Maintaining

Maintaining a home is keeping things fixed and in good order, clean and tidy, and fresh and up to date. Maintaining can bring about the opportunity for creativity and problem solving. Homes are an ever-changing palette.

My tidying method usually involves staring at a room for a minute and deciding what I want from it. I get the big furniture figured out, and then start sorting through everything else. It’s on trend to donate your stuff to thrift stores, but I was amazed at how much garbage I hung on to: broken toys, scrap paper, broken items, old boxes, torn clothing. Not everything is worth a thrift store. I took loads to the thrift store and filled up my garbage can. I removed thrift store furniture that had served its purpose, electronics that were hardly used, toys that were too bulky, an extra fridge that was basically overkill, broken doors, old windows, and a whole shed of stuff that was from the occupants that lived here ten years ago.

If you want to study organzing and tidying in depth, I highly recommend Marie Kondo’s books The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy.

After initially moving and decorating, I started to develop a routine of maintenance. I would improve what bugged me the most, but stayed away from purposely looking for problems. If it didn’t bug me, I didn’t worry about it. I changed out a side table, curtains, pillow slipcovers all when they bugged me. Our home has popcorn ceiling, which I think is one of the first things people tend to upgrade. But it’s never bugged me much, so, for now, it’s staying.

I’ve done more updating in the areas that I frequent, like the main living space and our bedroom. Other areas of the house I don’t worry about that much.

I use a cleaning schedule to keep my home clean and prevent housework from being overwhelming. I also have a running to-do list of things that need to be repaired. My favorite part of maintaining is adding my own touches through creative projects. I wouldn’t consider myself very crafty or artistic. I add to my home creativity by finding new things to add, often at thrift stores, switching out items, no-stress crafts, ideas for new wall hangings, re-arranging furniture, and adding art my kids did.

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Remodel

After living here for a few years, I started itching to do something more with our home. Working with the floorplan, I finally hatched upon a better use of space. One of the main problems we had, besides the bedrooms, was a small, tiny bathroom. So tiny it did not come with a real door, but with a bifold closet door. It kept pinching the kids and was removed. We used a curtain for awhile, but the bathroom needed a door. We needed better bedrooms.

I had to go through a lot of different ideas in my head. We kept rearranging and trying new things out, but eventually we just planned on remodeling. The remodel did not start out in an orderly thought out manner.  Joe started to rip apart an inefficient dryer vent line, and the wall by the stairs. He didn’t consult me much before starting, and I was very surprised one day to see an entire wall gone! We went ahead and re-constructed the stairs. The ceiling on the stairs was not designed for tall people, and we are both over six feet.

Joe and a friend reconfigured the stairs one very long day. No more hit heads!

inside

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With the stairs moved a bit, the rest of the remodel came together. For the remodel, the dead end hallway would be converted into more bathroom space and a storage area. We would create a new hall with two new walls dividing the larger living area into two bedrooms. Several other doors were moved.

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My husband started to build walls, install new electrical lines, rip holes in existing walls. We put up doors, ripped up carpet, fixed concrete holes. Oh, and during this whole time, we lived in it. We kind of moved in as we went. My master bedroom at one time had a wall made of nothing but framed 2 x 4’s.

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One challenge was adding two doorways into existing walls. This solved so much of the tiny bathroom problem. We ended up with a very tiny, outward swinging door, so it’s still a little funky, but it functions.

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While we were doing the electrical, we knew we needed to get the electrical upgraded. There were holes all over, new lines to connect. When we moved in we had a mess of fuse boxes and wiring issues. We luckily found a local electrician at the recommendation of the power company guy, and she did great work. It was the most expensive thing we did in our home but by far the best!

Electrical was in, doorways set, framing up, next was drywall, and we had the rudiments of a newly remodeled home. At this point, I decided I wanted to finish each room individually. We would move out of a room, finish it off, and then move on to the next one. Started with the master, then the bathroom, hallway, stairs, laundry room, and boys bedrooms.

We did almost all of the work ourselves. After over a year of work, the inside finally was to the point where I’m happy with it. I wasn’t sure if I would like house projects, but I’ve grown from hating even the thought of painting a room, to finding the whole process rather addicting. Everything takes longer than I expect, but it also goes quick as long as we keep working at it.

Total Cost of Remodeling:

  • Electrical $1400
  • Labor $350
  • All Other Costs: $3600
    • Includes electrical upgrades, framing, drywall, doors, refinished concrete, molding, paint, and various other expenses.
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Moving In

We were more than doubling our square footage, so it was time to shop for furniture. The first piece of furniture I bought that cost over a hundred dollars was a sofa we stuffed into our apartment a few weeks before we moved.

We moved three blocks, and Joe and I did almost all of the moving with a pick-up truck and a day off of work. We worked our tails off for a few days to clean a house, apartment, move, and unpack.

We separated the living room into two areas, a front formal space, and computer area. We had the table in the dining room, added a stainless steel cart to the kitchen. The bedroom situation started out with our master in the basement family room. The boys were in the adjoining bedroom.

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I’m not one to leave full boxes or unhung pictures. I had the added motivation of Thanksgiving at my house. Most of my family would come: grandparents, parents, and almost all my siblings. We scooted tables together to make one big  dining table where all twenty of us could sit for a formal dinner. We filled the oven up with turkey, the fridges up with sides and the home with people.

dinner

Our house wasn’t perfect. My first priority after moving in, was making everything safe and in good repair. We finished off thresholds and weatherstripping, installed a toilet, scraped off paint and adjusted the HVAC.

The next year we tried to figure out how to make the floor plan work for our family. We live in an old house, so it is no surprise that the floor plan is a bit hard to work with. I like to rearrange furniture. I remember as a young girl pushing and pulling our beds and dressers as my sister and I constantly changed the arrangement of our bedroom. The trend continued, in our home.

early-floor-plan

Some places stayed about the same from when we moved in. The toy room has always been in the room off the main living area. It’s close enough that my kids are close, and it has a door so I can shut the mess inside. Our kitchen has had a calm life, with just minor adjustments like changing our fridges and adding stools.

The living area has gone through many changes. The original setup worked well. We upgraded a couch, bought rugs to fit the space and had no issues with it. But I like to switch it up . We swapped the dining area and computer area for awhile. We added a new piano. We moved the computer room into the dining room, and the dining room table moved to where the computer area was.

Then we bought a huge piano. Eventually, the main living area is now just one large space. The dining room is back to being a dining room. It’s been nice for larger gatherings and day to day living. I found that with separating the living area into different spaces, I just always ended up with one space that was never used.

The bedrooms were almost a deal breaker before purchasing the house. The situation did not improve. When we first moved in, we used the downstairs family room as a master bedroom, with the kids in bedroom one. Bedroom three is very small and was unfinished, so it became our closet. The attic room was our school room, where I set up all our homeschool activities and other toys. It worked, but the family room just didn’t make a very good bedroom. I started to get tired of having my bedroom on tile, in this huge room, and felt like there was a lot of wasted space.

The downstairs family room was converted back to a living space. The downstairs living room made quite a nice school room. We even started a co-op preschool group in it with several of our friends and neighbors. It was large, it had several sinks nearby, and both tile and carpet.

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We moved the master bedroom upstairs to the attic room. It is a quirky, old space with gabled windows, bench seats, and huge closets.  It was lovely. And it had several fatal flaws. Attics get hot in the summer. The nearest bathroom was down a flight of steep stairs (and I became pregnant). Oh, and the kids were two flights of stairs away. Although they generally slept through the night, we still used a baby monitor and occasionally had to go down two flights to comfort a child. We abandoned the dreamy attic bedroom.

Next the master bedroom was in bedroom one. We moved the boys to bedroom two, and tried finishing up bedroom number three for a nursery when the new baby comes. Baby mostly ended up in our room, and the makeshift nursery was rarely used.

nursery

We ended up moving a lot of furniture. I’m glad my husband has put up with all my requests to occasionally move a large bed up or down two flights of stairs. The bedroom situation never quite worked out, so we started to think about remodeling.

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Ending Up in Our Home

I grew up in a small town that quickly turned into a busy suburb. My parents are still there. Joe grew up in a small town just outside of our current city. We met while going to college. We married less than a year after meeting and started a long string of moves.  All of our apartments were small, and old. We lived with my Grandparents as caregivers, moved across the country for schooling, and finally ended up in our current city when my husband finished school and got a job. During that time we had two children, three college degrees, and eight different apartments.

When we ended up here, I started to quite enjoy the town. The community still has an old-fashioned feel: kids wandering around unsupervised, busy public schools, and tons of mom and pop burger or ice cream joints. The streets are lined with trees, and the traffic is amazing. Turning left on the busiest street at rush hour is something I will never get tired of. We live within walking distance of plenty of stores, the library, and multiple parks. Many of the neighborhoods are filled with fun old houses that are all architecturally different.

There’s quite a bit to do even though it is a small town: several museums and plenty of activities at the library and fine arts center for the kids. We live near a bird refuge, hot spring, a couple of lakes, mountains and within an hour’s drive of Salt Lake City. It is a family oriented community, with plenty to keep my kids and I busy. It’s small enough that I can meet many people by frequenting the same establishment, but big enough that I can get lost a bit if I want to.

We wanted to buy a house here. Joe had a good job; we knew the market was good. We wanted to have somewhere where we didn’t have to answer to a landlord and could work on the projects we wanted to. Our family was going to get bigger, so we also needed more space. We decided to buy a home when our lease ran out. We talked about what we wanted, occasionally glance at signs and listings, but still had a couple of months before we really wanted to look at buying a home.

Our home was an impulse purchase.

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A family from our church was selling their home after moving far away. It was only three blocks from where we were living. It was in the process of a lot of improvements to get ready to sell. The first time I saw it, it was a construction zone and I didn’t like it.  It had these absolutely awful overgrown shrubs in front. The bedrooms were all separate from each other, which didn’t work well with young children.

move-in

But I couldn’t get it out of my head. The size was right, the price was right and the more I thought about it, the more I started to see the potential in the home and garden. The timing was sooner than we wanted, but the house seemed right.

It was a FSBO, so buying it was simple: the seller told us how much he wanted, we offered and that was that. The next couple of months we sat waiting for paperwork: a government shutdown made the process very long.

Eventually, everything went through, and we were home owners.

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History of My Home

Our home was built in 1904. I wouldn’t be born for over eighty years. I’ve wish I could see a time-lapse of my home through its lifespan of over a hundred year. Much of the home’s history remains a mystery.

The house currently sits on a lot in our city. It didn’t start out there. It started its existence out 50 miles northwest in a small town called Snowville. Snowville is a small town with a population under 200. The town started in 1870’s. Thirty years later, my house was built.

historic-image

Not our home, but similar from the same time period and era

There is very little history about this home for the next fifty years. It probably remained a simple home for rugged families. One man decided it was worth something. He decided to move the little wood house fifty miles southeast. Most people thought he was a bit crazy.

The house landed on a lot in the middle of our city. It gained a new addition and basement, more than doubling in size. The house moved at the same time brick-faced cookie cutter homes were constructed for the growing families of the baby boomers. This house was quite a bit different.

The house became home to the Sederholm family. They lived there from the time they were young parents until their deaths. I have pulled coloring book and long forgotten school notebooks from their children and grandchildren in long forgotten hiding places. They lived here with red kitchens, layers of green paint and floral wallpaper.

Vegetables and fruit trees filled the garden, with an old weeping willow tree on the south side of the house. They planted evergreens that slowly started to grow. As the trees aged, so did the people inside.

Eventually, the kids moved out. Mr. Sederholm died, followed a few years later by his wife. The house had aged. It needed love, but luckily, someone was around willing to love it.

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A relative to the Sederholms bought it. The house started to get a facelift. Old shrubs were torn out. The old willow tree, that had long since started dying, was removed. The peach trees had died off, and much of the yard remained untouched and unused.

The inside started to get new sheetrock over the old lath and plaster. Torn up carpet was upgraded to new flooring. One big wall was open up to make way for a new dining room in place of a small, awkward bedroom. It became a family home with little kids running around again, and new babies sleeping in cribs.

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This family did not grow old in the home. Seven years after the house was purchased, it was up for sale again.

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My Thoughts on Home

In my young adult and newlywed years, hand-me-down furniture and thrift store finds filled up my home. Back then, I was often content if the thrift store pink rocking chair didn’t clash with the hand me down floral couch. We moved eight times in eight years when I was first married, so nothing stayed around very long. The budget was nearly nonexistent, and the short-term rentals we lived didn’t exactly inspire us to do much. Pinned calendar pictures worked quite well for a long time.

I would get caught up in dreaming. Home design seemed to be everywhere in blogs, video, Pinterest, Houzz, HGTV and more. Before I moved into my new home, I love perusing photographs of lovely homes, saving ideas and pictures I dreamed of copying. Then I bought a house. Finally, I had a home I wasn’t just going to move out of in less than a year, and a bit of money to fill it with things I liked.

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The amount of information became overwhelming. My house wasn’t even close to approaching what I saw. I had to take a break from all the inspiration and ideas on home design. It wasn’t inspiring. I had to abandon much of what I dreamed about. I might want to live in a treehouse by the beach, but I live in the home we bought. There were limitations of what I could do in my budget, time, creativity and values.

Instead of copying someone else and looking for ideas, I started with my own home and family and the limitations I had. I let go of comparison. I designed my home from my own internal desires. I did what worked for my family in my existing home. I wanted a home that my kids could litter with toys, and be the place for wrestling matches and the energetic energy and growth of three young boys. I wanted a place where I could work on my goals, and be comfortable in. I wanted a place that could be welcoming to visitors of family and friends.

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I created someplace that probably would never be featured in a magazine, and I wasn’t trying to do something spectacular. But it worked for my children and family. I filled it with things my family and I enjoyed and didn’t worry too much if it met any standard of design. My home was a reflection of my family, my faith and the lifestyle I desire.

It was important to create a place I like to be, and that included making it look good. But it was better to cultivate my own interests than try to follow any design style. I used green and blue, occasional rainbows, and plants. My choices were sporadic and not necessarily united. I bought things from Ikea and thrift stores and used handy me downs from family members. I have no formal spaces. I’ve also rejected much of the normal: tans or grays and uninspired traditional wall art in favor of found or self-created items and color. I’m not trying to copy anyone else, but do what feels right to me.

I love my home now and I didn’t create it by copying ideas on the Internet. I am creating my home by responding to my own desires and ideas, and by often being content with less than perfect. There’s always a strange collection of crumbs, hot wheels and Lego everywhere and I’ve gotten used to that. There is also things around me that make me happy to look at, and a space I feel comfortable spending a long time in.

Sometimes I still find a blog or post that makes me want to re-do another room or abandon my simple decor and strange floor plan. I have to take a step back. I stop comparing my home to another and instead ask, “Am I comfortable here? Does my house function well for our family? Is it a place I love to be?” This is my home, and the only people who need to love it is my family and me. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just somewhere I can love and enjoy.

I’m slowly learning more acceptance and gratitude even if it isn’t ideal. I’m finding it is much easier to enjoy what I have instead of trying to make what others enjoy. Home is a place where my family and I can live and be happy. I created a home by filling it with beauty and love within my limitations, not by copying or striving for perfection.

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