A Picture is Worth ...Well, A Lot

I think we all have had the experience of looking at a picture of ourselves and being a little underwhelmed .....

or surprised ....

and we can question some of our choices....

Most often we are being too hard on ourselves & noticing things that nobody else pays attention to anyway. Most of the time....

 

What most people don't realize is how much photographs can help us with our houses. If you are struggling with a room that feels off to you, and you just don't know what to do with it, snapping some pictures of the space can help you to get some distance -- a change in perspective that can help you make decisions, see what is needed, and clearly see what is working and what isn't.  And now that most of us have a handy dandy camera on our person almost all the time, this is a tool that is so easy to use, but one that is often overlooked.  Snap some pictures, take a step back to evaluate, and then use the pictures on your phone as a reference as you work on your project.

You will be amazed how much it helps!

 

Hilarious Bad Paid-For Photos via Ellen :)

Adding On Vs. Adding More (Yes, Your House Is Probably Big Enough)

Do you lay awake at night dreaming of the large addition you want to put on the back of your house? Maybe you picture how grand and easy life will be, with sunshine streaming through new large windows, washing over the miles of new counter space in the renovated kitchen, acres of new closet space, and cavernous rooms that are large and impressive for family gatherings and holiday parties.....

However, there is the flip side to that  fantasy--there are the inherent costs such a space would, ahem, add on --since any new space starts, of course, with the building of foundation, walls, and roof...and tens of thousands of dollars. And there is the additional cost of heating, cooling, and maintaining added space  for years to come.  In my experience, there are a lot of reasons NOT to add on, the most prevalent one being that it is, in most cases, simply not needed.  If you feel that your house is lackluster and in need of more space, I challenge you to first make the most of the house you have so you can honestly say that more space is what is needed.  A lot of times we have rooms in our houses that are seldom used, and other rooms that are completely underwhelming in function & design. Without examining our feelings any further, we respond to our discomfort and dissatisfaction by thinking we need more space.  Creativity, good design, and the principles of living simply can make a "small" house live very large....SO, before  you pay a builder a hefty deposit, we should examine how you currently live in your house and make sure that each space works as hard as it can for you and makes you swoon with its abundance of charm, beauty, and functionality.

 

Read the following statements and see if they are accurate truths about you and your house currently:

  • I (or someone in my family) uses each room in our house at least once a week.
  • I feel proud of the rooms I have and feel good when I spend time in them.
  • The rooms in my house relate well to one another, and there is a sense of flow throughout.
  • I think my house is beautiful and reflects who I am and how I would like to live my life.
  • Accomplishing tasks in my house is easy, since the spaces are well organized and well designed.

 

If you feel that all of the above statements are true of your house, and you are still ready to build on, then I would say it is the right choice. However, if you can't say they apply to your situation, then I urge you to rethink things. It is easy to believe the lie that bigger is always better. Much like fine dining can be a wonderful, memorable experience compared to a button-popping, forgettable all-you-can-eat buffet, having a smaller amount of house that delights you with its attention to detail and fine materials can be so much more satisfying that a lot of house that bores you and costs you a lot of cash. Invest the money you were considering using for the addition to thoughtfully and intentionally improve your existing house, and you will have something of beauty, value and quality when you are finished.

 

Feeling cramped and uncomfortable in our current house often has little to do with the amount of space that is there, but rather how well the space is designed and appointed. Remember, you can only be in one room at a time--make the rooms you are in beautiful and satisfying to you, and your life will be the better for it.

Bloom Where You are Planted?

About eleven years ago, I was wandering through the big box home store and stumbled upon some puny, sad little trees on sale. I stood there and wondered. Hmmm.....would those look nice? Not much to look at now....but maybe..... With an infant and toddler in tow, I somehow hauled a couple of them up to the register, stuffed them into the minivan, and even managed to plant them before they died. Amazing.

Much like the house they were planted next to, they were humble things with humble beginnings, but I hoped that, despite their lack of pedigree, they would find a way to be the wonderful trees I thought they could be...someday.

This morning those crabapple trees weren't thinking "well, I had better hold back. I'm nothin' special afterall...."

Nope. Those pathetic twigs in plastic pots have become glorious trees that are proud to be in full bloom, perfuming the breeze and intoxicating each bumblebee that flies by.

So, how about you? Are you proudly blooming where you are planted? Maybe your home isn't where you always dreamed of living, maybe it isn't  the style of house or the neighborhood of your dreams....but you can bloom there anyway.

When you arrive home each day, I hope you feel a sense of deep satisfaction and pride in where you live. I hope you feel that your home is beautiful and shows the world in some way who you are.

I hope you can put your feet up there, and feel that it is a place that helps you to become more of who you want to be. Have faith that with time, creativity, and proper nurturing the simplest of dwellings can become simply beautiful-plastic pots, twigs and all.

Buying in Bulk

 

So, do you belong to Costco? Do you frequent Sam's Club? Do you delight in having a year's supply of toilet paper and canned beans at arm's length at all times?

Shopping at these stores can be fun~ we feel we are saving money AND preparing for Armageddon all at the same time. How efficient! But because I spend a lot of time helping people manage the items in their homes, I would like to invite you to think about buying in bulk in a different way...

At this time there are two things of which I would like to remind you:

First, despite what the media may tell you, you are NOT a "consumer," but a human being. Hopefully you know you are so much more than your ability to consume and accumulate...

Second, as you shop for your needs week in & week out, keep in mind your goal is not to run a storage facility, but to create a home.

via

If you are wooed by the thought of saving some coin, and made giddy by the thought of all that abundance right on hand at home, let's think about the real costs involved in investing in palettes of paper towels and tons of toothpaste:

  • Carrying inventory (which is what you are doing, just like a store or factory) requires time...time to make sure it is stored properly, that it is used in a timely way, and that it gets used at all...it is easy to forget what is on those shelves way down there in the dark basement.
  • Carrying inventory requires space-- space that could be used for other productive things, or enjoyed with other activities. How many of us feel our houses need more space? Create some elbow room by not having so much of it occupied by things you aren't currently using.
  • Carrying inventory has a built-in percentage of waste--we are busy people with lots of things on our minds. There will always be a portion of things that we are storing that we simply forget about. We will buy duplicates. The product will get dusty, spoil, pass its expiration date or just become undesirable as it waits on the shelf. It will end up in the trash unused.
  • Carrying inventory ties up cash in things that aren't currently being used, which maybe can make sense if we are investing in something like real estate or gold, but we are talking about things like shampoo and soda. Enjoy your money now, or put it in the bank so that it is there for a rainy day. Don't tie it up in things that are readily available at the corner store that you won't need for months, or maybe never at all.
Allow the stores to provide a wonderful service to you: let them store your stuff until you need it! You are right to think that your house is much like a factory or machine that needs supplies to run efficiently. However, from Benjamin Franklin, to Henry Ford, to current day Toyota manufacturing  processes, it has been proven that efficiency does not include managing inventory, but rather what is called "just in time" or "lean" practices. We can employ these same ideas, and have less waste and more time to do the things we really enjoy.
The product our little cottage factories (our homes) should produce in abundance is comfort and peace, providing an environment that supports how we want to live. Don't manage inventory, enjoy living!