Fix-“her” Upper

Kris Zimmermann and Amber Bradshaw have a unique take on living life together and it’s evident when you walk into their East Village two-story home. From the outside, Zimmermann admits it’s a fixer-upper, but on the inside, there’s a loving history the two have created with every renovation and DIY project.


“It’s charming and wonderful,” Zimmermann says. “I think it’s a really pretty face without makeup on it.” She bought the home more than a decade ago; it was her first home purchase. Six years after buying, she mewt Bradshaw. The two each had their own home, with their own taste in living life on their own.


“We were in the first few months of our relationship and all of the sudden, Amber says, “I bought a house” and I felt like the pressure was off because we didn’t have to talk about something we weren’t ready to do,” she said.


Kris is referring to the two of them moving in together. They admit they took their time, and for good reasons. Each had a dog at the time and the pups didn’t quite get along with one another. It took them almost a year to get acclimated. Once that hurdle was cleared, they began discussions about growth together in their relationship and in their future home together. “We lived on our own for quite a bit, so we weren’t in a rush to move in with somebody else,” said Bradshaw. Two years ago, she moved in with Zimmermann but with one caveat.


“One thing that was a deal breaker for Amber was my bathroom connecting the master bedroom and the office was falling apart. It was on the list of things that I wanted to do and I knew how much it was going to cost. I had saved money for years but just hadn’t pulled the trigger,” said Zimmermann. “She says, ‘I’m not moving into this house, that toilet could possibly fall into the floor.’”


She considers the house a fixer-upper. There’s a lot of work that’s gone into it. Walls have been torn down, foundation has been reinforced and renovations have made. Many things that have been really expensive but not as glamorous.


“The good money that I would’ve loved to have put into shrubs and flowers, and landscaping went into building a laundry room and running a set of stairs,” she said. “The stuff, the underpinnings of the house that you don’t want to have falling apart.”


Like the world-wide phenomenon Marie Kondo and her “Sparking Joy” moments, the two women feel there’s much joy that comes from the interior of their home. It’s very organized and simplistic. The outside though, a different narrative with areas of the yard in growing turmoil. They’ve tackled the tough tasks of incorporating Bradshaw’s taste in home living with Zimmermann’s previously independent home layout and now it’s on to the outside.


“It just needs a little something. I think there’s some wood that needs to be replaced on porches, landscaping, a new walkway,” said Bradshaw.


The two have taken in a lot of lessons during this transition into couples’ living. But they remember the wise words of friends and family during moments they may feel their fixer-upper isn’t quite being fixed in due time.


“One of the things my dad taught me was there are certain things that absolutely need to be done for your safety and comfort. If you have a limited amount of money, do the things that are important,” she said. “The other things will come. It might take a lot of time. They will come in time. A house is not a couple of year investment. For me, it was home so it was a long-term investment. This is home for us now.”