Monday, May 23, 2016

5 Game-Changing House Redo Lessons * Creating a Haven :: 4

Hey, welcome!

We've been having a blast around here this month, sharing our living spaces, our challenges and brainstorms, our visions for what our dwellings are just begging to become.

I'm glad you've joined us.  If this is the first time you've dropped in, please check out this Creating a Haven Mini-Series right here.  Links are at the bottom of each post to take you to the next topic in the series.  And do grab a frosty glass of iced tea and put your feet up, 'cause the dialogue that follows each post is most definitely the icing on the cake and well worth your time.

Every voice matters in this community and each reader is invited to the table to dialogue about the subject at hand.  All are welcomed and heard, celebrated and responded to.

No matter what's on the table.

Today?  A few lessons learned along the way ...

For years I tore out any and all magazine pictures of rooms that caught my eye.  These little keepsakes were tucked into a manila folder that soon bulged and became ragged with use.  Reams of hardware store paint chips joined the happy throng.  This collection of odds and ends has proven to be a treasure trove of luscious images and glorious hues that have served only to confirm that my taste has morphed and changed over time.

And that has turned out to be a very positive thing.

And then along came Pinterest and I created my very own little semi-private online portfolio that I don't think I've mentioned more than once or twice around here.  Care to see what catches my eye and makes my heart skip a bit of a beat?

When a dear friend raised a bit of an eyebrow as I shared my plans to paint every bit of wood white, I tucked her carefully chosen words inside to consider.  Because when she speaks I always listen.

Don't you just love those people in your life?

A few months later, the painter confirmed her discerning flare ... and my husband enthusiastically jumped on the don't-paint-the-doors bandwagon.  The end result?

Those doors are happily showing off their authentic golden tones, with a coat of poly highlighting the beautiful grain.  The white that's splashed from here to there throughout the house shines brighter against that deep contrast which was sorely needed.

I wanted to say good-bye to the popcorn ceilings.  He didn't think they were such a big deal.

He wasn't all that sure about white everywhere.  It was a non-negotiable for me.

The popcorn ceilings remain ... and you already know that Simply White reigns supreme.  We marked our 40th anniversary season with umpteen home redo powwows and have tried to listen well to each other.  {Not always, but often enough}. And that's worked for us.  {Usually}.

In the light of eternity, it's truly amazing how flexible you can choose to be.

For years, the horizontal mirror sat atop Grandma's dining room buffet.  A cobalt blue glass bowl and candlesticks saw their reflection in its steady reflective gaze.

Fast forward some 60+ years or so.  I'm fairly sure that Grandma wouldn't be all that thrilled to hear that I painted the mirror blue, then green, and two coats of white.  And then sanded it half to death.

But I think it's the star of the show above the brick fireplace.

You just can't display everything you've ever collected.  Yep, you can try, but your house ends up looking like some kind of an overstuffed museum instead of a cozy, welcoming haven.

After a decade or two of all that striving, the fruitless accumulating and amassing of vintage objects and tchotchkes, I bless the day that I began to dismantle my endless displays and started the long journey to rid myself of the unwieldy burden that my collections had become.

And even more important, began to figure out the nebulous whys and wherefores behind my obsession.  And chose a different path to tred.

It was a 2013 response to a challenge the fabulous Nester put on the table ... to de-accessorize our homes for a month.  And in the process, 105 little vintage kitchen friends found themselves off the wall and into a plastic laundry basket.

It turned out to be my biggest post ever ... and kicked off a 180 degree turn in how I viewed my home.  And myself.

Now?  Our decor has been minimalized, simplified, clarified.  I breathe deep and smile as I look around 'cause I don't feel smothered and oppressed by my stuff anymore.

This has been THE month where everything in our new home has finally been pulled together.  Newly hung are the best of all the family portraits, both ancient and new.  A framed vintage Cape Cod map from the flea market up the road.  A hooked rug from a dear friend and a sampler from 1984 when cross-stitch was all the rage.  A quilt from a former client, a seascape that hung over Grandma's piano, another sampler or two.

Three collections of vintage bowls are now scattered throughout the house.  They always were my favorites.  Old oak furniture from little shops and obscure flea markets and garage sales holds court without overcrowding.  And, of course, the catty-cornered-so-it-fits-in-this-dining-room table that my husband cobbled together from Canadian barn wood back in 2008 is front and center, just where it belongs.

Pretty much everything else has been shared, sold, or tucked away for safekeeping in big ol' Rubbermaid bins lined up on heavy duty basement shelves.

This has been a great big journey that's spanned years, not weeks.  But I couldn't be more content and at peace with where I am.  I travel free, I travel light.  When I look around our home, I breathe a contented / grateful, 'ahhh,' instead of a frustrated / overwhelmed, 'ugh.'

My stuff doesn't define who I am.  That ultimate gift of grace comes from my Savior.


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Sharing  life lessons with
Emily  .  Leigh
Anita  .  Kelly  .  Holley  .  Lyli  .  Leigh

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Scrapping the Wish List * Creating a Haven :: 3

Budgets are never unlimited, at least in this neck of the woods.  So when you have a house with great bones but it badly needs updating from here to there and you get an estimate from a contractor and it takes your breath away, well ... it gives you cause for pause.

And you scrap your wish list.

And then you put your heads together and re-negotiate with calculator in hand, releasing some of your agenda, wrangling back and forth ... and praying, too.  Until you're both comfortable with the bottom line.

You end up going with what absolutely matters most to you.  It might not be what someone else would choose, but that's ok.

This pretty much describes Phase 1 of our home redo.

You hope that someday there'll be a Phase 2, but if that doesn't pan out, you'll still be overflowing with gratitude over what God's allowed you to accomplish.  And you'll continue to release the foolish notion that the place you call home should somehow look like something that you saw on TV.

And that's our story.



a prayer journal from a new friend was one of the first things
to land on the newly installed countertop

Choosing quartz or formica?  Big decision.  I'm all about quality, but I like it cheap.  And there's no such thing as bargain quartz.

2 of my favorite things ... an ancestor's little spice drawers / tool chest
& a wonderful crock of wooden spoons

It was my mom's enthusiastic thumbs up and her perceptive observation that the countertop would be the first thing seen every time you walked in the door that gave me the courage to go out on a limb and finally say, 'let's go for it.'

By the way, my wise husband agreed with her all along.

mmm ... maybe I'll get motivated to cook more often?

Bottom line?  This was a big investment well spent.  If we ever have to sell, there's a good chance we'll get a return on our dollars.  Meanwhile, if a flat work surface could bring a warm sense of satisfaction, it would be this intricately veined, cool-to-the-touch countertop.


He spent 13 long years days with us, the painter did.  Bright and early every morning, his steady workmanship, attention to detail, respect for our obsessive concerns, and easy-going patience with my 'let's paint those linen closet doors ... let's not paint those linen closet doors' were all graces during the stress of having the house undone.

needless to say, we barely used used the kitchen for a few weeks

we took turns living in the downstairs and the upstairs

by the end of the project
 I couldn't tell up from down anymore

The man dressed in white wasn't just a friendly guy with a paintbrush.  He was meticulous, a true artisan.  

One caution ... this paint did not easily cover colored walls, requiring a coat or two more than expected.  Even with a professional's hand guiding the brush.

Bottom line?  We love our home's fresh clean palette.  My husband was a tad concerned that all that white would leave the house looking antiseptic ... like a hospital.  But it doesn't.  We left the doors their golden shade of brown which provides a very pleasing contrast, as one might say.

And I aim to be patient when little hands move through the house with abandon and leave their sweet calling cards behind on corners and random swaths of white.  'Cause marks happen.  Especially when the walls are so very light.


This black iron chandelier's simple lines are striking against the white walls and the blue curtains.  It's on a dimmer, the bulbs are frosted like the other lighting through the house, and for $79 {really}, and I smile every evening when I switch it on.

Bottom line?  Be sure to check Home Depot and Lowe's when you're decorating and don't want to shell out an arm and a leg for lighting.  We were pleasantly surprised at what we found.


Little did we realize {duh} 'til after the carpet was installed in the upstairs master bedroom and loft that the color we chose is almost the same as what we had back in New York.  Go figure.

argh ...
giant showrooms with far too many choices made my head spin

I do hate making big decisions.  Yet this was one of them that turned out to be even better than I thought it might.

sand tracked upstairs will have plenty of places to hide
 without being noticed ... & that, I like

Bottom line?  If you are easily overwhelmed, don't go to a ginormous carpet store where you'll most likely panic at the bazillion options.  Head to a smaller local store where the selection is limited.  I promise you'll find something there.


What's #1 on your home wish list?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

It's Got Good Bones * Creating a Haven :: 2

It's been almost 3 years since we found this house.  But wait ... who am I kidding?

God was the One who led us here, step by faithful step.

On our second visit to see if this place would really work for us, I remember leaning on the ledge of the little upstairs loft and gazing down to the living room below while Tim and our realtor did a fine-tooth-comb inspection of the basement.  The seller's realtor walked through the living room, and looking up, asked me if I liked the house.

Playing it cool and not wanting to look over-eager, I replied, 'it's got good bones.'  And I meant it.

The house was us.  Pure and simple.  And my rapidly beating heart assured me that we could create a wonderful new home within these four walls.

Sure, the living / dining / kitchen area were small.

But the wide open cathedral ceiling, two skylights, and windows everywhere made that seem kind of inconsequential.

So what if Tim's hand-hewn farmtable didn't quite fit and there was no room for any kind of cupboard in the dining room.

I looked right past the old pink formica counter and the mismatched appliances.  The small closets, dated lighting fixtures, and dreaded popcorn ceilings were noticed but laid to the side.

And yeah, the blue carpets upstairs had long ago seen their day and the pine floors were faded where furniture had sat unmoved.

All seen and noted.

But this house was cradled in quiet woods of oak and pine ... and there was that multi-windowed space above the garage that just begged to be put to good use.

The place had good bones alright.  You could sense that it was a home that had been loved well.  And we could see ourselves here.

A strangely exhilarating peace filled us as our anticipation built.  For we knew then and there that if this is what God had for us, the house would be ours.

It's far too easy to see our home's flaws, isn't it.  Most all of us have been blessed with far more than basic shelter and a simple roof over our heads.  Yet, as much as we all love HGTV, it can easily join forces with Pinterest and Facebook to spark within us an unhealthy emphasis on comparison and perfection.  This leaves its mark on us for sure, leaving us feeling oddly unsettled and ungrateful ... like our homes just aren't enough.

Which easily morphs into the lie that we just aren't enough.  

But I can't help but believe that every home has good bones.  Even if you have to search for them like hidden treasure.

Take it from me.  'Cause Tim and I started our life together in a one room, oddly furnished studio apartment, complete with a very tiny kitchen nook and quite a petite bathroom.  And it mattered not one bit.  

For it had nothing to do with the current culture's relentless striving for stainless appliances, hardwood floors, mammoth walk-in closets, or luxurious jacuzzi tubs.  

Even back then, it was all about laughter and love, memories made, unlocked doors and open arms.  And creating a fairly simple life ... even while living with expectation, for what, we weren't quite sure.


Let's talk about your home's good bones.
What do you appreciate about where you live?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Creating a Haven * Let's Do the Outside First

Welcome to this
 Creating a Haven Mini-Series!

As my husband quietly observed one evening,
'It's not somebody else's house
 we're living in anymore.  
It's ours now!'

I'm excited to share a bit of our in-the-works home re-do and some assorted random how-to's, insights, and resources that have encouraged us in our somewhat lengthy home transition.  And I hope that along this journey, you'll find something of value that might work for you, wherever you find yourself calling home, whether you've been there 30 days or 30 years.  

Along the way I'll be giving you the links for specific items that turned out to be a smart purchase.  But I'm not making a cent off doing so and I'm not working with any company.  And as we move through the series, the conclusion of this post will be the place where you'll find an INDEX of all this series' offerings.

And I'm looking forward to comparing notes in the dialogue that follows each post.  I'm not a designer or a decorator.  I'm just a counselor who writes.  I can't wait for this community to scoop up what you've gleaned from all your own victories {and mistakes!} in building, updating, decorating, or cherishing your own personal haven. 

It's going to be fun!  Be sure to subscribe and invite your friends on Facebook and Twitter. The more, the merrier.  

'Cause who doesn't love talking about that place we call 'home sweet home!'

Cape Cod is known for its lovely shingled homes, cedar shakes faded over time to a delightfully soft weathered gray.  The salty air does its magic over the years, transforming crisp freshly minted shingles or horizontal planks into an aged glory that's prized in this neck of the woods.

But as retirement looms 'round the corner, and with rather unsettling memories of his late father falling off the roof in his 80's {and yes, he survived}, practicality colored my husband's view of the cozy Cape style.  He didn't want to spend his retirement years painting, shingling, repairing.  He wanted the outside done for good.

And he liked a much lighter look.

And although I'm a big fan of the faded beauties of Cape architecture, I agreed.  There was something very assuring about doing what we could to the outside of the house NOW ... and then not have to wonder when the next round of upkeep was coming 'round the bend.

And the last thing I need in a decade or two is my husband flying off the roof.

It was time to exchange the siding that had seen its day for Eastern white cedar dipped shingles in Lighthouse Gray which last far longer than untreated shingles.  And then a re-roof of the house with shingles in Pewterwood.  The white trim that would normally need to be painted {and re-painted and re-painted again} was replaced with AZEK, which is pretty much maintenance free.

And while I've always been a fan of wood's beauties and all things natural, at this point I'm saying, 'Yes!  Let's hear it for maintenance free!'


removing the old

installing the new



Gone are the faded shutters, the plastic mullions in the windows, the dark wood.  The deep gray roof provides a strong contrast against the light gray siding, and the white trim highlights the simplicity of the house's design.  It all seems more bright and spacious ... we are both loving this crisp clean new look.

These fabulous lights weren't up on the store display at Lowe's but then I spied them squirreled away at the far end of a bottom shelf just begging to be taken home.  The bubbled glass, the black metal framework, the unique shape, and the vintage style filament bulb?

If you could be head-over-heels with a light fixture, this would be the one.  Especially at $49.98.

And I'm ready to fill every old crock I can get my hands on with armloads of red geraniums for the little brick front landing and spilling out beyond.  We're looking at some kind of flowering bushes to add some color and soften the lines of the house ... or maybe window boxes filled to overflowing like an English garden.  

What kind of landscaping would you suggest?

And sooner or later the front door will get a brand new coat of paint to replace the current 1980's faded blue.  I'm partial to deep seaglass colors like Mayo Teal or Spotswood Teal.

What color do you think would do the trick?

creating havens with 
Anita  .  Kelly  .  Jennifer  .  Holley  .  Lyli

Sunday, May 8, 2016

This Winner is Inspired . . .

The lovely
  June Caedmon
 author of 7 novels,
 photographer extraordinaire,
and blogger at Inspired By June

is the winner of a copy of 


Congratulations, June!