Category Archives: Our First House

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.

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#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!

A Place to Call Home

Home at pamelapetrus.comWe bought our home two years ago in July. We did a lot of work immediately, before we even moved in. I couldn’t live with the oak-ish floors and butter colored walls. We made as many changes as possible and then started prioritizing other updates as we could get to them. One morning, sipping my coffee in a duplex across town, I realized something profound.

I had worried myself sick about undone projects. I’d fretted constantly over how and when the rest of the updates would get done. I longed to be “finished” and have that picture perfect home I saw in my mind. In essence, I tortured myself.

You know what happened next. The house flooded and we had to rip what we had done apart and literally start over. And then, we had the opportunity (albeit it not ideal) to rebuild in a way that we’ll hopefully love. I won’t say that this flood happened to teach me a lesson, though I can definitely say I’ve learned several. I also don’t want to give you the impression that I’m happy it happened so that I could rebuild. This is by far, one of the most difficult and trying obstacles I’ve faced thus far, and even if something good does hopefully come from it, I still wouldn’t have chosen this route.

First, I need to understand that everything happens in due time. My lack of patience wants everything done yesterday. I’m not great at planning things for the long term and often get frustrated when things don’t happen right away. I suddenly realized that I need to just have faith and understand that every single dream, idea, or plan will unfold eventually. There’s no point in fretting over it. I wrote something similar about just being patient before. However, I was not using that strategy in our home renovation.

Second, I need to spend more time appreciating what I have. Don’t get me wrong, I always operate under a sense of gratitude. However, I wasn’t focusing on that at home. I started out with a grateful mind despite my wishlist and then lost site of that somewhere down the line. And then suddenly, when it’s all ripped away from you, you realize what you had. And what you lost. When we were crashing with friends, or living in a camper, or not actually knowing where we’d live next, I would have given anything to have that home back, imperfections and all. Who cares that I hated that seashell sink and that the bathroom was a little small. Who cares that the living room layout bugged me a bit and that the cabinets looked like they battled in World War 2. I just wanted to be back home. Suddenly none of those imperfections mattered. I didn’t care how many updates or projects were still needed. I just wanted to be home.

It’s rather silly that I lived in a state of stress and worry over getting that home finished. I simply lost site of the here and now and instead of enjoying what I had and how far we’d come, I, like so many others wanted more. This experience has definitely been a lesson in patience and appreciation. I’m thankful for a place to call home. I’m thankful for the shelter it provides and for its benefits, as well as it’s imperfections. I’m also thankful for the opportunity to change my mindset. When we finish rebuilding, it still might not be perfect. Our next home might not be perfect. Nonetheless, I’ll always be grateful for a place to call home. A place to rejuvenate and relax and make memories, regardless of the type of counter tops it has.

Here’s a peak at what the house looked like when we bought it and a brief tour of where we were in updates.

The Fear of the Tunnel

Kiroli Park at pamelapetrus.comThe house (read: temporary duplex) is quiet around me. It’s somewhat of a somber day, cloudy with very little sunshine coming through the windows. I’m half way through my cup of coffee have a general plan mapped out for the day. I find myself lingering at the table, knowing that I should start getting ready for the day. Something holds me in my seat. Something other than laziness. I just don’t feel like the morning is finished. I decide to try writing, something that once felt like a regular part of my morning routine and now feels a bit foreign and unfamiliar.

Usually when I write, I have a particular goal in mind. I’m going to flush out a story or share some sort of self-discovery. I determined a bit ago that writing is what I do to clear my mind and process my thoughts. I usually do this writing via an app on my iPhone so that I can curl up somewhere comfortable. Today, I bring the laptop to the table. I suppose I feel the need to call more attention to this time. I need to do something to force the words out of me.

I haven’t written freely in months. Before the flood, I wrote something nearly every day and shared a post on the blog twice a week. Like clockwork. I hadn’t missed a Monday or a Thursday without a post. The rest of the writing just lived there on my phone, either to later be merged into something else or to just live there and maybe be reflected on later. Since the flood, I’ve posted here a couple of times and nothing other than a few mere paragraphs have been forcefully put into that iPhone app.  I’m nearing three months of not writing regularly. It’s no wonder that my mind feels a little clogged and confused.

So today, realizing that this therapeutic habit of mine has both unintentionally and intentionally been abandoned, I sit down to write. It feels a little foreign and yet like home at the same time. I’m able to string together sentences more easily today than I was a month ago. Still, the sentences seem to have no purpose. Nonetheless, I continue to write. Maybe a purpose will come. Maybe it won’t. Either way, I need to get reacquainted with the thoughts in my head. I need to be reintroduced to my true self. Myself before the chaos ensued.

I think back to a photo I took in Kiroli Park. I believe this area of the trail is called the Swamp Walk and a tunnel of sorts presents itself along the path. I’ve found great therapy on these trails lately…walking both casually and with fever for exercise. I listen to podcasts and unplug from the world around me for a bit. Being in nature has always centered me, and I’m thankful to have Kiroli Park to help diffuse the chaos right now.

Back to the tunnel. I snapped a photo of the tunnel, as I’ve done practically every other angle of the park. And today, as I think of that photo, I conjure up a bit of symbolism for where I am today. I think I even made reference to a tunnel in one of my last posts. I see myself standing on the outside of this tunnel, knowing that I want to go on through, but maybe being afraid to take those first steps. The tunnel at Kiroli Park obviously isn’t dark and scary, but for now it’s serving as an example. Right now, as we’re wrapping up the last few weeks of the rebuilding process (hopefully), it feels a little scary. I know that by simply taking the steps and pushing through the dark tunnel, we’ll come out on the other side. However, I’m afraid of what might be waiting just outside those tunnel walls.

Within the next few weeks, our vision for the rebuild will come to life. Good or bad, it will become a reality. Within the next few weeks, we’ll retrieve what we saved from storage to finally know what we were able to salvage and what we weren’t. Within the next few weeks, we’ll have to come face to face with the quantity of what was lost. Or what was damaged in the hurried move. And within the next few weeks, if our home doesn’t actually get “finished,” we’ll be homeless again.

As I sit here, writing about seemingly nothing, I realize that while I’m eager to be home again, I’m also afraid to step into that tunnel of the last stages. I’m afraid of everything listed above and in the back of my mind, I know that some of the hardest struggles of this process are still yet to come. So I resist the tunnel a bit. Even though I want to walk through, I find myself standing forcefully on the other side…just needing a little push to go forward. I need to shift my thoughts to the positive ones. I need to focus on the good. I need to be brave instead of fearful. I need to take one, tiny step at a time and just go. I can’t actually delay the passing of time or reframe reality, and I don’t even want to. I just need to move. I think that’s how you survive in life, after all. You bob and weave, dodging the punches and you move. You can’t stay still. It’s in the stillness that the negativity will consume you. You just push forward, no matter how badly you want to stop. And that’s why today, I’ll begin that journey through the tunnel in my mind. And within weeks, I’ll be on the other side, facing a new reality.


Cabinets. Read more at Cabinets. Read more at Cabinets. Read more at pamelapetrus.comI alluded to the fact that I’d write more about the flood and I honestly assumed that would have already happened. I have several sentences marked down here and there documenting my feelings and experiences of the last two months. However, nothing feels complete and honestly, I feel as if I haven’t been able to fully draw out what I’ve experienced lately because of the roller coaster of emotions I’ve been on. There have been highs and very lows and stress, something I avoid like the plague, has set up shop in my life and it’s been a constant battle for me to live despite that fact.

Then, cabinets were a game changer. We’ve had two major delays throughout this process and those were getting doors and cabinets. These two items alone blew a hole in my overly ambitious plan to be back in my home by May 30. Both were also completely out of my control which caused its own set of emotional struggles. Even though I knew the “hard times” were so, so temporary, I still found it difficult to stay positive (and not wildly frustrated) at times. It was often very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel without secretly fearing it was a train.

Then, on Tuesday, May 10th our doors arrived. Unloading them from the trailer offered a glimmer of hope that we might be making progress after all. Just three short days later, our cabinets were delivered and installed. Seeing those cabinets sitting in their well-designed spot in the kitchen, was a major game changer for me. I wrote on IG that I could have hugged the cabinet guy and laughed/cried/danced about. It felt like I’d been waiting a lifetime to see those cabinets and to behold them in all their freshly-crafted glory felt like my own silver lining. I suddenly felt like we would make it. We would someday finish rebuilding and get to live in our home again. The decisions I’ve been making on the fly without as much consideration as I’d like, were turning out ok. We would be done with this living nightmare soon.

I would have never guessed that cabinets could cause such a transformation in my mood, though I’m beyond thrilled to have switched to a more positive mindset. I don’t thrive well in negativity and worry had undoubtedly consumed me. I felt lost and like I’d never find my way again, even when my rational mind insisted that I would. Now, with cabinets and a few doors hanging on their hinges, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. And I know it’s not a train. Instead, it’s the sunshine that’ll be pouring through my windows as I settle back into my new, old home. It still feels like a distant dream, though suddenly I’m rejuvenated enough to finish the fight.

P.S. If anyone is looking for an amazing cabinet maker, Matthew and I highly recommend Bailey’s Custom Cabinets. Jimmy Bailey was very attentive and took notes (something most don’t even take the time to do). He asked lots of questions, making sure to understand our goals. Even more importantly, he delivered what he said he would deliver, every single time WHEN he said he’d do it. He has by far been one of the most pleasant and least frustrating people to work with during this progress. And our cabinets look and feel awesome.

Renovating a House From Top to Bottom – When You’re Not Expecting To

Rebuilding #mapfirsthouseI basically love everything house related – design, décor, renovating, color schemes, furniture – you name it. I’m even a realtor for heaven’s sake! Since I can remember, I’ve dreamed about redoing whatever space I was in and planned excessively for that. Since I’ve never had an endless budget to rehab each space to it’s maximum potential, I’ve always lived in a state of “make it work” vs stretch everything to its max potential.

This house was no exception. We did a ton of renovations before we moved in to make the house livable for us and work with our lifestyle. Then, I settled into months and months of deciding what were the best projects to spend our money on. Of course, I had a dream list of things I’d looooove to do to our home. And then there was the list of upcoming projects that were more reasonable that we’d tackle as funds and time became available. (I actually had that list ready to share with you guys in March.) Then the flood hit and it basically changed everything.Rebuilding #mapfirsthouseRebuilding #mapfirsthouseWe spent the last year working to get the inside to a good place. We’d just had several conversations about being settled enough with the interior to begin work outside. We had several projects lined out for the exterior, and actually planned to begin work on the landscaping (finally!) the weekend that the flood hit. Now, rather than following our original trajectory, we’re having to start over.

What does that mean exactly? It means a lot of things. First, we’re having to redo all of the work we’d already done. Our house was destroyed completely from 4 feet down, so everything we’d already lined out – flooring, paint, furniture, etc. – had to be demolished/discarded and redone. Secondly, the plans we’d made need to be reevaluated as things are all shaken up now. Even though our intention was to focus our energy on the exterior this year, we need to adjust and put out focus back on the interior for now. Obviously, we want to get to live there again ASAP. Also, with our house being basically demoed, it was a good time to reevaluate previous decisions and the overall layout and functionality of the home. If we were going to change anything, now was the time to do it.

Rebuilding #mapfirsthouseSince I had a few ideas already, some of the decision were easy to make on the fly. However, the way I handle practically any decision is to consider every single possibility and look at every option. Then, I take some time to process the options, considering all pros and cons, and finally make a decision after much deliberation and discussion among my closest confidants. The trouble with the strategy here is that I need to make the majority of the design decisions quickly…like yesterday…so that work can happen quickly and we’re out of our home for the shortest time possible. This is not conducive to my normal way of doing things.

When you’re planning for a major renovation or building a new home, I feel like it’s a lot easier to be prepared for all of the decisions and information that’s coming your way. At a minimum, most people will have planned for a place to live in the meantime. When a renovation is basically thrown in your lap, however, things seem a bit more difficult. I don’t feel like I have the time to really consider my options like I would prefer to. Trying to find temporary housing, dealing with insurance, not having vehicles, still working full time, and processing 1,000 conflicting emotions AND planning and dreaming for this big remodel has proved to be very hard on me. I’m not one to crumble under pressure, though I’ll admit that my current lifestyle is not conducive to nurturing my creativity. Instead, I feel pressured to make the best possible choices in the least amount of time, and for now, I’m just hoping that they’re close to “right.” Or adequate. At this point, I think I’ll settle for adequate.

Rebuilding #mapfirsthouseLately, my free time is spent scouring Pinterest and channeling my inner Joanna Gaines like it’s my job. And in a way, I suppose it is. When life throws crazy, unexpected trials at you, you simply learn to deal. And in this situation, I feel like it’s my role or job to use this opportunity to make our home into the best place it can be for my family. We didn’t think we’d be doing a major renovation any time soon, though since we are, I feel like I need to do my best work. I need to think fast and creatively. I need to consider as many options as possible in a short amount of time and I need to employ my best ideas quickly. I need to think both inside and outside of the box and consider our big dreams and ideas while also being practical and focused on the schedule. I need to maximize our budget while not forgetting to splurge where most necessary. I need to think about how we’ve truly used this home over the last year and a half, and think about areas of improvement that we would have only dreamed about. I know, without a doubt, that I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to do this quickly and efficiently. And obviously, when you’re forced to remodel without first planning for it, that will come with its fair share of headaches and strains. (Though, I could live without having a migraine every single day.) Nonetheless, I’ll figure all of this out and I’ll make it through. Matthew and I will be back in our beloved home before I know it, and hopefully, it’ll be beautiful and relaxing, just as we’re dreaming about now.

I’ve obviously been a bit quiet lately, and this post sort of indirectly mentions the tragedy we’ve experienced. Naturally, things have been a bit chaotic and that chaos has left me with few words for now. At first, I had no desire to write and now the words are starting to come back slowly. My thoughts still aren’t entirely clear, though I know the words will come back eventually. I’m sure I’ll share more about the flood eventually. For now, I’ll keep searching for my words and I’ll pop in and out here as they arrive.

Also, I just decided to track our rebuilding process through the 100 Day Project. Last year, I focused on crafty projects and this year I thought I’d use this time to showcase the rebuilding process. Feel free to follow along with #100daysofrebuilding on Instagram, if you’d like.


April CurentlyI’ve seen these “currently” posts all over the Internet and I’ve always loved them. It’s no secret that @elisejoy’s were always my favorite. Considering the awkward spot of life we’re in right now, I thought this might be a great time to try one of my own. So here goes.

Currently I am:
rebuilding my house.

taking pictures
of all the flowers.

 that there’s Sheetrock back on my walls. (Seriously, so encouraging.)

paint colors like its my job.

learning to live comfortably in a camper.

trying to find my words again.

being thankful for a place to live, for the opportunity to rebuild, and for amazing friends/family and strangers.

working hard and fast.

stalking Emily Henderson’s blog for design ideas.

adjusting to 1,000 new things and emotions.

driving my car with the sunroof open and music up loud. (Not right this second, obviously.)

enjoying little tiny moments that might have otherwise slipped by.

growing a real estate business.

eating way too much ice cream.

loving the warm sunshine.

embarking upon a few new adventures, in spite of the madness.

sending so many thank you cards.

waiting excitedly on the new season of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

These are just a few of the things I’m doing currently. It’s no secret that our lives were turned upside down after the flood and for a bit, I struggled to bounce back. Each day it gets easier, and though I’m not back in a routine and my writing has suffered tremendously, I’m back at work and back at life. Each day gets a little easier and each day I feel a little more like my real self. We’re slowly finding our new normal. We appreciate the well wishes through the flood and for understanding as things have been a bit harder lately. Currently, I’m thankful to be deep into the recovery stage where I finally feel my head’s above water…both literally and figuratively, I suppose.

Since I’ve strayed from my regular Monday/Thursday blog posting schedule, feel free to keep up via Instagram @pamelapetrus for now.

Living Room Inspiration: Pink + Black & White

Living Room Inspiration Photo by Kate Mills. I have recently fallen in love with this look that I’ve seen popping up around the internet. I’m loving it so much so that I’m thinking of abandoning my previous plans for my living room and heading this direction instead. I should probably go ahead and admit that I often create a “new plan” for a space and then simultaneously move on to something else before I ever even make that first plan a reality.

I have been planning to paint the fireplace wall in our living room and add wood from the mantle to the ceiling. I’ve been searching for a new coffee table and I intended to buy a new cowhide rug for underneath. Before this, I was going to replace the hodge-podge of colors I’ve been using with black/cream/mint/gold. This look never made it from my head to the room and it looks like my most recent plan might not either. That being said, this photo (and this and this) is a sample of the look that I’m most excited about right now – black and white with a touch of pink. I first saw the look on @katekillsit‘s Instagram. Since then, I’ve been drawn to every similar photo.

I’ve never been much of a pink girl. However, these bright pink rugs paired with black, white, and gold have really be catching my attention lately. I stumbled upon a few similar rugs at a furniture store in Dallas recently and I’m really considering jumping ship from my most recent décor plan. Our gray sectional takes up most of the room, so you will really only see a small portion of the rug. Nonetheless, I’m thinking that this little touch of pink might add some personality. Right now, our living room is the equivalent of talking to the guy at the party whose main interest is spreadsheets. I’d much rather it be like talking to the world-traveled artist who lived in Uganda for a bit. A pink rug would most likely transition the room from Boring Bill to Racy Raul, right??

For now, here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Bold rug, probably in the dark pink family
  • Black fireplace wall
  • White wood above the fireplace
  • Gold curtain rod with white flowy curtains
  • A collection of fun pillows (or all black & white)
  • Something fun and bold above the mantle (I’m seriously considering a picture of a goat.)
  • Lots of gold accents
  • Bold, fun light fixture

Clearly, I could just as quickly abandon this idea as I’ve abandoned the last few. I may even stick with the cowhide instead of the pink patterned rug…depending on what I can find. Even if these plans alter a bit, my goal is still to create a space that screams, “I’m perfectly put together, yet very fun.” The intention is that you’ll want to talk to my living room at a party…not that other silly room that picks his nose when he thinks no one is looking.

If you’d like to see more of my living room inspiration, check out my Pinterest board!

(Photo by Kate Mills.)

Kitchen Before and After + A Stenciled Wall

The Kitchen Before. See more at Pamelapetrus.comThe Kitchen After. See more at Pamelapetrus.comI bit the bullet and showed a house tour showing where we are in renovations a few weeks ago. One of the rooms that I’m most happy with and seems to have shown the largest transformation is our kitchen. When we were house shopping, the natural light pouring in to this area is one of the things that sold me on the home. It wasn’t my dream kitchen, yet it was 1,000x better than the kitchen we had in our rent house. Today, I’m sharing the progress of what we’ve already done and what we hope to do later. I hope you enjoy!

The first thing we did in the home was have the popcorn ceilings scraped and every. single. thing. repainted. As you can see in the before photos, the house was done in all warm tones which is the complete opposite of what I prefer. For the kitchen, I chose a light gray for the bottom cabinets and the ceiling and white for the top cabinets and walls. (Full disclosure: when I chose the colors, I thought the countertops were primarily gray. Turns out that the primary color is tan, so I’m working to mix the colors somehow.) I painted the walls white because I really wanted to enhance the brightness of this room. It’s true that people spend a lot of their time in the kitchen, so I wanted it to be as bright and happy as possible.

The Kitchen Before. See more at Pamelapetrus.comThe Kitchen After. See more at Pamelapetrus.comAt the last minute, I also asked the painters to slap a coat of paint on that tile backsplash. Most people think we replaced the tile, and we didn’t…that’s just a coat of white paint. It made a HUGE difference. We had plans to redo the backsplash, and I didn’t know exactly when that would be. It turns out that about 100 other projects were more important than a new backsplash, so I’m so glad I thought to paint it for now. The paint has held up tremendously and we’ve had no trouble with the coverup. Have an ugly tile backsplash you don’t like? I’d suggest trying some paint before spending the time and money to replace it.

The Kitchen After. See more at Pamelapetrus.comOne day this summer I woke up and decide to stencil a wall. I saw this wall and thought it would be perfect in my kitchen. I had been tossing around the idea of a fun wallpaper there and I decided the painted pattern would be quicker and easier to undo if we didn’t like it. The process was rather simple. I made a stencil from foam board and traced it with pencil on the wall. I do recommend tracing with pencil first because if you’re like me, a little bit of slightly off spacing would drive me insane. After I had the pattern set, I used a Liquitex pen in Neutral Gray 5 to freehand over the pencil lines. It took two pens to complete this project and I think that may have been because the first pen didn’t work quite as well as the second. Our walls are a bit bumpy (for lack of a better word) from the texture that’s on them, which made this project a bit more difficult. It’s very hard to draw a straight line over a bumpy surface. I didn’t even consider this at first, so if you’re thinking about doing something similar, you might want to consider the texture on your walls. If they are indeed textured, I wouldn’t avoid the project. Instead, just be prepared for a more organic look.

Is this wall perfect? Not at all. Are the lines straight? Hardly. Do I still love it? Yes. One of my new Instagram friends often talks about being a “recovering perfectionist.” That’s me! A previous version of myself would not have been able to live with the inconsistencies in this project. The new version can step a few feet back and agree that it looks just fine. Actually, I almost quit and painted over it after the first two lines. My lines weren’t straight and it was very hard to get a steady flow of paint from the pen because of the wall texture. However, I decided to keep going. I decided to see what the entire wall looked like before giving up, and I’m glad that I did! (Tip: If you need to erase any pencil lines, try using a Lysol wipe. It worked so much better than an actual eraser!)

After the wall, I hung those gray stripe curtains from Ikea and ordered that print from Etsy. Another change that I made to make our kitchen more functional is hanging the oven mitts there directly on the wall. They’re much easier to access there and it just works better. Now all that’s missing is an adorable Anthropologie apron! If you’re thinking of doing a similar wall, I say go for it! If you hate it, all you have to do is paint over it. No harm, no foul. If you decide to give it a whirl, tag me on Instagram. I’d love to see your projects!

The Kitchen Before. See more at Pamelapetrus.comThe Kitchen After. See more at Pamelapetrus.comFor the breakfast area, Matthew was going to make a window seat and then I remembered that I had this amazing bench in storage. It fits there PERFECTLY and has a bit of a story to tell. Right after Matthew and I were officially a couple, we went on a bit of a treasure hunting trip with my mom and sister. We found this gem at an antique store and scooped it right up. The intention was to sell it at Salt & Pepper, yet I started having trouble parting with it. Finally, I moved it to my office and then brought it with me when I sold the store. I love it here in the breakfast nook and it’s a nice reminder of the beginning of our journey together. The table was handed down to us from Matthew’s grandmother and the chairs are a temporary solution from IKEA. (It turns out that it’s hard to find chairs for this height of a table.) To the side of this breakfast area is an old catalog recovered from the family business, TP Outdoors, and it holds all sorts of goodies.

The Kitchen Before. See more at!The Kitchen After. See more at!Just changing the paint and floors alone, made a tremendous difference. (More about the floors here.) I honestly had forgotten how far we’d come until I looked at these photos side by side. I spent a bit of time being paralyzed by the amount of work that was needed and I’m happy to be coming out of that. I’ve recently found the courage to try some new things, even if I’m not 100% sure about them. Things feel like they’re coming together around here and I love that.

For now, what’s left in the kitchen remodel is a new light fixture, new appliances, and possibly new cabinet doors. I also still need cabinet knobs. I ordered some after the sink fiasco and they didn’t look as good as I’d hoped. Eventually we’ll have knobs. Maybe.

This is our kitchen progress in a nutshell. We’ve done a lot and it feels nice. We’ll continue to do more as time and funds allow. Maybe it’s the promise of fall creeping in or maybe it’s just the passing of time. Regardless of the reason, I’m happy to be feeling more at home here. Some of our larger projects are hopefully just around the corner too, so it’ll be even better soon!