Desirée and Todd are the proud owners of this 1988 Fuqua double wide manufactured home in Venice, Florida. Desirée had never been around a mobile home before and admits to having a negative opinion of them. She can remember half-joking with her husband that she would live in a mobile home park if it meant they could have their boat on the water fulltime. She actually said it more than once as their boat floated by cute little mobile homes along Florida’s intercoastal waters.
Desirée only knew of mobile homes through the stigmatized and stereotyped media so naturally, her opinion of them wasn’t favorable.
We would use the Venice boat ramp and as we’d motor through the intercoastal waters, making our way to the Gulf of Mexico, we would pass this little trailer park that was directly on the water with boat slips. Without fail I would make this comment, “I’d live in a trailer park if I could have my boat on the water!” Please understand I’m from Franklin, TN, and trailers, in general, are not a desired place to live. Basically, my comment was really more of an “I would lower my standards to have my boat right out the door and ready to go at a moment’s notice.” Little did I know that even though I’ve been very blessed with beautiful homes my whole life, this little mobile home I’d end up in would be my favorite home EVER!Desirée Schwalbe
One could call this the best kind of irony now that Desirée and Todd Schwalbe live in a mobile home and as it turns out, she loves it. She now happily admits that after a lifetime of living in fine site-built homes this 1988 Fuqua double wide is her favorite home of all time.
Meet the Homeowners
Meet Desirée and Todd Schwalbe. She’s a private caregiver and he’s a firefighter. Both are avid divers and spearfishers and love to be on their boat or diving under it. They moved to Florida from Tennessee to enjoy their favorite hobbies and to be on the water as much as possible in Venice, Florida.
Like most home buying experiences, the Schwalbe’s house hunting experience in FL was a bit of a Goldilocks tale. The homes they were seeing were either too small, too far from water, or just expensive empty lots. Then one day, completely by chance, a stranger told Todd about a guy that had a mobile home on the water in an area they really liked.
The 1988 Fuqua double wide sat on a large private lot and the price was right. The home and property had been maintained but never updated and the bones were good. Best of all, it was right beside a deep channel with a 68-foot sidewall.
Even though Desirée had never been around mobile homes before and knew nothing about them, she could see its potential and they bought the Fuqua double wide over the phone. The next call was hiring an agent to sell their site-built home.
Luckily, Desirée and Todd sold their site-built home on its first day on the market but the new buyers needed to move in just 3 weeks. Needless to say, that ramped up the timeline for the 1988 Fuqua double wide remodel.
The 1988 Fuqua Double Wide Remodel Begins
The Schwalbes had only 3 weeks to pack up their 2,400 sq ft site-built home and remodel a 1988 Fuqua double wide enough to live comfortably while they continued to update the home.
The couple moved to Florida to be on or in the water and their home needed to reflect that love of the sea. I think they did that perfectly. I could use a few descriptive adjectives to describe Desirée’s style but modern eclectic tropical coastal beach paradise seems most fitting.
“This double wide was a time capsule! We had to quickly prioritize, moving out of one house while remodeling another one quickly.“Desirée
The double wide had mauve carpet, oak built-ins, and mauve and blue walls. With the clock ticking, they ripped out the carpet and installed waterproof vinyl flooring. They painted all the walls and the ceilings a single color and installed new crown molding and baseboards. They had new windows installed and replaced the pink guest room bathroom vanity with a vanity found on Craigslist.
After the three weeks of remodeling, the interior of the double wide everything was done except the kitchen and the master bathroom. The exterior would be done in stages after Desirée and Todd moved in.
This mobile home living room is so cozy and welcoming.
Treasures from Far and Wide…
The kitchen was indeed a splurge but the rest of the home has a lot of affordable salvaged treasures. The turquoise chairs were $10 finds on Craigslist that Desirée painted and reupholstered.
Desirée found the dining room chandelier beside the road and gave it a new coat of paint and hung it up. She found some composite benches in a dumpster that now sits at their seawall.
The breakfast bar/counter design was originally a full wall but the couple turned it into a pony wall. Removing the top half of the wall created an open space floor plan.
Cool Coastal Master Bedroom
Of course the master bedroom would be as cool as the living room and kitchen. I love the color combinations. It’s a different take on tropical and perfect for a bedroom.
The master bathroom is just as spectacular as the rest of the home.
Once the couple settled in they had the master bathroom, the kitchen, and the exterior to finish. The master bathroom was a total gut and replace.
With the majority of our projects completed it was time to tackle the master bath. Todd ripped it out & down to the studs. The only plumbing that stayed in the same place was the vanity. The bathroom took almost 5 months to complete, but it turned out great! Subway tiles floor to ceiling in the shower & tile surrounding the walls. We used Cabinets To Go for 2 upper cabinets and the vanity base, topping it off with a remnant of Carrara Marble from Marble Technique in Venice.
Check that off the list, one big project left… the kitchen.
..and finally the kitchen
The kitchen had the popular oak cabinetry and white appliances of the era. Since a kitchen remodel was going to be so inconvenient and time-consuming the couple saved it for last. Learn how to paint mobile home cabinets here.
Here’s what the kitchen looked like when the home was purchased in 2016:
“Our vision was another light, bright, easy to clean space. We chose a light grey, flat panel cabinets & topped it with Calcutta quartz and new stainless steel appliances. It’s absolutely everything we wanted and exactly how we wanted it to look.”
Related: 15 Great Mobile Home Remodels
Fish Scale Tiled Backsplash is Awesome
I love to see creative touches that personalize a home. This fish scale tile backsplash is a perfect touch for a couple that love to dive and Spearfish. It’s just a small detail for the cabinets around the corner of the kitchen but it’s awesome!
This 1988 Fuqua Double Wide Manufactured Home Exterior is Fabulous
The homeowners began the exterior remodel shortly after moving in.
Finally, it was time to shift our focus to the outside. We were moving so our boat to live on the water, but at that point, there was no boat lift on our property, so we hired a company to install a 14,000 lb lift. Next came pouring new walkways, installing pavers, and planting palm trees. Last was building our deck and having a roof to cover everything from the harsh south Florida sun. That took a bit longer since we had to apply and file for a variance to build up to 10’ of the sea wall. Once the planning committee saw our vision they were on board 100%.
The exterior before the 1988 Fuqua double wide remodel:
And after the remodel:
Desirée planned the home to fit their lifestyle perfectly. The paved patio makes walking to and from the boat safer and cleaner. The palms offer shade for their covered patio and the boat slip allows them to keep their boat safe when not in use.
Everything is thriving at this new coastal home. Even the palm trees have grown a few feet in just a couple of years.
The landscape lighting is a treat for the whole neighborhood. The exterior has it all: tropical colors, landscaping pavers, palms, and a custom pitched awning. All the elements create a terrific tropical paradise.
Old anchors that they’ve found while diving hangs over the ramp with blue bottles. They got replaced the lattice with rope and painted the ramp with random shades of blue, green and white.
Our fish cleaning station was from someone who had ripped out their kitchen and thrown everything out in their lawn to go to the dump. They said we could have anything we wanted, so we took the solid surface countertop with the bar sink and faucet, it became the perfect filet table!
A Lesson for All of Us
Desirée wasn’t lying when she told Todd she wouldn’t mind living in a mobile home if it meant they could have their boat in the water full time.
It’s easy for people to form preconceived opinions. If you haven’t been around mobile and manufactured homes it’s easy to see them in a negative light – the media and entertainment industry certainly doesn’t help anything. The main difference between Desirée and others is that she was willing to give mobile homes a chance. She saw the potential and the advantages of the property and because of that they now have a gorgeous home. She happily admits that this mobile home is her favorite home of all time. That’s a pretty awesome testimony!
Of course we will always find more projects to do, but for now, we’re just going to do what we moved to FL to do, be in and on the water!
Thank you, Desirée and Todd, for letting me share your beautiful home. You are living the life that many of us dream about and I hope you have many years of happiness in your home and on the water.
As always, thank you for reading Mobile Home Living®!