504 Main by Holly Lefevre: Learning to Love My Home
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Learning to Love My Home

When I first moved out of my parents house and into my very own apartment, I had so much fun designing and decorating my living space. You could even say I went a little crazy...with it. I had more ideas than I can even remember stuffed into 400 square feet. Just imagine (if you dare) a shabby chic theme that somehow got sidetracked to countrified angel. Not something I am completely proud of...notice no photos! But at that time I loved it.

When my husband and I bought a house, my design sensibilities had changed...now imagine lots of gold, sparkly, cherubs, and well, semi-ornate items. And, we had just gotten married so there were plenty of new gifts - vases, frames, platters, etc. - to decorate with. I liked that everything was new. I wanted my house to look like a catalog (you know which one, I am sure). It didn't...it never felt right...and hubby is cheap!

Once again we moved...to a new house - an older home on the Central California Coast. It had low ceilings, not a lot of natural light, and was in need of major updating. I got preoccupied and overwhelmed with fixing what was "broken" with trying to make the new house the same as the old house. Other than blowing a hole in the wall to create a hallway...I didn't do much to this house for a long while...I complained but never acted...seriously, it took 3 years for the cardboard in the hallway to make way for new hardwood floors.

Painting, decorating, and making a home had always been one of my favorite things to do and I had left is by the wayside, while continuing to lament about the "tragedy" of my new fixer-upper. I just was not feeling it with the new house...everything I did seemed forced...until one day, I finally got it...I had to let the house be what it was. There was no way hubby was going to let me blow the roof off so I could have higher ceilings, and with the price we paid (yes, we bought at the height of the market!) the old orange-ish kitchen and UGLY master bath complete with saloon doors were staying for awhile.

Now, however, I can say I am glad, I am happy...I do love this house. It has personality. It has a story to tell. I was patient...and I let its story unfold. By living here, adjusting to a new lifestyle and embracing the (little) charm that was there, we have created a warm and welcoming home. It has taken time...it has tested my patience...but the changes we have made are right for this house and for our family.

In the process of letting our home and our decorating style evolve I have discovered a few things:
1. Don't fight what you cannot change (kind of like marriage). Um yeah, converting the garage to an indoor pool and adding a rooftop deck and out of the question..even the contractor looked at me and told me to "just move."

2. Learn to love if for what it is. My family room is funky...I used to call it the pine coffin (pine paneling, pine ceiling...ugh!). It had a mini makeover - just some white paint on the walls, but it is getting ready for a serious makeover...first up the walls will be painted with a warm honey color. I did not love the saloon doors...they are gone...but the bathroom is still ugly.
3. Spend your money wisely. At first I wanted to gut the kitchen, move things around completely and create a state of the art cooking area. First that would have looked DUMB in this house...kinds of like "So...you spent all the money on the kitchen? Do you like cardboard taped to your floor?" Instead we kept the cabinet boxes, left the floor plan the same, had new doors put on, new appliances, fresh hardware, new paint, and a few little extras. For a very small fraction of the cost of a complete overhaul. And guess what? The kitchen fits the house perfectly...it does not overwhelm it.

4. Surround yourself with what you love and it will feel like home. My style is crazy (I am not an interior designer) I know what I like and I make it work. Case in point I have a very large print of a champagne ad...it was going to hang in the living room no matter what. After many attempts at paint we finally got it...purple! Yes, even purple works in a living room (and hubby agreed to it) because it felt right and complemented the artwork we already loved (also, think color wheel). The (darker) purple has been upgraded to more periwinkle and it looks stunning.

I have a long list of projects still...but I enjoy and relish each and everyone of them. It makes this house unique...it makes DIYing fun. I cannot wait to bring a little happy to the outside of the home with a new paint job...just trying to decide if I can DIY that one myself!? I am sure the neighbors would enjoy watching the crazy lady go at it.

So what's my point...yes...I have a point? Become your home's BFF. Make it happy! It will speak to you it will tell you what it needs...what it wants, and ultimately surround yourself with things that make you happy...that is what will make a house your home.

What's your style or decorating challenge?



  1. We bought a brand new townhouse as our first home. I have a love-hate relationship with it. Although there isn't a lot going on decor-wise, my master bedroom is my most favorite. We painted the walls a pretty medium blue(Lovebirds by Valspar); have dark mahogany furniture and white curtains and bedding... it's very Southern feeling and I love that.

  2. this is a great post, holly! i felt the same about this house when we moved in, but finally in the last couple years i have embraced it and made it ours. before that i just kind of looked at it as temporary until we got something better.

  3. Holly @ www.highheelsandflipflops.com7:35 AM

    Our biggest challenge is space! I'm learning to work with it though. My most recent project is a diy bookcase. We took out the old, little one and built one that's floor-to-ceiling and perfectly sized to fit.

    Like you, I don't love my house. I'm working on that though. It's definitely a work in progress at all times.

  4. Great advice - wish I read it years ago as I trusted my hubby to come ahead of us from from dream house in Kansas City to rural Ketucky and buy the house on his own. UGH does not begin to cover it. 7 years later it's livable but for so long it was not because I didn't follower your wise advice and went with an all or nothing attitude. Not liking your home weighs you down, changing what you can is empowering.

  5. Wonderful and oh so true post Holly! We live in a townhouse. No way to 'add on" or "tear down" so, we had to adapt to what it is and turn it into our home the best we could. Decor touches change often but, the "bones" stay the same. Is our home picture perfect? magazine worthy? Nope. Is it a sanctuary? Yes! A place where laughter, silliness, sadness, crying, aggravation, frustration, goofiness all happen.

  6. Great post! I think this can sometimes be really hard to do. I learned a lot when we sold our townhouse and started shopping for a new, larger house. I'm a visual person and I ha dot be able to picture our current stuff in that new house. I was willing to make updates, but it had to be livable and all things that I was willing to work on over the years. You can't transform your home in a short time...it takes years and years so you have to be able to live with it in it's current state.

    The only thing I have a hard time with is our kitchen. We knew we wanted to renovate the whole thing, but it's a huge project and very expensive. So we've put that off, but updated a lot of the other rooms for now.

  7. Hi Holly,

    I have not seen you since Bloggy Boot Camp. I changed the name of my blog, and lost my followers, so starting all over again has been a slow process for sure.

    Your home ideas sound like they worked well. I want to see a photo of the purple. Sounds lovely!

  8. I love this post. I spent a lot of years feeling like I needed to copy / conform to something done by professionals...(they knew what they were doing right) vs what I liked. And people would always ask me what style I decorated in and I was never tied to one style. I like what I like and that spans a bunch of styles. So now I do what I like and don't stress about it.

  9. I can relate with you. We purchased our home at the height of the market but it was a very good price and had two property lots. It is a work in progress. I am trying to make it comfortable and livable but also stylish.


  10. This is great advice, Holly.

    I think one of my biggest challenges is finding ways to make ur house look great, while still allowing it to be a family home.

    When I get it right, it's a good feeling!


  11. Great post Holly! I have so many things I'd like to do to this house, but money and resale are always in the back of my mind. You don't want to put in more than it's worth and it needs to be in line with the style and look of the house.

  12. This is such a beautiful post. Thank you for that wisdom :) I guess it is true that you can't make something that it is not. I am going to try to be more happy with my home and maybe I can be inspired to start decorating again.

  13. Oh, that IS me, my dear! Ours is a ranch, so "if we could just make it in to a 2-story with the big porch and awesome staircase when you come in, blow out those walls, level the whole yard and put a pool in that corner, add a 3rd garage", etc. x20...... Talk about "just move"! I've looked for a new house for 6 years (as long as we've been here...bought at height of market too). I see them ~ on the Today Show when Barbara Corcoran is on, but not where I live. We ARE going to get rid of a wall or 2 and bump out the entry way, but I still won't have a new, yet old-looking 2-story like I've always dreamed of. My kitchen could end up looking quite awesome though.

    Glad you feel a little more settled. That's a HUGE thing, isn't it?

  14. Holly, thank you for posting this. You have brought tears. I am stuck in a house for 10 years that I completely hate. I wake up daily and feel this overwhelming disdain...and it breaks a persons soul to be without love for or IN your home (not house)... it is hard to be content. Our home was supposed to be a 5 year deal and then be able to move up. With the economy and other spending (hubby likes his toys) we have not been able to afford much to mold it into "our home". With illness immobilizing me for too long, I have just recently picked up my tools again, had a garage sale this summer and started working through the clutter...a lot of the reason the house FEELS even smaller. In 10 years I have tiled, helped re shingle, created garden space, helped put in a bathroom, textured and painted, busted out some glass block windows, helped lay a wood floor, woodwork, painting and replaced some lighting, etc, etc, etc. Now am ready to tackle some bigger projects like taking down the drop ceiling (started yesterday) in a downstairs bedroom, and learning how to "Tuscan" texture to hide some major imperfections with our walls. I have realized I am not getting out of the dungeon anytime soon, so I may as well work with it and enjoy what we have. My hubby is also cheap...well, rather he things things are FINE the way they are and thinks if it isn't broke, don't fix it. Ugly , outdated, unorganized and dark doesn't matter to him.
    SOooooo, thank you for the new perspective! This week the downstairs bedroom, next week cutting down a pine tree to make room for a garden block patio hopefully able to afford to put in next summer! Wish me luck! I know I will be able to make a difference and be content in my home once again. Just need a handful of tools , good paintbrush, a great supplier, and a smile!

  15. Holly, this is one of the best articles I have seen on loving the home you have. I a going to link to it from my Facebook page:)


Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation! I sure hope you come back for more!

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