For me writing about living spaces is my business. I write about choosing colors, determining the best use of square footage, planning and designing so that everything fits and complements everything else. Of course I also write about the frustrations: budgets that just won’t stretch far enough, deliveries that are late or missing, damaged or simply wrong. Contractors and subcontractors who run late or just stop showing up one day with no explanation.
But the real bottom line for me and others in this business is that there is a pure pleasure in helping others with the challenge of making their homes just that much more beautiful, functional, thoughtfully-designed, or in one way or another, perfect for them. And I get to do it every day.
But even in this business, we only get to do it for ourselves a few times in our lives. And it’s easy to forget how exciting, how demanding, how challenging it is to choose the cabinets, flooring, countertops and all the other elements that will go into the home you will call your own.
When designers or bloggers work for other people, they finish a project, get kudos and cash, and move on. If I paint the right word picture of a lovely home, I can help people make better choices – choices they will be happy with long after the builders and designers and I are gone. But you know, it’s different when you shut the door and you’re still in the house.
Many of us have been in the business long enough to see trends come and go. So, when it’s my house, I have very different choices to make. Do I choose from the current trends that I am still in love with knowing that I are designing a home that may be out-of-date when I’m ready to move on?
The alternative is to put together a home that has resale in mind rather than one that I will happily live and work in in the meantime. Does that do justice to who I am? Am I willing to compromise my living space for the economics of a decision that may not be an issue for the next decade or more???
All of this has been running through my head lately because I just sold my condo and bought a new/old house. And I will be renovating it completely: from removing the popcorn ceiling to replacing all the flooring, including an entirely new kitchen – an essential decision when you consider the original 1983 kitchen still in the house!
And I have wrestled with flooring, cabinet and countertop choices, the unexpected cost of a new air conditioner and fixing up an Arizona room to stabilize it and connect it properly to the house. And I have had to let go of my dream of fixing up the bathrooms right away, because I am two years away from needing a new roof, and attic insulation and replacing the windows that face west come first. And my budget that seemed too generous at first is more limited than I realized…
But I am in love with my new house. It is not big, or fancy. With the Arizona room and some other changes it will just reach 1,750 square feet. And I have to let go of the designer cabinetry and appliances I see at the design receptions and open houses. Home Depot has become my new best friend.
I am hoping to add some design splashes as time goes by. I am investing in good flooring by Shaw. That seems like the gift that keeps on giving to me. And my cabinetry is one of the better brands Home Depot offers, and my appliances are nice and classic stainless GE. I will see if I can go wild and spring for the slate… And when I can I will add some kind of gorgeous tile backsplash. But that can wait.
I did make the design choices that make me happy. Fortunately many of them are also smart resale decisions. The flooring is one of Shaw’s better laminates – smart in this climate and it looks so much like wood that it really fools the eye. And I chose white cabinets in a shaker style. A classic, but also my favorite. And a lot of the design touches such as replacing the sliding closet doors with French doors will happen at a low cost thanks to a dream of a brother-in-law who has an extensive construction manager background and will serve as my project manager and has also offered to do all the things he can do himself.
And if I have to live with a guest bathroom with a vanity top that is plastic with pinky-
brown and cream swirls and a built-in sink to match for a while…well…sigh…I will.
Because the popcorn will be gone and I have seven mature citrus trees in my extra-large cul-de-sac backyard and a nice covered porch in my front yard. And I have already chosen the porch swing that I plan to paint bright red to hang just to the right of my front door.
And you won’t believe the light that comes into the house from every room. My house may not be every designer’s dream, but it fits my dreams very well.