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®!
12 thoughts on “Easy Coastal Living in a 1988 Fuqua Double Wide Manufactured Home”
Love what you did on your home and lot. Beautiful! I live in Fort Myers in a 1983 Manufactured double wide. It has 1300sq Ft. I’ve discovered some soft spots under the wood flooring and am saving money to fix them. My friend who works on homes in the park, will show me how to take the floors off and he’ll do the work underneath and then we’ll replace the floors. He’s going to put a new shower in my bathroom in 2 weeks. He gets deals at the Mobile Home store so it’ll save me money. My walls were painted white when I moved in so I found some pictures I wanted hung and am slowly adding new beachy stuff on my walls.
Looking forward to
Seeing more of what you have done.
Hi Crystal, I absolutely love the 1988 Fuqua Double-Wide Kitchen redo that Desiree and Todd Schwalbe did. Is there some way I can find out where they got those cabinets? Your help is much appreciated!
I think this is my all time favorite post!!
This couple is an inspiration.
I have a question. Our cheap walls do not seem to be sturdy enough to hand pictures, decorations, mirrors etc. How do you hang things on your wall in mobile homes? We’ve used the stickys, but they aren’t good either. Any suggestions?
The only way to ensure the walls can hold weight is to make sure you always hit stud with a screw. Even the smaller studs can bare quite a bit of weight due to the framing integrity (cabinets for example). Your studs will be 16″ – 24″ a part and you can always tell there is a stud where the panels meet each other and there are a strip or batten over it. You can measure off from there.
Best of luck!
Wow! What a beautiful home! I have a couple of questions I want to ask the owner(s)
1. What was the total cost of this upgrade/ remodel?
2. How long did it take?
3. Are there specific suppliers/vendors to use versus general suppliers like the Big Box home improvement stores?
4. Are the walls painted or torn out and replaced and then painted?
Again, congrats on a lovely home.
WOW! This place is downright jaw dropping! I can tell that the owners really enjoyed remodeling the place. They really put their hearts and souls into it. Such wonderful ideas they had! Especially the landscaping!
I always enjoy the remodels but this one is by far the most A-Mazing one for me. I’ve lost count on the number of times I have read it and poured over their photos (laughing). Think I mentioned before on my one and only comment before that we bought new less than a year ago. But it needs our “signature”, you know? Todd and Desiree’s re-do is inspirational, huge thank you’s to them for sharing it with us. We live only about 35 min north of the Gulf of Mexico here in SE Texas and definitely share their love of the water – no diving or boat though (darn on the boat). Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful project!
Cheryl in Texas
Beautiful beautiful home !! I know exactly what you mean about preconceived ideas concerning manufactured homes. We bought a beautiful new Silvercrest home in Palm Springs. When we tell people we live in a mobile home park you can see by the look on their face they are imaging the very worst that they have seen on TV or the movies. The few who do come to see us are shocked at how beautiful our new home is. It’s a wonderful way to live, no regrets at all.
Such a beautiful home! I enjoy seeing what others have done to update their homes and this one is a gem.
Just read my first article and I really enjoyed the pictures and the interviews. I too moved to Florida to be near the gulf. We needed a place that we could afford in retirement. We tried two places before settling in the Dunedin Palm Harbor area. The first was a mobile home that we bought for 1k and rented the land. It truly was irredeemable, lol. Mostly because of the environment of that park. But it was 5 minutes from the beach and I did enjoy walking and swimming at Bradenton Beach. Next, after selling the place back to the park, lol, we moved to Tampa, and we rented a manufactured home that was right on the bay. Dock included. It was wonderful, but after two years we knew that we needed to own a home if we were going to remain solvent in retirement. Alas, we couldn’t afford the homes at the park in Tampa. But after searching, we lucked on a manufactured home in a pretty park with a creek running through it. It’s about 10 minutes from Honeymoon Island, and maybe 20 minutes from Clearwater Beach. Dunedin itself has a quaint beach town old time feel and the old downtown area is quite active, boat and wine clubs, restaurants, historical museums, art lofts, festivals, and home to the biking walking Pinellas Trail. Back to the house, it was such a fixer upper, that we got the home for the price of the share. We paid 32k for the residency owned share. So, you know that thing about good bones? Well, when you get the house for free, yeah. We’ve sunk quite a chunk in replacing caved in floors, (there was a master bathroom leak for 3 years while abandoned) and we even had to shore up some outer wall beams for dry rot. We have so much more work to do, but so far we completely remodeled the master bedroom and bathroom, laid flooring, and replaced a few windows. I’m making it my cottage, and one of the reasons we took this is the back yard. There is at least a hundred feet behind the house, and on the other side of the fence is custom mansions with hundreds of trees. There is also a shady tree line in our own back area. We are ukulele players, part of Tampa Bay Ukulele Society. We have parties in our backyard which seats up to a hundred people!!! Of course we invite the neighbors from my park so that they let us play music! Lol. I will send you before and after pics once this place is completed. We are on a very small budget and it’s going to take sweat equity and time to get it all done. Still have to gut the main bathroom and kitchen. Also want to insulate the very large Florida room up front, and turn that into the Mermaid Bar. With the amount of entertaining we do, I’m considering opening the kitchen to expand the feel of the area. And have also considered opening the main room to the Florida room once it’s insulated. And lastly, I’m looking at siding. I’m investigation the new shingle type of vinyl siding, and will add shutters and window boxes to truly create the cottage I’ve dreamed of. It’s not cheap to do a flip when you need to replace bones, but I look at my children who are entering their 40s and think, “What a wonderful vacation home they will have for sharing when it’s there turn to retire.”. They certainly enjoy visiting from Seattle and going to Disney World, the beaches, and so many amenities that surround us here. I was looking to see if you have an actual magazine? I’d certainly subscribe!!! That’s all for now, I’ll be scouring your articles and products fully, and will keep a journal of our journey from Dull Beige Paneled 1978 Manufactured Home to Seaside Cottage 2020.
Tampa Bay Ukulele Society
Board Of Directors
Event and Performance Coordinator
It’s An Ukulele Day!!!
I loved reading your comment! It sounds like you have a gorgeous home and it’s just gonna keep getting better! I cannot wait to get to share your home and your story – it’s ‘real life’ stories like yours that inspires others. Flooring is a common issue with all mobile and manufactured homes, unfortunately. They use MDF and the least little water can ruin it quick.
Ironically, the only thing my daughter asked for her 15th birthday last year was a ukulele. She learned a few songs on it just watching Youtube. If y’all ever visit the Myrtle Beach, SC area please let me know. I’d love for her to meet you. Have you ever thought of videoing the meetings in your yard? I bet you’d get all kinds of views – I bet it sounds great!
Thanks for commenting – I look forward to hearing from you lots more!