Elsie’s 2021 Project List

Wooo! This is one of my FAVORITE posts to write and share every year because I LOVE goals and I love planning. Sharing it here gives me a clear marker to look back on at the end of each year. Multi-year renovations are a whirlwind. There are phases of fatigue, phases of overwhelm and definitely a lot of ups and downs. It’s easy to get clouded and feel discouraged by day-to-day progress, but when you zoom out it feels a lot more encouraging because you can see how all the little projects are adding up!

Currently, I am still in the beginning phases of our renovation. I have about half the spaces fully planned, but I am still scratching my head about quite a few spaces. I am hoping that in the next season or two they will be fully planned and beginning to see significant progress! At the moment, I am struggling with renovation fatigue, so I am mainly focused on executing ideas we already know for sure while I recharge my creative batteries.

Pictured above is my first tile choice for our new home. We used Fireclay Tile in their star and cross pattern in the color Tumbleweed. It’s a light pink/beige and I really love how it came out. It was surprisingly challenging for me to commit to a non-white tile—I almost backed out at the last minute. But now that I’ve broke the seal, I can’t wait to use more colorful choices for our home renovations.

We moved into this home in August, and in the first five months we lived here we had the exterior painted, we completed the coffee bar for my office, spruced up the wine cellar (post coming soon!) and did a mini makeover on our main bathroom (since we don’t plan to gut it and remodel it for many years).

Here’s my mood board!

OK… here are my 2021 renovation plans! I will warn you in advance—there are a LOT of spaces. My strategy is to do more rooms and spaces this year and then do the more destructive and expensive renovations in 2022. So basically 2021 will feel very instantly gratifying as we breeze through a bunch of easier and more budget-friendly renovations. I’m excited!!!

Powder bathroom (known in our home as “the Transylvania bathroom”). The lights flicker and go on and off constantly, which adds to the atmosphere. We’re planing to give this spooky lady a head-to-toe makeover later this spring. It will be our first FULL bathroom renovation in this home and I am strongly considering a 1970s rainbow theme. This is the first house we’ve EVER had with a powder room. In the past, it was always on my wishlist. So I want to go all out making it glamorous and creative since it’s the main bathroom that guests usually use or see. I definitely do not want to play it safe or neutral with this space.

Movie room. We feel so incredibly lucky to have this room and we use it A LOT. This room was basically the only babysitter we had in 2020 … and also the only date night. Haha, that just got sad! OK, anyway, we love this room. We love that it came with a TV and a projector. The projector with the large screen is more accessible for our kiddos since they are visually impaired. We really loved it in our last home, so as soon as we moved in we upgraded the old projector (it was broken) and updated a lot of the technology in this room (it still had one of those CD players that you can put 100 CDs in). So we brought it up to speed for streaming music and television and everything like that. Function-wise, it’s a 10/10 already. Design-wise, it still has some work. So far, we removed the wallpaper, got the walls skim coated, and painted the whole room a deep mustard color to match our sofa. Then, I had a little freak out and returned the sofa right as the return window was closing (had huge regrets on the choice of velvet for our main sofa—it just was not durable enough for us). So, currently I am still picking out a leather sofa and I am not sure whether we will keep the paint color or paint it again. Emma has really strong feelings that we should replace this carpet. It doesn’t bother me, but I have considered adding a rug. Overall, this room is a puzzle that I have to keep taking apart and trying again and again and again. I am looking forward to completing it this year!

Main bedroom. One of the rooms I am the MOST excited to transform. We’ve already replaced all the carpets with hardwood. One of the bigger items in our budget this year is updating windows. We have ’90s windows with the blinds encapsulated between two panes of glass, and many of them are broken—so whether the blinds are up, down or halfway up they cannot be moved. I would like to replace our window with plain glass. I am also going to price out my “dream windows” and see if it’s within our budget (I have a feeling it will not be, but I still have to check!). There are also three places in our home (including right here) where we have the weird ’90s window with the mini window on top. I would like to replace these with normal windows—no mini on top! Beyond that, I would really like to panel this ceiling and add beams, update the light fixture and add a faux fireplace in this room.

Balcony. Just outside our bedroom is this balcony that is my absolute dream come true. I have a very specific vision for this space and it’s going to be EPIC!!!!! I can’t wait to share it all with you!

My closet. (and also Jeremy’s closet) We’ve been working on this over the holidays and it’s nearly complete. We did a low waste renovation for both our closets, which means we used what was there as much as possible while customizing it and making it nicer. I’m THRILLED with how it came out and as soon as I find a cute rug I will photograph it and share it with you!

Guest bedroom. We are already 95% done with this room, so it will be one of the first tours we share … coming soon!

Guest bathroom. The second (and probably the last) bathroom we will be renovating this year is the guest bathroom. It’s very small and I have a pretty clear vision for it already. We will be keeping the existing layout and salvaging some parts of it (you know I love to reuse cabinets and vanities when possible) and making it clean, fresh and 1970s inspired.

Jeremy’s studio. This is another room we are close to completing. It should be wrapped up and ready to share sometime this spring. We did 360 degree bookshelves that wrap around the entire room. It’s a deep, moody color and really unique.

My office. I am building my dream office, and I’ve never been so excited before. The room is the perfect size and I am using every nook and cranny to add storage for all my (MANY!) DIY and craft supplies. I am not sure when it will be complete, but I would guess within the first half of the year. VERY excited to share every detail with you.

Playroom/bunk room. Attached to my office is a literal hidden room. It’s a good-sized bedroom, but since you have to go through my office to access it we know it would never work as a family member’s bedroom. So, we decided to use it as a bunk bed room. We’re planning to rip into those walls you see on both sides and do built-in bunk beds on each side. It will be so magical when the girls start having sleepovers and cousins visit and everything. This room will also serve as our playroom. We’ve currently been using it as a place for our (too many) dollhouses to be.

Art room. Just off the entryway of our home is a small office. I have been using it as my office since we moved in as my future office is being built. We have also been using it as a place to store all my painting stuff like canvases, paint and my easel. Our kids love to paint as well, so I think we will keep this as an art room moving forward! It’s near our living spaces and I love them having access to creative supplies to make crafts whenever they want.

Dining Room. You can see my progress and the current state of it here. I would like to add wallpaper or paint the walls a color and remove that stone ledge and do built-ins in that spot.

Living Room. So far we’ve painted this fireplace white, added curtains, a hanging chair, and furniture. I love this space and we use it SO much every day. To complete this room, I would love to wallpaper it (or possibly paint a mural). I am leaning toward removing the entire fireplace mantle and starting over. It’s tough because the fireplace is not bad, but it’s not good either. The other thing I would LOVE to do is panel the ceiling and add beans down here. I think that would make a world of difference!

Hallways and small spaces. My summer goal is to tackle a bunch of small spaces. Our hallways, stairways entries, landings … they are all plain and boring. One of my goals this year is to add art, family photos, rugs, mirrors and just generally make each space feel decorated and intentional. Small spaces are really fun!!

Kids’ shared bedroom. This room is already underway and I can’t wait to share it. We chose to do a really bold wallpaper and we painted the trim, other three walls, and ceiling all one color. As you can see here, the room we started with was pretty basic and boring. I promise you it won’t be boring when we’re done!

Pantry. Ah, our moldy pantry! I am proud to say that the mold has been removed and we’ve been making it into a beautiful and organized pantry. I will share this space with you soon.

Entryway. We painted the front doors first thing when we moved in. It made it instantly feel more like home. After months of living here, I am now leaning toward replacing the front doors for functional reasons. I’d also love to find doors with windows. For the entryway, I think wallpaper would be super pretty. I am strongly considering a wallpaper for this space. Oh! And a new light fixture ASAP.

Pool area and landscaping. There have already been a lot of changes since this photo (taken on closing day). We cut down that magnolia tree (it was basically halfway cut off since it was planted too close to the house and it looked weird, and it was super messy). We painted the red brick white. We’ve also recently added a safety fence to our pool area. When it starts to warm up again, I would like to find cute furniture and a pool umbrella, redo the landscaping, replace all the outdoor lights, and hopefully repaint our patio as well. We are also planning to convert our pool to saltwater so it has less chlorine. There are endless outdoor projects we need to tackle, so we decided to start with the pool area since it’s a space we use a lot. It’s also the outdoor space that’s most visible since the whole back of our house is windows that look out to this area.

My big picture 2021 goal is to really BOND with this home. We moved twice in 2020, pivoted away from our Airbnb investments (we’re currently about to sell our last one and close that chapter) and generally just became more exhausted and burned out than I’ve ever been. With that said, I am so grateful for this home and I see it as my first priority to recharge and get inspired for all the renovating we have coming up!

Rooms/projects we’re not addressing in 2021 (but probably will in 2022): Kitchen, breakfast nook and pantry, laundry (currently the least practical space in our home), main bathroom, both kids’ bathrooms, front porch, tile floors in downstairs, garage, and outdoor projects besides the pool area.

Whew … it’s going to be a busy year! Which renovations are you most excited to see??? xx. Elsie

  • Hi Elsie! I am enjoying following your renovation on your new home! It would be so awesome if you could post a floor plan like you did with your first Nashville home (https://abeautifulmess.com/elsies-floor-plan/). I referenced it so much when reading about those renovations. Those posts are my very favorite by the way 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  • Tablecloths! Good granny! (Was that this post or one of the linked ones?) Anyway I have my great-grandmother’s dining table and it’s so special to me, but my dad assumed I wouldn’t want the custom-made tablecloths and donated them. Tragic!

  • Love seeing all the rooms and their potential! So excited for you and your 2021 renovations. Can’t wait to see what you create!

  • I cannot wait to see what you do with the powder room, I need the inspiration! We have a small guest bathroom that needs a serious infusion of fun and personality. I’d love to go bold with the floor tile or temporary wallpaper. Maybe both! As Jonathan Adler said in your podcast, “My only edict: do whatever style to you do at 11”

  • Firstly, I want to see the *too many* dollhouses haha!

    Secondly, I want to know how you manage to feel excited and refreshed AND more burned out than ever before! I mean, the house projects look amazing and all, but I want a tour of your brain! We are planning on a move this spring/summer season and I am dreading it rather than excited!

    • Haha. Ok. I will show you sometime. We have 3 dollhouses at the moment and for some reason I still think we need more. (we don’t)

      I definitely think it’s the season!! So many people have told me they are feeling the same way right now. I’ll keep you updated when I’m fully inspired again. :)) xx

      • Awesome! Dollhouses are the coolest. I wanted one so badly when I was a girl and am living the dream with my 4 year old now! She has a “normal” one and I have a tree stump house in the wings for when I finally get around to sewing all of those flower fairies ….

        And please do keep us posted on inspiration!

  • I’m so excited for all the makeovers!!! I’m really interested to see your take on a moody room in Jeremy’s studio! Also, looking forward to the balcony and the magical bunk room! And, well, all the other rooms, too! Thanks in advance for all the inspiration you’re giving us this year. Hopefully it’ll motivate me to finish some of the rooms in my own house.

    • Thank you so much Meredith!!! :)) Good luck with your renovations this year!

  • I love the balcony! Having a balcony was the best part of apartment living, and I love staying at hotels with them. Having such a big and luxurious one off your bedroom is a dream come true!

    • Thank you!!!! It’s one of the most special features and I can NOT wait to design it! 🙂

      • I have major envy of the whole house, but that balcony is especially swoon-worthy. Looking forward to seeing the progress!

  • This project list is so exciting and so positive—I love it! I am really excited to see that bunk room and playroom come together. That sounds like such a dream for the kids. And can we just talk about that mood board?! All that pink is so cool. It reminds me of my Nana who always told us her favorite color was sky-blue pink. Happy New Year and thanks for always inspiring me with color, design and kids art.

    • Awe that is SO sweet! I am really inspired by my grandmother’s styles as well!

  • Yay! I look forward to following along and see how the house turns out. Love all the more budget friendly mini makeovers as well, they are so inspiring to me!

    Just a tip if you want some inspiration on wallpapers, here is a collection of some of the most classic Scandinavian patterns from the 1930’s up until the 1970’s. I especially like the Job sisters and their stunning floral patterns. These wallpapers are all handprinted in Europe, but they may be able to ship to the US as well? If not, at least it is a real part of Scandinavian design history to just look at them 🙂


    • Thank you so much Linn! I just ordered some samples from them. Exciting!!!!

  • Hi Elsie
    Grand ideas! Can’t’ wait to see them all accomplished. Hope you are all well and safe. By the way, your podcasts always make me laugh. Thank you.

  • So excited to see everything! I’m in the process of slowly updating a house bought during COVID too, and I’ve loved hearing all about yours on your podcast. I modeled my rainbow bookshelf after yours from your old house! My next project is our powder room, so I can’t wait to see yours too. 🙂

  • Soooooo excited to see how these reno’s progress!! It’s like a ginormous blank canvas, can’t wait to see each room reveal!!

  • I really enjoyed this post and seeing the plans. It brought to mind something I’ve noticed before – when people describe spaces, it’s like often like wine tasting in that I understand the words but don’t know what exactly they mean in context. So while wine may have “mineral” notes or be “earthy,” until I train my palate I’m not going to be able to taste and name those flavors.

    With interior design and decorating, words like “fresh” make my brain stumble. I’d love to learn more precise ways to understand design text and describe spaces myself. Does “moody” always mean dark walls? Outside of the well-established mid-century modern style, is “modern” used with any consistency as a general adjective? And so forth.

    • Hi! This makes sense! I really am not an expert and I am learning as I go also. I definitely want to get more educated on terms as I go along. 🙂

  • I love all the projects you have planned, and I can’t wait to follow along. Your house looks like an amazing blank canvas to work with. I just moved into a 90s home and it is missing all sense of character. I hoping following along with spark some ideas for my home.

    • Thank you Meghan. 90s homes are definitely a fun opportunity to create some character with the magic of DIY. Congratulations on your new home!

  • I am so glad you went with pink tile. I love bold interiors and am really looking forward to all the unique choices I sense coming our way. I hope you really go for it. And your kids are soo sooo soo cute.

  • best wishes on your plans for 2021!
    (also, the link to the coffee bar is actually the exterior paint article again)

    • Hi Tara,
      Thank you for letting me know. I just fixed it. 🙂

      And thank you for the kind words!

  • Hi Elsie!
    Your blog really made my walk trough 2020 “easier” and your home renovation was my kryptonite this year! I’m really excited for EVERY SINGLE ROOM!
    I have short questions : Are you also selling your/ Emmas Harry Potter Airbnb? Sorry if I have missed something!
    Stay healthy!

    • Hi Sarah,
      Thank you SO much for following along. I’m so so excited to share the rooms as we go!

      Yes- Emma and I both sold our houses in Florida. I was really sad not to be able to do the big makeover, but it was no longer a wise choice for us.

      • I just started listening to your podcast recently and was listening to the updates on the Florida houses, I’m so suprised and sad to hear this! Is this something you’d be comfortable sharing more about? I’d be interested in hearing, but I also understand not wanting to go into details.

        • Hi. Here’s my version (Emma’s is similar but a little different)…. We bought our Florida houses in the fall of 2019. I went one time to do a mini makeover to the house and basically just get to know the property so I could plan a bigger remodel. My assistant Collin had a baby around Christmas, we planned to go there together to do the remodel but I wanted to give him a few months before traveling. We were planning to go in March of 2020. Obviously Covid changed everything around that time and I started to realize it didn’t feel right to do the trip. So we delayed it 2-3 months… then 2-3 months again. Our house was sitting mostly empty through that time as people were traveling less. Of course we were still paying all our bills, pool upkeep/repairs and all that so we were basically paying for a house to sit empty. So once we began to realize we were not going to want to travel to Florida anytime in 2020 I made the choice to list our house. It just has not been a good investment for us anymore, maybe it’s worth it to other people to ride it out but it wasn’t for me. In addition after reading “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” and “The Simple Path To Wealth” this past year I realized that our airbnb biz wasn’t the best investment for us (even without Covid).

          Not sure if that was too short or too long but I hope in answers your questions!

          • I appreciate such an open and thoughtful comment! That makes total sense, though I’m sorry it happened.

            I just ordered I Will Teach You to be Rich after hearing you rave!

    • Hi Marina, We used “mold control” spray to kill the mold, had the leak repaired and then mad a drywall person patch and repair the spot.

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