One year home anniversary Q & A!

August 5, 2021

nashville home renovation

We moved into this home one year ago, and so as fast (or slow moving) this year has gone I knew I’d better write down some thoughts before I blink and it’s summer 2022! We definitely are not where we expected to be with the renovation, but exactly where we need to be with our family. That ends up being the type of realization that keeps teaching us through every annoying hurdle or happy hill we climb. Eyes on the priorities, and the rest can unfold as it may.

We want to answer some of the frequent questions we receive as well as give an overview of what is to come this year. We always hope sharing our process and progress no matter how big or small will serve as a helpful resource to any of you working on making your spaces feel more like home. Gabe and I are both educators at heart so we love being able to share what we can.

(The dining room makeover. Photos by Joseph Bradshaw)

First things first, a look back at what we did do this year. We wanted the kitchen renovation to be the first project we tackled, but weeeelllll nope! Here we are a year later and still waiting on demo to begin. I am pretty sure kitchens are up there with most time consuming renovations to plan and execute. We will finally begin this September (fingers crossed). We were able to get some other renovation work done in spaces like the kids’ rooms, the dining room, and the flooring on the main floor. At times it felt painstakingly slow, but I am someone who is learning that almost alll home renovations have unexpected delays and hurdles. Looking back at this crazy year it’s a wonder we were able to finish any rooms at all!

boys bedroom design
boys shared bedroom

(The boys’ room done in phases.)

How are the kids doing at their new school? How did they adjust? One of the main reasons we moved here was for community. We knew schools would be a big part of that too. Before we even made the decision to move back in 2019 we visited the school to see if it would be a good fit for our family. It has been a huge sigh of relief to see the kids happy where they are. It wasn’t without hiccups in the beginning though. Starting at a new place for a 6th grader is much harder than a 2nd grader for instance. We did our best to keep asking them how they were doing and allow them the space to feel and process when they needed. Thankfully it didn’t take much time for all of them to adjust thanks to some excellent teachers and school councilors.

living room design

Does it feel like home yet? Yes! I really believe you can make your space feel like home whether that is an apartment, rental home, or one you own. Setting up familiar things for the kids was the very first thing we did when we moved in. You may remember when I put up the old vintage books and art to make our living room feel a little like our old one! I am all about a blank canvas and designing things differently in this home, but I knew feeling at home as soon as we could would be important for all of us. It took a few months for me personally for it to start feeling like it was home, but Gabe and I talk often about how it just feels right being here.

Do you still love your neighborhood? Our neighborhood was a big reason we bought our home! It was in the location we were hoping for, many families, and a lot of opportunity for outdoor activities like fishing and swimming. One of the things love most about this neighborhood is how everyone looks out for each other. Neighbors we didn’t even know yet brought us meals after we had baby Gus. During the snow storm we had different neighbors bringing us snow gear to use to go sledding. Lots of volunteers show up to help care for the playground and pool. Gabe of course has made friends with many of the elderly people out gardening and knows them by their first names. We are so grateful because it can feel like a toss up sometimes of what neighbors you land!

How long will you be in this house? Will you be in Nashville forever? This is a question we don’t quite know the answer to. The way our life has gone, we know nothing can be claimed as definitive. Nashville forever? We sure hope so. We love this area and how it is still close to our GA family. This home? We initially thought it would be a good 5 year plan until we could find something with a little more land, but the market may not ever come back down to reasonable. We also are in a place of not wanting any more big changes for a good long while, but only God knows!

How do you prioritize projects of what gets done when? We always make decisions based off budget, time availability, and what is going on with our family. For instance, our kitchen was the priority, but we didn’t want to go through that renovation during holiday months when we use the kitchen a good deal. We ended up postponing that till this year as a result. If something can be updated with minimal costs like paint or swapping ceiling fans, then we work that in between the higher cost projects. Those little changes often can make the biggest impact in making a place feel like your own.

How do you budget for renovations while raising a big family? We budget for renovations with a big family just as you would with a smaller family. We look at our funds coming in, funds going out, and what we need to be saving. We set aside what we can for renovations treating it like investing. We know we will earn back what we put into this home if/when we sell due to the area we live in. It’s also an investment in our family and the quality of the day to day flow of life. If a home project can contribute to more functionality or peaceful atmosphere, than I see it of high value. At this point in my life I would rather spend any extra funds we have on our home than on clothes, trips, or material goods.

Home renovation and design is now part of our jobs, which is the only reason why we can put as much time and resources into our home as we do. Does it still feel like things take a long time to complete? Yes. We don’t have employees so we wear many hats in our businesses. However, what would normally take us a year of weekends to renovate is able to be done in a month per say.

We are really frugal with most things in our life as we come from hard working grandparents who took nothing for granted and wasted nothing. I think we will always look for second hand furniture before buying, asking ourselves if something can be salvaged before destroying, and if we can donate what we don’t use. There are so many ways you can make a space enjoyable without spending a fortune. We had close to zero budget in our first rental home, but boy what a difference some paint and garage sale furniture did! We were able to profit a good amount on our last home, and those are the funds we are using for our kitchen renovation and some of the other renovations we did this year.

DIY wall moulding

(DIY decorative wall moulding for Chiara’s room.)

nursery design

(Chiara’s finished room. Photos by Joseph Bradshaw)

How do you decide what to DIY and what to hire? I think Gabe would always prefer to try and learn a new skill or DIY what he already knows how to do, but sometimes we just don’t have the time or capacity to take on larger projects. We usually weigh out time and costs to decide what is worth trying on our own and what is worth hiring. For example, we needed to install doors on the girls’ room and we could not find a contractor who would be available for months. It also was going to cost close to $1K. Gabe decided to do it on his own for these reasons. With many kiddos, a few different businesses, and a choppy schedule we have learned that sometimes it saves money to hire out because time is valuable! We designed every inch of the kitchen, but will be hiring out for the work we are not professionals in like plumbing, electricity, installing cabinets, etc. Now flipping a piece of furniture? I call that my way of de-stressing. I love it!

One thing you could go back and change about the renovation? Probably not re-surfacing the first floor BEFORE we moved in. We waited to do it in the spring which meant having to move everything out of the first floor. It felt like we were moving again, which felt a tad bananas if I am putting it lightly.

(The endless shades of green debate.)

What’s next? While many things still need updating, we are spacing it out over the next few years. All of the time spent last year on designing the kitchen, arranging contractors, and finding the right materials has us ready to implement it all this fall! We will be continuing the kitchen series in the meantime to share what we discovered with appliances, countertops, hardware and more.

We are in the middle of converting the bonus room into the shared girls’ bedroom so you will see the outcome for that soon as well! The piano room, the entry, and the stairways will also be a point of focus this year.

While we work on growing our print shop (some big changes coming), we also hope to open up availability to do other spaces outside of our own home. That is a goal for 2022, and I really look forward to it as it is much easier for me to decide on a paint color for someone else than my own home;)

family move

As I have a new baby tucked into a baby wrap as I type, I am sharing from yet another perspective than I had last summer. I am notorious for being eager about moving quickly and reaching those goal milestones with ease. I forget that some of the greatest things in life come with a good deal of sacrifice. We never want to choose the hard parts, and yet they are often what become our greatest teachers. Cheers to the gift of life, a roof over our heads, and people we love to share it with!

Leave a Comment

  • I’ve loved watching your house transform into a home this past year! I’d love to know your tips for getting kids out the door in the AM and after school routines too. You must be a pro! 🙂

  • Tricia Combs

    Hi there! Welcome to Nashville. My sister and I follow you and your beautiful family and are so inspired! We, too, live in Nashville and would live to meet up, if you’d like.

  • Josee Turner

    Amen! great job.

  • Do you mind sharing where (approximately) in Nashville you are? I know for privacy you don’t want to be too specific with where- I just was wondering if you are more in the city, suburbs, or out in the country

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