Seeing The Potential!

Blogger Ashley Brooke shares what to consider when buying a home! |


The Fixer-Upper

Buying a home for the first time is intense. You, quite literally, have ALL the feelings at the same time.  You’re terrified you might not get the house you want, you find the house you want but it’s no longer available, you wonder why none of the houses your realtor is showing you look anything like the houses you’ve pinned on Pinterest.  I mean, honestly, the list goes on and on. It’s one of those processes you just have to go through. Once you’re through it and finally spend that first night in your new home, you’re so thankful you trusted the process. 

When I was looking at homes a few years ago, I had to train myself to look past the dingy floors, scary wallpaper, and overgrown yards, and see the house for all its hidden potential.  It wasn’t easy at first!

I knew better than to look for the all white marble kitchen and beautifully curated backyard garden, but still… it was hard! Just like everyone else, I wanted to move into my very own Barbie dream home completely furnished with the fridge stocked for a fabulous dinner party on the closing day. But, that’s not what happened…


Blogger Ashley Brooke shares what to consider when buying a home! |


What to Ask When Buying a Home

Here’s what I did: I made a list of all my “deal breakers”.  From there, I thought carefully about how much DIY-ing my heart could handle and how much professional help my bank account could handle. You can do some really amazing things on your own, and we are proof of that. But, there are times when it’s best to pay for outside help. Think about both options in advance. For me, this proved to be a great start!

As for deal breakers, I knew for certain I wanted a move-in-ready home that wasn’t in need of an immediate overhaul, but one that I could put my own touches on. I also knew FOR CERTAIN which neighborhood I wanted to be in, and I knew I needed a fenced in backyard for my dog at the time.  

When a home (with a fence!) in the neighborhood I wanted came on the market, I juuuumped at the chance to scoop it up! Honestly, it didn’t matter too much to me what the inside looked like, as long as it was functional and well built. The outside of the home was adorable, and it had a fence; I wanted it before I even stepped inside. After a whirlwind of bidding, I officially won the house (thanks to my famous banana bread see here…).  That’s when the project list started. I decided to start from the bottom up, literally, and bit by bit my husband and I have made some serious improvements! 

To summarize:

1) What are your “deal breakers”? These are the must haves or MUST NOT haves that would cause you to walk away. 

2) How much DIY do you want to do or are capable of doing?

3) How much professional help can you afford for bigger renovation projects?


Our DIY vs Professional List:



  • Remove kitchen wallpaper (stat!!)
  • Fresh coat of paint in bedrooms
  • Replace all ceiling fans and light fixtures
  • Re-sod backyard (again)
  • New appliances for the kitchen – Refrigerator purchased (still need new stove, microwave, and oven)
  • Custom wainscoting in dining room
  • Renovate backyard
  • Build overhead storage and workbench in garage
  • Built in media center/bookshelves in living room
  • Replace all carpet with wood floors
  • Fresh coat of paint living spaces
  • Re-sod the front and backyard
  • Repaint the outside of the house
  • Add gutter system
  • Crown molding throughout the house
  • Remodel kitchen
  • Remodel bathrooms


Before & After

Brace yourself, these are quite serious!  We’ve been hard at work at this for a few years now, so if you are just getting started, know all good things take time!  Also, the “before” photos are quite blurry and are from the realtor’s website, but at least you can visualize the progress!


Living Room:

Blogger Ashley Brooke shares what to consider when buying a home! |

Blogger Ashley Brooke shares what to consider when buying a home! |



Blogger Ashley Brooke shares what to consider when buying a home! |

Blogger Ashley Brooke shares what to consider when buying a home! |



Blogger Ashley Brooke shares what to consider when buying a home! |


Blogger Ashley Brooke shares what to consider when buying a home! |


Guest Bedroom:

Blogger Ashley Brooke shares what to consider when buying a home! |


Blogger Ashley Brooke shares what to consider when buying a home! |



Blogger Ashley Brooke shares what to consider when buying a home! |


Blogger Ashley Brooke shares what to consider when buying a home! |


Dining Room:

Blogger Ashley Brooke shares what to consider when buying a home! |


Blogger Ashley Brooke shares what to consider when buying a home! |


Just like every new homeowner, I wanted to twirl around and have the entire thing finished in a blink of an eye, but five years later we are still making tweaks.  I think it’s one of those things that will never be quite finished, and I kind of love that. It’s our own little forever project, and it feels very special and big all at once.  I’m sure we will move in the future to a new home, but our first home together has been such a fun adventure from start to finish.

I would love to know, are you looking for a home? Just bought one? In the middle of a fixer upper? Tell me all about it!

Also, check out SunTrust Mortgage’s  Your Guide to Home Buying. This guide defines the process from A to Z to help buyers understand the ins and outs of the home buying process. My favorite feature is the budget worksheet, it’s just so helpful!

Talk with a SunTrust Mortgage expert today. 

This post was sponsored, and paid for, by SunTrust Mortgage.  All opinions are my own.



  1. July 19, 2017 / 8:35 am

    This is such a great post. My husband bought a house before we were engaged and we will be in it for another 5 years before moving. It is cute and charming but definitely needs some work. I love seeing before and afters and getting renovation tips!

    Taylor |

  2. July 19, 2017 / 10:59 am

    I really needed to read this post! My husband and I are on the hunt for our first home and it’s been a process. We found a home we loved with great bones but our bid was too low and we were not willing to budge due to an older roof. I get easily frustrated with the process because in a perfect world the home would be the way we want it. I keep telling myself to have an open mind and that’s been helping with it! Your home is gorgeous by the way!

    • Ashley Brooke
      July 20, 2017 / 8:42 am

      Hi Shannon! Oh my gosh, yes! It’s an exhausting process and why everything doesn’t look like pinterest I’ll never know! But YOU CAN DO IT! Just think of it as one big grand adventure! ­čÖé Cheering you on over here!

  3. Jen
    July 19, 2017 / 11:11 am

    We’re closing on our first house this Friday! It’s been an emotional process and very comforting to hear about someone else going through the same process, taking similar steps, and successfully turning a house into their own home. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Ashley Brooke
      July 20, 2017 / 8:35 am

      Oh my gosh, congratulations Jen! How exciting! Yes it is totally exhausting but worth it! You will love every second of your new home! I’m cheering you on from Florida! xx

  4. Samantha Meese
    July 19, 2017 / 11:06 pm

    Reading this post could not have been more perfectly timed in my life! My husband and I just closed on a home on Monday. With the old owners stuff out we are realizing that we need to do more than we expected and I am so overwhelmed. My husband is great at handling stress but I stay up all night worrying about every possible thing that needs done. It is so nice to read someone else’s experience of just taking it one step at a time. Your home is beautiful!

    • Ashley Brooke
      July 20, 2017 / 8:38 am

      Oh I am right there with you Samantha! You just have to remember that making a house a home is not a overnight project and that is okay! Congratulations on your new home!

  5. Indira morel
    July 19, 2017 / 11:36 pm

    Loved reading all about your first home and the time it’s taking to make changes. We are one year into our home and it feels like we have a loooonnnnggg way to go. Reading your take on it, does help me realize it’s ok to not be finished.

    • Ashley Brooke
      July 20, 2017 / 8:40 am

      Thanks Indira! Yes, this is a forever project! Sometimes I wish we could just hurry up and finish it but honestly, it’s kind of fun to spend our evenings sipping wine and dreaming up new ideas! It’s all one big long process!

  6. Claire
    July 20, 2017 / 5:42 am

    Looks amazing! Would love to know your paint colors…especially in the dining room.

    • Ashley Brooke
      July 20, 2017 / 8:33 am

      Thank you so much! The color is “Extra White” by Sherman Williams!

  7. Leigh
    July 20, 2017 / 2:05 pm

    Absolutely LOVED this post. My hubby and I are looking to purchase our very first home together, and saw one that was perfect with the potential we were looking for, but we just found out that it’s pending :(. Finding a home in the area we want, with the things we won’t budge on has been very difficult. We live in the Bay Area, so everything is super competitive and people get outbid constantly with cash offers. Definitely a sellers market over here, but this post gives me hope that the perfect house will crop up when the time is right!

    • Ashley Brooke
      July 24, 2017 / 8:52 am

      Hi Leigh,

      The biggest lesson I learned while searching for my home is to never give up. There are definitely things to compromise on (not having a Pinterest perfect kitchen for one!), but I’m so happy the right house came along in my search at just the right time. Hope is never lost! Keep going – your home is out there, and I bet it will be better suited for you and your husband than the one that was just marked as pending.


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