Designing a Life(style)

November 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

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After our youngest was born, we actively designed the lifestyle our family would lead.  We left Southern California and moved to a family-friendly neighborhood with good schools in North Texas.  We chose jobs that would allow us to be home at night and on weekends with our kids.  We became soccer coaches and Girl Scout leaders and we drove mini-vans.  Our lifestyle design focused on parenting, community involvement and achievement.

Fast-forward 16 years and our youngest is getting ready to leave the nest.  We’ve learned much about ourselves and our values during that time and we no longer measure our success by external achievements.

Moving is in our future.  We are looking forward to down-sizing (no need for the big family house and yard now) and are thinking about what we want our lifestyle to look like.  We have some limitations (location due to work; double college tuitions) and a lot of new wants:

  1. Walkable (at least to the local bar and/or breakfast establishment)
  2. Manageable (we don’t want to have to hire people to paint our walls or clean our gutters)
  3. Low-maintenance (after the initial move, we don’t want to spend all of our time and money on our house; ideally a lock-and-go situation)
  4. Personal (we want to live in a house that actually represents our style and values instead of worrying about re-sale value)

It’s hard to live in the present when the present no longer reflects your values.


William Morris Project — the “Starbucks Lounge” (formerly known as the office)

July 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

2013-07-05 08.28.21

I spent some time over the past two weeks clearing out clutter and finishing what we now affectionately call “the Starbucks Lounge” because it reminds me of some of the early Starbucks that we visited with comfy chairs and a general coffee house look.  Since most of our reading is now done on digital devices (computer, kindle, ipod, etc.), we have no need for bookshelves for our reading place (and in fact, my decluttering involved donation of four bookcases and their contents).  This room used to be my office.

What we love about this room:

1. The Art Wall — I’m blessed to have a “personal collection” of art — my daughter is an artist, one of my dearest friends is an artist, my father-in-law was an artist and his grandfather was an artist (skips a generation?)  My uncle was a photographer and some of his work will be on display in my living room once that’s complete.

2. The mismatched, accumulated-over-time look — the couch and coffee table came from the living room, the two wing chairs came from thrift stores several years ago and have been in use in other areas of the house.

3. The coziness — the walls are the same color as most in our house (as we bought it) but the color changes appearances in different light (you can see that in the photos).  It’s a warm color (called “Starbucks,” coincidentally) and though I find it a bit dark in some rooms, for this room, I love it.

4. The cost — so far, we’ve used items we already had elsewhere in the house so we haven’t spent any money.

5. The simplicity — As I’ve said before, I’m an aspiring semi-minimalist.  I’m not interested in white walls and sparse furnishings, but in having ONLY things that I know to be useful or believe to be beautiful (ala William Morris).  To prepare this room, we boxed and removed everything; decided what purpose we wanted the room to serve; decided what items would be required to fulfill that purpose; and removed everything else.

2013-07-05 08.28.07 2013-07-05 08.28.14

Still to be done:

1. Some kind of window valance

2. Patching and touching up paint on leftover holes from the previous hanging artwork

3. Converting french doors to barn-style sliding doors (DH is doing this and currently has one door up for testing — we’re DIYing it rather than spending the $600 for the hardware we wanted.

William Morris Project — the Office

June 11, 2013 § 1 Comment

I work from home many days and have allocated a rather large space on the main floor just for myself (great, right?!).  Today it’s filled with a HUGE desk that has become a magnet for clutter and the whole room has become a junk pit that is neither productive nor inspiring.  I’ve decided that I like to work in different spaces depending on what I’m doing — sometimes at my kitchen table, sometimes in bed, sometimes on the couch — so I will sell the HUGE desk and turn this room into what we call the “Starbucks lounge.”  I envision this as a room where DD will enjoy doing her homework (she likes natural light) and where a family member can enjoy reading without being distracted by the television or chatting happening in the other rooms.


  • The space — it’s bright with wood floors and french doors
  • The location — it’s at the front of the house right off the front door and has visibility to the “dining room” and the entry and front staircase
Office before

Office before

Office before detail

Office before detail

To be beautified:

  • Remove the clutter
  • Remove the desk
  • Add comfy love seat (from living room)
  • Add two chairs (existing wing chairs, though would like to recover or replace at some point)
  • Add art wall

William Morris Project – The Living Room

June 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve recently discovered a lovely blog “Pancakes and French Fries” which covers a multitude of topics but my favorite is her William Morris Project … “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

And in this theme, I will copy Jules with my own list of rooms and beautification projects, but I will also highlight those things that I already love — either because of their usefulness or their beauty.

To begin … the Living Room:
We currently have just one living room for the four of us — a gathering space where we watch movies, read, nap and where youngest DD does homework.

  • Truly comfortable couch and love-seat (great for sleeping, cozying and reading and great for keeping pets off unless wanted — they don’t like the leather unless there’s a blanket or pillow)
  • tables with built-in storage
  • colorful rug
  • squishy pillows
  • tv over fireplace (I know it’s not a decorative statement, but we love having it off the floor and centrally located)
  • overall coziness (probably due to warm wall color … not chosen by us, but perfectly matched to our own curtains and former chenille furniture)


To be beautified:

  • Break it up — love the couch and loveseat and coffee table, but really don’t love the combination of them together — too much brown. Add two comfy red (favorite color) leather (pets) chairs and a kilim-ish ottoman or two. remove the brown coffee table and the brown loveseat. 
  • Artwork — paintings in small grouping are from DH’s family (father and g-grandfather); would like to create larger grouping with additional paintings that I love and make more of a visual impact.


  • Relocate other functions — DD currently does her homework from this awkward corner (in part because older DD has taken over the library as her own) and we have a random guitar over a slipper chair that I love but who’s purpose is questionable …


Next up: My Office


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