When previous homeowners find your home reno blog

Guest post by Tabatha Muntzinger
Fuck you & your blog poster KritikalGraphics

When we bought our home in 2007, we were just two kids right out of college, getting married in a year, and unknowingly on the brink of parenthood. We just liked that the house was (a) old, (b) downtown, and (c) needed a crap ton of what we assumed was cosmetic work done on it. It had great bones, as they say, and many of the major elements like the roof and windows had been replaced recently. We figured we’d revamp the place, live there for a little while, then resell it when our careers and our family would lead us to bigger and better things.

Until we started actually working on our house, and what we thought would be just a few coats of paint and some decorative trim ended up being epic bouts of knocking down rotten plaster, rewiring dangerous junction boxes, and a whole lot of cursing not completely under our breaths.

Two years in, I started a home reno blog about our adventures in attempting to essentially flip our home in a failing housing market, and I was not shy in airing my frustrations with the previous homeowners and how they had gone about “caring” for the house we now called home.

My kitchen before and after.

Three years later, our little house blog has slowly gained a small following, and I’ve managed to net a couple of paying blogging gigs thanks to my effort both in our renovations and in my chronicling of them. Then, one day, an email appeared with the simple subject of “house blog.” I opened it, expecting one of the normal blog-related emails I receive, but it was a personal letter from a family member of the previous homeowners.

It began pleasantly enough, but quickly turned and became a verbal lashing concerning the way I’d expressed my angst with the previous homeowners — I was accused of being disrespectful and rude and was chided for not respecting the history that came with this house and the people who lived several lifetimes here. Shocked, I sent the email on to a couple of good friends for perspective.

A friend of mine who had recently moved assured me that I was perfectly within my right to complain about the previous homeowners, because every previous homeowner does something that the next one will hate. And I know I’m not exempt from that — it’ll take a special person to love my black master suite, for example. And the next people who own this home will find faults with how we did things and the choices we made. That comes with homeownership, especially in old houses — you have to deal with what’s been given to you, and you just have to hope the damage isn’t too deep.

After some time of walking on eggshells every time I posted something new, I realized that while the previous owners felt they had to defend their family’s honor, I still felt I had every right to vent my frustration with what was now my home. It wasn’t about decor choices or the pros and cons of our neighborhood — it came down to the fact that when this house was sold to us, so was their right to control the image of it and its inhabitants.

Since then, I’ve been slightly more judicious in how I talk about the “before” portions of the house and my presumptions about the people who lived here before us. On the other hand, I’m not going to let the fear of “what people may think” keep me from my honest emotions.

Learn a lesson from me, Homies — write about your homes, your pads, and your yurts with reckless abandon. But, remember, the internet can be like a small town, so brace yourself for when the previous occupants find your blog and hate you a little for it.

Has anyone else experienced this either on the internet or in real life? How did YOU handle the unhappy previous home owners?

Comments on When previous homeowners find your home reno blog

  1. Honestly, who cares? They are being waaaaay too sensitive. I understand they lived there, but they sold it and it’s not their home anymore. I love my house, but if I sold it tomorrow and someone completely redid everything inside, it wouldn’t bother me. It’s not like I’d be moving back in. Everyone has their own sense of style.

    That black bedroom is fabulous, by the way. I’ve been debating painting my bedroom again, and slate/black is definitely where I’m leaning.

  2. This is so awesome. I might start looking up my old places to see if anyone has renovated them in an awesome way!

  3. It restores the home to its actual style, incorporating contemporary look which could range from anywhere between simple wall papering to removing, moving or adding walls in order to enlarge rooms.

  4. I’m happy I came across this article because it addressed many things I’m feeling as a first-time home owner with a renovated trailer. The trailer we got is actually my husband’s first cousin’s and his wife’s. My husband’s aunt and uncle “renovated” the place from the ground up with repairs (the trailer is a 1993 Destiny Omni). The floors I’m having to cover up with rugs because they look horrible with the laminate “wood” floors peeling up and having tons of weird spaces between them. The lights were original and came with the trailer..plastic POS’s that thankfully fell and “shattered” when we had it moved. The countertops still had a plastic laminate that was tan with pink stripes.. the doors look like they came from the 70’s.. the door handles lead me to get locked in the bathroom because the plastic broke in my hands. Yes plastic door knobs. The entire place was painted in pastel pink and a weird yellow color as well.

    I wanted to do “before and after” pictures. His mom wanted me to.. but as we all sat around one night, seeing as it was her sister and husband who did all the work to it, I felt I shouldn’t. Not just because I would feel wary if someone did that to me.. but I could imagine posting it on facebook and my friends and other family bash the previous owners for the job they did. I watched all my postings anyway about complaining about how it looked. I kept a lot to myself and it has paid off tremendously. The master bedroom, laundry room and bathroom are painted purple with white accents, while the kitchen is teal and black combo that balances out well, and the living room and dinning room went awesome with the teal continuing on the top half, separated by some moulding we got from lowes, then a beautiful dovetail gray at the bottom. We also did little renovations here and there, like adding a shelving component to replace the oddly placed bar in the kitchen, etc. Everyone who has seen us nearly done has said we have done a way better job than the family members before us, even under their breath say it turned out awesome.

    So my problem really was not offending the previous owners/renovators because there was NO WAY to avoid contact with them. This article really reinforces that even though we did a lot to renovate and paint the place…our mantra was that whatever we did works for “us” and whatever they did worked for “them”. When sold or given any gift, it still does matter what you do with it. Glad someone addressed something as odd of a situation as this. It does happen and is relevant today!

  5. Just from the picture of your kitchen, I can imagine that your whole house is fun and bright with vibrant colors! I think your story makes a great point about what you post on the internet in general. You should be able to speak your mind, but always be careful how you say it. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Me and my husband were kids when we bought our first apartment , too. Later we realized it was stupid decision. But you know … good experience comes with bad decisions. Best regards!

  7. Hi Tabatha,

    just wanted to let you know, i DO love your black master suite 🙂 I work for a stairs manufacturer myself, and love the different and personal approaches people have towards redecorating. Thanks for your nice post !

  8. Get the carpets cleaned before you move all your stuff in. The house we bought had been on the market for awhile and it was kind of gross to see the color change of the carpet before and after the cleaning lol. I also recommend if your house has a deck or anything that needs refinishing you do it before you start accumulating stuff on it.

    One thing I wish we had done before moving in is refinishing the garage floor. The guy before us didn’t do a very good job of maintaining the garage and my husband wants to put down an epoxy finish. But now we have stuff and cars in the garage and it’ll be a much bigger pain than if we had just done it before moving in.

    Another recommendation is to see if the previous owners left anything in the attic. We found all sorts of random stuff up there when getting ready to move our holiday bins into the attic. Ended up having to make a trip to Goodwill before we could really move anything in there.

    Also, if anyone here plan on doing any sort of landscaping or fence building, go ahead and call the utility companies to have the lines marked on your property. Last thing you want to do is accidentally hit a water line or something and have to pay to fix it.

  9. I sometimes think what previous owners of our house would think about what we’ve done with it. I know I’ve blown some steam with old decoration and how some things were done (basic upkeep was neglected). There was a lot to be done in the end so on the other hand I can understand when something becomes so much of a chore you loose interest. Now that I blog about it I sometimes wonder if they by some chance would come across it and what would they think.

    When we bought the house it was quite clear that most of the old surfaces will be gone. I was sad we couldn’t save the wooden floor, but on the other hand we got to do everything like we wanted. At this point so much time and money has been spent that the house isn’t just a house for me anymore. It’s like a extension to my personality with the choises we made.

    I’ve tried to make everything so that if I ever sell, whoever buys this wouldn’t have to go through so much trouble. Then again, you never know. At least they don’t have to tear every wall and floor open like I did. Thanks for the share, it was enjoyable to read and there was something to be learned. 🙂

    ~Gray

  10. This is an ultimate sharing!!

    However, I have never encountered such an instance, But I usually make little bit home improvement once in a year that keeps my place maintained and worth living.

    Last year, I got repaired stairs by adding staircase which made it good-looking and attractive one. My friends really liked it and most importantly it didn’t cost me much amount.

  11. Tabatha –
    I thoroughly enjoyed your post and can relate. Being in the home remodeling industry, we deal with home owners with all sorts of design styles. As contractors, we just try to make our customers happy. Sometimes I myself even struggle internally when a home owner wants us to remove features of historical homes that don’t fit their design style. I have to remind myself that their home is THEIR castle to do with what they will! Thanks for the reminder!

  12. You did a wonderful job preparing someone for an instance of a previous homeowner finding their blog and commenting on your frustrations with what used to be their home! The important thing to remember is that it is your frustration and it is extremely important to know they may see it, but it’s more important to say what you feel!

  13. Thank you for such a great blog. People shy away from brown wood because it can be sort of “Sadie old lady.” But combine it with up-to-date furnishings, contemporary art, and adventurous colors, and you can get a fresh, one-of-a-kind mix. That’s the hallmark of our style.

  14. I will consider that your complete residence is fun and shiny with colorful colorings! I suppose your story makes an amazing factor about what you put up on the net in trendy. You ought to be able to speak your mind, however continually be cautious the way you say it. thank you for sharing.

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