love life at home week 4 - 3 steps to make your current home your dream home
Welcome back! We are wrapping up the Love Life at Home party with Week 4. If you missed week one, two, or three, I invite you to go catch up on those first, and then come on back here!
Last Week we took what we learned in Week 1 about intentions and rhythms and (hopefully) you put that into action in a room of your house. If you did, congratulations! It’s a big win to go from thinking things should be better to actually making them better. Let’s build on that momentum.
This week we’re going to dream big and make a plan for implementing it (you know I love a good action plan)!
But first, how does it feel to have a room in your house that is refreshed? Did you notice anything different as you used that space? Did it feel more exciting to see it differently? Did you feel refreshed or lighter or happier seeing it in its new state? Are you loving life at home a little bit more? It’s always important to reflect on what’s working (and what isn’t) before you take the plunge into the next step. We’re going to need those insights!
You may already have a list going from last week of new pieces that would be useful to bring into your refreshed space. We’re going to build on that.
There are 3 steps to keeping this momentum that you’ve built going to help you love life at home even more. Grab yourself a notebook and let’s dive in.
STEP 1: DREAMING
You’d think this would be the easy part, but adults are often really stinking bad at dreaming. We are awesome at it as kids, but it slowly gets trained out of us as nuisances like practicality, time, and budget creep into the picture. So rude.
Bear with me; we are going to suspend reality for just a little bit. Hopefully refreshing one room has given you a bit of inspiration and you’re feeling a bit lighter, which is the right mindset for dreaming big.
Think about those intentions and rhythms you set in Week 1 and any small swaps you made in Week 2. Was there a theme in there? Family togetherness? Relaxation? Less clutter? Pull out any common threads you can about how you envisioned wanting to use your space. The mood and energy you want at home is just as important as any aesthetic or functional piece, but it’s so often one that gets missed.
TIP – this doesn’t have to be one-size-fits-all for every room in your house. It’s perfectly acceptable (and encouraged) that your family room would have a different feeling than say, your master bedroom.
Example – you might be drawn to interiors that are white, minimal, and sleek. But if your goal is relaxation, comfort, and bringing kids and adults together in the same space, there may be some conflict here! Not that one necessarily excludes the other, but to marry sleek/white/minimal with kid friendly/cozy/inviting will take some thoughtfulness.
Now that we have the feeling or intention of the space, we need to address aesthetics and function. This is where our old friends, Pinterest and Houzz are going to do the heavy lifting. Paper magazines and design books are great (I still get a few) but we are going to leverage some technology here with these amazing design search engines, particularly Pinterest.
You might be used to scrolling Pinterest for all sorts of things, but we’re going to use it differently. Instead of searching “Family Room Design Inspo” try adding in your design intention or feeling to it. Try searching “kid friendly minimalist family room” or “relaxing master suite” or “sophisticated moody home office” and see what comes up. You may find some overlap with things that have inspired you in the past, but chances are now that you have “new eyes” after Week 3, you’re going to see some new thing that spark your interest.
Don’t worry if you’re pinning images of brand-new houses and a brand-new house isn’t in your budget. Remember, we are dreaming now. Practicality needs to take a backseat.
At the end of this dreaming step, we always gather our best ideas – both photos and words – into a Mood Board. I write alllllllllll about how to create a Mood Board in this blog post, and why it should absolutely be your first step before you dive into design. We’re going to take all the work you’ve done so far and put it into one visual image. Print it out, favorite it on your phone, and reference it frequently. Visual cues are more impactful and longer lasting than just ideas or concepts.
As with all of these steps I’m going to repeat this – do not rush this. There is no hurry. Spend time here, and don’t worry about tackling all of these 4 steps in a week. You’re going to revisit this from time to tome as well. It’s a living document, because your needs and tastes are going to change all the time. Don’t fight it. Let them. The more you actually think about this and define what the ideal home would be for you, the better the end result will be.
STEP 2: PLANNING
Once you’ve fully given yourself over to dreaming and have a clearer picture of what kind of home you really want to have, I’m going to allow you to bring your grown-up brain back online. Your mind is probably brimming with big ideas and wide sweeping changes that you want to make RIGHT NOW. Let’s figure out what we can do and when.
This phase is pretty nuts and bolts. I like to do this in an Excel spreadsheet, but you could use a google sheet or word document or a piece of paper. Write out all the changes that you’d like to make to your house.
I like to think of these in terms of Buckets. There may be a Home Maintenance bucket with (boring) things like HVAC replacement or a tankless water heater. Even though these weren’t a part of your dreaming stage most likely, they impact your home and your wallet, so write them down.
You may have a Bathroom Remodel bucket. A Master Bedroom bucket. An Exterior Updates bucket. This will be fully unique to you and your priorities, but it feels so much more tackleable (pretend that’s a word) to understand how much of these individual projects or rooms will entail.
Then the tricky part – estimating how much these will cost. This is going to involve some research and a fair amount of guesstimating. Web searches and Angie’s List can give you some insight to project costs in your area, though I find they are usually lower than what these projects actually cost. Friends and family, neighbors, local Next Door and Facebook neighborhood groups can all be great resources. If you have a General Contractor or Realtor in your network, they may be able to help you as well. Even designers like yours truly have written up what typical costs to expect in their areas that can be a wealth of information.
To prepare you ahead of time, I’m going to rip the bandaid - your wishlist will be more than what you have to spend. It’s just science. But you’re much better off understanding the big picture now and THEN deciding what to tackle and when, rather than being midway through a project before you realize you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
Now is the time to prioritize. What will make the biggest impact in your life? What can you afford to do? What might you be able to group together to save money (any construction things you can group together, typically, the better)? Take your list, decide what order you want to tackle things in, and make a plan for how much you need to save, or just get started!
STEP 3: PATIENCE
I feel like I just heard a collective “whomp whomp” with the word PATIENCE. How can patience be the final step in this 4 week Love Your Home series?! We hate being patient, don’t we? We want the Amazon prime, 1-day delivery, 24/7 streaming, NOW experience. I have my Mood Board and my Plan so let’s start TODAY!
But most likely after Step 2 you realized you can’t have every single thing you want right now. And so we arrive at patience. FUN FACT (nerd alert) – did you know the Latin root for the word patience translates to Long Suffering. That’s a bit of a downer. Suffering isn’t high on most people’s happiness list. Often times in the waiting, though, is where we can learn and appreciate the most.
Let’s think about this another way. My invitation to you as you are waiting for the big changes in your home – embrace Slow Design.
You might think as an Interior Designer that I am 100% decisive and always right about design decisions in my own house…and you would be WRONG. When we built our house, I had to make a flurry of decisions pretty quickly, but then I took months making the rest of the decisions so I could make them thoughtfully.
Don’t think of having to wait to execute your dream home over time as a curse; reframe it as a blessing.
Slow Design has some major benefits:
It leaves you time and space to see how a space could be and make little adjustments as you go. To say another way, you can keep going through Week 3’s Zero Dollar Refresh, picking up new information each time you refresh an existing space. You can layer things to be sure they are working together the way you'd hoped.
It's easier on the wallet. Going slowly means you’ll be less sucked in by design trends and you can get more in tune with what you truly love.
The best part, though? It takes the pressure off. With Slow Design you don't have to make every decision all at once. Designing your home can be fun and enjoyable, not a stressful high-stakes endeavor where it has to be all or nothing.
As you learned in Weeks 1-3, there are always small things we can be tweaking to help us appreciate and enjoy home more. During this waiting period of patience, you don’t have to just sit still, though. You can employ one of my favorite strategies - Phase 1 Updates.
A Phase 1 Update involves making small but mighty changes to your space at a lower price point that will help you love your space in that in-between time. Things like painting a room or cabinets, adding new hardware, installing removable wallpaper, and swapping out light fixtures can make a huge difference to your enjoyment of space.
The other benefit – it lets you test out some of your ideas in a low commitment way. Doe every kitchen you pin have a blue island? Consider painting your lower kitchen cabinets blue to audition that idea to be sure you love it enough to commit to it later. We did this in our last house (below) which let me road test this idea.
Once we built our new house I now had proof that I could handle dark kitchen cabinets and I was able to make that bold decision much more easily. Had I not done this, I might have panicked and defaulted to a "safer" option that may still have been lovely, but not me.
The last big pro – it keeps the momentum going. It’s so easy to start out with lots of big ideas, and then to let them just fizzle and fade out. Because you can’t do EVERYTHING you fall into doing NOTHING. That’s when you wake up one day and you’ve lived in your house for 10 years and realized you never got around to doing anything.
BRINGING IT HOME
First of all, I’m sending you a virtual high five for making it all the way to the end! Just like loving a person in your life, loving your home takes work. Over these 4 weeks I hope that you’ve gained a newfound appreciation for your home, made some thoughtful swaps for everyday items to bring you a little spark of happiness in your day, refreshed a room (or more!) to reset your brain, dreamed big, and started a plan for the future.
Some of these steps will be easier for you than others, depending on your natural tendencies and gifts. But I promise that all of are worth the effort!
We’d love to hear from you in the comments about what has worked for you, what’s been challenging, and what you might want more insight on! Let us come alongside you and celebrate the wins with you!
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