This piece is part of GVLtoday’s Q+A series. Do you know someone we should interview? Nominate them here.
As a cash-only family, Alison Storm + Tim Lowry knew they needed a unique approach in turning a rundown Greenville church into their dream home. They were on to something, and Magnolia Network thought so, too.
The couple + their two kids star in and essentially produce “Taking On A Carolina Clunker” on season two of “First Time Fixer” with just an iPhone, some tripods + a vision.
We asked Alison and Tim 10 questions about being first time fixers in Greenville. Keep reading for advice on taking on a clunker + the best places to thrift in and around town.
Alison, tell us what brought you to Greenville + three to five things you’d like our readers to know about you.
Greenville was my beat when I moved here as a TV reporter 17 years ago. Back then, it was an exciting time here — it still is. I reported on things like the Swamp Rabbit Trail opening for the first time + the opening game at Fluor Field. Today, I:
- host the world’s only Chick-fil-A fan podcast, “My Pleasure, The Unofficial Chick-fil-A Podcast”
- write for a local women’s magazine
- take care of two crazy kids
I moved from Ireland 17 years ago working for my family’s publishing company, and went on to start my own digital marketing agency seven years ago. I’ve also enjoyed all of Greenville’s great changes, just not as a reporter.
Who are some local movers + shakers you’re both keeping up with?
- Mayor Knox White — Mayor of Greenville
- Marco Suarez — Head of Customer Experience, Methodical Coffee
- George Hincapie — American cyclist, founder of the Gran Fondo Hincapie
- Mary Walsh + Jacqueline Oliver — owners, Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery
- Julian Loue — owner, Rise Bakery
Let’s talk about the show. What was it like to essentially produce your own show?
Alison: Overall, it was an amazing experience, and I think we would both do it again in a heartbeat. Magnolia Network sent us a kit that included an iPhone, a microphone, and a couple of tripods. Remembering my days of being a one-man-band as a reporter, from wearing high heels and carrying around this ginormous beta camera in my little power suit, to now, thinking about how we shot this whole thing on an iPhone…it still blows my mind.
Having that time capsule of our family (that Magnolia Network edited together so beautifully) I mean, it was real and it was us, and I think it highlighted each of our personalities, like all of Tim’s dad jokes.
What made you decide your Carolina clunker was your dream house?
Alison: I knew that the price had to be low because we are a cash-only family. We don’t believe in debt and have worked really hard to get to this point in our lives where we don’t have debt. I knew we had $100,000 to work with, and the house had to be less than that. I found it on Zillow, for some reason, Tim said, “okay”, probably because I cried.
Tim: On the first drive by I wasn’t 100% sold. But finding the house (located just behind Woodside Mill) was all her. She had the vision. There was something inside me that, even though this house was super ugly when we found it, I just knew it had potential and that this was our chance to finally take a run at this.
What was the condition of the house like when you first started the demo process?
Tim: There truly was a lot that just had to go because there had been so many years of neglect. Vines were growing over the roof and inside the house and had done so much damage to the exterior, so we really had to strip a lot out. There was a lot of moisture damage to the floors (not to mention large holes).
Was there anything specific you salvaged?
There were some cheap, hollow doors that we ripped and threw in the dumpster. I was looking through Pinterest one day and saw a way to make those style doors look cooler, after which I said, “babe, get those out of the dumpster.” Fresh paint and the addition of trim made them nowhere near perfect, but they were $3 instead of hundreds, and they look fine. On the house overall, we were never shooting for perfection, and I think that was our key to success.
If you could do anything differently…
We ripped out a pantry and there was a roughly 3ft x 2ft hole in the drywall in the ceiling. Our drywall contact went MIA, so Tim and I had to look up YouTube videos to figure out how to patch the hole.Because the framing in the attic was not flush, our patchwork had a dip. When we installed the cabinets, one of the doors bumps the dip and won’t open all the way. It’s really embarrassing, but I love it because it reminds me of when we were just laughing our butts off trying to figure out how to patch the hole. So much paste that went on that thing.
What would be your advice for someone attempting what you both accomplished with this reno?
- Go in with a plan, be flexible, and prepare for the unknown.
- Never accept full retail price for anything — be thrifty and get multiple quotes.
- Shoot for excellence, but don’t be a perfectionist.
Speaking of being thrifty… What would you say Greenville brings to the table when it comes to thrifting?
I feel like Greenville is a hub for good deals and being able to find stuff, just check out garbage day on Augusta Street… I love the fact that on national television, you see us taking the cabinet boxes off McDaniel Avenue and hauling them over to West Greenville to use in my kids’ fancy closet.
We have so many great local resources, too. We got things like our countertops + kitchen sink from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, our cabinetry at Home Outlet, a door at Pittman Discount Building Supply, and a bunch of other items from Miracle Hill Ministries Thrift Store. We’re also so uniquely positioned to be drivable to the best outlet stores in the country.
Are there plans in the works for house No. 2?
Yes, we’re building one, but we have a builder this time, so we’re not doing the actual labor ourselves. I’d love to renovate another house, but we’re a cash- family, so we’ll see how that all shakes out.
You can watch the full episode with a discovery+ membership here.