Megan Hopp’s Rollercoaster Ride Into Homeownership + What She Plans To Do With A $25K Construction Budget

Abruptly Suburban: A Pandemic Story

Let’s take a little bit journey again in time to February 24, 2020. I’m celebrating my thirty third birthday at one among my favourite West Village spots, Marie’s Disaster, a historic piano bar the place the drinks are reasonably priced and the singing is LOUD. Certainly one of my dearest pals is a pianist there, and I’m simply so glad to be surrounded by pals, singing Sondheim, and consuming an unknown quantity of white wine. It’s a magic New York Metropolis evening the place all the pieces is good, and it doesn’t escape me what an ideal match the life I’ve crafted to date in NYC is in that second. I’ve not too long ago wrapped up a change on our rent-controlled condo in Park Slope, the place we plan to remain for a great lengthy whereas. My fiance and I are planning a marriage for the next summer time, and I’m doing issues like having a customized outfit constructed by the best designer whose studio is in an previous manufacturing facility constructing in Gowanus. Professionally I’m on a roll, and after years of pounding the pavement and cobbling collectively probably the most weird and typically horrifying mixture of labor, I’ve a gentle stream of high quality initiatives that simply continue to grow. It’s been 7 years since I landed in NYC with no job, a sublet that was proper above STOMP the musical with an infinite picket fish on the wall, and a coronary heart and spirit that whereas hopeful had been additionally frankly shattered. The 7 years it took to get to an evening like Feb. 24 2020 had been lengthy, winding, and grinding, ups and downs-mostly downs, too many random roommates to rely, 6,572 first dates (you recognize what I imply), and a complete lot of bank card debt. BUT I used to be right here, I used to be glad, I used to be singing present tunes, and all can be nicely…

So I’m not going to bombard you with particulars in regards to the starting of my pandemic expertise, partially as a result of all of us have our tales and principally as a result of I left NYC just a few weeks into lockdown to go stick with household for “just a bit bit,” and the immense quantity of compassion and in a weird method surprise I’ve for many who stayed within the metropolis all through the whole thing of this time fully outweighs my understanding of what it meant to be in NY throughout this pandemic.

What I’ll share is a fast overview of how we determined to maneuver to Alexandria, VA, the place we at the moment are. After two weeks of not leaving our 600 sq ft condo (which solely had one door to the toilet in it – hi there zoom calls) together with wild rumors of bridges and tunnels closing, my now husband and I made a decision to hire a automobile from Hertz and drive to Ohio to go stick with household for 2 perhaps three weeks. Two months later we determined it was time to examine on our condo and provides our household a little bit of their home again. On the drive house, we stopped by Alexandria the place good pals reside to do our first “covid good friend bubble.” We had been determined for good friend time, and a change of surroundings. Whereas in Alexandria it was time to face the music that lockdown wasn’t ending any time quickly, so plans wanted to be made. We formally canceled our marriage ceremony that was presupposed to be in Hawaii that summer time (an actual bummer), and we wanted to determine the place to reside – our Park Slope condo simply wasn’t viable for the each of us to work out of. Whereas looking for reasonably priced leases exterior of NYC in Connecticut or upstate (which didn’t exist as a result of EVERYONE was doing this), it hit us that perhaps we didn’t have to reside inside commuting distance of NYC throughout this time? Leap to us discovering a really tiny townhouse in Alexandria for an unbelievably reasonably priced worth that we figured we’d be in for say three, 4 months max. We made the choice to formally signal the lease on our drive again into NY to examine on the condo, which then changed into packing the condo and pulling away in our U-Haul one week later. As we settled into our momentary little rental home for an undetermined period of time because the world stood nonetheless and chaos continued to swirl, life additionally by some means continued to press on. We saved our authentic marriage ceremony date and swapped our vacation spot bash for a really small yard ceremony. Then what have you learnt – I turned pregnant.

picture by emma hopp

I don’t need to inform you that some rearranging of life and issues occur when a brand new human joins the social gathering, and with COVID nonetheless very a lot in peak scary mode (no vaccines, and many others), a little bit extra space and room to breathe felt just like the match. So we purchased a home! We purchased a home within the precise neighborhood of the buddies we initially came around and who hosted our makeshift marriage ceremony of their yard. Whenever you’ve been renting in NYC with none plans to go away, shopping for a home with 1000’s of sq. ft for lower than 1,000,000 {dollars} makes you are feeling like your dwelling preparations have abruptly hit Daddy Warbucks standing. We reside in a townhouse so whereas our out of doors house is a small paved courtyard – you could possibly inform me I reside on a farm and I wouldn’t know the distinction. To say I used to be excited to design a complete home that I owned for my new household of three is the understatement of the century.

Every thing about our new life nonetheless feels a little bit odd and unfamiliar to me, comparable to the quantity of house we’ve got in the home, the fashion of the structure is much extra conventional than something I ever thought I might reside in, driving a automobile each day…however don’t get me improper shopping for massive bins of La Croix at Goal and hauling it house in my Prius is BLISS. Our home is a captivating townhouse with white-washed brick and a stoop I can hang around on with my son the place we will level out canine and stuff like that toddlers love to do. The home was in-built 1969, which comes with some actual perks in my view. I’ve all the time been an previous home gal, and so the hardwood flooring, crown molding, and wood-burning fireplaces had been MUCH appreciated. I truly all the time assumed that my first house buy can be an absolute fixer-upper, this might not have been much less the case. Being that we had a new child son (like three weeks previous new), it simply wasn’t the time in life to totally renovate. The home was in pristine situation, as the previous house owners had taken such stunning care of it, the finishes merely weren’t my fashion, and there wasn’t an inch of wallpaper to be discovered! 

So right here I used to be able to embark on the transformation of this house and located myself dealing with the laundry listing of obstacles and selections that I work with shoppers on each day all day, the primary hurdle after all being funds. Now, that is one thing I wish to be actually sincere about, as a result of on this trade I feel there’s a actual lack of transparency with regards to speaking about JUST HOW MUCH adorning a house prices. So far I had solely ever designed NYC rental residences for myself, which suggests a.) you merely don’t want that a lot stuff to totally design a small house, and b.) as a result of I knew my time in these areas inevitably would have an expiration date, I by no means had any want to spend that a lot on items and supplies until I knew I may make the most of them sooner or later. This house nonetheless was the other situation in all regards, whereas this home most likely isn’t our without end house, it’s someplace we are going to most positively be for a stable chunk of time, and in proudly owning it, it’s a chance to have the work correlate with the worth of the home itself. 

I began off the method by making a “lifelike dream listing” of initiatives I wish to do in the home, issues like “furnish the whole home,” and re-tile the entry touchdown. I knew I clearly couldn’t afford to totally renovate the kitchen, however perhaps I may swing getting the cupboards professionally repainted. I introduced over my contractor (Luxor Enhancements) who I work with within the DC space, to stroll by a hopeful punch listing, and he in return supplied me with an itemized worth listing. My husband and I made a decision we had been in a position to spend as much as 25 thousand {dollars} on building charges (that is simply the labor – not the supplies), and as such, we edited down the listing to incorporate a logical mixture of must-haves and eradicated issues like built-in window seat cupboards in my son’s nursery that in the end simply didn’t make the reduce.

Beneath is the ultimate scope of labor I landed on alongside a take a look at the place we began in every room. The listing under displays an quantity of labor on the house I felt may meaningfully remodel the house for the least sum of money potential, all whereas protecting as many options of the house as they stood.

Frequent House:

  • Wallpaper Partitions & Ceiling
  • Get rid of Can Lighting
  • Add Two Flush Mounts 
  • Swap Chandelier
  • Paint Stairwell
  • Furnishings & Decor


  • Transfer Ceiling Lighting Areas & Swap Fixtures
  • Wallpaper partitions
  • Range Hood (we saved the prevailing one and constructed an ornamental field round it to avoid wasting cash!)
  • Paint Kitchen Cupboards
  • Cupboard {Hardware}
  • Furnishings & Decor


  • Ground Tile
  • Wallpaper Partitions
  • Paint Entrance Door
  • Swap Ceiling Mild
  • Furnishings & Decor

Main Bed room:

  • Take away Constructed-in Bookcase 
  • Wallpaper Partitions
  • Swap Ceiling Mild
  • Furnishings & Decor


  • Wallpaper Partitions & Ceiling
  • Swap Ceiling Mild
  • Furnishings & Decor

Visitor Room:

  • Wallpaper Partitions
  • Furnishings & Decor (this room we used all beforehand owned furnishings except one chair I bought for $3 at Goodwill)


  • Wallpaper Partitions
  • Paint Hearth Brick
  • Exchange Sliding Door with French Doorways
  • Carpet
  • Swap Ceiling Mild
  • Furnishings & Decor

What ensued subsequent was a tireless collection of months crafting the design and sourcing supplies and furnishings in probably the most cost-effective and intelligent method potential. I lived at my native thrift shops, scoured Fb Market endlessly, and linked with some actually glorious distributors who had been concerned with collaborating with me thus enabling me to obtain some wonderful items and product for lots lower than if I had been buying off the shelf. 

You don’t want me to inform you that the previous few years have been unprecedented with expedited decision-making, strikes, and life selections at a rapid-fire tempo, and landed us all in fully unfamiliar territory. Whereas my capacity to choose up and transfer and shift my atmosphere to the altering wants of our household was and is a privilege I’m nicely conscious of, the uncertainty of this new way of life and environment hasn’t been with out its challenges. Working by the creation of this house I’ve discovered so much about myself, how I relate to design on a really private degree, and what perhaps wants to vary sooner or later. Keep tuned as I share the completed house and all that went into it!

Opening Picture Credit: Design by Megan Hopp | Photograph by Kelsey Ann Rose

The submit Megan Hopp’s Rollercoaster Trip Into Homeownership + What She Plans To Do With A $25K Development Funds appeared first on Emily Henderson.

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