Studio Space

Lately my time and attention have been consumed largely by our efforts to convert a repo, pre-fab garage into a quilting studio in our yard. A wide variety of factors went into the decision to take this path to cover the existing needs, but today I’d just like to start sharing how the process is going. Perhaps you will be inspired for your own project — or just be able to rejoice with me when it is complete!

The pictures below show from delivery to walls-but-no-floor. The plan is to finish the majority of the unit into one large room, with a wall to close off the garage door end for a small storage space.

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The labor is entirely amateur, and I am so thankful for good friends and past days volunteering with Habitat for Humanity! Some things take some skill, and volunteering gave me valuable knowledge and experience. Double bonus.

If you are curious about more detail on any aspect of this project, please comment below and I’d be happy to respond.

So…on we go. Work continues, and I’ll keep you posted!

Habits Help

Each day a million thoughts run through your head. You see and hear lots of good things to try. Your goals are many and varied. But, how to do it?!?

We have discussed multiple strategies on this blog that help answer that question, and today we will add one more aspect.

Routines are effective. The more habits you can create in your day and then string together into a routine, the more you will accomplish without thinking about it. Yes, it takes time to build those habits, but the investment pays off immensely in the future.

When you think about eating an elephant one bite at a time, habits are a great illustration of “one bite” a day. If you do one thing every day (or every weekday), how much would be accomplished in a month? Or a year? If you want to do something more (like exercise or read), doing that thing 10 minutes a day will add up. After a few months, you will indeed have done something more.

Habits provide rest. When you get to the point that you have a habit (like brushing your teeth), you don’t have to think about what you are doing while you are doing it. Some days that is a micro-nap for your brain; other days it is free space for creative or deep thinking. Make the most of it!

Also, we are not designed to go full-out all day long. Scattering mental breaks throughout your day gives you a chance to catch your breath — while still accomplishing what you continually need in hygiene or chores or growth — before expending energy on the major efforts of the day.

Structure builds security. When you know the road you’re on, you are comfortable lifting your foot to take a step. In complete darkness in an unfamiliar room — not so much. When your routine is established, making exceptions is safer. When you know what to expect, you will naturally feel less anxious. You can be confident you will come back to the “normal” day. Bases are covered, so a special activity is not a concern.  If you have put wise effort into big picture planning ahead of time, you can relax and enjoy the small trip.

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Not only do these points all apply to us, they also help with children. A regular, daily routine will:

  • minimize repeated instruction (they know what they are doing; they do it every day), and
  • require less energy in creating and communicating a new schedule for every hour and every activity.
  • Children love the security of structure. Once it is established, they will be active advocates for keeping it in place and you on track!

Home Decor Basics

Monday’s post covered tips about making a house a home. Today we will dive into the third tip — on color and decor — a little more. I asked a friend gifted in interior design to help us with some basic guidelines and simple tricks to making a room feel beautiful and pleasant.

Note: this is for those who are not already blessed with artistic or design skills. Please understand that we are all different and have varying gifts.

It is sometimes a good idea to start in one room, perhaps the family room if your floor plan is open to other rooms, such as the dining room or kitchen. This limits your project “mess” to one space as you continue living in the rest of the house. It also makes the task more achievable, rather than overwhelming. You are able to focus in on the arrangement of the furniture and the function of that particular room. It’s also the beginning of choosing your style, and the completed room gives you an anchor for the rest of the house as you move forward.

Furniture GroupingLink styles with color to coordinate for a cohesive look. Repeating one or more color combinations in the rooms creates the look of greater space. A range of furniture styles, sizes and shapes can have a coordinated look with repeated or corresponding colors. You create unity in your existing collection of furniture by grouping pieces by wood tones or by upholstery color.

Plan your accent pieces. Limiting your patterns to pillows, rugs, or curtains enables you to change the look with the season or as you are ready for a different feel. At the same time, don’t get the room too crowded. You can rotate pieces through the seasons to use everything you love without creating visual noise.

Continuity promotes a restful environment. Keeping a theme with wood color or trim color or metallic accents will give you a backdrop for your home that rests your eyes on the pattern rather than distracting with multiple looks.

Color swatchesExperiment with color. Your base colors for a house don’t have to be neutrals. You can use cranberry rather than tan on your wall, as long as you have a cohesive color palette throughout. Consider how colors make you feel when choosing your palette, as well as which colors make you look good. Your home is your daily background.

We hope these tips have helped stir your imagination. Stay tuned later this fall for a full series on home decorating if you would like to explore the field in more detail.

Making a House a Home

Some of us cannot fathom living anywhere other than where we always have. On the other end of the spectrum are those who move once a year or so and are experts at packing, moving and re-settling. For the rest in the middle, it can be a bit daunting facing a new house with empty rooms (well, empty except for boxes…everywhere). Or perhaps some are setting up a new household for the first time and have no idea where to start.

Personally, I hate the chaos of moving, but I LOVE the excitement and fresh start. A blank slate teems with possibilities. That love also carries over into occasionally refreshing my existing rooms, because the physical space has a great impact on home life and health.

For those in the middle or starting out, here are a few tips to help you with the practical side of making a house a home.

Set up one space as a haven. This is for just after a move. Everything is in a state of upheaval. You can only take that so long. The rest your soul, mind and body need to keep going can be helped by taking some time to create one comfortable space. When I was single, this was usually my bedroom; in a family situation, that is often the kitchen out of necessity and for maximum impact. Unpack what is needed there. Set it up approximately how you would like it — at least enough to look nice — and then remove all vestiges of a recent move. When you walk into the room, you should be able to briefly forget the mess everywhere else in the house and just live.

John DeereGet things on the walls to make it feel homey. As soon as you can after moving, put pictures or art on the walls. You will feel warm and comfortable when your beautiful items are visible. You will feel like you belong when your favorite family pictures surround you. It doesn’t take long, but you will notice the difference quickly. Don’t worry too much about location; pick a pleasant, reasonable spot and put it up. You can always rearrange when everything is settled and you fine-tune your rooms.

Color coordination pays off. Whether you are moving or just refreshing your home, colors are key. Not all of us have an artist’s eye, but there are other options. Hardware stores, magazines, IKEA stores and Pinterest all have plenty of ideas that you can straight-up copy if you like.

As a bare minimum, you can use neutrals as a base, and then get help with arranging furniture and accents in each room. This is a good option for budget restrictions and for those who like more frequent change. A neutral wall can be touched up for many years, saving on paint expense, and still look like a new room every so often with just a few changes. Asking for help could mean a professional, but this also could be an opportunity to team with a friend or build a relationship with an acquaintance or neighbor.

Comfortable seating and spaces are a must. When you move into a new house, rooms can tend to feel more like a storage unit than a home. Quickly making at least a few seats (that aren’t piles of boxes) available will start nudging the needle closer to “home” on the dial.

Past move-in time, this is still true. Your home is not a museum; you live in it. Remember to allow for comfortable seating in each of your room arrangements. This ranges from a side chair in the guest room, to a dining room table everyone loves to linger around, to a counter stool or kitchen table that makes it easy for the kitchen to be the heart of the home. The living room especially needs to be welcoming in its comfort. This are all good opportunities to encourage conversation and relationship in your home.

Not all of us are gifted interior designers, but little things like these make a big difference. We all can have that impact out of love for our families, friends, church and neighbors.

Everything in Its Place

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

This is key for organization. It’s not the cute boxes and nifty shelves. It’s that things are assigned to places. When they are needed, they can be found and used; when they are not needed, they return to base.

Unfortunately, jazzy systems can only go so far. Putting everything in place, no matter how wonderful that place is, requires discipline. Ugh!

Now, we’re not talking boot camp discipline here. Perfectionism is not required, even though it would keep those shelves absolutely perfectly organized. But that (fortunately) is not the ultimate goal. Keeping things orderly has several purposes, but none that should be overtaken. Reflecting God’s character is lovely, but obsessive organization shouldn’t become a god. Making the best use of our resources is ideal, but shouldn’t be the ultimate driver. Saving time is great, but we don’t need more time just for the sake of having free time.

Keeping things in place is a way to serve God, your family, and everyone around you. If you make a habit of using things and then returning them to a reasonable location, you will have fewer hindrances as you fulfill your purpose. The frustration you feel when your home is a disaster area can be minimized. The time wasted searching for necessary books and papers before school can be converted to a calm departure and good conversation on the way to school. You don’t have to tear the house apart for a bandaid when the skinned knee comes limping in from outside. Guests are welcomed to a home that is lived in but not hazardous. Bills can be paid on time rather than lost in scattered stashes of mail.

Basically, it’s not rocket science or out-of-reach creativity. You can do the simple, basic steps needed to bring order to your household and life. Not perfect order, but purposeful order.