Not many women can say they were born in Paris. We’re sure many would like to. Born to British parents, Victoria Strader, now a realtor and blogger behind Happily Ever Strader, resides deep in the heart of Texas, married to her high school sweetheart. After graduating from Texas A&M with an education degree, Victoria decided to make a change to her career before it even started. Instead of spending her time doing what was expected, Victoria pursued her real estate license and now helps families find their own houses to call home.
If she’s just as talented at finding homes for others as she was finding her own, this girl has found her calling. After hearing through the grapevine that an old, but well-priced home was headed for the market (hello benefits of living in a small town), Victoria and her husband decided they were up for the challenge. She snagged her southern fixer-upper at an unbeatable price, and was able to honor her and her husband’s priority of living debt-free. In quick 60 days, even Victoria was convinced that smelly carpet and old clutter should never hinder the potential of a great deal.
A little T.L.C. and you’d never know that this space housed the same family since the 1960s. Her sweet abode is a mix of modern pieces and prints with just the right amount of vintage touches. And just like any “southern” home, it welcomes you warmly with large living area and personal mementos. Join us as she shares her home and the heritage that inspired it.
Full name: Victoria Strader
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Current title/company: Realtor at 2Mac Realty Group
Educational background: Texas A&M University, Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies
You were born in Paris, France to British parents, and somehow ended up deep in the heart of Texas. How has your cultural background influenced your interior taste?
I think that a huge issue women my age have with style in general, is pinpointing what truly suits them. It’s easy to assemble a Pinterest board of dreams and still open your closet or look around your home and feel like nothing represents who you are and what you love. There is often a stigma of fitting into a certain style… so I’ve always felt like I have to choose. Do I like neutral, 17th century France inspired pieces, or rocking chairs on the front porch with a class of sweet tea? A huge turning point for me was realizing that I am both European, and Southern. I can be both and I want to be both. My house is the same way. My love of Southern hospitality guides me to make spaces as welcoming, and accessible as possible. Eiffel Tower prints fit right in. I want our home to tell a story, and I believe that my heritage makes it a really special one.
After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2013 with an education degree, you discovered through your internship process that this career path wasn’t what set your heart on fire. How did you know that wasn’t the path for you? What advice can you give to other young women who want to change the direction of their career when it’s just beginning?
Deciding not to pursue the natural career path after finishing my degree was so incredibly difficult. I felt like there was something shameful about that decision, or that I was quitting. What I had to come to terms with is that the decision was about me, and how I wanted to spend my time every day. Not about what the other people in my classes were doing or what my friends or relatives would think about my choice. It was up to me to dig deep and think about what will make me feel like I’m happy. For anyone in the same position, I would encourage you to go for it! Make a plan, work towards it, and make it happen. At the end of the day, no one thinks about you nearly as much as you do… and all that matters is that you’re doing something that you feel like is a right fit for you.
Through the process of buying and renovating a ‘fixer-upper’ home with your husband, you discovered a passion for helping people find a place to call home. You pursued your real estate license and are currently a practicing realtor working all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area. What do you find most satisfying about helping people become homeowners?
Even when the days and paperwork are long, I have something so joyful that gives my career purpose. I am helping families find a place to rest, build memories, and grow. In my own life, I have seen that living somewhere you feel safe and inspired can motivate so much positive change. For every client, and every home, there is so much potential for a beautiful story to unfold. As much as I love learning about the client’s desired square footage and design asthetic, it’s that family story that helps me work my hardest.
Before discovering this passion, you and your husband were searching apartment complexes to find a home. Although you really wanted to own a home, being financially responsible was your main priority. It wasn’t until you heard through the grapevine that an old family home in town was being sold that you decided to buy. How did you know this was the right decision as opposed to renting?
Our house was truly a gift. We found out about it before it hit the market and got it at an excellent price from someone who wasn’t looking to make any profit. In so many ways, the decision was made for us… but a huge factor was thinking about how we enjoy spending our free time. My husband was raised on a farm and considers it a day wasted if he hasn’t got dirt under his nails or completed a major labor-intensive project. I spend my free time pouring over design magazines and finding ways to change the space we’re in. For us, in a small Texas town with very few rental options, renting would have limited some of those passions.
In a quick two months, you completely transformed your home! What was the biggest challenge? Any tips for others looking to purchase a ‘fixer-upper?’
I truly think that the biggest challenge in going with a fixer upper is the start. When we first looked at our house I told my then fiancé, “NO WAY!” I couldn’t visualize this smelly, old house becoming a happy home. Once I could peel back the layers of the junk from the previous owners, getting rid of the old carpet, adding new floors and painting and deep cleaning everything… I saw it. And I’m so thankful we took that risk. My advice would be to look at some encouraging before and after photos from houses online before you go and search for a fixer upper. If you’re already in the mindset of knowing that transformation is possible, you’re in the right place.
Are you completely done remolding your home or do you continue to update? How do you know when to spend and when to save? Did you have a budget for the remodeling process?
I don’t think I’ll ever be done updating. Looking for ways to update or simplify our home is my favorite thing. Even since these images were taken, I’ve repainted a room! We’ve only lived in our house for a year and a half, and our budget didn’t allow us to tackle every project when moving in. I’m currently dreaming about renovating our very dated bathroom. I personally think that splurging on the big pieces, the things you use every day or will notice first are what matters. Beautiful light fixtures and large furniture pieces that you love are going to be the things that are worth the dollars in the long run.
What was on your checklist when designing your home? What were your must-haves, in terms of furniture and accessories?
I couldn’t imagine our home without live plants, whether it be fresh flowers or potted plants. Something green makes for a happy room! Also, personalized pieces. I love monograms and art from meaningful places we’ve lived or traveled to. Things that make our home especially us are must-haves for me.
What is your favorite budget-friendly piece in your home? Can you share any savvy tips?
The one and only time I’ve searched on Craigslist I found our gorgeous leather Chesterfield sofa for around $200. I still can’t believe that we snagged it! It’s the one piece that my husband really wanted when we first started searching for furniture.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I love gathering inspiration for interiors from beautifully styled events. It may seem odd to look at a wedding and want to apply a concept in our home, but I find that the most genuine inspiration for our home doesn’t ever come from looking at other styled spaces. It really challenges me to evaluate what I love about a color or texture or metal, as opposed to just sourcing something from someone else.
What are your current career aspirations? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
My goal is to be practicing real estate on a larger scale, and focusing on clients that would want help with renovations and design choices.
Victoria Strader is The Everygirl…
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?
I know this answer is probably common, but Kate Middleton represents so much that I love about my British heritage. Let’s trade lunch in for afternoon tea and some pastries, shall we?
TV show you wish was still on the air?
Gilmore Girls- I wasn’t satisfied with the ending.