When Inna Kovalinskiy, the voice behind Vik House to Home, and her husband Vitaliy were 21 and 24, they moved from Santa Barbara, California to Kovalinskiy’s hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina and — after looking at a number of houses — to build their own home, despite not having any building experience. Though you may have thought that it would be a potentially rough experience, that’s not how it all worked out.
“It was such a great experience that afterward, we said we would never buy an already built home. Fast forward three years, and we were hit with the building itch again,” Kovalinskiy said. “We were driving around town, looking for land when we drove into this quiet gravel street adorned with beautiful homes. It was the perfect location; walking distance to the library, grocery stores, but still so tranquil and private. At the end of the street, sat five acres, wooded and untouched along with an abandoned, colonial home with four large columns. It was such a beautiful, peaceful space. We asked around, and the neighbors all said the same; the house has been sitting there for 15 years, and the owners do not want to sell.”
Because of that, the couple decided that they’d pray about it and see what happened. After about a year, Kovalinskiy said that they received a call from a realtor friend of theirs who told them that, because the owner had passed away, the property was now available.
They got the house.
“What drew us to the house was the land and location,” Kovalinskiy said. “We wanted to do a quick flip with the house, but these last few months have changed my mindset. I have honestly fallen in love with the home. We tore down a few walls, ripped up all of the ceiling drywall, installed new AC ducts and the likes. After so much work, we have fallen in love with it and now plan to live in the home for a few years ourselves!”
And since the house came with some extra acreage, they also plan to potentially subdivide the land and build a few additional houses on it to sell.
“Renovating the house has been an enormous adventure,” Kovalinskiy said. “We were clueless about renovations jumping in, but we have learned so much hands-on! There were a few moments when I wanted to rip my hair out, and I have cried, but it’s been so rewarding to see the house slowly transform into the vision in our heads.”
We were clueless about renovations jumping in, but we have learned so much hands-on! There were a few moments when I wanted to rip my hair out, and I have cried, but it’s been so rewarding to see the house slowly transform into the vision in our heads.
But just because the overall experience has been good doesn’t mean that there weren’t any challenges along the way.
“There were foundation issues that led to the subfloors being ripped out; as well as with problems in the AC and electrical,” Kovalinskiy said. “But we have learned that every issue has a solution as long as we’re not afraid to call for help and get our hands dirty.”
And then there was the fact that they were working together, side by side, doing something that was brand new for both of them, which can make situations a bit more stressful.
“Working together started out as a rollercoaster ride,” Kovalinskiy said. “I didn’t like how Vitaliy took the longer route renovating while he was hesitant with my design choices. This house has taught the both of us to trust one another and point out each other’s strengths. We are now at a place where I fully trust him with all of the structural and renovation decisions, while he fully trusts my design decisions. We are finally working as a team, and it’s strengthened our marriage and taught us to laugh when things aren’t going as planned.”
Over time, experimentation and experience have taught Kovalinskiy more about what she really likes when it comes to the design of the house, and she’s developed the confidence to go with that rather than following whatever design trends happen to be in at the time. Though they’ve already completed quite a bit of the house, there’s still more to go.
This house has taught the both of us to trust one another and point out each other’s strengths.
“I am currently in the process of purchasing the light fixtures, choosing the wood stain, kitchen cabinets, paint colors, wallpapers, and so much more! My main focus will be the kitchen, dining and living rooms, and the last two bathrooms,” Kovalinskiy said. “Fingers crossed we will finish in about two months!”
After that, Kovalinskiy and her husband and kids will finally be able to wake up in their house every morning — something about which she’s really excited. “We once spent the night there on accident after working so late, and I woke up to birds chirping out my window and the sun pouring in,” Kovalinskiy said. “It was so peaceful and beautiful. I can’t wait for more mornings like those!”
She also has some advice for those who’d like to give a project like this a try for themselves. “Don’t rush! Don’t give yourself unfeasible deadlines unless you have to,” Kovalinskiy said. “We sold our home and moved in with our folks for a few months. While I could stress about finishing and moving in asap, I have learned it’s so much easier to take it as it comes and working consistently with minimal stress. Your renovation will not be as quick as those you see on TV — and it shouldn’t be.”
Don’t rush! Don’t give yourself unfeasible deadlines unless you have to.
Above all, though, she wants you — and her younger self — to know that it’s doable. “Don’t let self-doubt stop you from achieving your dreams,” Kovalinskiy said. “Had we thought we couldn’t do it, we would never have built our first home or taken the chance to buy an old fixer. But oh it’s so worth it!”