This week, Laura is joining me to attempt to teach you how to plan a room renovation—amid MANY rabbit trails. It’s a fun episode!
-Did anyone else have a hope chest?
-Here’s a link to Elsie’s arch reel on ABM.
-Here’s our blog post about how to hand-clean vintage rugs.
-Here’s a link to the mat Elsie used under her kid’s high chairs.
-Would you all watch our slow and boring (but more realistic) HGTV show? 😉
-Thank you so much for your support and love. We love you all. XX!
Episode 97 Transcript
Elsie: You’re listening to The A Beautiful Mess podcast, we get a lot of questions about how we plan and budget for big projects. Today, we’re breaking down how we plan a room start to finish. Laura’s joining me, she is a pro at budget renovations and an excellent planner. I totally get how planning can seem intimidating. And if you don’t already have your budget saved up, it can also feel kind of pointless and even depressing. So, Laura, how do you make a case for planning a room like a renovation that you can’t afford yet?
Laura: I think it’s always good to have a goal. I mean, for everything, right? That’s how you get stuff done, is you want to do things and you have a goal. So having that vision of where you’re going is really helpful in a room, even if you can’t afford it yet. And having, I think, the time can also be a little bit of a blessing because I’m super impatient. I want everything done yesterday, but I think I make different decisions in a good way when I have a lot of time to sit down and plan and think about it, because you get to look up options in the meantime that you didn’t know existed. Or like with the kitchen renovation, I mean, you might know, like, oh, I didn’t know you could have a trash can, like in the cabinets. That’s great! Like, I’m glad I found that out in the meantime. Now I know I want that. Or different ways to organize a room or, you know, just different things like that. So having the goal is important and having time can also be a blessing in getting you things that you didn’t even know that you wanted, but you had the time to look around and plan it out.
Elsie: I completely agree. And I also like like the flexibility of, you know, you have your projects that you’re planning. Like you can always make your budget bigger or smaller, you know, if you need to. And I like having that sort of like, I’m not sure yet. Like, I can save up for longer and get this thing that I really want. But if I just want it done faster, maybe like faster’s just as good in some situations, too. So I always plan my rooms even when I haven’t saved up all the way yet. I think that it’s helpful. I personally don’t really like saving money, but when I have something I’m saving for, it’s like ten times easier for me, so.
Elsie: So yeah, if you’ve ever had problems saving, I highly recommend knowing exactly what you’re saving for. It was definitely like a game-changer for me.
Laura: And sometimes there are things like if you know, if you have kind of like a long term goal for saving, but there’s something like that you want that smaller that might not be around forever. I think it’s OK to, like, get a few special things in the meantime that you’re, like, saving to put in the main room if it’s like a limited, limited time offer on something. So sometimes even just like having some of those, like, special things you’re saving, you checked that off the list. You found that whatever it is, and maybe it’s like sitting in your mom’s garage because you don’t have a place to store it, like, that’s OK. You know, it’s sometimes nice to have those, like, special things that you’re really excited to put in the final space once it’s all together.
Elsie: Yeah, that’s a good point. Ah, the special sentimental items. It’s like the concept of a hope chest (laughs), did you have a hope chest when you were growing up? Does anyone know what a hope chest is? It’s like…
Laura: I know the name, but what is it?
Elsie: It is like really, it’s probably like from my Southern Baptist upbringing, like it’s probably like an old fashioned thing. Like you’re like, are you from Little Women or are you from this century?
Laura: Is it like a dowry? Does it go along with a dowry? (laughs)
Elsie: Ok, so how it was explained to me what a hope chest is, is it’s like basically like a toy box for adults and you keep in it like dishes and things like that, like things that you want to use for your future home, even though you don’t have a home yet. You know, and I like in college I was like saving like like kind of actually like really ugly dishes and things I found from thrifts, you know, and things like that. And…
Laura: You had an actual box? Or is this just metaphorical…
Elsie: I had a literal chest.
Elsie: Yeah. You guys know, I was like kind of a child bride, so I used that stuff as a teenager in my first home. So.
Laura: But were you so excited when you, like, took it out?
Elsie: Not really, because…(laughs)
Laura: No? It didn’t really work?
Elsie: …because it was just ugly thrift store stuff. I was way more excited about the stuff from Pier One that people bought us from our wedding registry.
Laura: Yeah, I still have a couple of AC/DC like pint glasses from Target from our wedding registry. They’re like my…yeah.
Elsie: Yeah, Emma and I have talked about wedding registries before on the podcast. Like I seriously think it’s like all about the Kitchen Aid mixer and everything else is like below it.
Laura: Filler? Filler stuff?
Elsie: It’s like the Kitchen Aid mixer is the ultimate wedding registry gift, in my opinion, but I still have quite a few things that we got from our registry. So anyway, OK, lots of big tangents before we even get to the first question. So we’re talking about (laughs) how to plan a room start to finish. That’s what this episode is about today. So let’s back up. You moved last fall. So Laura found this beautiful. Like I wouldn’t say it’s like a time capsule home. It’s like it’s a — it needs to be it’s a ’60s home. Is it a ’60s home?
Laura: Yeah. Yeah, mid-sixties.
Elsie: It’s a ’60s home. It’s super, super charming, mid-century shape and style. It has a lot of like the original features, like the ceiling tiles are original. But then there was a lot of bad renovation through the years. So it was definitely like also a fixer-upper ready to be restored. So, how do you — how did you plan, like your first few months? And can you kind of walk us through, like, sort of like how you get past the overwhelm of, like starting a new house project and what’s the first room I’m going to do start to finish?
Laura: This is the third, fourth house we’ve lived in since we’ve been married. But fourth or third house we’ve owned. So it’s by far the most overwhelming of all the houses that we’ve lived in, or flipped, or renovated. There’s a lot — a lot going on. There’s kind of like bad DIY plus it just being an old house, plus neglect for things that, you know, should have been fixed a long time ago and weren’t and got worse. And so it’s just like a lot of different layers of things to be fixed. And we also bought this house being in a different city, which is its own experience. For those of you who have done that, like buying over Skype and like, you know, my parents came to see it and…
Elsie: Was it so scary the first time you went inside?
Laura: Yes. And it…we still wanted it because there are so many great things about it. But it was in even worse shape in person. Like most of you know, it’s like listing photos. They always make things look better than they really are. And you can’t tell in photos how things are in person. And then you get here and you’re like, oh, the side of this countertop is held on with Scotch tape. I couldn’t tell that in the photo or whatever. And so it was a lot because it’s like every room of this entire house needs a ton of work and the guts need a lot of work. You know, it’s like electrical and like that level of stuff is kind of crazy, too. So so it was very overwhelming for me. I think the most helpful thing was to like, pick one room and start with that. So you have like at least one room in the house that is kind of like a happy place and is a little bit of a what’s the word? It’s like a fortune teller for what’s going to come. What’s the word for that? (laughs)
Elsie: A precursor?
Laura: Yeah, there you go, a precursor.
Elsie: So one room that’s like your instant gratification.
Laura: Yes. So this is — usually it’s my bedroom. It’s like our main bedroom that I make that like your tranquil place at the end of the day that is nice and clean. But this is the first house we’ve moved to since having our daughter. And so I wanted her room to be that first room. So I worked really hard. We did like a really cute hand-painted daisy wallpaper that I love and can link that in the show notes for you to see. And I just spent like a lot of time focusing on that room and getting everything I wanted and like, her bed and rug and just everything all together. And it was so great because when the rest of the house was a mess, which it was for a very, very long time, it’s just starting to like be nice upstairs now. But at least we would have liked story hour, you know, before bed and be reading a story in her bed. And it was so cozy and nice. And I could just, like, kind of close my eyes and imagine, like, the whole house feeling as good as her room did. So I think that was really helpful to have like one focus point for me. I was kind of always working on all of the rooms at the same time a little bit. But just to have one room that was really together and exactly how I wanted it was a really big help. So doing that in like a short amount of time, the first couple of months was probably kind of a sanity saver, I think, for me.
Elsie: I love the idea of picking one space, even if it’s like a wall or a corner to finish first, especially when your home, which our, like basically like our collective last four homes have been big project homes and it’s like we’re DIY bloggers. So that’s not a big surprise. Like we shop for homes that are like going to be a good before and after, a house that’s exciting, that has potential, you know, and we don’t want to get a house that’s like already finished in the style of like a house flipper, so no big surprise there. But it can be really overwhelming right at first when you move in. We experienced for the first time on this home moving in without renovating at all, because in the past we would at least do like the floors or sometimes we had done several rooms or like the kitchen and one of the houses before we moved in. This was different. We moved in without doing anything. We moved in one day after we got the keys. And the biggest priority for me was getting the kids safety fence up on the pool. And it was more of like a functional thing. For several months, Emma was like, you need to get a dining room table immediately because house, we didn’t do that and we just lived with no table and it was weird. (laughs) So yeah, I did like functional things. And then about a month after we moved in, I started decorating for Halloween and Christmas. So I did like a big, like, esthetic experience. But like I really didn’t like get to like the meat and bones of renovating. And I knew we weren’t going to till this year. And this year we’ve really been like knocking some stuff out and changing it. And it’s like very satisfying it’s finally to that point. I’m going to explain how I planned our dining room start to finish and feel free to interrupt me, Laura, because I know you just did your dining room as well, and they’re really different. But also, I feel like we have the same table? Do we have the same table? Or almost the same?
Laura: We do have the same table. Exact.
Elsie: Yeah. So that is like we always we have this thing. It’s like a joke in A Beautiful Mess land that we always pick the same things. We always pick the same things. And it’s been happening for like five or six years. So at this point we just embrace it.
Laura: But they always look so different. I mean, we think they look so different. I don’t know, somebody that may be like is a very different style might think they look exactly the same in the rooms, but I think they look really different once, like all your stuff is put together with your style and my stuff with my style. So it’s fun.
Elsie: No, I agree. I think so too. Yeah. Like we had the same, okay so we both did a kids room with sort of like the rusty yellow or like what would you call the color like…mustard?
Elsie: Mustard curtains. Mine are I think, like a little more like brown almost, but yeah, and we were like, oh my God, it’s so funny. It’s like the same kids curtain color. Like it can be very specific. All right. So here’s how I planned my recent dining room, which I’m almost done with. I’m so excited to share it. This is where we have the little arch that we added. I’ve been sharing it a bunch on Instagram, so, yeah, you can…
Laura: Love that!
Elsie: Oh, and I have a reel on A Beautiful Mess if you want to see it there. The first step to planning a room start to finish is to look at what I already have that I can use or that I want to use. So if you’re moving from another house, if you have, you know, older furniture, I say just put everything in there and see what still works. So in our current dining room, I actually used a living room rug from our last house. And I know some people will say it’s a big, big, big mistake to put a white rug under a dining room table. But to my defense, I did it in my last home for six years. And when we sold the house, they wanted to buy the rug with it. It was in great condition. Not perfect, but great. And we did take it outside and hand clean it one time, which is a whole thing, but totally doable. And I think I wrote a blog post about how to hand clean rugs. So if you have a rug that is made with natural fibers, that means that you can essentially shampoo it like your own hair, you know, so like you can really, really get a stain out of it. And we actually have more issues with our pets than we do with like food and stuff. And when our kids were still in high chairs, I feel like that’s like the really bad zone. We use the Gathr mat underneath the high chair so that it never really got on the rug. It just got on like a wipeable surface. So anyway, OK, use what you already have. So the only thing that we had from our last home that we could still use was one rug which happened to just be perfect, like the perfect size. And I had just bought it because we moved unexpectedly. So I would have been so sad to waste that rug and I was so happy that it fit in that space and I could use it. We did get a new table and new chairs we’ll link those in the show notes. And then we did, we’re doing a pretty extensive amount of DIY with removing that big stone shelf that was there. It was really high. It made the scale weird because it made the table look like dollhouse furniture (laughs) because it was like two different scales next to each other.
Laura: It was a weird scale.
Elsie: Yeah, so removing that and building in something where it’s like almost the same height as the table has been really good and adding the arch was fun. It was like something I’ve never done before. And it was Colin’s first time to frame an arch too. And then we had a professional drywall person install it and how they did the curve was so interesting. Do you want to hear?
Laura: Yeah I do!
Elsie: So there’s two ways to do it. One is with a ton of scoring and one is with…
Laura: On the back or on the front?
Elsie: I think on the back, but I don’t know that for sure.
Elsie: And then the second way is by getting it wet. And they did the wet way, where they got the whole piece wet, molded it into the shape, screwed it in, and then it dried in that shape and it worked perfectly. And it was…
Laura: I was wondering about that.
Elsie: Yeah. It was such a fun thing to watch. So I did make a reel that you can see on the A Beautiful Mess Instagram that shows them putting the drywall in and now, you know, it’s wet when they did that. So that makes it even more interesting.
Laura: That’s so funny because our dining room, we actually took out an arch, but it’s because it was really not symmetrical? (laughs)
Elsie: Arches aren’t always good thing. I actually feel like they can look really dated too. So it’s like confusing because they’re so trendy, but they can also be really dated.
Laura: Yeah, no, I mean, because we’ve been doing like some ’70s stuff and so I’ve been doing some arches are just rounded edges on things which I love. But this arch looked kind of bad ’80s? Instead of ’70s and it wasn’t symmetrical and it was very obvious that it wasn’t symmetrical. So it just like, had to come out. But I liked that you were putting in the arch because I thought that was great there.
Elsie: It really fits the space. I have been kind of — I’ve read a lot of blog posts where people who are more design trained than me debate like whether or not you should put arches in different areas of homes. And since we have a ’90s home, I do…I personally consider it a free for all. And it’s like do whatever style you want. And that’s one of the things I like about the home is the permission. So I will accept no boundaries on like what’s allowed is like anything you want.
Laura: Well, and if you have arches everywhere then they’re not as you know, it’s not as special. I think if you have like them in one nook then it’s like an arch, you know?
Elsie: I think I’m going to have one more when we do our big remodel entering into the pantry. And then I think that’ll be it but we’ll see.
Elsie: Yeah. All right. Let’s just take a quick sponsor break.
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So the second step you need to do when planning a room is to figure out what is the bare minimum furniture you need to make your space functional. So we’ve talked about before that we don’t like filler furniture, so either go for the furniture that you really want or find something that’s really affordable to use as filler and buy affordable. I mean like, garage sale, thrift store, Facebook marketplace. That is the ideal place to find filler furniture because maybe it’ll be ten dollars and, you know, then you can pass it along for free when you’re done. But yeah, figuring out if you have a budget and you can just buy the furniture that you really like, put a little bit of research into it. I always think that if I don’t research something and like read every specification, then something surprises me about it and it’s like so frustrating. So read like, every dimension. Tape your wall. One time Laura built a kitchen counter out of cardboard to see how it would feel in her kitchen, like that’s ultimate dedication.
Laura: I highly recommend this. I made a cardboard nursery before Lola was born with a full cardboard crib dresser and the cardboard glider, I believe. Yeah, it was a little…Todd thought I thought I was completely insane, but it was perfect because when you see stuff online, you don’t know if it’s going to fit or not. So having everything, the exact dimensions in 3D space was like perfect.
Elsie: Yeah. The third step for a room renovation is to dream up a full renovation plan. So at this point, you’ve already used what you have, or at least you’re trying to. You’ve already got your functional furniture in this space. Now is time to make a renovation plan and plan all of the decor and how everything can fit together. And maybe there’s like some ultimate things or some dream items that can be on your, like, down the road list. And maybe there’s some things you can do immediately. So some suggestions for that are: can you paint the room? Do you want to do wallpaper? Would you like to add builtins? Is there any way to optimize like the shelving? Would you want to add art? Can you swap lights? Those are all great things to think of for your decor plan. And then the fourth step is just to execute the full renovation so you can do this in whatever timeline you want. I think that a lot of people, especially when you’re first starting out, you might feel like a renovation should take a weekend because that’s how HGTV presents renovating. That’s not, yeah, that’s not real life at all. Like Laura and I will tell you, it is so normal to take a year or two years to renovate a room. And if you’re getting it, how you really, really want it, we think it’s worth it to take your time.
Laura: And it’s not, like, different if you’re hiring somebody versus doing it yourself. You know, sometimes you think like, oh, if I could just hire somebody, it would be done in two seconds. But even when you hire people, there’s still things that make it take longer or their schedule gets crazy because of another job they’re working on or their main worker breaks his foot. Now, he can’t work for two weeks. And so…
Elsie: It’s all true! (laughs)
Laura: …whether you’re doing it totally yourself or somebody, someone else is totally doing it. Like it’s still going to be longer than you think it is. Just accept it. It’s going to be long.
Elsie: I feel like we should make an HGTV show that’s like what renovating is really like. And it shows just like waiting two extra weeks for your electrician to come back. (laughs)
Laura: Yeah, it’s just a lot of crying on your kitchen floor, I think, is what that show would be. (laughs)
Elsie: (laughs) Yes.
Laura: If I was in it, just a lot of crying…
Elsie: Yeah. Where your time line comes back, your budget comes back, it’s like bad, bad. But you know, in the end the room will always get done. I just told you my four steps for planning a room. What are your steps, how are they different and what do you think are the most important parts of planning and executing a room makeover?
Laura: Well, I do think there’s something to be said for, especially when it’s a new house, living in the house just a little bit, at least like if you start some big decisions on day two of being in the house, you might end up with something that doesn’t actually work for you as much as it would if you lived in the space and got used to it and you were like, oh, actually, we tend to do this in this room instead. I think I might change my plan there. So if you have a little bit of time, I would kind of like get used to the house and do just some basic things like painting or, you know, things that won’t be like long term decisions while you figure out what you want. I feel like I usually start with one bigger thing that I know I want in the room and then I kind of branch out from there. So whether that’s like a piece of furniture, so obviously, like in a bedroom, your bed is going to be the biggest thing and you kind of need to design around that. So with our bedroom, I picked a like a velvet Marigold bed that is so beautiful.
Elsie: It’s incredible.
Laura: But but it’s like a very specific bed. Like you can’t just put, like, anything in there with, like a velvet yellow bed. So it’s good that I knew I wanted to do that because then I can make like every other design decision around that bed, or if it’s not a piece of furniture, it might be a design decision that’s big. Like you want to do this huge statement wall or, you know, you don’t care what you do except you just want this, like, really bold wallpaper. And so you really have to keep that wallpaper in mind whenever you’re doing every other furniture thing, because that’s going to that’s going to affect it. So usually I kind of start with that, take into account the functionality of the space. So like with our kitchen, that’s a big one where you have to think like, how am I going to use this space? What kind of a pantry do I need? What size of a pantry do I need? OK, I can, like, give up having these cabinets over here in order to do something else storage wise. So you really have to think about functionality of the space. Our kitchen had — the layout was so crazy it had a dishwasher that opened into the oven like you couldn’t fully open up the dishwasher because they just didn’t think like placement wise. They obviously hadn’t thought it out a lot. So when we redid it, we moved that to a different spot so you could open both of them without them hitting each other.
Elsie: I cannot wait to see your kitchen.
Laura: It’s definitely so much better. So much better. It’s going to be great. It’s taking a long time, but it’s going to be worth it. Kitchen renovations are always like the worst, like not having like a sink for five weeks, you know, and you’re doing like your dishes in the bathtub. It’s all that kind of fun stuff. And pinboards help a lot for me with this house, I think because I was doing like so many different spaces at once, it was nice to have a space where I could keep all my ideas together, see everything at once, and just being like a visual person, that helps too, because you can see like, oh, I don’t have enough color in this room or I have too much of this color in this room, or when you try to…some people like to do their house in all different colors, like, you know, each room is kind of its own color scheme. I usually like to do it all together. So it all matches. It all feels like the same house everywhere you go.
Elsie: Yes, me too.
Laura: So when you. Yeah. So when you have like the visual boards, I think that helps you like, keep your color scheme in line too.
Elsie: I completely agree. It’s like a skill that you develop over time to commit yourself to a color scheme in a style. It seems like you’re going to feel really limited like a lot of people, you know, always ask about that, like, what if I like different things? It’s like I like different things too, like you can like ten different houses that are decorated different ways and still commit yourself to one style for your home just to make it feel cohesive. So I think that’s kind of a common misconception, is that like I actually only like peach and orange and, you know, muted green. But that’s definitely not true. It’s just what I do to keep everything matching and flowing. And for me, it’s worth it, because after doing it in a couple of homes, there’s real benefits, like there’s just practical everyday benefits to being able to move your furniture and your items from room to room and everything kind of just matches kind of in the same family.
Laura: Yeah, no. That’s what I was going to say. It’s super easy to get a mini-makeover on any room that you want almost because you can just move something from another room into that room and then it’s like, well, that’s different, but it still works together, which is great.
Elsie: Yeah, I love that.
Laura: Yeah. But once I have the bigger pieces then you kind of go to the smaller pieces which makes sense. So you’re finding smaller pieces that kind of go with that feel. And then when it’s all together in person, once you’ve like, executed it and you’re standing in the room, there’s going to be gaps and there’s going to be holes. And sometimes you put it all together and it just doesn’t feel quite right. And you have to figure out, like what went wrong, like, oh, the scale of this is bigger than I thought it would be in person and make a couple of changes. So it’s very rare that I, like, plan out a room and get it all in there. And it’s like exactly perfect. No change is needed. You usually always have to, like, tweak something that feels a little bit different in real-time than it did, like on your Pinterest board.
Elsie: Yeah, I completely agree. Pinterest is very helpful. I think having the boards and then also you can sort of test your longevity for styles and trends like sometimes like the tile that I’ve pinned from last year, I’m like already over it. And I can tell, like, that’s definitely not the kind of tile I want to put in my home and I never had to waste money on it.
Laura: Have you ever been so good at visualizing a room in your head that you’re sick of it once it’s done?
Elsie: No, I’m always like, super like if it comes out even close to what I imagined, it makes me feel like a genius. And I’m just so happy, like pure joy. A lot of times, you know, it comes out like pretty different where you’re like I imagine like it’s basically like a movie scene. And then you get to it and you’re like, but yeah, when the rare occasion happens, when it comes out like my head, I love that feeling. What about you?
Laura: I feel like I’m really, really good at visualizing things. Not like…I guess it’s a skill. I don’t know. But some people, you know, it’s hard for them to, like, see a room until it comes together. Like, Todd never understands what I’m doing until it’s like there in front of his face.
Elsie: Same, yeah.
Laura: And so that’s fine. You know, it’s just harder for him. But for me, it’s super easy. So if I have had times where I’ve been like visualizing a very specific everything in a room for like a long time until it happened. And by the time I actually got it all put together, I was kind of over it (laughs) because I’d been like seeing it in my head for the last year. And so I’d have to, like, tweak it a little bit. to be like, okay, this is better. (laughs)
Elsie: That’s hilarious. One of my special tricks that I want everyone to use because it makes me so happy is that whenever I decorate a room, I imagine it decorated for Halloween and Christmas and when you do that — and like if it’s a dining room or a living room, also imagine it decorated for like your kids birthdays, like just the big things in life, you know, and keep that in mind as you’re decorating it. And then you make sure that you don’t run into — like one time I ran into a wallpaper in our first Nashville house that was so loud that I felt like I couldn’t use the room for anything else. And that was like a problem for me. So now I always do that trick. And I think it’s also like it’s fun because then when you get to the actual season where you get to get out like all your little haunted houses and all your little bottlebrush trees, like, you know, it’s going to be perfect and epic.
Laura: Yeah, that’s a good thought.
Elsie: Ok, let’s take a quick break for our sponsors.
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If anyone uses this episode to actually plan a room start to finish, we want to hear everything about it. So don’t forget that you can email us. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org and we want to see a picture of your room as well. I guess it’s time for our hotline questions already.
Amy: Hi, this is Amy Azeredo, this is my first hotline call, I’m kind of excited. So my question is, I’d love to get your advice on organizing photos, specifically photos of kids and family photos. I have a two-year-old and I’m trying to do her second-year photo album right now. And I’m feeling like I should have done seasons or something else. I’m just trying to catch up. So how do you stay on top of it all? Should I be constantly favoriting and deleting? It just becomes overwhelming so quickly and I’d love to get some advice. It’s really important to me to have a lot of family photos framed and out and around. And I’d love some tips from you guys. Thank you. Bye.
Elsie: Hi, Amy. OK, this is such a good question and I’m just going to be honest, I do not have my shit together as much as I want to. This is a goal of mine as well. So I will brainstorm it with you, but I’m not going to pretend to be an expert. What about you, Laura?
Laura: I was going to say, Amy, if you have any tips for me, I will take them, because this is so hard and especially like, you know, today in 2021 where it’s just like iPhone photos everywhere. And there’s just there’s the cloud, there’s your computer, there’s your phone. And it’s just like it’s very overwhelming. It’s very confusing to know the best way to do it for sure.
Elsie: I will say the thing I’ve done so far that has been the most successful is photobooks, the little printed photobooks. There’s lots of different apps you can use. I think I’ve mostly used Chat Books to print most of mine, and I like the ones where you can do it from your phone, from an app, because then you can just like use your phone pictures. And many of us have most of our pictures on our phones. So other than like a professional shoot, occasionally, all of my pictures are pretty much on my phone. So I think something where you can go through and make an album for like a trip or a season or a year or an age of your child is a really good thing. I still want to have — like my goal is to have a box for each of my kids. With loose photos, because I feel like as an adult, I really treasure and value having some loose photos of my childhood, so I want them to have that. And I do need to start on that. But haven’t done that yet. So far, though, the books have been the special thing because they just kind of sit on our coffee table and both of our kids love to look at them, which is really good. But I think that feeling behind in this is an extremely normal, relatable way for a mom of young kids to feel, because every year they change so much and you take so many pictures. So don’t feel bad if you don’t feel on top of it. We also don’t either.
Laura: Yeah, I mean, the only trick that I have is I have like, you know, a nicer camera along with my phone. And so if I’m doing like, taking like a special photo, like if it’s her birthday or, you know, something like that and you’re trying to do like or like your family Christmas card photo and you’re using like a nicer camera or it’s a definite, like photoshoot set up versus like an everyday thing. I will try and kind of keep just my favorite like two or three from that and delete all the rest when I’m looking at it on my computer. So that is one way to kind of cut down on, like the photo clutter, which it seems like is part of the question, like the digital storage of things. And then I kind of put everything else like in iphoto, but yeah, keeping like just your favorites when you’re doing like kind of a photo moment when if you can do that I think is one way to cut down. And then in our house we have photos of like family photos and photos of Lola, and I just kind of switch them out every so often. So maybe like every six to eight months I’ll notice, like, oh, she looks so much bigger than that already and I’ll find like a new favorite photo and print it out so that way it’s like, you know, because there’s always like a new favorite photo from like that season of life. And so just like once she starts to look little to me, in the pictures, (laughs) then I know it’s time to like, OK, let’s print out a current one. Not that I only have current pictures of her like I have some where she’s little too. And that’s great. But it’s like a good reminder, I think, to, like, put up a new memory. So that’s another thing that I do. And we still do a December photo book at my house, which is so much work, so much work.
Elsie: It’s like a little scrapbook.
Laura: It’s like every year, I think I don’t know if I’ll get this one done. Yeah. It’s so basically like a photo from her every day of December and then I’ll put like maybe like a little recipe from like sugar cookies that we made that’s like Todd’s grandma’s recipe in there. Or like if we make that stuff like that and it is a lot of work to put that together because it’s like printing them out and cutting it and putting stickers and little, you know, glitter bombs on them. (laughs) But it is so special and I just do it once a year for that. Otherwise, I think those chat books are like the print them out from your phone is totally the way to go. Super easy and simple, but I think as long as I can, I’ll try and do that once a year thing and make it special. And as she gets older, she can help me with it too.
Elsie: That’s really inspiring.
Laura: So this year she sat down for a little bit and like, you know, would like help me put stickers on or something for like five minutes. Then she gets bored. But as she gets older, I hope she thinks it’s fun too, and she can help me do it. So that’s kind of like the main photo thing I do for the year.
Elsie: I love that, that I’m super inspired and hopefully maybe this year I’ll try to do one because we used to do them — we used to both do them like we lived in Missouri, but I have not done one since I had kids, so I need to try. It is a lot of work during the busiest month of the year, but also there’s like no rule that says you can’t finish it in January. So I should probably just do it.
Laura: I finished the 2019 one two months ago. So, FYI. (laughs)
Elsie: But I always love it when I go to your house and I see them all on the shelf together. It is really special. I’m hoping to make a couple of scrapbooks for my kids, like probably just one each. But yeah, it’s intimidating. Like it’s funny that I used to do that all the time and now I’m like, oh, where do I start? What do I do?
Laura: Well, I think in the future, if I really don’t think I’m going to have the time to do like the full version, I’ll probably do like a Chat Books where I print out the easily and then we’ll kind of do like little handwritten things or, you know, embellishments, if you will, on top of it.
Elsie: Those are all great ideas we will link in the show notes. I know we have a blog post of some of Laura’s December daily books from past years, and I am pretty sure we have like eight hundred posts about hanging up your family photos in your home. So we’ll link some of the best ones. All right. Let’s do another question. This is from a fellow Pennsylvanian. Do you say Pennsylvanian? (laughs)
Laura: Hey girl! Pennsylvanian? Something like that? Yeah. (laughs)
Heather: Hi, this is Heather from Erie, Pennsylvania, and I was just wondering if you have any tips for doing mismatched furniture, because I love the way mismatched furniture looks on like blogs and in magazines and none of my furniture matches, but it doesn’t look great at all. It just looks like a big hot mess. So any tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Elsie: All right. Hey, Heather, I love this question. I think that getting that collected look is such a big challenge, especially the first time you do it. And I know exactly what you’re saying when you see it in a fancy magazine. It looks really expensive, but it can also come across looking like a thrift store exploded in your house if it’s your very first time to do it. I really think that the number one tip is honing in the color scheme. That’s my very strong belief. Like you can have furniture from different eras, you can have different styles. You can have, you know, stuff from IKEA and stuff from your grandma’s house that’s a hand-me-down all in one room. As long as the color scheme is tight, it will have like a cohesive look and feel. And if it’s like, you have pastels, you have a bright red, you have some moody colors, some navy like that’s going to be a nightmare and that will not work. Actually, I don’t want to — like never say never, because I bet that, like, you know, the teacher from the Magic School Bus, she would have a room like that. And she would make it beautiful! (laughs)
Laura: Oh Miss Frizzle! She would.
Elsie: But for most of us, we need a honed in color scheme to feel like a sense of peace and the visual look of like calm and uncluttered. So, yeah, my best tip, it’s so simple is paint some of your furniture, you know, even paint some of your furniture white or a light color or all the same color. And you’ll be surprised. It’s a weekend project. It’s so quick you could even spray paint and you can have that mix, that mix and match feeling and also this visual sense of matching achieved.
Laura: Yeah, I mean, I was trying to think through all the different decor styles, which is like the hardest. And I think to me this one might be the hardest to do because it is tough to know, like, does this look right or not, you know, because it is mismatched. So but yeah, having a color scheme I think is great. There’s there has to be something that ties the pieces together. So whether that’s color or whether that’s like different rounded edges or different textures or even time period, you know, there’s got to be something that’s bringing it together. So I think if you’re like standing in the room and thinking this feels like a hot mess, it probably is. (laughs) So just kind of like trust that instinct and like make those little tweaks of like, OK, color scheme, OK, these have similar textures and just keep like tweaking things until you stand there and you’re like, this feels good. So just let your like inner guide be the test, but you can do it, I know you can.
Elsie: Yeah, I definitely agree. One last tip. I think that you would be so surprised how easy it is to get a collection from thrifting and flea markets if you just give yourself six months or a year. So, you know, if you want like all — like whenever I did my rainbow glass collection, that only took a few months and I was going all the time, but it only took a few months. It was in Missouri, though, where the flea markets are like bonkers. They’re very cheap. Yeah. Like if you’re like, I need more text— like White Textiles to tie this living room together, you can totally do that. So I think having that little list and going back over and over and checking for things that are in a certain color scheme is like definitely your ticket. I feel like we’re always talking about a color scheme, but it’s life changing. It’s magical. It really works.
Laura: It is. Yeah. It’s the glue. It’s the key.
Elsie: Thank you all for listening. Emma says to tell you, hi, we are having so much fun on our summer schedule. Thank you, Laura, for being here with us today. And if you’re enjoying the podcast, it means a lot to us if you take the time to leave a review or to share it with your friends who also love podcasts. So we appreciate you so much and we’ll be back next week.