Love it or list it, Fixer Upper, Flip or Flop, Extreme Makeover—HGTV has created many popular reality home improvement shows that showcase before and after makeovers.

Some of the makeover stars are attractive, real life couples, who gut interiors and use the terms “open concept,” “en suites,” “barn door closures” and other buzz phrases during the show. They also seem to be obsessed with the color gray! I have switched my obsession from cable news to follow the trials and tribulations of Christina and Tarek, Chip and Joanna and Hilary and David. It's more fun to watch them argue over the cost of marble than what the Russians are up to. Pure escape!

When it comes to real estate, it seems my life has been full of flips and a few flops. About 20 years ago, we purchased a house, a bank foreclosure, in Pismo Beach. The house had amazing Pacific Ocean views, but hung out over a canyon without any of the foundation sitting on land. Scary! Our improvements consisted of paint, flooring, and landscaping for curb appeal. After finding a courageous person who didn't mind living on stilts, we sold it, and as of this week we closed on our 6th project “at the beach.”

Pismo Beach pier

The condo is actually a block away from the ocean in downtown Pismo. It's evident that nothing has been done to the property in the past 30 years, including cleaning. This is a total redo: gutting the kitchen, three bathrooms, the floors and two fireplaces, and painting … lots of painting. We purchased it at a decent price with the goal of flipping it down the road.

What I have learned through the years is that Scott is a very hard worker, and he likes to do many of the improvements himself. We have spent the past five days painting dingy walls bright white. It has taken nearly three coats of paint and multiple trips to the hardware store for extra gallons. His original estimate was five gallons; we are now at twelve. Finding help, besides me, is always a challenge—especially in this area of California. Two handymen have been lifesavers, helping with the new flooring which is a black French oak laminate. It’s vinyl that has been guaranteed to last forever, or at lest until it's flipped again.

Our other "helper," our poodle, Paris, has accompanied us this week and proven to be incompatible with construction noise and debris. As we head back to Benicia with white paint stuck in our hair (including Paris), a ruined manicure and overall body aches and bruises, I wonder if this this project will become a flip, a flop or something we will fall in love with. One thing seems certain: it won't be the last Strawbridge makeover.