Tuesday, June 30, 2015

3 quick tips to love your home

I love to decorate.  I've been nesting in my homes since I had my first little apartment.  I would wake up on Saturdays and clean my little space from top to bottom.  And then I would sit down and watch Martha Stewart's show and be inspired.  Occasionally I would attempt one of her projects, if I could afford the materials.  I was a teacher after all, in 1995.  And starting salaries were around $24,000.  Eek.  I could stretch a penny like the best of 'em.

As I've grown older in my adult years, my tastes have changed.  Can you relate?  Just getting on pinterest can make me want to redecorate an entire room.  So mostly I stay off these days.  It's not good for the soul.  Too much coveting.  :)  But I do still enjoy fluffing my nest!  And that's where you come in.  I'm going to share with you three keys to fluffing your own nest, according to mrs. frakes.  These tips come from years of studying magazines, reading about decorating, and asking questions of my wiser, more swanky decorating friends.  I am not a professional interior designer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

1.  Fill your home with pieces you love.

I'm all about a good bargain.  And I love Hobby Lobby!  But I use those kinds of stores for crafts, not decor.  Don't fill your home with pieces to fill space.  Only buy things you LOVE.  That means that when you are on a trip, find one fun knick-knack or piece of art that you can incorporate into your home and bring it back.  It will be fun to look at later and recall the joy you had on that vacation.

Or, when you are with friends visiting that little tea shop or craft show, find something that makes you smile and bring it home.  People ask me where I find the things I decorate with.  The real question is where do I not find these things?  I look everywhere because I love to mix sparkle with rustic and everything in between.  There is no shop or estate sale that I think is beneath me.  Now, I may not find anything that speaks to me, but I will look anywhere.  Especially for a good deal.  :)  My favorite places to shop are estate sales and antique/vintage shops in tiny towns.  That, my friends, is where you find the real gems.

Frame: vintage shop in Noble, Oklahoma
Chicken Wire: Lowes
Fabric: Hancocks
Fleur de Lis: Canton, Texas
Assembled by moi

2.  The devil is in the details.

Ever since I was a small child I was obsessed with tiny toys.  The smaller, the better.  And even when my daughter was a little, I forced my love on her in the form of a toy called Polly Pockets.  Oh yes, they were fun to play with.  We spent hours on her floor dressing up our tiny ladies.

In decorating, the small details get noticed.  You may not realize it, but if you walked into a home filled with giant planters and huge floral arrangements, it could seem very beautiful and regal.  But it probably wouldn't seem like a house someone lives in.  Now, I don't know about you, but I actually live in the house where I sleep.  That's why you may pop in and see we've got laundry laying around and shoes waiting to find their closet.  We may even have dishes in the sink and a toilet that needs to be flushed (ugh. the boys!).  As much as I feel healed of my earlier-in-life OCD, it still creeps up on me.  I try hard to have a lovely home at all times, but it just doesn't happen.  So I decorate in ways that distract the visitor from the flaws surrounding us.  I have gallery walls and good lighting and cute rugs.  I fill my galvanized stand with cute small things.  And hopefully all they notice is the overall effect, not the temporary mess.

Too many things to tag here, but let's just say they range from Pottery Barn to anthropologie to my mom's garage and Target.  Those little flags?  You know you need one that says "but first coffee" too.  You can find those cuties on etsy here.

3.  Patience is a virtue.

I like being liked.  So don't go telling your spouse that I told you to get out there and GO SHOPPING!  While I believe in picking things up here, there, and yonder, I don't condone doing it all at once.  Please don't go on a shopping spree and blame it on this mama.  The key to decorating your home in a way you love is to do it slowly, over time.  Remember: one little piece at a time.

And did I mention?  Don't buy fun decor only if you have a certain spot to put it in.  It's okay to buy speculatively!  Most things I buy have no specific place to go once I get them home.  I find a place for them.   That means things get moved around frequently.  And that's okay too!  Don't be afraid to mix things up.

If you need help mixing things up, let me know.  I love this stuff!  If you're local, I'll come help you in a heartbeat!  Everyone should love the home they have.

Monday, June 29, 2015

house #7

There was no reason to leave House #6 except our desire to have a little more room.  So throughout the years we would look at "house porn."  For us, that's a website that shows all (or most) of the houses for sale in our area with photo tours of the houses called

It always seemed that when one of us found "the house of our dreams", the other had to talk them down off the ledge.  It's not the right time.  That house costs too much.  We're not in a position to do a fixer upper.  Or it had what we came to call a FATAL FLAW.

The fatal flaw is the one aspect of a house that we couldn't even consider buying it because of.  For instance, the house was out in the country.... fatal flaw.  The house had 3 bedrooms.... fatal flaw.  The kitchen had a horrible layout... or was too small... or the backyard was 10 feet deep... You get the picture.  These were all fatal flaws along the way.

Until one day back in January.  Mister saw a house online that had no interior pictures.  And it wasn't on our usual website.  But it promised large square footage, in a desirable neighborhood in town (near our current house), and space for everyone.  We needed to go see it in order to find the fatal flaw.

But when we walked in, all we saw was potential.  Here was a house that had three bedrooms downstairs that were perfect for a master suite, office, and guest room, plus two huge rooms upstairs already painted the colors our kids needed.  They had their own bathroom!  They were across the house from our master bedroom!  There's a neighborhood pool!  The list of must-haves to move us out of our settled state kept getting ticked off.

And that's when the big move began.  The rest, as they say, is history.

home sweet home

Thank you for following along in our story.  Thank you for encouraging me.  Thank you for reading my blog!
Now, it's time to talk turkey.  How a teacher learned to decorate a home with what she had.  Hopefully you'll stay on this ride with me.  Hopefully you'll be inspired.  And hopefully you'll be encouraged to decorate your own home in a way that brings joy to your days.

We all live in a dream home.  Some are big, some are small, but they all contain the lives we were purposed to live.  Let's get decorating!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

house #6

You've heard the saying "Pride comes before the fall."

That's exactly how that last house went down.  We had spent so much time remodeling and decorating that in the end we were extremely prideful of our home.  We loved showing it to other people.  And we loved hearing how much people liked it.

However, as much as I loved that house, I also loved not being bankrupt.  And we knew that was the next thing coming if we stuck around in our pride and waited out the storm in our lives.  We knew we had to go and we hated telling our friends.  WHAT? WHY??, they would ask.  Of course we didn't want to have to dive into all the gory details so we sufficed it to say that we just needed to downsize.  Everyone thought we were crazy.  But we knew we were crazy like a fox.  We were going to survive this and we were about to learn a big lesson about ourselves and our pride.

We quickly chose a house on the opposite side of town and moved in 3 days before Christmas.  It was a whirlwind, getting moved in.  A snow came unexpectedly, and we threw up a tree with no ornaments, invited all our friends over and let them put their name on a clear glass ball and hang it on our tree.  Our friends and family had pulled us through that rough move, they deserved a special place on our tree that year.  The humility of sharing our new, smaller, older home was painful, but important.

So this is where you might have come into our story.  You probably met us while we lived there, having no idea of the crazy tale in our wake.  We had you over for meals, football parties, or a just a beer on the patio.  We liked to say that this house was not everything we wanted, but it was everything we needed.  God gave us that house.  And He taught us many things there.

In many ways, this house held the actual glory years of our marriage.  But it also held the saddest and most disparaging times.

When we first moved in, Mister quit his job.  We had no idea at the time how long it would take for him to get a new one.  We had done this before.  We could do it again.

Months passed.  Depression set in.  I remember the day we sat down and looked at each other.  "I can go back to work," I said. "I'm able and willing."  It was a last resort, but we didn't want to deplete our entire life savings too quickly, and we had no idea how long it would take for him to become gainfully employed again.

So off to teaching I went.  I had sold EVERYTHING I had when I went into "retirement" that first time.  There was a learning curve, since things had changed since I'd been a stay-at-home mom.  But I settled into this new way of living.  It gave our family health insurance and offset the hemorrhaging of money each month.  We were finding our way.

Those were hard times.  VERY HARD.  Mister was not himself, as most bread winners wouldn't be when going unemployed for months on end.  A critical turning point arrived one day like an answer to prayer.  He sat me down, looked me in the eye and said "I think I have a contentment issue.  I'm realizing now that all these houses have taught me something.  I kept thinking the next house would be the right one.  The next car would make me happier.  And yet none of that has brought me any extra sense of joy.  I need to learn to be content right where I am."

Amen, brother.  In that house we learned to lean on each other.  That when one was down, the other would hold them up.  We danced in the minefields. We learned to love each other on the deepest level possible.  We dropped to our knees for our marriage and God sustained us.

In April I was having quiet time, reading my bible, when I suddenly heard from God.  It was not a voice, just a sudden feeling.... "Mister will get a job in my time, Kim.  But it's not in any industry that he's currently seeking.  You have no idea the career I'm about to lead him into."  He had been pursuing pharmaceutical sales and home building sales for months.  Nothing was panning out.  Until he got a call in November.  It was a college friend who worked with a commercial cleaning company.  Would he like to chat?

Was this a joke?  A cleaning job?  Mister went in and came home to tell me all about it.  He'd be selling accounts.  No cleaning, he would hire people to do that.  Could it be as lucrative as they made it sound?  Surely this wasn't for real.

And yet it was.  His first paycheck was $400.  And today he runs a business that bills $2 million yearly.  God is good.  He found a career for my husband that fits his personality perfectly.  There are jokes that get made every day about cleaning toilets, he gets to sell (which is his gift), and he doesn't have to do the dirty work.  haha.

Yes, God is good.  We stayed put in that house for 7 years.  We lived the best and the worst of life there.  And God blessed us indeed.  There was finally no reason to move.....

This little beaut has new carpet and is looking for a new owner, by the way.  If you're interested, or know someone who might be, you just LET ME KNOW.  I will hook them up!  ;)

Monday, June 1, 2015

house #5

House #5 is an interesting house in our journey.  It began a season of hard times in our marriage.  In fact, this is the house story that the mister said he may not want to read about on my blog.  And that's okay.  It will be hard for me to write about actually.

While we were livin' the dream on little ol' Poppy Lane, we bought house #5.  It was January of 2007 and we paid a measly $147,000 for a 3,000 square foot home.  Wow, huh?  It was in bad shape, to be fair, and the minute we walked in, I felt a sick feeling in my stomach.  I looked around at the potential and I couldn't shake the feeling of dread.  I had never been afraid of a move or a remodel or a build before, so I couldn't figure out why it felt so wrong.

after photos of the front elevation

The mister was so excited for the vision he could see, so we rolled full steam ahead.  We had just sold three of our rental houses for a great profit and needed a place to invest our money.  Unfortunately, we got some VERY BAD advice from a lawyer who told us we could roll it into that house.  We asked multiple times, but he kept assuring us it was fine.  So we did....

Then we took our life savings at that point and started tearing out walls, ripping up carpet, and remodeling our "new" home.  We were "building" our dream home.  This was the house, we declared, that we would grow old in.  We pulled out all the stops and incorporated every beautiful idea we had seen in magazines.  We were falling in love with our blood, sweat, and tears.  We had reached the pinnacle of life.  Or so we thought.

before (above)

after (above)




after (above and below)

before (powder room)                                                  

after (see those tiles?  Those are paintings of Norman monuments.  Yah, you can't take those with you when you leave.)

It took 9 months to finish the projects we took on and in August of that year, we moved into our dream home.  The pool was power washed, painted and filled.  It was decked and decorated and beginning to be enjoyed, just as summer came to an end.


 after (above and below)


I'll never forget that first night we laid our heads on the pillows of our new beautiful bedroom.  Mister rolled toward me and uttered the words that remain in our history forever now.  "We are SO FAR OUT HERE.  I don't know if I can stand this."  While it was true, the house he had chosen was on the far northeast part of town, it was heartbreaking to hear.  I knew in that moment that our time in this house was limited.

Our daughter started kindergarten and I was enjoying time with my son each morning.  Life was plugging along.  Mister was selling homes for his brother; he was relatively happy.  And YET....

The next summer we made a shocking discovery.  Electricity COSTS A LOT OF MONEY.  Our home was completely electric.  That had been fine in the winter before, but now we were paying to cool a large house with two air conditioning units, as well as running a pool pump 24 hours a day because of the heat.  Our electricity was costing us $800 per month, barely less than our tiny mortgage.  Here we were, in our biggest house yet, with the smallest mortgage we'd ever had.  We were doing okay until we got audited by the IRS for that ridiculous thing we did called rolling money into a mortgage that we should have paid the taxes on first.  I found myself wishing we could sue a lawyer for bad advice.

Additionally, the housing market was beginning to sink.  Selling houses slowed down, almost to a stop, and my brother in law was in jeopardy of losing his business.  Mister wanted to leave his job so he wasn't a burden to his brother.

All of these circumstances led us to one conclusion.  Time to go.

We put our dream home on the market in October of that year.  It sold 7 days later.

We had to find a new home and we had to find it fast.  Mister was quitting his job soon.  We needed to qualify for our new house before we had no income.  And we needed our life savings to be freed from that home so we could live on it.  I was a stay-at-home mom and we had no idea how long he would go without a job.

We started the depressing process of packing up our home....