Memorial Day, New House Design Plans, and Spring Allergies #CoffeeTalk

Well, hello Monday. I tell ya, it may be a holiday, but it sure feels like a Monday to me. I don’t know if it’s the gloomy weather, my morning allergies, or the fact that I woke up and realized I didn’t have anything prepped to post today, but I’m having a pretty blah start to the day. Perhaps if I get out and run, I’ll feel better.

I had mentioned trying to get to a local Memorial Day parade this morning, but I don’t see that happening.

That said, I don’t like to let this day go by without paying some sort of homage to those who have fought and died for our country. It may not be perfect, but it’s home and I’m grateful for that.

So yeah, I don’t know what is up with the spring allergies this year. I guess I need to get myself on an Allegra routine (#notanad.) I don’t usually struggle like this, so I have to wonder what’s up.

My younger daughter has started having trouble in recent years, and she has noticed that her allergies are worse on the days it rains. I think I’m the same. I would think the rain would help alleviate some of the pollen in the air, but perhaps it isn’t the pollen that we’re allergic to… I dunno. All I know is, we’ve had way more than our fair share of rain this spring, and my allergies are bonkers.

I’m sure no one wants to hear me complain about my allergies, so let’s move on to more fun topics.

I’ve mentioned once or twice or maybe ten or twenty times that we’re moving in a few months. For those who are just catching up, it was a rather spontaneous decision. We’d had our eye on the housing market for a couple of years, just out of curiosity, and because we knew we didn’t want to be here forever. But last summer, after seeing a few houses online that looked really promising sell before we could go look at them, we decided to hang it up and wait until our kids are out of high school. We have a great community here, and we know how fast things change — we figured that once the kids are all done with school, we may want to move out of the district anyway, so it made sense to wait.

Funny how life happens. A few months ago, a house came up for sale just a few miles away, and it looked pretty much perfect in every way. We went and saw it “just for fun” because we didn’t even really want to move… right? Ha.

I’ve said it before, but it’s the only way I know to describe the feelings I had when we walked through that house: It checked all the boxes and then some we didn’t even know we had. 

We weren’t really ready to move, though, so we tried to forget about it. We figured it would sell before we could get our act together anyway.

But then it didn’t.

Long story short, after making two separate offers (they turned our first one down flat), we came to an agreement late one Sunday night. By the next Sunday night, we had put our current house on the market and sold it, all while my husband was in the hospital with diverticulitis. Yes, that was one crazy week.

our current house

Everything has gone remarkably well with the inspections and various negotiations involved, and we finally have official closing dates on both homes, allowing for a comfortable two-week overlap to do some work on the new place while still living here.

The house we’re purchasing is about 15 years old, so there are some updates we’d like to make right away — namely carpet and paint. And I’d eventually like to replace the counters and appliances in the kitchen, but that will have to wait. Those are projects that can be done once we’re living in the house, and we want to focus now on the projects that are easiest to do when there is no furniture to contend with.

When it comes to home decorating, I know what I like, and I want it to look nice, but I’m not great at putting it all together. I learned two houses ago that hiring a decorator/designer is a wise investment.

It seems like a luxury at the time, when there are so many necessary expenses vying for their spot in the budget, but after making several costly mistakes and spending hours upon hours trying to make the smallest of decorating decisions, I soon learned the value of a professional.

I mean, if you enjoy the design process, and you’re good at it, that’s awesome. But we are not, so I consider hiring a designer the same as hiring an electrician or a plumber. Sure, we could figure it out and do the job ourselves, but a professional can do it so much better, faster, and more efficiently.

Of course the next question is, how does one find such a treasure?

Fortunately I have someone I’ve worked with before on some small projects in this house, so I reached out to her right away. If you’re looking for a designer, I recommend asking around for personal recommendations. That’s how I found both of the designers I’ve worked with over the years. (My first one moved out of the area.)

Here’s how it works. 

First, I filled out a lifestyle questionnaire that helps her determine my style and the way we use our home — for example, how often we entertain, and that type of thing. She also asked me to share my Pinterest and/or Houzz accounts with her so she can see what styles and colors I’m drawn to. I created a Pinterest board for New House Ideas that I continue to pin to as I find things I like.

Next, we met for an initial consultation to talk everything over and be sure we were on the same page. After our meeting, I signed a contract that explains the design process and her payment structure, and I put a deposit down that covers her first five hours of work.

Typically the initial consultation would happen in the home being decorated, because we aren’t in our new house yet, we used the online listing along with pictures I took when we were there for the inspection.

My two biggest priorities for our first meeting were paint and carpet. These are big expenses, and they will flow through much of the house, so I want to be sure I’m selecting colors that I’ll be happy with.

In my current home, almost every room is a different paint color, and while they flow and work together, I want to take a different approach in the new home. I’m planning to choose one paint color in a light neutral to take through the first floor and the upstairs hallway. Then each bedroom will be a separate project.

As far as flooring goes, most of the 1st floor is medium brown hardwoods that were recently refinished so those stay. For now, we’re keeping the light neutral carpet in the family room, but we will be re-carpeting the 2nd floor and the basement.

My designer decided to focus first on the family room and kitchen areas — since that is the “heart of the home” and where we spend the most time, and also because I wanted to order a new family room couch to be delivered during that two-week overlap so we don’t have to move our existing one.

Also, the family room contains a stone fireplace that will help dictate the color scheme for the house, and the granite in the kitchen should be considered as well. Both are busy patterns that can’t really be ignored when designing the space. Fortunately they’re also fairly neutral, so we can work with them.

About a week after our initial consultation, my designer was ready to meet and present her design ideas to us. She came to my current house with paint and fabric samples, along with her family room design plan.

The “mood board” above shows how all the pieces will work together. I also like how she included a swatch of the stone fireplace that is in our new family room.

She also provided this 3D rendering of the room, along with a floor plan drawn to scale, showing all of the furniture placement.

This is just a starting point — her proposal. Most of the pieces (like the pillows and ottomans) aren’t even picked out yet. She did, however, bring fabric swatches for the curtains and couch.

A navy blue couch was my idea. I definitely do not want white or beige or grey, which is what seems to be trending at the moment. I do, however, want something neutral enough to allow me to swap out pillows and accessories for the seasons and as my tastes change. She brought me a few couch suggestions from companies she recommends, and I selected one, which we ordered.

We will be keeping the existing neutral wall-to-wall carpet for now, and for paint, we’re planning on a light neutral “greige” so I think the couch will provide a nice contrast to all of that. She brought over some paint samples, but we will finalize that decision after we close on the house and we can look at the samples over there.

Next, she is going to send me ideas for the kitchen — window coverings and area rug suggestions for under the kitchen table — and after that, we will see where things stand budget-wise.

For now I’m planning to move my existing living room, dining room, and basement furniture into our new house, and our bedrooms will also remain largely the same for now.

There are other spaces that will eventually need attention — a mudroom (hooray!), a 2nd floor laundry room, my home office, a guest room (I’ve never had one before!), and an outdoor living space in the backyard. But I will tackle those areas one at a time after we move in. In fact, I’m excited to take it slowly, one room at a time, and really enjoy the process. I’m also planning to share each project with you as I go along.

I’m happy to answer any questions you may have, and I can’t wait to actually show you pictures of the new space!

Well, that’s enough for now. I’ve had time to digest my 2 cups of coffee, and I’m starting to feel a bit more like myself. I plan to go for a run and start tackling some packing projects before it’s time to get ready for a cookout with friends tonight.

If you’re doing some shopping today, don’t miss my Memorial Day Sales Roundup and Try On Sesh posts.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your long weekend, if you’re one of my stateside friends, and if not, I hope your Monday is safe and productive!