Category Archives: Home

Home sweet home!

Condo Living

condo living monroe laOne of the main questions I get from people I haven’t seen in a bit is, “How do you like living in the condos?” The short answer — I love it! Here’s what I  like about it:

My tip top favorite thing about living here is being on the water and the views. My camera roll is full of photos of that bridge in different lights. The clouds are beautiful and I wake up every morning to the sunrise in my bedroom window. Not being a “morning person,” having that view to see when I first wake up is motivation to go ahead and open my sleepy eyes! Sunny days, cloudy days, and stormy days — they’re all a beauty on the river. Continue reading

Old House: This Week’s Progress

100 year old house living room100 year old house shiplap bedroomThe house looks a lot different this week!

Kitchen cabinet demo is almost done! We were able to remove that fabulous sink and it looks like it is salvageable. I’m excited that there’s wood under the kitchen ceiling too! We uncovered some old wallpaper there which was an interesting find. I’m sure it was really pretty during its time. There’s not wood under that breakfast nook addition and I’ll either add more bead board or sheetrock that area. I’d really like to understand why the bead board is cut into pieces like it is on the one side. Oh, the unanswered questions. Also, there might be wood under the paneling walls. Fingers crossed. Continue reading

Two Weeks of Demo

100 year old house wallpaper removalIt’s been a productive few weeks with the old house renovation project. Demo always moves along the quickest and has the biggest impact. Eventually, I’ll share my plans/struggles/ideas for each room. For now, just try to use your imagination the best you can. Things are moving fast over here! If you don’t remember what it looked like before, you can start here Continue reading

100 Year Old House – Before

100 Year Old House Front100 Year Old House Carport100 Year Old House BackyardThere’s this 100 year old house. I saw its pictures online and took a spin to look at it up close, to see if it might be a good investment. I walked in, observing its slanted floors and dated fixtures. Noticing its potential. I envisioned turning that one room into a third bedroom and reconfiguring the kitchen. I imagined people gathering for parties and kids playing in the big yard. Next thing I knew, I envisioned myself there. Continue reading

The North Louisiana Flood – A Year Later

North Louisiana Flood 2016North Louisiana Flood 2016I tried so many times to write about the flood. I spread as much positivity as possible during that terrible time and I wanted to share what the roller coaster of emotions was really like. However, I never had the words. Honestly, I lost my voice entirely for a bit. I tried to write to make sense of things and I just didn’t have the words.

Continue reading

March 1, 2016

planting spring flowersI stumbled upon what would have been a blog post for the first week of March 2016. I wrote this post just 8 days before our lives were turned upside down from the flood. I decided to share it today as an example of just how quickly everything can change. I would have never guessed that just a few days later, all my plans and ideas of what the month was going to look like would be entirely different.

Continue reading

Why I Avoided Pinterest During our Remodel

Black House ExteriorLet’s face the facts. We all love Pinterest. And if you don’t, I basically don’t understand you at all. So. Many. Cool. Ideas.

I’m a firm believer in taking time to get inspired and Pinterest is pretty much the best place to find inspiration, whether it be for your home, wardrobe, hobbies, or work. The ideas are endless and you’re bound to come across something lovely and fascinating. Many projects and ideas of my own have been sparked by something I saw on Pinterest.

That being said, I pretty much stayed off Pinterest entirely during this last remodel. One would think that this would have been the perfect time to be glued to the mesmerizing service, and yet I stayed far, far away from it. Why? Because it was too much.

I am known for becoming overwhelmed by too many options and during a time when I had to make decisions FAST, I simply wouldn’t have been able to process all of the options. I did look through things I’d already pinned to remember ideas I’d had in the past. However, I firmly limited my exposure to new information and options.

Furthermore, I wanted to make decisions considering what was best for our particular home and how we intend to use it. I didn’t want to be persuaded in different directions because of a gorgeous photo I saw online. Instead, I wanted to stand in the remains of our home and determine what felt right. How have we always imagined this place looking? What would make it more usable to us and be conducive to our everyday routines? I knew that if I saturated my mind with all of the ideas and options, I would not only be overwhelmed, I might also make decisions that weren’t best for us here in this home.

I once stumbled upon an article about why someone doesn’t watch Fixxer Upper and my initial thought was – how lame! I thought this person must be a jealous, unimaginative person if they couldn’t separate their reality from that of the show. How could you not still be comfortable with what you had just because you watched a design show?? How could you not use those ideas as little doses of inspiration for your own home? I just didn’t get it. And while our situations are very different, I suddenly felt the need to limit my own exposure to the beautiful homes of the world.

Rather than scrolling endlessly and trying to employ every single cute idea on the internet, I used Pinterest as a tool for accomplish specific tasks. When I decided I wanted blue cabinets, I searched specifically for blue cabinets in hopes that I’d stumble upon a color I loved. (No such luck, by the way.) As I mentioned above, I did look through my previous pins and I had a pretty legit bathroom board going. I pulled my favorites from there and we rolled with it. When I struggling with how to fancy up the fireplace, I searched specifically for flat fireplace walls and pulled only the items that made sense in my home. I used Pinterest for the amazing tool that it is and yet still limited my exposure because I had to.

As a result of my Pinterest strategy, I avoided some of the overwhelm. (Let’s get real. Doing all that we did in the time that we did it was still overwhelming.) However, I know with certainty that I would have blown my own mind if I’d have allowed myself down that rabbit hole. As things come together here, I allow myself back into the wild a little more each day. And I go use Pinterest for its intended purpose – to see pretty things and save ideas for later.

If you’d like to see my inspiration board for the remodel, go right ahead! I just made it public and there’s some pretty awesome stuff in there. Go ahead. Go spend an hour with Pinterest. Just kidding. We all know you’ll be there longer than an hour if you open that app. Happy pinning, friends! Feel free to follow me if you see things you like there.

Photo Source: Sarah Sherman Samuel

#mapfirsthouse – After

Shiplap Fireplace Living RoomShiplap Fireplace Living RoomNavy Kitchen CabinetsAntique Pie SafeLast Sunday we opened up our “new” home for those who’ve watched the flood recovery process to come and see the finished product. We worked insanely hard to tie up what felt like a thousand loose ends to be ready to have people over. For example, when I announced the get together, we didn’t even have a hall bathroom sink. Or master bathroom door. Among a handful of larger items, there were 1,000 small things that still needed to be done. Hence the reason we decided to have the party in two weeks…a hard deadline makes things happen magically fast. We pushed hard to get a lot done in a short amount of time and now we can rest for a bit. There’s still a few larger and smaller things that we want to complete, and those can wait for a bit.Navy Brick HouseNavy Kitchen CabinetsNavy Kitchen CabinetsMid Century Modern Dining RoomGold Fixtures & Barn DoorsI’ll go through all of the changes in each room with you eventually, and here’s a few snapshots of the finished product to hold you over for now. If you want to take your own before and after tour, you can look back on the before photos and a tour from one year after we moved in.Emerald Green Hall BathSinger Sewing Machine Table as a VanityWalk-In Closet RoomWalk-In Closet RoomI can’t wait to break down all the before and after details because this house has come SO. FAR. And as with most things, I feel like the beauty is in the details. We worked very, very hard to add as much of our personality to this home as possible and just thinking back on what it once was…at all of the different stages…is quite mind-blowing for me. Navy Master BedroomMarble Master BathroomThere are a ton of things that I LOVE about the new remodel. I’m thrilled to come home every day and I want to host all the parties. I made a few bold moves with remodel decisions and after seeing the finished product, I’m so glad that I did. What do you think so far??

When to Buy Expensive & When to Go Cheap

Updated Navy KitchenThis post is basically when to be fancy and when to be basic. Keep in mind, these are my thoughts and what I use for myself, so you definitely don’t have to agree or even care about my rules. That being said, this post is my tell-all handbook for how I remodeled our home on a budget.

First, a little backstory. Our home flooded and left us with about ¼ of the items we owned and a completely demoed house. We saved the top ½ of the sheetrock, the studs, and the roof – actually, we ended up replacing the roof too. That’s pretty much it. After the initial shock, we were forced to start making all the decisions about rebuilding – basically our lives where a whirlwind of who, what, where, when, and how. (You can read about how that was a nightmare for me here.) Now that construction is finished, I thought I’d share a bit about how I made what decisions and where I chose to splurge versus not.

For this project, we had a budget. We basically had XX number of dollars to rebuild the entire house, do any upgrades we’d been dreaming about, AND replaced all of the personal items we lost. There was simply that number of dollars. We weren’t taking out a second mortgage or selling a car to pay for things. We had to make tough decisions CONSTANTLY about where to splurge and where to save.

An old adage to note here is, “you get what you pay for.” Most of us have heard that since the beginning of time and unfortunately for our pocketbooks, it’s true. We simply don’t get high quality items for pennies. This, of course, doesn’t count the occasional sale or lucky find. And, that being said, you can usually easily tell the difference in how the quality version of something performs compared to the lower quality one. I noticed this immediately with my car. It simply drives and feels different than any other vehicle I’ve ever had. This was a fact that I didn’t understand until I drove one myself, which was the day I drove it off the lot. Have I mentioned that I love that car?? I digress.

Back to the house. One of the first examples of quality difference that I noticed in the “new” house was the faucets. We chose to put Delta faucets and Kohler sinks throughout the entire house. (Please make a note of this if you’re considering buying my house in the future and you’re doing your research on the property. Upgrades throughout! A lovely place to call home! *wink wink*) Back to the faucets. When I first used the new kitchen faucet, I nearly swung it off the countertop because it swiveled so easily! The last faucet we had was much harder to rotate, and to be honest, I often thought I was going to break it. I was also super impressed with the new pull down sprayer. When I released it from spraying out the sink, it just popped right back into place and looked as beautiful as ever! After the first use on the last faucet, I felt like it never fit back together properly and you always had to force it back into place. It was better that what we had previously, though this Delta faucet makes the old one feel like an ugly stepchild. (No offense, ugly step children.) Expensive definitely doesn’t always equal quality. However, in most cases, the “pay for what you get” rule does apply.

Gold Delta FaucetSo, how does one know where to upgrade and where to not? I’m glad you asked. I feel like sort of an expert on this topic because I’ve always applied these principles in most areas of my life and used them daily lately. My wardrobe, for example, is a compilation of quality where necessary and inexpensive where people won’t notice. When it comes to the house, we splurged on some items like the faucets and I won’t splurge on other things like door mats or paper towel holders. I’ll wait until I find adorable options at a discount store like TJ Maxx or Ross. (So, stay out of those stores until I find all of the cute, cheap items that I need. Then you can return to your normal shopping pleasure.) Here are a few rules I applied to splurging on our house renovation that I’ve used over and over again in other areas too:

  1. Splurge on items that you use often. An example here would be the faucets. They’re touched and turned on and off every single day. Delta faucets even come with a lifetime warranty so if something goes wrong, you just call them. You don’t get that with cheaper brands. I also applied this principle to our bed which I’ll never, ever regret. We could have gotten a cheaper mattress. However, you spend almost half of your life in bed. That should definitely be an area to splurge. (If you need a suggestion for someone to talk to here locally, let me know!) A third example here is the washer and dryer. Even for just the two of us, I do a LOT of laundry. And I’m very, very particular about my clothes. (Ask my friends. “Yes, you may borrow this. Don’t mess it up and bring it back to me dirty so that I can wash it myself” is basically how those conversations always went.) By investing in a nice, larger washer/dryer, I have more options for caring for our clothes AND I’ve cut my laundry time in half by being able to do larger loads.
  2. Splurge on items that will otherwise deteriorate quickly. The first example that comes to mind here is towels. Sure, you can buy cheap towels at the dollar store. However, it’s important to think about how long they’ll last. Towels certainly fall into the first category too, because ideally (hopefully) you use them every day. While I’m not ordering imported, fancy towels from wherever you import fancy towels from, I certainly won’t buy the cheapest version. This way, the bath experience feels a tad more luxurious and the product will last longer. If you have to repeatedly replace the cheaper version of something, you’re likely spending more money and having more headaches than if you’d have just upgraded a bit in the first place.
  3. Splurge on items that you LOVE. Clearly, we can’t splurge on everything we love. If so, I’d basically own Anthropolgie. However, sometimes you come across something that speaks to you, even though it might cost a little more than a similar version. Most of the time when this happens, it’s probably something you’ll use repeatedly for years to come. For example, Matthew and I found a rug that we both liked and it was neutral enough and high enough quality that we knew we’d use it for years to come, even if it was in a different room later. We decided to spend a little extra there because based on the years we’d use it, the cost was completely justified. Get this though – when he got to the checkout counter, it was 50% off!! We didn’t even know it was on sale when we made the decision to purchase. *Insert 1,000 dancing emojis.*
  4. Splurge when the process of trying NOT to splurge is more trouble than it’s worth. This is a big one for me. If you’re not naturally anxious like me, you can probably skip this one. To be honest, this rule has only become part of my splurge versus not conversation since I married my super chill husband. One day when complaining about how I just couldn’t find an affordable version of *insert random object here,* he asked if I’d wasted enough time already looking for a deal that I could have just bought the original version. It was a light bulb moment for me. Time is definitely worth something and I might be sacrificing way too much of my time to save just $5, $10, or $20. Now, I try to ask myself – could the time I spend looking for a “deal” actually be costing me time. Could the time I’m using be used in a more productive or profitable way? If I realize that the answer is yes – it’d be better to spend $10 extra dollars here than driving across town, spending time and gas, then I “splurge.”

Gold Delta FaucetNow, where should you not splurge? These “rules” will vary greatly depending on what’s important to you. If you’re passionate about soap dishes or kitchen sponges, then so be it. I’m just not, so these tips are based on my personal preferences. In a nutshell, I feel like you should generally avoid splurging on the less noticeable things. However, here are some more specifics:

  1. Do not splurge on trendy items. We’ve all seen it. One day everyone is raving about mesh wreaths and the next it’s wall weavings. Trends ebb and flow constantly. My general rule of thumb is to never, ever splurge on something too trendy. If it happens to fall into #3 above, then maaaybe. However, if you go all out on something too trendy and the trends change, your home is going to look dated instantly. You need to be able to practice “out with the old and in with the new” in regards to trends and if you’ve mortgaged the house on that item, it’s going to be a lot harder to do. Actually, while we’re at it, I generally try to avoid anything that’s gone mass trendy anyway. If everyone you know is using it/wearing it/has it, it’s probably going to be lame in a matter of minutes. If you struggle with picking what’s classic and cool (and not overly trendy), watch your artsy friends. They’ll be doing trends before they’re cool and then likely abandon them once they’re widespread. The moral of this story is to not splurge on trends. And to avoid gangbuster trends altogether (if you wanna be supa fly, that is).
  2. Do not splurge on the small stuff. I’ll use the paper towel holder as an example again. There is most likely a marble or handmade stone paper towel holder out there that is breathtakingly beautiful. And most likely, I’d love to have it. However, I’ve never hosted a party and had guest ooh and ahh over my paper towel holder. Or the rags that I clean with. Or the front door mat. Or the light switch covers. There are definitely high quality, expensive versions of these things out there and again, if they fall into #3 above, go for it. Chances are though, most people don’t even notice the small stuff. AND most of the time you can find nice, less expensive version of these items either at a discount store or on sale somewhere. I have never paid more than $10 for a door mat and I’m quite proud of that fact. Usually by waiting, you can come across cute versions of these smaller items for less money. It’s how I create balance.
  3. Do not splurge simply for the sake of splurging. I know some people who simply spend money for what seems like no reason. They buy the expensive versions of everything because they equate dollar signs with value and worth. I do believe that quality comes with higher prices the majority of the time. However, the quality of my light switch covers is just not important to me. If you find yourself splurging on every single thing or spending money just to spend it, you should probably speak to your therapist. And cut up those credit cards.
  4. Do not splurge on a temporary solution. If you desperately need a dresser to hold your unmentionables and you really, really want that vintage chifferobe that will take you a bit to find, don’t splurge on the temporary solution. Buy something that works alright for now so that you can replace it without hurt feelings and a hurt pocketbook when you find the thing you really want. Similarly, I wouldn’t suggest spending a ton on something that will only work in this one spot in this one house. If you won’t be able to reuse that item, then it probably shouldn’t be a splurge item. My most recent example is our master bedding. I think that it’s important to get your bedroom set up and comfortable ASAP after a move, or remodel in our case. I haven’t chosen my permanent bedding yet, and rather than spending a lot on something temporary, we purchased an Ikea duvet to use in the interim. The room will be “fixed” and functional for now, and when I find my permanent bedding, I won’t have wasted a ton of money on the temporary.

As I said above, these guidelines are just how I personally approach spending money on my home. These tips were fresh on my mind since I’ve been employing them every single day lately, so I thought I’d share with the class. There will sometimes be exceptions (but pay close attention to #3 on what NOT to do) and there will always be differences in budgets and opportunities. You might want to be jealous of my Delta faucets (cause they’re  awesome). However, I’ll kindly remind you that I had to go through one of the most traumatic experiences of my life thus far to get those faucets. If I had to spell out the biggest thing for you to take away from this post, it would be this – never spend more money than you have and never, ever compare yourself and your situation to someone else’s. Save where you can and treat yo self sometimes. If you’d like some inspiration on building a lovely home on a budget, this book and her blog is a great resource.

If you have any guidelines that you follow when deciding when to splurge and when not to, I’d love to hear them. Most of us don’t have the luxury (or are responsible enough to not to use it) to simply buy whatever we want, whenever we want it. I’d imagine that we all have strategies that we use, maybe without even noticing it, when making purchasing decision. I’d love to hear your tactics!

Fun & Simple Halloween Projects

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays, so it’s no surprise that I’ve been pinning different fall and Halloween goodies for a while now. Since it’s officially fall (!!) and October is right around the corner, I thought I’d share a few of my latest favorites with you. It’s time to start making those fall and Halloween crafts, my friends!diy-crayon-pumpkin-tutorialdiy-crayon-pumpkin-tutorialI’ve never been too much of a fan of the crayon art projects. These pumpkins though… *heart eyes*. That black/purple/blue one is GORGEOUS!

Sources: Oh Gee Lindsey & Dream A Little Bigger

wood-porch-pumpkinsI also love a good, simple wood project. When we end up with scraps of wood from a project, I’m always wanting Matthew to save it. (I get it from my Mama..) And this is why! This project (and this wooden candy corn DIY without a source) would be so easy to make with scrap pieces from around the house. If you don’t have any scraps and aren’t super handy with the power tools, you can buy wood from Lowes and they’ll cut it to size for you there.

Sources: Hazel & Ruby & If that candy corn is your crafty work, please let me know!

diy-tin-can-halloween-artHere’s another project you can make out of scraps around the house. She turned them into a bowling game and I think they’d be cute as just decorations too! You could use them for candy, decorative twigs, flowers…you name it!

Source: Party Delights

diy-pumpkin-treat-bagsI’m always looking for creative ways to give little gifts, so it’s not surprising that this one caught my eye. I wouldn’t recommend this approach for your 1,000 trick or treaters, though it’d make a great little prize for folks around the office, teachers, etc. I will most likely be handing these out to someone this year…

Source: One Little Project

diy-halloween-yarn-garlandThis is possibly one of my favorite projects because I love yarn. I love garland. And I love tassels! The tutorial shows you how to make each item, so it seems pretty simple!

Source: Growing Up Gabel

burning-spellbook-sculptureAnd finally, for those more crafty in nature and serious about their Halloween décor… (I’m looking at you, Meghan.) This burning spell book is simply stunning! Apparently the original source hasn’t been traced. It’s thought to have been a part of a college sculpture class. If this beauty is yours, let me know because you deserve some credit!

These few items should get you started on your fall crafting adventures. If you want more inspiration, go ahead and follow my Fall & Halloween board, or follow me on Pinterest altogether! (Right now, you’ll see lots of pumpkins, Christmas décor, and flannel. If those are your things, hop on over!)

Also, check the Halloween tag for a few more ideas. Have you seen any other cool ways of decorating lately?? I can’t wait to get started!