A New Direction For My Living Room

Let me forewarn you — if my constant indecision and mind-changing irritates the heck out of you, you might want to skip this post.  🙂

The fact is that I’ve been feeling very unsatisfied with the direction I’m going in my living room.  And once again, I blame it on my kitchen.  This is the thing — if ever I designed a room that most clearly expressed my personality and design style, that room is my kitchen.  I love the combo of casual subway tile with the elegant gold leafed cabinets, and the traditional style cabinets and columns with the more contemporary lighting, and the timeless stained hardwood floors with the relatively new idea of concrete countertops.   And most of all, I love the bold color and the high contrast of the white and green.  I love color.  And I LOVE high contrast!  So my living room just hasn’t been cutting it for me.

I finally realized that I was just trying to make things work — trying to force things — that just aren’t working, like the dark teal wall color, the draperies, etc..  So I’m kind of starting over, but not completely.  Here are the things that are staying…

items that are staying in the living room

  1. My mom’s painting and the frame — this is probably my favorite thing in the whole room.
  2. The fireplace, although it will be getting a small makeover to make it more traditional style.
  3. The ottoman — probably my second favorite thing in the room.
  4. The marbleized end tables that I showed you yesterday (not shown in the pic above).

So after deciding which things I definitely wanted to stay, it was time to come up with a new plan.  But I had no idea where to go from there, so I went in search of inspiration.

Remember the other day when I said that my style, if I had to put a name to it, would be transitional?  Well, I misspoke.  After giving it more thought, I think my style is colorful traditional with contemporary and modern touches.  And if there’s one designer out there who captures my style the most, that person is Tobi Fairley.  So I’ve spent several hours over the last few days literally studying her portfolio, picking out my favorite rooms, and trying to pinpoint exactly what draws me to those rooms.

My favorite project of hers is Inverness, which I believe is (or was) her own home.  Her entryway shows that she’s certainly not afraid of using a bold wallpaper.

Tobi Fairley - Inverness entryway

But I did notice that most of the time, she uses neutral paint colors (or colors that read as neutral) on the walls, and then brings in bold colors in furniture and accessories.

Tobi Fairley - Inverness living room 2

This green and white living room is probably my all time favorite room of hers. I just love those green and white wingback chairs!

Tobi Fairley - Inverness living room

Another favorite is this Lakeview Estate living room, again with a neutral color on the walls, and bold colors and patterns used on the furniture and accessories.

Tobi Fairley - Lakeview Estate living room

I also really like her use of color in the Richmond Designer Showhouse room that she designed, but again the walls are neutral.  She did use color on the ceiling, though.

Tobi Fairley - Richmond Designer Showhouse living room

But again, she’s not all about neutral walls, as you can see in this Monticello dining room.

Tobi Fairley - Monticello dining room

And also in this Crestwood bathroom.

Tobi Fairley - Crestwood bathroom

Another thing I love about Tobi is that she seems to have a similar love of window treatments, and draperies in particular, just like I do.  I personally think that window treatments make a room, and find it very hard to leave windows undressed.

So after studying her portfolio for a few hours over the course of a few days, I think I’ve come up with a plan.  First of all, the high contrast walls in my living room are going to go.  I still want wainscoting, and it’ll be white, but the top part of the walls won’t be so dark.  I do love high contrast, but I don’t really  need that on my walls.  And next, I’ve selected some fabrics that I’m considering for the room.  I was only able to check out three books at a time, so the fabric in the upper left corner is copied and pasted from a cell phone picture that was taken under fluorescent lighting. The green in the houndstooth is closer in color to the green linen.

fabrics for new design

So here’s what I’ve got.  The Robert Allen Graphic Fret in Flax in the center will be my new draperies, and they’ll be edged in the Robert Allen Linen Slub in Turquoise and the Robert Allen Linen Slub in Malachite.  I haven’t quite worked out the design just yet, but all three will be used on the draperies.  Then I’ll use the Jaclyn Smith Theater Velvet in chocolate (or something similar to it) for the sofa.  I’m not sure if I’ll use the sofa I have, or get a new one.  That’s still to be decided.  The dark teal ottoman that all of these fabrics are on will stay.  The fabric that is currently used as my draperies will be reused somehow, but I don’t quite have the details worked out in my mind.  I’m thinking possibly the backs of some chairs, like this…

wingback chair with two contrasting fabrics from Traditional Home via Traditional Home

…as well as some other accents.  And then the green and white houndstooth I’m imagining on two small ottomans that I plan to make that will fit under the console table in the entryway, which of course will be getting a makeover.

So that’s the direction I’m headed so far.  I’m very excited about the new direction.  It’s not a complete departure from what I have now, but it’s just a rearranging of ideas and reusing ideas and colors in a very different way than the direction I’ve been heading.  And I think the end product will be more “me”.  But of course, this could all change yet again.  I feel like the process of decorating this house has kind of become a journey of self-discovery.  I’m learning more and more about my own true style a little bit more each day.

UPDATE:  I might mention that I would be willing to sell my current draperies if any of you might have a need for them.  The fabric is P. Kauffman Florabunda in the color Sea Glass.  The very darkest teal areas in that fabric are a good match to Behr Mythic Forest paint color, which is what I have on my walls, just to give you an idea of the color.  Each drapery panel is two widths of fabric, they are lined with blackout lining, and pinch pleated at the top.  I don’t remember the exact height (though I can measure them) but the height works well in a room with an 8-foot ceiling.  If you’re interested, just let me know in an email to [email protected].

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  1. Love the direction you are going. The idea of the neutral walls/etc and the bold accessories will also allow you to change up the look of the room easily as well. Can’t wait to see how this room progresses.

  2. Well, if a woman can’t change her mind, what is the world coming to? I remember trying several different styles/colorways/furniture arrangements in my home until I found the perfect (for me) combination. Will you be changing the furniture arrangement as well as the colors? Once you get the dividing wall built between the foyer and music room, would that give space for the sofa on the wall between the living room and kitchen?

    Since you wanted a floral in your craft room/office, would the living room draperies work in there?

    Looking forward to seeing what you decide!

    Onward and Upward!

    1. I’ve already changed the furniture arrangement, and I think I’ll keep it like it is now. The sofa is against the big window, and the chairs are on the opposite wall with a set of nesting tables between them. And of course, the ottoman is in the middle, but I turned it 90 degrees. I love how open it looks, and this arrangement definitely works better for Matt.

      I did try the sofa against the wall, and the chairs against the window. It just didn’t quite seem as balanced to me.

      Not sure about the floral draperies in my office. I was really hoping to use some pinks or pinkish reds in there since Matt doesn’t want those colors in the rest of the house, but I love them! 🙂

      1. I’d love to see a pic with the new arrangement! And, I don’t know if you would consider this, but years ago I made curtains for my bedroom from printed floral sheets that I painted with craft paint to add the colors I wanted. Just adding some pink to some of the flowers in your drapery might give you what you want without having to purchase new fabric or take the time to sew others. Or, maybe not! 😉

  3. So, are you going to go head and redo the living room right now, or renovate some other rooms first? I think your current living room is beautiful (It’s definitely my style) but I know your next one will be fabulous also.

    1. I want to finish the living room before I do any other rooms. When I started on the kitchen, my living room was only about 40% done, and I just left it in its unfinished state and threw myself into the kitchen project. It’s been bugging me for months now that I left it unfinished. So now it’s time to refocus and get it done before moving on to another room.

  4. I’ve been wondering how the rooms flowed together. I think you are on the right track. I do think you need some sort of sofa table or short book cases behind your couch if you keep it in the same spot. I always feel the back of a couch is not to be seen unless it has unique detail to it.

  5. I love your living room as it is, but am sure I will also like your new one. I do think however that you are trying to avoid your breakfast room! Ha! I wish I had a place for your drapes, I would buy them in a minute. They are beautiful!

    1. I’m not necessarily trying to avoid my breakfast room, as much as I’m trying to have as few “started but unfinished” projects as possible. And I figured since I already had a good start on my living room, now was the time to finish it before starting on another room that will need major projects done (like leveling the floor in the breakfast room). Also, I asked Matt which room he thought I should do next, and he said he wanted me to finish the living room. 🙂 We’ve lived with it in its unfinished state for seven months now while I worked on the kitchen, and he and I are both ready for it to be finished now. 🙂

  6. I really like the new direction your living room is taking – the colors and the patterns – and I can see why you are drawn to Tobi’s designs for inspiration. They are elegant & classy but daring at the same time. I especially like the idea of covering the backs of your chairs with a different pattern – those always remind me of a work of art! My favorite is the chocolate brown for the sofa in velvet – that is so yummy!

  7. You continue to amaze me with how often you reaccomplish projects when you change your mind. I am not saying that’s a bad thing, not at all, just that I would settle because I couldn’t be bothered with redoing things over. The biggest thing I’ve been unhappy with is paint colors I’ve chosen, however, I usually end up settling and learning to like it because it’s too much work IMO to redo! Laziness I guess. Love your energy. I loved the living room before, but I know without a shadow of a doubt, I will also love the new direction you are going because I’m liking what I see thus far! You go girl!

  8. I’ve been a “lurker” on your blog for several months now and yours is my very favorite of the dozen or so that I follow. You’ve hit a home run with Tobi Fairley! I LOVE her style and the way she incorporates bold color without it looking too brash. I am always joking with my husband that if I ever win the lottery I am going to have my house gutted to the studs and hire her to redo the entire thing!

  9. Kristi, I just wanted to leave a comment today letting you know that I look forward to each of your new posts! I love that you hop around from room to room because that’s what I do too. I love that you’re not afraid to change your mind or suddenly swing in an entirely new direction. And I love that you share each step and thought process with your readers because it makes you so very relatable!

    Yours has become one of my favorite DIY blogs to read now, even though we have very different styles, because I just love how fearlessly you tackle projects and how big you dream!

  10. Love the blue, you inspired me to paint my formal yet casual dining room a similar color but to tone it down a bit I’m adding a barn wood table and may refinish my wood floors.

  11. I am so glad that you decided to make some changes to the living room. I really do love the added fireplace structure and that you added your mom’s artwork to the room. I am sentimental like that. I have framed many of my kids’ artwork and added them in areas of our house. They look almost as good as professional artwork. 🙂
    But if I can be frank with you and hopefully not offend, I really was disappointed with the end product of your living room. I’ve followed you for some time and you amaze me with you work. I especially find it exhilarating to see a woman do much of the “man’s work” herself. Here’s where I want to do the TIm Allen “aar, aar, aar”! I also love seeing you reinvent things like the kitchen cabinetry. Reinventing or giving something old new life is something I enjoy doing myself.

    But when I looked at your living room, all I could think was “is that it?”. I don’t know if the living room has been an ongoing work in progress or if you were finished with it. But I’d like to see more accessories and more color. I just feel like it’s missing something. Also, I just don’t care for the window treatments. They look aged and drab. With the crispness of the white and the deep blue throughout the room, I just thought you would incorporate something that was a little more bold and vibrant with color. Anyway, I am happy to hear that you are changing your mind on that room and I look forward to seeing what you will be doing. I do really like the designer’s work that you are using to influence your designing endeavors in that room. I think using some of her style would definitely improve the living room. Good luck and can’t wait to see what you do. 🙂

  12. I agree that the living room seems to be a departure from the kitchen and I think you are on the right track. Only thing that I hope you take a second look at is using the houndstooth fabric. It does not seem to be you and does not seem to fit with your vision. Everything you have done in the kitchen is very clean, even though there is a lot of color and texture. That’s what I notice about Tobi’s design sense as well. Houndstooth–can’t picture it.

  13. So funny you should preface your post with ” if you get tired of my indecision and mind changing”. The answer is absolutely not! It’s part of the creative process and the fact that I work this way too makes me especially sympathetic :). I love the new direction! I never felt the other way was really you, not that it wasn’t pleasant but I truly believe you can make the room awesome.

  14. Well of course you have to do a makeover on the living room. That’s what happens when you install a kitchen that looks like you spent 50 grand on it! When I saw the final pictures of the finished kitchen, the first thing I thought was the living room does not “match” the elegance of the kitchen. I love the living room and everything in it! But, I knew you would eventually see that the pretty living room does not compliment that $50,000 kitchen! Can’t wait to see how you crank of the wow factor in there!

  15. Hi Kristi, I think you are smart to finish your living room. The Holidays will soon be upon us and it will be nice for you to have someplace to entertain your family. I love the lines of your sofa. It is classic styling and if it is in good shape and you can afford to have it redone, or you can do it yourself, I would say go for it. I have always thought your room needed to be changed around for a better flow and also to open it up. I had my sofa facing the fire place with a library table behind it for years. One day I walked in and just started moving stuff. The sofa is now at an angle and the leather chipendale loveseat is across the room from it. I looks like we added square footage to the room! By opening up the center of the room there is room for people to move around. I can now seat 11 people without bring the upholstered chairs from the dining room. What I wanted to suggest to you is this. When you do have all of your furniture try placing your houndstooth ottomans in front of the fireplace. I have mine there, and it looks really nice. I have pictures but I do not know how to get them loaded onto your site. I have a copper tray on one ottoman and a silver/gold antique looking wood one on the other. they work great for someone to set a drink on. If we need the seating I just remove them. I like the line that Tobi uses, but I think often times her rooms look cluttered. I have every tabletop covered too but mostly with photographs. The library table are friends, the breakfast table is all pictures of the animals that have been in my life, and in my foyer is my grandmothers gateleg table with all family. I connect the look by only using silver plate frames. All 5×7 or 4×6, only one 8×10 at the back of my family table. I love being surrounded by all the people and animals that I love. I am excited for you with your living room project, this is something I can get into. What are you going to do on the floor? Do you have a rug for that room? If not, I would go to overstock.com and find the biggest Persian (fake of course) rug you can afford. I have good Karistan rugs that are so colorful, my living room rug is one of their most popular patterns. It has 17 different colors in it. All my furniture and decorative items go toward the teal, and silver families. It all works. For some reason those rugs just look great with anything. So if you do not have a floor covering, take a look there. PB has some beautiful ones but they are so overpriced. They have one called Elham that I would but in a NY minute but not at their prices. Ballard designs also has some nice ones. Don’t know if you have an outlet anywhere near you in TX. Gotta run, have fun stylin’ – Blessings

  16. Looks like you’re really smitten with Tobi Fairley, and I can see why. I like the new direction. I certainly understand wanting to finish rooms completely before moving on. Which reminds me, will you be able to finish the ceiling in the living room? Changing your mind is another thing I understand. If I had the funds I could probably find the inspiration to redo my living room every 6 months, however, I lack the physical determination that you have. Can’t wait to see the transformation of this room.

    1. Yes, I’ll be removing everything from the room, and starting with the ceiling and walls and building from there this time. My goal is to get it completely finished, even including the major projects (like the ceiling) that I’m completely dreading. 🙂

  17. Kristi,
    Along with many of your ardent readers, I too, look forward to receiving your post. And, yours is the only blog I read word for word.
    I LOVE that you use color (no solid white rooms), change things around, including your mind and bounce from room to room. Makes me feel like I’m not alone. I do the same thing!

  18. I think you’re headed in the right direction with the living room now. Not that it was “wrong” before, but it just didn’t seem to reflect your style (or mine! ;)). I always felt like the heavy floral drapes and high contrast two toned walls gave the room a feeling of “granny’s house”. Sorry – I don’t mean to offend! I think you’ll be much more satisfied with the new fabrics you’ve chosen and less contrast on the walls will give the room a more spacious feel. Can’t wait to see it! 🙂

  19. I am so jealous. I have some roman shades my mom made for me that I hate. I thought I would
    Like the fabric but I don’t and I feel so stuck with them!

  20. I find so much relief in this post. Decorating is about self discovery. Making mistakes in your home is ok! Taking risks in your home is ok! But we aren’t “Married” to those choices.

    So happy about the direction you intend to take that room! So happy you are going to let your Mom’s painting shine. 🙂

  21. I love the direction this is heading! The draperies are really very pretty, but definitely a different tone than the kitchen. Didn’t at one point you say you wanted linen draperies in your bedroom? Maybe you could use them there as they look like linen? Unless you sell them of course!

    I am getting ready to redo my living room too, can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  22. I had to post this because I found it on pinterest. It is a photo of a Tobi Fairley simple (traditional) fireplace with the wall behind matching the fireplace, lots of molding (which you have already started) and the surrounding walls having a contrasting color, but not an “in your face color”.
    These concepts in your living room would be just beautiful. The idea of sconces flanking your Mom’s painting also get me excited!
    AND-Oh look, she used an ottoman almost identical to yours!

  23. This post makes me laugh Kristi, I relentlessly get teased by family and friends because I change my mind so often. When one room is done I already start to think of what’s next, there’s too many beautiful wallpapers and fabrics out there. I have had every paint color that is out there but about 2 years ago I painted my whole house white and then put the same black and white wallpaper … the one in your inspiration pin. I have left this for 2 years now and I still love it! I think that when you are as creative as you are your mind never stops ( I have a pad of paper by my bed for when I get inspirational ideas) I say change your mind as many times as you like I say this a little selfishly because I can’t wait to see what’s next! Have fun!

  24. I love living vicariously through you! :). I love your living room and have been inspired to do some of those same projects in my own. At the risk of having your readers roll their eyes (kidding), I am more drawn to very soothing neutrals (I tend to be a bit high strung!), and am wondering if you have come across some good designers with that sort of leaning in all your cyber-travels? To me, your current living room is both soothing and vibrant. I will LOVE what you do with the new one! However, I have lived with pretty saturated color for some time and am ready for a softer change. I would really love any input you could give me! Hugs, Pam

  25. Kristi,

    I too was disappointed with the living room. In my opinion, it didn’t look like it belonged in the same house as your kitchen. Especially the dark blue walls. I love the elements you have opted to keep along with your new options. I now have grand visions of the living room being up to par with your kitchen!

  26. The thing I like best about your blog, and work, is that it is constantly changing and evolving. Many (most?) blogs and sites are married to a very definite style, and a handful of au courant colours . Yours isn’t, and that’s the main reason it’s always interesting and different. Change your heart out! It’s working for me, and many others, who can relate.

  27. I really like the comfy feel of your current living room but if you’re feeling pulled in another direction, I’m sure the end result will be spectacular. I’ve not been disappointed in anything you’ve decorated since I’ve been following your blog (3 years now?). Enjoy the journey.

  28. I am just going to say Halleluiah! My sister and I talk daily about your blog, and we have mentioned several times how your kitchen and living room just don’t work together–although both are nice in their own styles.
    I look forward to your visitors being wowed when they walk into your front door:)

    On a different note–I have a hard time thinking about tearing up a room that looks fine, when you have other rooms that need a lot of your lovin…..but it is a marathon–not a sprint. Make your first impression shine friend!

    Love your blog Kristi. I read it two times a day…including all the comments.
    Blessings to you!

  29. Kristi,

    Finishing your living room and revamping to be more aligned with your kitchen is exactly what I thought you would do next. I totally understand what it takes to finally completely trust your vision taste. I can’t but think about the early days of your blog and your condo, which was very sweet, imaginative but not my style(and not really yours we come to find out ). But in interior design the highest compliment is that the designer and home owner “understand their house”. I think that requires a discipline in understanding the parameters and assets of the architecture you are working with.

    Interior design is a an art in the sense that one has a vision and follow through the steps to make the vison into reality. The condo was a smaller canvas for your art and I think you had to “paint”on a smaller scale. I saw hints of what you could do in the redesign of your parent’s master bathroom.
    With this house you finally have a canvas big enough for your vision, what a cool new toy!

    I really look forward to seeing what you will be doing next. I have always thought you were among the most talented of the many bloggers I follow.

  30. Yay, Kristi! You are on to something here. I confess that after I saw the reveal of the kitchen I was liking your living room less and less. Not because it isn’t attractive, but because it seemed almost prosaic next to the wow of the kitchen. And yes, that’s what happens when genius strikes. You took a perfectly decent room (in someone else’s home) and made it look tired next to your kitchen. Absolutely go for changes. Looking at lots of magazines and websites I often feel that dark walls work better in rooms that are distinguished architecturally, but less well in more average rooms. So I definitely endorse your idea of lighter walls and bolder textiles. And I get what you are going for with the brown velvet sofa. Not sure about the houndstooth, though. Unless the scale of the houndstooth is small, it might be too much. Love love love the drapery fabric you’ve chosen. Go for it! Your fans are cheering you on!

  31. I AM 76 YEARS OLD IN mAY. yEARS AGO OUR NEIGHBORS HAD A FIREPLACE THAT ABSOLUTELY mesmerized me and to this day still remember. Your kitchen cabinets brought all of it back. Their fireplace had black and green tiles on sides and floor. I think but not sure but the tiles were mostly black and interspersed with green like the green in your cabinets… it sure would tie your kitchen in..just a thought..happy you are redoing your living room..add more of that beautiful green..good decorating..

  32. Hi Kristi,
    First of all I must say you are wonderful! Sooo full of determination. Amazing work on your kitchen and living room is awesome too. I was thinking about the reason for you to be dissatisfied about the living room and I feel it is tge carpet. If you change it to something colorful ,it could make your living room brighter. Just a suggestion. I am sure you will have better ideas. Good luck. Waiting to see your ‘after’ pictures.

  33. Hi Kristi!
    Let me know if you end of listing the drapes and shades for sale. I was about to order that fabric and you could save me time!

  34. I am a long time lurker and I love your work. Would you email me privately and let me know details about your drapes. Also will you be selling the roman shades too? what size are the 2 small windows? Thanks for your time. Carol

  35. Just wanted to say, I love the new direction your wanting in the living room. with the colors to the style of furniture and fabrics!…Can’t wait to see it after you work your magic.

  36. Love the new direction! Personally, which absolutely doesn’t matter, I just couldn’t love the drapes no matter how I tried. (I felt I must not have good taste if you loved them and I didn’t! Trying to feel what I know–we all have different tastes! Thank goodness, or it sure would get boring!) When I scroll thru the pics in this post, the inspiration pics have a light, bright, cheeriness to them that I don’t see in the current LR pic. I would blame it on lighting or the camera but finally decided it was me. Love neutral walls with the color in the fabrics and accessories myself. Just wonder how this will affect the plans for black walls in the back room…I love the process! I eat popcorn when I read your blog, btw. I only do that when I’m sitting back, ready for a great time! Never disappointed!

  37. It looks like it will be amazing! I love the injection of pattern and color. However, I must admit, I was a bit crestfallen when you revealed you were going to remove the drapes you made. Not that I don’t think the new design will be better, I just went through the process of making my own drapes after seeing your post/tutorial on how you made yours. I have so much time tied into the making of mine, (I have 4 double panels, and 4 single panels) that I will keep these for the duration of the time in this home! LOL I think everyone who decorates/redecorates a room has stepped back at the end of the process and wished they had done things differently. I think it is great that you are excited about a new plan for your living room. Look forward to the finished product, but personally, I’d have to figure out a way for those drapes to hang there. Good luck!!!

  38. Hi Kristi. Love your work & that you want to make your living room more elegant. I know you have your heart set on wainscot. Looking at the pics you posted of inspiration you see it used in dining areas. I go to a lot of new construction and that’s where I always see it at. Why don’t you do it in the music room. It would look lovely with a piano and other musical inspirations. Make your statement with drapery in the living room & upholstery. Floor length drapery would look great flanking the fire place. That’s just my opinion.

  39. Okay Kristi, this is going to sound crazy, but so many of the pictures you showed in this post remind me of the homes we stayed in on a trip to Palm Beach, FL in the 80’s. Lots of graphic designs, bright colors, contrast in colors, lots of kelly or bright greens contrasting with white. The room with the green and white chairs is the most Palm Beach feeling of them all. That’s not a bad thing…just wanted to mention it in case you find that helpful as you decide what look you like. These pics just very much reminds me of the area back then. I have no idea how they are decorating in Palm Beach today…could be very different. Check out some of the pics that popped up when I Googled Palm Beach decor: https://www.google.com/search?q=palm+beach+decor&biw=1745&bih=868&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=VrJRVKyaE4eogwTTioSADw&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ

  40. I’m speechless. Just thinking of all the work you put into those drapes, shades, etc., (remember, I sew also, although can’t get myself motivated enough to do home dec sewing). I initially thought your kitchen ideas were quite dramatic, but knew they weren’t my style. I ended up REALLY liking your kitchen, but it’s STILL not MY style. My hubby would probably REALLY like your living room. To me, well, I don’t know, and that’s part of my problem – I just NEVER KNOW, yah know? Lol! There’s usually SOME things about your plans that I usually really like, again, my indecisiveness. I DO know I like the houndstooth, and I really like the graphic print, and keep thinking I’d like something like that somewhere in my home, but then I think it’s too trendy, and will be dated shortly after I get my act together. I ALWAYS enjoy the journey!
    Good Luck, looking forward to this one!