Last Fan Standing

The last dated light fixture in our house is finally gone. It turns out that it looks much better on display at the Habitat ReStore than it did in my office!

My husband bought a new light fixture for me for Christmas. (I remind him often how lucky he is that I ask for practical things that benefit us both!) As I mentioned before, we got all of the popcorn ceilings in our house scraped, textured, and painted. Since Brandon had to take down every light fixture in the house for them to do that, we waited until it was done to put up the new one. And, it looks much better on a clean ceiling!

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Here are two photos of the office right before we moved in.

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Four years ago, I painted my office Homestead Brown from Sherwin Williams. I really have enjoyed it, but I wanted a new contemporary look and I bravely decided to go with black! (Tricorn Black from Sherwin Williams). I was ok with this for a few reasons. This room faces west and has a huge window so it gets a lot of natural light. Also, it’s not a big room or a primary use room, and the wall of built-ins breaks up the monotony of dark with light.

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Lastly, I spray painted the storage boxes that I have on my shelves and the makeover was complete. I love my new simple, black and white workspace!

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From the window to the wall

After four years of wondering what it would look like, we finally took down the wall in our kitchen! We made sure the wall wasn’t load-bearing and then removed the drywall, cabinets, and studs from the cut-out window all the way to the end of the wall.

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I love it so much I’m wondering why we didn’t do it sooner. Although, it couldn’t come at a better time. It’s perfect for entertaining (which we do often) and more importantly, we can now see our baby playing while we cook.

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This is also the start of a much bigger job, a full kitchen remodel. We are painting the cabinets and walls, installing new lighting, putting in new countertops and a backsplash, and laying down new tile for the floor. We always try to do as much as we can ourselves (with a lot of my dad’s help and expertise!). However, we will definitely be needing an electrician, plumber, and a drywaller at some point.

The plan is to take it slow and just do a few things at a time, especially since many of the steps make a huge mess. In fact, before we do anything else to the kitchen, we have decided to bite the bullet and pay someone to scrape the popcorn ceilings and paint them throughout the entire house. We will be spending a full week with family! But, this inconvenience is a big step toward updating our 1990 house.

Here are a few more pictures of our kitchen before we started.

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Keep the Merry in your Christmas

When it comes to Christmas, there can be a lot of pressure. Our Pinterest-perfect world is exhausting. We have to buy it all, do it all, and be it all. This year, ask yourself why? Why do you take 10 trips to Hobby Lobby to get your décor just right? Why do you buy out the grocery store baking aisle? Why do you spend the entire month of December wrapping?

It’s one thing if you enjoy what you’re doing….then by all means – wrap, decorate, and bake away! But, if you don’t enjoy it and you’re doing it just because you think you should or you have to, then I give you permission to stop.

I can’t wrap a gift to save my life. I can’t even make tissue paper in a gift bag look pretty, but hey, my family doesn’t care…and I do put effort into picking the gift. It’s also safe to say that baking isn’t my thing either, I mess up a box of brownies. The rules are too rigid, no room for creativity. On the other hand, my mom is great at both those things and she does them because she enjoys it. I would rather have a fire and put lights up in the backyard with my husband or drink wine and watch Home Alone with my sister.

So, how do you like to celebrate the Christmas season? What is it you enjoy? Pick just a few things and as always, I hope you remember the reason for the season. As for the rest of my December day? I think I’ll throw something in a gift bag, light a vanilla scented candle and call it a day. Keep the Merry in your Christmas!

Enter Baby

Our baby girl, Vail Capri, is now two months old. My life has done a complete 180 and I love it. It’s funny how many things have drastically changed – my routine, my outlook, my priorities, my perspective…my purpose!

Here are 5 things I’ve learned.

1. It can wait.
I’m a doer…always have been, always will be. Why put off until tomorrow what can be done today. Right? While I love productivity and checking things off my list, I’ve already realized that I can’t get back these precious moments. I don’t think anybody looks back on their life and says wow, I wish I had held my baby less. I’m trying to savor every minute of her being this small. Time spent with her and my husband doing nothing is not wasted, it’s the most valuable, productive way I can spend my time.

2. Never say never.
“I’ll never post a ton of pictures of my kid on social media. I’ll never use cloth diapers. I’ll never drive a mini-van.” Although I’m standing firm on the van one for now, I have already succumbed to the first two! This applies to so many situations in life, you just don’t know what you’ll do until you’re there. So, rather than eat my words later, I’ve learned to never say never.

3. Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork.
I played sports in high school and college but teamwork has now taken on an entirely different meaning. While my husband and I were a team before we had Vail, now, our teamwork is essential not only for the purpose of meeting her needs but also for the success of our marriage. We have different ways of doing things and my way isn’t necessarily the better way. Life is so much easier when we can share responsibilities and sweeter when we can celebrate accomplishments and milestones together.

4. Do what works.
We all have opinions that we’re pretty eager to share. And, I couldn’t do without a lot of the great advice I’ve been offered. My mom always quotes Proverbs 11:14 “In a multitude of counselors, there is safety”. That is absolutely true. But, we can’t take all of the advice we receive and we can’t feel bad about doing what works for us.

5. Things don’t always go according to plan.
I had a natural birth plan, I had a doula…I didn’t get to use either. I had a C-section. It wasn’t what I wanted, but she’s here and she’s healthy!

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Baby Girl’s Room!

It’s all finished! Now we are just patiently waiting for her arrival. I’ve never had so much fun decorating a room before and we love how it turned out!

Here is the room when we bought the house…safari wallpaper and all.

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Then, for the past few years, it’s been a pretty boring guest room.

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Most of the rooms in our house have popcorn ceiling which we are trying to remove little by little. It’s a ton of work and creates a big mess but makes a huge difference when it’s gone. My husband made the mistake of showing me how good he is at taking it down! So, with our baby’s room, after removing the dated ceiling fan, that’s where “we” started.

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After he scraped the popcorn, mudded and sanded the ceiling, he rolled it white and put up a new, modern ceiling fan from Lowes.

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Then it was time to paint! We decided on Functional Grey by Sherwin Williams.

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Next, the new floors went in.

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I didn’t want to go overboard but decided to do a subtle “travel” theme. I also wanted to keep the colors simple and allow the room to be one she can grow into. The crib is Babyletto by Hudson, the chair from Lazyboy, the end table from Target (we spray painted it black), the dresser is a repurposed Craigslist find, the map from Etsy and the white lacquered shelf and city prints are from IKEA.

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We hope you like it! Just waiting on our new inhabitant, can’t wait!

The Power of a Deadline

Last week we did a presentation on organizing and time management at the Chamber of Commerce for entrepreneurs and business people. Sometimes, having an organized, effective schedule is just as important as having an organized living space. The things on our calendar need a “home” just like the lightbulbs in our utility closet or the extra blankets in our family room. Getting things done requires a clear understanding of how long things take, giving yourself a realistic workload, having clear goals and priorities, and controlling the distractions.

When it comes to time management and overcoming procrastination, I have personally realized how much power there is in a deadline. Whether it’s one that is established for you, or one that you create yourself, deadlines can be a great way to keep yourself on track.

We have a baby due at the end of this month and I’m not sure my husband and I have ever accomplished so much in so little time. Suddenly, that list of things we “should do someday” became the things that “needed to get done”. There were some big tasks – like refinancing our home, putting down new floors, and transforming our office and guest rooms to accommodate our new addition. But, there was also a long list of small tasks – like taking our dog to the vet, touching up our baseboards, organizing our digital photos, and cleaning out our attic that all got accomplished as well.

So, what have you been putting off? What kind of deadline can you set for yourself to just get it done? Creating a deadline and sticking to it is setting yourself up for time management success!

We’re Floored!

Our new floor is finally in! After a few weeks of tile and carpet tear out, followed by a few more of living on concrete, it feels so good to have a permanent, clean floor. We opted for a high quality laminate because of cost and durability and are very happy with it. Now we just need a few rugs!

We did a lot of the labor ourselves, including the tear out and painting the quarter round trim that went in last but we did decide to hire someone to do the actual installing. We definitely wanted it done right the first time and didn’t want to run into any problems later on.

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We also went ahead and replaced the tile in our hall bathroom (it’s the same 12×24 tiles that are also in our master bath). My husband repainted the walls a bright white and we replaced the toilet and the framed mirror with a modern, floating one.

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The baby’s room is next!

We’ve got it covered

I used to get tired of something in my house and before you knew it, it was either torn out and discarded, in a pile at Goodwill or posted on Craigslist. And, some of my things definitely still do end up there; but, I’ve also learned how to keep them around longer by simply changing the look. This can be accomplished using paint or even fabric. Is there something that you want to replace but instead could just be inexpensively transformed? Here are a few of my “cover-ups”.

Most recently, we were going to chip out the tile around the fireplace and replace it. It was going to be a big mess, a huge hassle, and a significant expense. Instead, we just painted it! Most people don’t know that you can actually paint ceramic tile. Personally, I wouldn’t want to tackle a whole floor or shower, but a fireplace with minimal contact seemed like the perfect place to try it out. You do have to use a special bonding primer but after that step, it’s relatively simple.

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Large pieces of art can be expensive and I wasn’t quite ready to part with this big piece. However, after a few years, I was really tired of it. I took the measurements, bought a cheap geometric pattered curtain from Lowes and recovered it.

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This piece was definitely on it’s way to Goodwill. My parents found this in the trash over 20 years ago and used it for many different things throughout the years. Most recently, they used it for shoe storage in the garage, but didn’t need it anymore. My husband drilled holes in the back and now it’s the perfect storage piece for speakers, patio and paint supplies for our sunroom. I painted it white and changed out the knobs. It was rescued once again!

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Another change I made in the sunroom was to spray paint the ceiling fans. I’ve replaced several of the ones in the house but didn’t think I needed to do so in the sunroom, I just wanted them to be inconspicuous. We needed them out there but they definitely didn’t need to be a focal point. Another simple fix.

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Take a look around your house, what is it you’ve been wanting to replace? Can it be “covered up”?

Something’s Gotta Give

The more clients we work with, the more we see the prevalent struggle with not just an excess of physical clutter, but an excess of mental clutter. We see disorganized homes that often go hand in hand with disorganized schedules. The common denominator is too much stuff and the simple answer is usually that “Something’s gotta give”.

We just took Julie Morgenstern’s class – Time Management from the Inside Out, and her book, by the same name, is one that we highly recommend. Some of the same rules apply to organizing your physical space as organizing your mental space.

A great place to start is to determine where all of the hours in your day are going. Do a time map of your typical day. Also, it’s very important to be realistic about how long different tasks take you. You have to make sure you are allotting enough time to each given activity or task. And, just like your stuff in your physical space, tasks need a home or chaos ensues.

If you have an issue with time management, you may need to rearrange and reprioritize your schedule. Many times, there is just not enough time in the day to accomplish the things we need to do to be efficient and productive, whether you are a CEO or a stay at home mom. When you do your time map, take a step back and reevaluate your schedule. Is there something you can cut out? Make sure you have clear goals on what is important to you, otherwise you will say yes to anything that comes your way. As Julie reminded us, good time management means creating days that are meaningful and rewarding!

Out with the old, ready for the new

We are officially living on concrete! You know your carpet was bad when you actually prefer living on your slab. Our house was built in 1990 and we’re pretty sure it may have been original carpet. We’re having a baby girl in August and the thought of her learning to crawl on it really motivated us to get some new flooring.

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I don’t mind carpet at all, in fact it can be very cozy and comfortable; but, we decided that with a baby on the way and an 85 pound dog who does occasionally come inside, that we wouldn’t put any back in the house. So, we have chosen an ash colored laminate from Germany to go in our dining room, entry, living room, hallway, both offices, and bedrooms. We have already replaced the tile in two of our bathrooms and will eventually be replacing the tile in our kitchen and laundry room. Although we will definitely need to invest in some rugs to warm things up, I’m happy with our choice and I really wanted to keep the types and styles of floor coverings in our house to a minimum (there will be only the laminate and the same tile throughout.)

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After we picked out our flooring, we started to rip out the carpet. (And by we, I mean Brandon, with some help from my dad!) They rolled it up and kept the carpet and the pad as in tact as possible. I posted it on Craigslist in the free section a few rooms at a time and we had it all picked up the same day. We didn’t have to worry about how or where to haul it to and someone else got some extra carpet they could use.

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We scraped the glue from the concrete and he grinded the nails down where the tack strips were to smooth it out. The most difficult part was the tile he had to remove from the entry, fireplace, and back door area. After a long, labor-filled weekend it’s now all pulled up, hauled off, and cleaned up. It’s time to start laying the new floors and getting our house back together!

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One other recent project we did was to remove the pergola on the back of our house. I didn’t mind how it looked and it did provide some shade in our sunroom but the painted wood was starting to rot. We took it down a week before our city spring cleanup so that we would have the means of disposing of it. I did however, put the green shades for free on craigslist so that was one less thing to go to the landfill. I’m really happy with the cleaner look on the back of the house.

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Soon I will be sharing the progress on our baby’s bedroom and bathroom as they get completed. We have a busy few months planned so that we can rest and enjoy our baby when she gets here. Thanks for watching our progress and transformations!