Our Basement Reno

In general, me and Bill joke about how crazy naive we were when we purchased our current home. We had owned a small 2 bedroom condo prior to this home we are in now. That place was 100% move-in ready and had zero maintenance. On the flip side our current home was built in 1957. When we were shown the home all I saw was untapped potential and dreamy ideas of how we could improve it and make it our own. I fell in love with the bones of the place. I look back on the old MLS pictures and remember how I thought it would just take us about ONE YEAR to get all of the ‘cosmetic’ projects done. We were crazy people. Crazy people with full time jobs, families, dogs and travel goals. Not to mention the un-expected expenses that can suddenly pop up with owning a home – especially one that is 60 years old.

We have been here since 2013- five years. And we are still not ‘done’. Don’t get me wrong we have done a lot. We painted the main living space. Twice. I painted the fireplace. Bill built a custom mantle for the fireplace. We re-did the laundry room/ half bath. We remodeled the back porch. We re-did the kitchen– tore out cabinets and added open shelving. We changed out landscaping.

We also totally gutted and put back together the basement- the biggest project we have taken on here. And also the longest lasting. To be honest it still isn’t completely finished. But it is usable. And usable is much better than the basic storage space we had before.

The first step was tearing down all the walls that broke up the space. We also ripped up the brown outdoor carpet and old vinyl flooring that was underneath. We ripped out the old toilet, sink and bathtub. We removed the dropped ceiling and fluorescent lights. My dad (the retired electrician) re-wired the whole basement because he said before our house could have basically spontaneously caught on fire. He also installed some canned lights. We painted the cinderblock walls white. We had the floor epoxy guys come and do a matte white flooring treatment. I attempted to tile the bathroom floor. (LOL) And we also hired a plumber to do the important stuff in the bathroom because in general- a good rule is to never DIY plumbing unless you’re a professional.

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The bathroom isn’t done yet because real life. But I wanted to show you some before & afters because who doesn’t like that?!

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What I learned from “secrets from a stylist” aka Emily Henderson is my favorite interior designer

Do any of ya’ll remember the Hgtv show design star? One of the winners from design star Emily Henderson – my design muse – had this short run spinoff show called ‘secrets of a stylist’ after she won design star. This show was LIFE to me when it was on and I never understood how it got canceled. Like WHY! Why do you hate me hgtv?!

But I digress – ‘secrets of a stylist’ was amazing and totally different than anything on TV at the time and since. And watching Emily kill it on her show really gave me some of my first design nuggets of knowledge.

Each episode started out with Emily introducing a couple that had a design challenge. Many times they had differing opinions on what should be done- and by completing a ‘style diagnostic’ where she would basically ask the couple ‘this or that’ questions she would come up with an adorable name for what their style was called. Like nautical modern boho or rustic granny chic…. well not exactly – her names were way more clever always.

Another way she would complete a style diagnostic was by analyzing her clients closet. This was a crazy out there concept to me because I had never seen anyone design a persons home around the types of things their client loved to wear. But it totally works.

Look in your closet. What do you see? If you’re me this evolves over time but if I looked right now I would see a lot of denim, black, gray and white. Some rusty orange because I’m kinda into that lately. Blush pink, and texture, a little dark green. And mustard yellow. Apparently I really like mustard yellow. A lot.

It makes sense that looking at the colors, patterns and styles you love to wear would translate into a space you would also love to live in.

So it you’re ever feeling stuck and you’re overwhelmed by all the Pinterest boards that don’t truly feel like you – maybe you should take a step back and look to what you already have as inspiration. The number one way to feel truly content with your home is to be true to yourself and choose what makes you happy- not imitating what you see on Pinterest. That’s all I got today- do with that what you will. 🙂 And just for fun in case you weren’t blessed with witnessing the awesomeness that was secrets of a stylist….

And don’t even get me started about her non-traditional Christmas episode.

Plants: the ‘Black Thumb’ diaries

I’ve been that girl. The girl with the ‘black thumb’. I understand that plants can get kind of pricy and if you’re a novice it can be nerve racking to spend a bunch of money on something that you can easily kill…but trust me..they bring so much life to a space. Especially when you’re staging your home to sell.

I’m definitely no expert here but I have picked up some house plant tips and tricks over the years and can point you in the right direction for some good plant resources if you’re a total newb.

But first let me tell you about a few beginner house plants 🌱 that are very difficult to kill. All those articles that say impossible to kill house plants are liars. Just saying. If it’s a plant, I’ve probably killed it.

The easiest:

  • Pothos plant- if you can believe it I got my first pothos this year and I literally do nothing to it besides occasionally water about every week to 2 weeks with a little liquid plant food I ordered off Amazon. This is now my favorite house plant because it has been so low maintenance and grows noticeably quick.
  • Snake plant- these are super hard to kill. They don’t require much light or watering if you’re forgetful and they can grow really large. I had a snake plant going for about 4-5 years consecutively until I forgot to bring it in off the sun porch before a frost. That was a sad day.
  • Aloe plant- I currently have 2 aloe plants in my house. They’re great and easy to care for. They like light but you don’t have to water them often.

Moderate level:

  • Rubber plant- I’ve got my current first rubber plant right now. It was very tiny when I bought it and it has slowly grown but I’m still not sure I have it totally figured out yet. They’re supposed to do ok in lower light. I really like the dark purple leaves – it has a really moody fall vibe.
  • Fiddle leaf fig- I have 2 of these right now because I love the big pretty leaves. One of them I’ve had about 2 years now. It does not grow quickly at all and I’m amazed I’ve been able to keep it going for this long because the research I did before buying one told me they’re pretty temperamental. The most common advice I found was not to move it around in your home- find a place it likes and keep it there. Also wiping off the large leaves is a good idea because they can be real dust collectors- which will inhibit your fiddles ability to soak up rays.

Difficult aka I’ve killed it: Lime tree, ferns (multiple varieties), various succulents (if you’re forgetful and you leave them on a non-heated sun porch in the winter— don’t do that!)

How to make your entryway more inviting

I think I’ve heard a saying, “back door guests are best” or something cheesy like that. At my house, the people who actually know us come to the back door. This is because our driveway curves around the back of the house- so it doesn’t make any sense for them to walk back around and knock on the front door. So my ‘entry way’ technically comes right into my kitchen.

This has been a bit of a dilemma for me since we moved in because the first thing you would see when you came in the back door was a brown block of cabinets that was not at all functional for our family. It subconsciously bummed me out for years every time I came home and saw the the papers and dog supplies piled up right as you walked in. So this year I decided to do something about it. Here are a couple before pictures of the view when you came in our backdoor.

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Then after we demo’d and moved our ‘pantry’ cabinets together. To me- this was a huge improvement already- but we weren’t done yet!

Open shelving, a coffee bar, new light fixture, simple artwork and statement wallpaper… and look ma- less clutter! The dog and coffee supplies are tucked away in our new coffee bar from Target. And we kept the only cabinets that were actually functional for us- the pantry.

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Oh, and in case you were wondering what my front door entry looks like- here you go!

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Minimalism?

I mentioned in my last blog that this year in my house we been working towards a more minimalist lifestyle. This isn’t a change we’ve made over night and it’s still a work in progress but I wanted to share a bit here about the journey in case you have been considering this yourself.

It all started with watching a documentary on Netflix by the minimalists. I highly recommend this doc and I think it’s a great place to start. Even if you don’t want to take minimalism to the extremes these guys have- there is a lot to be said for decluttering your life. Physically removing excess objects, paying off debt and making more time for the activities and people you love is always a win.

After watching that great documentary I decided to listen to a couple audio books. I started with The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. This book gave me the motivation and a clear cut plan to get through all my crap – starting with my closet. She has you start by ripping all your clothes off hangers and throwing them in the floor. Then you pick each piece up and hold it in your hands and ask yourself – does it bring you joy?

I got rid of so many clothes. Most of it went to goodwill, some of it went to family, the rest was listed on this app a friend told me about called Poshmark. YA’LL. Since I started in January 2018 I have made back over $1000 on Poshmark by selling all the clothing, shoes and accessories I wasn’t using. I was embarrassed at how much impulse spending I had done over the years and how much money I had wasted on trendy pieces that didn’t actually feel like me. It was mind blowing and wonderful at the same time. I felt so free. Removing those things and having less clothing has actually made me feel like I have more clothes and outfits. It is way easier to figure out what to wear now. And moving forward the only things I have added to my wardrobe are higher quality items I will use for years to come. I could talk about clothes and the transformation my shopping habits have taken for a whole post – so I’ll move on.

I had several areas in my home that had accumulated more stuff than I could even believe. Owning a vintage furniture business for a couple years was the culprit for a lot of it. My garage, basement and a bedroom were stuffed. So many project pieces had went undone for so long and I didn’t realize how much all of it being present in my home stressed me out – until I started removing it.

My parents (bless them) spent a hand full of really long days working through all my stuff with me and they took everything that they could and had a big yard sale. They made $400 plus on all my crap. The rest of it we donated to goodwill and also a random girl that stopped when she saw all the furniture in the drive way because she thought we were having a yard sale. 😳 That’s when you know you have too much stuff.

Annnnd the trash. I’m not even sure how many bags of trash we removed but it was a lot. We’re still gradually putting it out at the curb each week.

I read a couple other books this year as well on the subject. The More of Less by Joshua Becker and Everything that Remains by the minimalists. I have Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White on my to-be-read list right now. And in an effort to reduce our bills we are getting very close to paying off one of our 2 vehicles and next week we are officially cutting the cord with cable TV. 😱 Because less bills = more freedom.

This year has been transformational in so many ways and it all really started when I decided to remove all the things that didn’t matter. I have always loved design and home decor – and I still do – but changing my mindset about the stuff I allow to come into my home has been the catalyst that has changed my life. As much as both my husband and I love our home it has made us wonder if we could possibly even downsize?! Kind of a crazy concept with most people buying everything on credit and living pay check to pay check- just hoping they will have enough money to pay the mortgage.

All I’m saying is, if you’ve never looked into minimalism you totally should. If you want more freedom in your life- this is the best way I’ve found. If you want to downsize and sell your house- I know a good realtor. 😏