention woods and lake envy) because it’s possibly the most important room in the house. Love your idea of the ceiling to floor bookcases that’ll look like built-ins (painted the same as the walls, then?) I also love your paint colours.

    Amherstburg, Ontario, where I live, is going through the same nutso real estate experience. I could get a small fortune for my small raised ranch, but would have to PAY a small fortune for a one-level home, probably my final move as I’m ageing, damn it (I know, beats the alternative). “Small fortune” is comparative, of course – homes are a great bargain here in Canada’s “banana belt”, with my home appraised at $250K for a 3-bedroom with 50 x 150 foot lot, double attached garage, immaculate gardens with mature trees and raised beds, a discrete attached chain link 26 foot cat run accessible from the lower level window, new 50 year roof in 2105, new air conditioner in 2016, new furnace in 2014, tankless hot water heater in 2015, fully finished lower level with fireplace and jacuzzi tub in the 2nd full bath – and radon remediation built in. I’m techno-stupid or would forward pix to give you an idea. My home is near a nicely equipped little “park” with play equipment for kids, surrounded by open farm fields – but it won’t last forever as subdivisions like the one I’m in are being built. No woods. No lake. It’s less than a quarter mile from the Detroit River our countries share, but our main road borders it so it’s not really accessible to the public at that point. So all things considered, I’m jumping up and down with joy for you – many you have many, many years of peace and pleasure! And thank you so much for sharing! I can’t wait to see your next installment…

    1. Thank you for taking the time to stop and comment!!

      We definitely have a cat tree in our bedroom facing the woods. Oddly enough they don’t seem to rest on that one that much. They usually just climb in bed with us, lol. I typically wake up every morning with the 3 boys piled on top of me! I have my second cat tree downstairs in the office, pushed up against the kitchen wall. That’s the one they usually sit on… I guess because they can keep an eye on us. All of our window sills are wide, so they also enjoy laying on the sills, or in front of the patio doors. They are acclimating nicely!!

      Lord, housing in Ontario is expensive!! When we lived in Thunder Bay, we paid like $700/mo for a little basement hovel. Pricing in Toronto is ungodly! It sounds like you have a gem of a house that’s worth a fortune. Do they have senior living communities up there? Here it’s fairly popular. They’re like communities of condos or apartments of older folks with a lot of amenities, maid services, all maintenance taken care of, health care on call, with options like a dining hall if you don’t want to cook, all one level with universal design (levels for handles, grip bars in no-step showers, etc). Not to be confused with nursing homes, but independent living communities created for the older folks. My friend’s grandmother lives in one and it’s so lovely – we’ve stayed the night there before, a spacious 2 bedroom, and lounged about in the pool all day. I think when I get older, that’s what I’ll look into!

      Your house sounds beautiful, though, I don’t think I’d want to leave it! I’m especially jealous of your “catio.” I really want to install one for my kitties, but it wouldn’t be very big… just out onto our concrete slab patio… and HOA might not allow it, unfortunately.

      My built-ins are going to be a bright glossy white. The color we put in the bedroom is Peppercorn and I love it – it reads almost black. And our bed is an espresso finish. So the white shelves should really brighten the place up! I’ll try to get some kitchen pix put up soon. It’s the room nearest completion, but it’s also the one that we keep setting up our temporary work space in because the tile floors and big sink make for easy clean up of DIY projects!

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