Recently I started listing off the major changes we have made to the house over the past year to Ty, and we were both surprised. Even while I looked through pictures from just months ago I was reminded of how much can change even when it feels like you’re barely moving along.
This was the first year I was home full-time with the kids, which helped tremendously in getting these projects done. I like to have something to work on during the day and it’s good for me to put my creative mind to use on projects. For me, this was a year of figuring out my personal style and really how to curate a home that speaks to that. We had a few hiccups this year-Ty breaking his leg mid-July, being the biggest-but were still able to accomplish most of what we set out to do.
1.) The first project we tackled: switching the bedrooms around.
We moved Lena into the smaller bedroom with two closets and turned one closet into a small “playhouse” room.
Even more recently we moved Cohen into this room, so things have already changed. There will be more updates to their shared room soon. Here is the “new” master bedroom.
2.) Next, we renovated the upstairs bathroom. I think this project has the most dramatic effect of everything we did in 2018. The previous owners had already updated the space, but it was still in need of some TLC. We painted, swapped out the vanity & updated the lighting. You can read more about this renovation here.
3.) I painted the kitchen cabinet uppers.
When we first moved in, I painted all of the cabinets Storm Cloud Gray by Benjamin Moore. Because this space is small & doesn’t get any direct sunlight after 10 am, it usually felt dark & crowded. Painting the uppers really helped lighten the space while the darker color on the bottom kept things grounded & tied in with the tile (which we later removed).
4.) We moved the laundry upstairs.
The previous owners had moved it down to the basement after the garage addition & used the extra space as a breakfast nook, but the space just off the kitchen still felt very much like a mudroom. This was probably the project I was most excited about this year because doing laundry in a 100-year-old basement is really not my favorite!
5.) Installed a backyard privacy fence.
Our lot is strange, in that it is actually a big triangle with a frequently used ally that runs behind our house. This has always been a headache with the kids & I couldn’t wait to put a fence up eventually. This has made a huge difference and I wish we had done it sooner.
6.) Replaced the kitchen flooring.
When we moved in, there had been tile installed over uneven flooring which led to tile cracking & grout popping out everywhere. I was so excited to do this project; while the rest of our house was improving, the kitchen floor got worse and worse. Tearing up that tile never felt so good. We laid the same flooring that was in the mudroom to maintain visual flow between the two rooms.
When we replaced the flooring, I also updated the lower cabinet color to something less green & more neutral (Benjamin Moore Platinum Gray). Everything about this project made the kitchen feel a lot fresher & brighter.
7.) Converted Cohen’s room into my office.
This was one of those projects that I thought of late at night & on a whim decided to go for it. You can read all about it here.
8.) Lots (and lots) of trial and error.
I really feel like this was the year I learned the most about my personal style, what I want our home to emulate, and that curating a home that truly represents who you are, takes time. I went through many gallons of paint getting our dining room right.
I tried painting it a super dark, moody color, and it just did not work for me. I absolutely loved the color but the whole room felt way too heavy in comparison to the rest of our light & airy home.
It still needs some tweaking, but it’s definitely headed in the right direction.
I also shuffled furniture around for months trying to get it right, buying new items that didn’t really fit, selling what didn’t work, moving things around over and over… if you can’t seem to get a room just right, know you are not alone. At first, I was discouraged and felt as though “I should be able to know what I like & make it happen without so many mistakes”–but after a year of so much experimenting and learning, I am ok with the learning curve that comes with making a home your own. Many of my initial ideas didn’t work (like the black & white spool chairs, or the large sofa in the front room, or the giant TV cabinet in the family room, or the coffee table that isn’t kid-friendly) and some of those ideas I lived with unnecessarily because I felt bad about changing my mind (again). If you know something isn’t quite right or you don’t like it, then: call it what it is, realize where you made your mistake (didn’t measure the space, doesn’t fit your style, impractical) and move on. Sell the furniture, re-paint that room, move the furniture one more time; recently we refinished a 1960 dining table & it just did not turn out the way I had hoped (the red oak of the table clashes with our floors) and while we now have hours behind us of refinishing that table, I am just going to take it for what it is & sell it while it’s in near perfect condition.
You can read about our Family Room makeover here.
While I feel like I’m getting closer to being able to define my personal style, I still have a long way to go. There are still many empty spots & unfinished rooms in the house that I will spend 2019 “practicing” on. I am currently working on:
- Finishing furniture selection for the front room
- Finding the right dining table
- Finding head-of-table dining chairs
- A reading lamp for the family room
- Learning how to pattern mix & choose textiles
- Designing the downstairs bath remodel
While I work on these small to-do’s in my creative time, there are bigger projects that we have planned for the coming year.
Here are the major projects that we will be tackling in 2019:
- Building a built-in for the Family Room. This will make the best use of space in the small room that it is. We should get started on this by next week!
- Refinishing my office hardwood floors.
- Finishing the mudroom. This includes building cabinetry to hide the washer and dryer, hanging open shelving & installing lighting.
- Renovating the downstairs bath. This is a gut job that I cannot wait to get started on. Here is what it currently looks like:
- Our master bedroom + the kids’ room. I am least motivated to get to the bedrooms, so this year I want to be intentional about making these into rooms that I love.
- Painting the front porch ceiling. The tongue & groove isn’t in great shape & it feels pretty heavy with such a dark ceiling above you when you’re outside.
- Updating the backyard. I have plans to move & paint the swing set, improve the small patio we have out back & keep working on our landscaping.
So far these are our home goals for 2019. We’ve yet to do a “major” renovation like we are planning for the downstairs bath, so I think that will take most of our time & resources.
Overall, I’m really proud of all that we accomplished this year. As I write down our bigger accomplishments I am also reminded of the smaller ones that made all the difference and it encourages me to keep going in the coming year. Sometimes when you live with something that you stare at every day (that outdated light fixture, our poop colored bathroom) and would love to change it immediately, but you don’t have the time or resources, it’s easy to get tricked into thinking you aren’t making any progress & become discouraged. Make small, do-able changes each day and you will be surprised at where you end up in a year. Here’s to a productive 2019!