A New Year, A New Decorating Strategy

Last Updated on December 24, 2015 by Kristi Linauer

(Warning:  Long, rambling, pictureless post ahead.)  🙂

I absolutely LOVE the beginning of a new year.  It’s like a fresh start.  A clean slate.  A chance to evaluate, correct, redirect, and begin anew.  So every December, I start to think about things, evaluate how I’ve been doing things, and make plans to change what hasn’t been working for me.  That way I’m ready to wake up on January 1st with a brand new strategy and a clear plan in place.  Gah!  I love it!  It makes me excited just thinking about it!

There’s one big change that I’ve decided to make that pertains to my house and my whole decorating/remodeling strategy.

Obviously this house it the biggest project…the biggest challenge…I’ve ever taken on in my whole life.  I’ve determined to do as much of it by myself as possible, only calling in help when I’m simply not physically able to do something on my own, or when something is too dangerous for me to do on my own (like pouring concrete countertops, or replacing all of the electrical wiring, or installing an 11-foot-long load-bearing header).

But I think I’ve been going about it the wrong way, or at least I’ve had the wrong mindset about it, and it has actually been working at the condo that’s made me realize that I need to change my strategy.

Matt and I lived in that condo for seven years, and in those seven years I never got the condo finished.  Some of those road blocks were beyond my control.  We lacked finances during those first years.  Then I got really busy with my interior decorating business.  Then Matt’s health started declining and he became wheelchair-bound, which not only affected him, but also affected my life and my business greatly as I had to learn how to help him and be there for him while juggling other responsibilities.  Then the most horrible year of our marriage hit like a ton of bricks when Matt’s brother died unexpectedly, Matt became bedridden, and we both became incredibly depressed.  So during a large portion of those seven years, decorating the condo was the last thing on my mind.

But during that time, I always had projects in progress, and tools, paint cans, boxes of supplies, etc., littering our small condo.  And over the years, I just became accustomed to the mess, the scattered tools, and the laundry list of unfinished projects.  I got to the point where I wasn’t really even aware of it anymore. The only thing that would bring me back to the reality of the situation was when someone would knock at the front door when we weren’t expecting guests.  Then I would panic.

As soon as I’d open the door, the excuses would start rolling off of my tongue.  “Oh, please excuse the mess.  We’re remodeling!”  For about six straight years, I used that excuse.  And when we moved out last year, it still wasn’t finished.  We left behind a condo filled with unfinished projects, a pile of wood scraps, tools, etc.

Well, I’ve realized that I’m doing the very same thing with the house.  Once again, I’ve got rooms filled with tools, piles of lumber, remnants from past projects, etc.  I have walls (like our bedroom wall) where I’ve tested paint samples over a year ago, but never got around to actually painting.  So I’ve been looking at big navy blue squares on my wall for over a year now.  None of the rooms have baseboards.  I removed them when I refinished the floors before we moved in, and then thought, “Oh, I’ll just add the baseboards room-by-room as I decorate each room.”  It’s over a year later, and not one single room (except for the kitchen) has baseboards on all of the walls.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.  And probably some of you can relate, as you have the same situation going on at your house.

My plan in this house, starting with the kitchen, was to do one room at a time, and to do the room completely start-to-finish before moving on to another room.  But now I’m thinking that’s probably not the best strategy.  Working on the condo lately has shown me that just getting a room looking presentable, even if it’s not exactly how I planned, or exactly how I want it to stay long-term, is much better than living with things completely torn up and unfinished.

As you know, I’ve been working on the condo bedroom lately.  And quite honestly, the way it’s turning out is drastically different from that “perfect” plan I’ve had in my mind for so many years now.  My “perfect” plan included grasscloth and wainscoting, built-in closets with pull-out drawers for storage, and custom draperies.  What I’ve ended up with is a room with no grasscloth, no wainscoting, simple built-ins with hanging storage, and very inexpensive painted curtains.  But you know what?  I absolutely LOVE that room!!!

I find myself making excuses to go over to the condo just so that I can enjoy being in that room.  And it’s not because the room is just so unbelievably amazing and gorgeous that I can’t stay away.  And it’s certainly not because it’s a manifestation of my years-long vision for that room, because it’s very far from it.  That room is certainly not some high-end, designer, magazine-worthy room.  It’s just the fact that it’s clean, it’s put together, and it has a very fresh feeling to it.  It’s not filled with unfinished projects, tools, and sawdust.  And being in there makes me feel peaceful and relaxed.

And when I’m over there, in that room, and it’s time to come home, I find myself dreading it a little bit.  That’s not good.  I want to feel as comfortable and relaxed and peaceful in my home as I do in that bedroom at the condo.  And I’ve realized that the rooms in my home don’t have to be exactly as I picture them in my mind in order to make me feel that way.  Long term decorating goals are good, but in the meantime, I just need to make sure that the rooms in my home are clean, not filled with tools and half-baked projects, and somewhat put together, even if they’re put together with some temporary and cheap fixes like painted curtains, or bookshelves made from scrap lumber.

So I’ve decided that my new strategy is this…

My main, overarching goal for this next year is to make all of the rooms in my home look presentable — not perfect, but clean, presentable, peaceful, fresh, and relaxing.  That doesn’t mean that I’m completely putting long-term plans on the back burner.  I really am hoping that I can completely get my living room and my breakfast room finished in 2015, while also working on some “make it presentable” projects in the other rooms of the house.

In other words, by the end of 2015, in addition to a completely decorated living room and breakfast room, I’d also like to have my bedroom walls painted so that I don’t have to look at big navy blue paint sample squares.  I’d like to have the new hallway doors installed.  I’d like to have all of the baseboards installed in every room.  I’d like the bare drywall in the hallway to be taped, mudded, and painted.  I’d like the horrible paneling in Matt’s game room to be primed and painted.  And I’d like for every room to have a fresh coat of paint so that I no longer have to be surrounded by all of this “antique white” that I find a bit depressing.

You get my point.  No more rooms filled with blatantly obvious unfinished projects (missing baseboards, holes in drywall from moved electrical boxes, etc.) that make me cringe when someone knocks at my front door, and that make me feel like I have to start in with the, “Excuse our mess!  We’re remodeling!” excuses when someone walks in.

I don’t need my home to be perfect…yet.  🙂

I need my home (all of it) to be peaceful, relaxing, and welcoming.  That’s my goal for 2015.  🙂

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lisa E
    December 5, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Love it! Yes, that’s what you need, your whole home to feel welcoming. You don’t want your forever house to be a place you dread to come home to. There’s nothing wrong with Phase I projects at all. Nothing. That’s what I do, honestly. My whole house has to feel nice and welcoming. Then I do more projects as I go along, constantly updating things for my vision to come to fruition. So glad you will be doing the same for your own sanity! My perfect example. Hallway bathroom. I painted the walls, yet was never happy with it the color I chose. However, it was a HUGE improvement from previous owner’s decor. I also added trim and mosaic tile to bathroom mirror. Looked really nice. I want board and batten in there, but that would mean removing the base trim (stained wood and small) and I don’t want to do that until I redo the floor. Have too many things going on right now to worry about that so recently, I repainted the bathroom two tone in preparation for the board and batten look and we put up trim where the two colors meet. That trim will be the top of the board and batten. Again big improvement, just not there and people don’t even know I have bigger plans because it already looks nice. Honestly, the projects you listed for the whole of 2015 are nothing compared to what you have done in just a portion of 2014. You got this!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 11:17 am

    I can totally relate to this strategy, because it’s what we decided on when we moved. And let me tell you how often I’m finding myself sighing happily when looking at my surroundings even though there are many, many projects lurking in what I see. But because everything is quite nice already (even if a lot of things not yet perfect) , I felt cosy and at home nearly fom the beginning of living there. And the projects get tackled one by one when I feel like it and have the time.
    I was already thinking that this strategy might make things easier for you, too, when you started thinking about remodeling your already very beautiful living room: I thought it’s a pity that so many rooms in your house seem to be rather unusable (sunnroom, breakfast room) while this one has to achieve perfection before you move on the other rooms (and frankly you are evolving so much in finding your style that there is no “perfect” with you for long – something that I admire but which definitely gives you a lot of stress).
    A very interesting aritist, Nam June Paik, once said: “When too perfect, lieber Gott böse” (the last bit means: “dear God is upset or angry”). Being a prefectionist myself I tried to adopt this message a couple of years back and have thus been able to sigh so happily when I’m in my unperfect home (see above). So if you want to go follow through with this idea, let us know and we will remind you of that strategy when in the course of the year your prefectionism is kicking in and taking over again 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 11:29 am

    I have never tackled anything as ambitious as your house projects, but you are singing the song of my life in terms of not-quite-finished projects or projects not tackled because I can’t yet do it “right.” I will be cheering for you on the sidelines and trying to get on the train with you.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Now you’re talking! There is absolutely nothing wrong with Phase I decorating. If this really will be your ‘forever’ home, you’ll ALWAYS be making changes and updates as the years go by. It doesn’t have to be the perfect be-all and end-all right off the bat. Get it presentable, as you said, finish the sheetrock and hang doors in the hallway, install the baseboard and other trim where it’s needed, and put a coat of paint on the bedroom walls. If it’s not the perfect color, you can always paint over it later. Designate one area for tools, paint, and scrap lumber, and keep things in order as you go along. I’m really glad to hear your new direction in decorating, I think it will make yours and Matt’s lives much less stressful and productive in the long term.

    Onward and Upward!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Before kids, our house was always clean. We both worked full time jobs, so we weren’t really home to mess it up. I didn’t really understand this to be a coping mechanism until coming home from the hospital with our first child. I was getting antsy and very grumpy and snappy as I looked around what had been my pristine home, but was now full of baby things and dirty plates and water bottles and laundry. My mom, who had come to help, said, “You know what? We need to make your bed.” I couldn’t believe the difference it made in my impression of the room and my outlook in general! Just that one thing helped me to handle the rest of it that I couldn’t really deal with because I was still in recovery. Now, after three kids, homeschooling, and a husband who works hours no human should have to, I use these strategies all the time. The kids immediately do better if their rooms are clean. I start the day in a restful place if my kitchen is clean when I walk in in the morning. When we go out of town, I make sure if at all possible that the house is picked up so that when we come home, I can sigh and flop on the couch {as much as you get to do that with a 7, 4, and 2 year old}.

    Let’s be real – the house isn’t clean all the time and with young kids and home projects, that isn’t realistic. I mean, really, what fun is it not to be able to build a fort in the family room from time to time?! The thing is, we clean it up together after they are done. I find that I’m more creative when my home is picked up. Also, it gives my husband a peaceful home after a really hard day at work. I’m really thankful to my mom for having the wisdom to impart to me.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      December 5, 2014 at 11:44 am

      Beth, I homeschool too 🙂 My kids are 15, 13, 11, 9, 7 & 5 (yesterday !!). I had to smile when you wrote before leaving, you try to have your house all picked up so you can come home and just relax. Always my goal, never happened once, lol.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 11:38 am

    I am exactly at the same place. Kind of…

    I am starting my very own business in a few weeks. I look around my house and see how much there is still to do. I want to get it all done before I get busy with work. Alas, impossible, still too much to get done. So, I do one thing at time. Every litlle or big thing done makes me happy, it makes my kids happy and at the end of the day, that is all that matters, right ?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 11:41 am

    This is exactly the strategy we’ve decided for 2015 too. We’ve spent 3 years with half finished, projects everywhere and just 3 weeks ago I said to my husband, no more of this. Too much mess, it’s not safe for our toddler, and we’re not enjoying any time as a family. In 2014 we took on a complete remodel of a family room/office that had us ripping down everything to the studs. I love those rooms, they’re the only rooms in the house that are totally ‘us’ but we didn’t enjoy ourselves, we avoided having people over, I was constantly cleaning up mess. 2015, we will finish the last little projects that need to be done to the living room/office and we’re making the rest of the house presentable and not something we hate. That’s it. Dreaming of everything we can do perfectly is fun but it’s not as nice as just living in a place that’s good enough.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Great plan Kristi. I totally agree with the other comments. Get the entire place habitable and comfortable for you and Matt now. Doesn’t have to be perfect, just livable. Doesn’t have to be magazine worthy, just presentable for now. I know that will take the stress off. Then you can tackle those dream projects and create your vision at your leisure from the comfort of your less than perfect but quite livable home. We who love following along on the journey will be thrilled to see the transformation and to see you and Matt living in your whole house even if it isn’t “perfect”.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 11:59 am

    I made this same realization when we sold our unfinished, half remodeled house in 2004. Looking back at my girls’ baby pictures, I can tell the year by the state of remodel in the background. It didn’t help that there was no garage with that house…When we moved, we bought a newer home, but the projects didn’t end. What did change was the fact that every room had to be clean and presentable and ONLY one room could have a major project going. The garage was a mess, but the house was very livable and safe for toddlers, not that we had those any more! Now in our third house. We have let a bit of that slide. I missing thresholds from tile to wood, a chewed base board from the now 4 year old puppy, and a couple of half painted walls waiting for the wainscoting to be installed. You have reminded me that I need to finish these details instead of putting on the blinders. I owe it to myself, my family, and my guests. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    So what do you do when you and your spouse disagree on the Phase 1 projects? Say, if you live in an antique home, with antique trim that needs help. I want to paint, he wants to refinish. I am done with refinishing!! And he hasn’t done it either. Ugh! Maybe I need to set a date, and if he’s not done, then I will paint? Seriously, is been years, folks. I am tired of waiting. 🙂

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      December 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      “it’s” , sorry for the typo, lol!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi Linauer
      December 5, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      That’s exactly what I would do…

      Set a date and say, “If you want them refinished, then let’s set a completion date. This has been unfinished for years, and it’s time for us to finish it.” And the if the date comes and goes with no progress, then break out the paint brush.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    I think you have a good strategy. You are always going to have projects and improvements to make. Most importantly though, you need to feel comfortable and relaxed in your home. You are living there now! I have the same problems, stuff piled up, partially finished projects, and all that causes stress. Definitely needed this reminder!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    I really needed to read this today! I’m in the exact same boat. My house is a disaster of paint, missing trim, etc. My aunt and uncle dropped in a few weeks ago and I was sooooo embarrassed! Here they wanted to see our beautiful new house, and I had painting supplies and tools everywhere.

    So your 2015 goals are also my 2015 goals! Here’s to making our homes feel comfortable and more put together!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    I like your plan. Go for it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kris it
    December 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    I applaud your maturity in this new decision, which I believe will be one that will stand you in good stead over the long haul of your life. A home should be a place of esthetic peace… Almost as important as spiritual and emotional peace there is.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    I, too, like other commenters, thought that your living room was very nice and not ready for another redo. Moreover I was surprised that you chose to begin another makeover in that room when the room adjoining the kitchen was still in an unfinished state. That peaceful feeling that you get in the bedroom at the condo can be duplicated at home when you completely finish each area before looking at another project. When we have worked on remodel projects I make it
    a point to sweep up at night before we go to bed and organize the tools and supplies for the next day. It makes the work area less stressful when you can find what you’re looking for and it also cuts down on dust and debris. I do enjoy reading your daily posts and will continue to watch your progress, even small finishing steps will feel like great accomplishments.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      December 5, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      My brother is a general contractor who takes a few minutes to clean up and he lines up all his tools for the next day. It has helped to keep him sane and organized for 30 years!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 11:36 am

    I can totally relate! My house is the same way. No baseboards ha ha….cement floor in living room, torn up tile in the kitchen, subfloor in the bedroom….holes in walls….we’re awesome for trying so hard right!?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sheila F.
    December 5, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    So glad you will be doing this. I think having a comfy bedroom is so important for rest and rejuvenation. Having a home you can relax in occasionally is important and I think you will be even more productive. (If that is possible, lol)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Very good philosophy. Just might have to incorporate it myself.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Judi in Tinton Falls
    December 5, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Speaking only from my own experience, when my home is in CHAOS (can’t have anyone over syndrome), it’s because my mind is in turmoil. I’ve been facing my life changing decisions, and my house shows it. I need calm and order to make these decisions, and as long as I’m distracted and derailed by the mess, I’m setting myself up for continuing to focus on the wrong things. I’m so glad you wrote about this today. I think I need to adopt your new goal of presentable, not perfect. This is going to be hard for me. Thanks you so much for the timely nudge in the right direction.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      December 5, 2014 at 8:48 pm

      Ugh, yes, CHAOS! I call it “can’t have anyone over syndrome” too, and it is such a descriptive acronym! I agree with everything Judi says. I find that when my place is in CHAOS, my brain is, too, and it’s a vicious cycle that repeats on itself … brain in CHAOS = house in CHAOS = brain in CHAOS = house in … you get the point.

      I have a perfection problem, as well as a big picture problem, meaning I want ALL OF IT cleaned, organized, decorated, etc. and all done at the same time, no partial projects for me. So guess what? Nothing gets done! Doesn’t help that I have a very stressful job that when I come home, I just want to collapse and take a nap, wake up, rinse, repeat.

      So, here’s hoping 2015 is a better year for all of us with these little … issues! If anyone can do it, Kristi, you sure can!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    I love your goal. I want the same for my home in 2015. Might not have everything finished to perfection (what’s that?!) but I want my home to feel good and clean and organized. I’ve been in the middle of a kitchen remodel (by myself!) for over a year now. Time to get this thing D.O.N.E….get the boxes and tools put away — and start ENJOYING my home!! Good luck to us both!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Well said! We have that same situation going on in our house. It kind of IS depressing – ha! We’ve had our house for almost four years and there’s definitely not as much done as I thought we would have done by now. We WERE going to paint all of the rooms before moving in, but we got too excited and moved right in. It’s much harder to WANT to get the paint done now that all of the furniture is in place – in the way of painting. Then we finally primed the kitchen about… 6 months ago? Ya… it’s still primed. I bought the spray paint for my chandelier over a year ago… still not spray painted. Some of it really is financial – like the hall tree (wannabe) I want to put in at the entry and getting our hardwood floors installed. But there’s definitely stuff that we just need to do already and the house would look SO MUCH better. Sigh!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Gilmer Gal
    December 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Good for me to see I am not alone in my piles of projects! I have been working on making my storage space in our garage functional so I can have a “place for everything, and everything a place.” Now I don’t spend so much time trying to find everything. When I flipped a house, the best thing we did was clean up EVERY day after work, place our tools together on a long table so they would be easily found the next day. Makes a huge difference. And a table beats the heck out of a pile on the floor (especially with my back!). Great job on everything, Kristen. You rock, girl!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    It’s another way we self-sabotage ourselves. Either through half completed projects or in our relationship to food…

    Glad to see you’re giving yourself permission to be “less” perfect. Good luck!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Mrs Mike
    December 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Yes, lol, I completely relate. We have a HUGE gaping hole in our entryway because we have water damage that had to be repaired. Only we opened the hole during the summer to let the wall dry out…almost 6 mos ago! I hate opening my front door!

    I always have good intentions of finishing my projects completely, just don’t ask me to define completely! 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ellen W.
    December 5, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Fellow perfectionist here. A friend of mine with the same issue was told by a therapist: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” That wisdom hasn’t cured me yet, but I do catch myself invoking it when I find myself stalled in place. I think your plan for next year is just great!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      December 5, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      Yes, the perfect is the enemy of the good. I have really tried to embrace that with the house I have lived in for the past 4 years. It’s so much better to only have a little bit of the house torn apart than room after room.

      I guess it must be working because the other day my Mother told me it was nice to see that I had “finished” decorating my house. So funny. To me there is so much left to do, but since all the rooms are usable it appears finished to others.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Barbara @ DIY Home Staging Tips
    December 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Kristi — Hooray for you! You can do this. We’re all learning from you, too, no matter where each of us stands on this issue. I tend to go to the other extreme of cutting corners, doing what’s expedient, and settling for less than perfection even in the long run. And I still end up with unfinished projects in closets and under beds and in the garage!

    I suspect that not only will both you and Matt be happier in your home, but that the calm you’ll sense will make it easier for you to stay on course with your weight loss program. Just a guess, and hoping for the best for you because Lord knows you work so hard.

    It’s hard to break old habits, so don’t get discouraged. Every small steps towards a more organized home is an improvement over the way you’ve been struggling. Happy 2015!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    You’re singin’ my song, Sista! I am so grateful for your blog. I’ve always been a ‘go with what’cha got’ sort of decorator – mostly because of lack of funds, lack of skills with tools or lack of assistance with the heavy lifting sort of stuff. This year you have inspired me to stop depending on others to make my vision reality. My new mindset has worked well in my recent renovation adventures but I sure can relate to the unsettled feeling that comes with unfinished projects. I was in the midst of painting our living room, kitchen and hallway back in September when my father fell ill and passed away. Three months later here we are – looking at half painted hallways, with baseboard and ceiling touch-ups still undone as we spend each day over at my dad’s house working until our hands and backs can’t take any more trying to paint over and repair 30 years of nicotine and neglect so we can get the place on the market. The up side is I have tackled projects there I would never have had courage to try six months ago. Thank you so much for that. That down side is, I come home exhausted and when I look at our unfinished walls and trim a wave of agitation and annoyance pours over me that I don’t feel a sense of comfort and gratitude about being home and that I don’t have the energy at the end of the day to finish things up and get the renovation mess cleared away. But if you – our little Texas Tornado – can get things whipped into shape, we can too. A wise friend once said to me “And it came to pass…. It didn’t come to STAY, it came to pass. And this will too.”

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Kristi, thank you for figuring out my problem (seriously)! I should pay you for therapy! This weekend I will get those baseboards back up that have been waiting almost a year and that particular project will be done. Then I can take a look a my project list and make a plan for a couple of definites while making a couple other rooms more welcoming. So, really, thank you!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Great post. You are a textbook perfectionist. My husband is that way. I, on the other hand, will rush through the end of a project just to be finished. There has to be a happy medium! I hope you can hit it. PS. I LOVE the condo bedroom, too. I’m using it for inspiration for my own bedroom redo. Many blessings for 2015!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    I have a feeling this taking control of your home is connected to taking control of your weight. Congratulations on both!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    You got the kitchen done- the rest should be fun to just relax, just do it. (isn’t that a song?) I kinda sorta gave up decorating our home. If something pops out at me I will buy it (rarely happens). I can’t commit to a paint color so have decided to embrace the builder beige for now, the pressure that I had to choose a bold color to be a modern person was more stressful than actually just living with the beige. It’s actually not that bad. I think I am a beige person. lol Plus it allows me to be open to fun lamps, throws or other accessories. I’m so happy that you had a breakthrough- design wise. Maybe it’s time for you to get your workshop/garage set up and organized so you will be able to alternate between the “gotta do it” projects and the fun ones and also be more motivated to clean up- which is a project by itself. Here’s to a new year!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ellen Kelly
    December 5, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Sounds. Good, I get you 100%. Happy Holidays, Ellen

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Social media has instilled that picture perfect expectation. But it’s never perfect and it’s never perfectly done. Our homes represent our ever evolving sense of style and creativity. Getting the backdrop worthy of being comfortable to you, and getting the supplies into the garage, except for where you are working at the moment will go a long way toward creating a peaceful environment. The goal of being done is unattainable for someone with your vision and creativity. Just be happy in the moment!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    I like your strategy. I am so excited to follow you on your journey and see you discover things not only about decorating and DIY but also about your life in general.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Great goal for the new year. It is better to have presentable rooms that aren’t exactly like you want them to be, rather than something you feel you have to hide. Your home is supposed to be your sanctuary, and there is no way to relax in the rubble. I think most of us will enjoy seeing your not perfect room as much as we enjoy the perfect one. Lets face it, few people live in homes where every room is as we envision for our dream home. Enjoy being able to swing the doors wide for friends and family, no apologies necessary!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Laure Gill
    December 5, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Amen! I’m a decorator too…my constant “improvement thoughts” do overwhelm my time available to do them AND steal some of my joy about my home> I like the SIMPLIFY my life idea. I’m not going to stop improving…but I’m going to BREATHE between projects. My family is my favorite part of my home, I want to enjoy them.
    I loved this post…and I love a fresh new year too!
    Merry Christmas Kristi!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    I totally get what you’re saying. We’re in that same kind of spot right now where large lengthy projects (or even small lengthy projects) are taking months, if not a year or two, to get completely done and we’ve sort of been living in the unfinished mess. That said, I find it much more livable and less stressful when I follow a few basic rules I’ve set for myself:

    1) No matter how long a project is going to take, always leave an hour or half-hour towards the end of the day to put your tools and supplies away (or at least stash them out of site in a room or closet designated for such purposes). Even if a room isn’t finished, it still feels much more livable if you don’t have piles of tools and supplies all over the place. Plus, it sort of encourages a “clean as you go” methodology. If you’re done with drywall, then the drywall tools get put away and the painting tools come out tomorrow.

    2) Protect against dust and clean it up at the end of every day. This means using sheets/slipcovers for furniture, moving important pieces out of the room or boxing-up wall hangings, and vacuuming the floors up. Same as with the tools…you’ll feel better if someone drops by if you at least don’t have 3 rooms with a layer of dust over everything.

    3) Every trash day, throw away at least 1-2 bags of construction debris. This came partially out of thrift, because I don’t really have $300+ to spend on a dumpster. Instead, I buy a roll of the heavy-duty construction trash bags and I fill them as I work. They get stacked in the garage if needed and a couple get put out every week with the regular trash. This keeps piles of scraps, old furniture, appliances, fixtures, etc. from accumulating in the backyard, garage, or somewhere else until that day when you’re planning to have a dumpster delivered (that never happens).

    4) Have an organized shop or storage area. I’m still working on this one. Having a place for everything makes it easier to clean up every night and the added benefit of being able to find everything when you’re looking for it. this could be as simple as a bunch of shelving units with file boxes labeled “plumbing, painting, drywall, electrical…” (which works very well, BTW, because the boxes can be carried right to the project) or as complex as having a beautifully set-up workshop with peg boards, cabinets, drawers, etc.

    5) If you have a spare room or a workshop, designate that as your dusty space for cutting, sanding, or anything that’s going to make a mess that can be moved into the space to work on. You may take some extra steps every time you want to cut something, but it’s nice to be able to shut the door on that space if company comes and keep the dust or paint overspray confined to one place.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    You know, that’s exactly what I have been thinking about what I’d do in your situation, ever since you moved in that house. I just thought that maybe you just didn’t mind, because you were moving all the time. Which is why I think I proposed Mat’s room as your next target at some point when you asked: I was thinking that maybe you don’t mind because you are in flux, but he is bound to feel the mess effect more. It’s one thing to see a bunch of tools in the middle of the room every day, and it’s another to leave your tools next to you and pick them, put others back in the pile and so on – and that pile is next to you which incidentally happens to be in the middle of the room.

    I would clear some space for the tools – not necessarily make the garage benches that you dream of, but just clean some space out of sight and put them there when I’m done with them (maybe your sun room? is that what you call it?), and then make sure Matt’s space is nice and comfortable and not depressing. And also, if you are going to be doing all the cleaning up and bland work, switch between that and more exciting projects so you don’t get bored. Dunno, maybe even assing days like rest on sunday, do blah work on monday (but work hard) and then do inspiring things for the rest of the week.

    I’m curious to see what you come up with 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    What a great plan and approach! I’m so glad you shared this and it is helping me think about my house . . . and my life.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Nanette Lewis
    December 5, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    I think your plan for 2015 is wonderful. If you are living in constant mess/stress then you and your husband aren’t enjoying life to the fullest. You should be able to work little projects as time permit but enjoy your life at a drop of a hat. Enjoy your husband, dog and the new you.. Congratulations on the weight loss.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    That is very wise thinking! That’s how my house is. To visitors, it’s finished throughout and it looks good. To me, though, I know the areas that are not totally finished or that I want to change. That’s okay, though, for even though it looks good the way it is now, it also always leaves us with a project to look forward to.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    I blame houzz.com. 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    I have a little of the same problem. My bedroom has a dozen paint color swatches on the walls for over a year now. I bought new light fixtures and ceiling fans and had them for months, uninstalled. I recently returned them to the store as the boxes and the unfinished project was just too much for me. I’ll purchase one at a time when I have time to do the install or the money to hire somebody. My bedroom has stacks of pictures to be hung, a 8×10 carpet I’m not using anymore, my son’s graduation gown (from May) stacked, tools, decorative items, etc. all around. I have to clear a path to go to bed. And then my “sewing room” which used to be my son’s room until he moved out a few months ago, has stacks of stuff that is still his. I need it all either gone, used or put away in storage (neatly in the basement). It’s so stressful and annoying.

    So I think this weekend I’m going to hang the pictures and put all the misc. items in the sewing room and shut the door. Then my bedroom will be at least clutter free. Maybe painting won’t seem like such a hassle when I already have all the junk moved out of the way. Just having all that stuff removed will be more peaceful. And I’ll make my bed!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    It sounds like a great plan.
    Can I suggest that the first job is to get your workshop / tool storage area organised. Not your forever plan, but somewhere that you can just walk in and pick up the tool you want and more importantly somewhere that you can just walk in and put it away again. A space hopefully with a table to do those projects that don’t have to be done in the house. It doesn’t mean you won’t have things around the house at times, but it will mean that clearing up and putting things away won’t feel like another project in itself. It will also be easier to keep you house visitor friendly (notice I didn’t say picture perfect 🙂 )and most importantly nicer for you and Matt.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Sounds like a great goal, Kristi!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Kristi, As always,I love your thought processes as much as your remodeling. Kitchen remodels are huge endeavors and I was amazed watching you do alone essentially what took three contractions twice as long to do in my house a few years ago. I think you’ll find with your new goal for 2015 that what you are now doing is mostly “surface treatments (painting walls, installing baseboards, fixing other surface), that will go really quickly in comparison to the monumental task you took on with the kitchen remodel. And by mid year you’ll have that clean finished fixed up look that will allow you to enjoy every room in your house every day. And know we’ll be watching and supporting you along the way.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    I spent the biggest part of the last 15 years living like you described with unfinished projects and long lists of things to do everywhere. I woke up one day about 2 years ago and decided that enough was enough! I would get so tense just driving up in my driveway because I knew that I “needed to paint that wall” or “pull those weeds” or “grout around the tub”…the list went on and on and on. I decided to thru each room in my house and make a list of things that needed to be done to make it comfortable, neat, and organized. Not major projects, just the basics. I spent a couple of months getting it done, donating scrap lumber, recycling paints, etc…and you wouldn’t believe the difference it made in my life! Yes, I still tackle projects…am painting my bathroom as I type this…but, I try to complete one project, clean up my mess, and take a break from starting another one for a while so that I can enjoy my life, my family, and my home!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      December 6, 2014 at 12:42 am

      Hi TinaG … Glad to hear that someone has successfully accomplished creating a peaceful home while still remodeling! !

      You give me hope for my home & projects. Thanks for your post!

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        December 7, 2014 at 12:09 am

        You’re welcome! Ya know, one of the biggest reasons I decided to change my ways was the amount of stress it was causing. I wanted things done as soon as possible so I was tense about it, which in turn caused my husband to get tense about it. We really weren’t enjoying the projects because of it. I would work myself to death to strip the wallpaper I wanted stripped, get tired, and get cranky and mad because he wasn’t as committed to pulling wallpaper off the wall for 4 hours as I was! lol Not worth it. So, now we do as much as we want to, when we want to, and we enjoy the process much more!!

        • Reply To This Comment ↓
          December 11, 2014 at 12:11 pm

          TinaG: my motto is “one wall at a time”. In the weeks after my father passed away I knew I needed to do something, but with working full time I realized I wouldn’t be able to finish something in the small time I had off. I decided to take off all my wall paper and re paint in my dining room and kitchen. My plan of “one wall at a time” worked! I moved the furniture away from one wall about 4 feet- and took down all the wall paper ( I caught the corners of the other walls about a foot) spackled, sanded, primed, and painted the whole wall on my days off and sometimes put a coat of paint up before work, etc. Then moved the furniture back, and moved to another wall. Now I follow this motto with any chore, even if there aren’t any actual walls involved. =)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Thank you for this post Kristi. I so need to do that too.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Yeah, if you’re dreading going home something needs to change! Doing a bit of work in the garage might make it easier to keep the house liveable while in the midst of projects. I know you have big plans for the garage/workshop but just some basic shelving/storage/workbench would go far. Because your tools would have a designated place to BE…and thus so much less tempting to just leave them strewn about.

    Doing some easy and cheap things like paint, baseboards, and inexpensive curtains would go far in making rooms in your home feel like a home and not a workspace or something transient.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    I needed this today. For a list too long to go into, this is my home to a tee and exactly the remedy I needed to hear. Thank you.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 5, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    I don’t know if I’d have the self awareness to have come to this realization as you have. I admire it greatly!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 6, 2014 at 12:13 am

    Wow, I love this. I live in a state of ‘I’m going to do this someday’. My big goal is to get my drywall ceiling patched after the leak gets fixed. I think this is going on the fourth year there is a leak from one bathroom shower. We dealt with it (after the plumber couldn’t figure out all the places it was leaking) by using the tiny shower for everyone (in our master bedroom bath, so no privacy about our space with a total of 5 people living here)…you get an incredible amount of high quality, beautiful things done. I’m always impressed by your work.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 6, 2014 at 12:35 am

    Oh Kristi … I do love this post and your honesty !!!

    It’s like you opened my front door, peeked in , & then wrote about my 10+ yrs of remodeling & perfectionist state of mind.

    And yes, ALL my saws, compressor, & misc tools & supplies are right there in the front room by the door. Every room has unfinished projects and junk scattered about as I do & redo tweeking it in hopes of reaching perfection!

    Unfortunately, my drive for the perfect design or layout has created problems for my husband, who is now in dire need of having the house completely wheelchair accessible & cleared of clutter.

    So thankful for your thought provoking & project inspiring posts!

    Today, I promised myself to reread your post again in the morning for inspiration & then try VERY HARD to set aside my perfectionism and lay out a new plan for a peaceful home.

    Being honest with oneself is sometimes not easy to do.

    Perhaps we should be accountability buddies as we battle our projects and mindsets together. Lololol.

    Looking forward to future posts on this!!

    Thanks Kristi

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 6, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Looks like you have a great plan!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 6, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    The fact that so many readers can relate suggests that there will always, always be projects. Things will never be perfect so it’s way better to make things look organized, clean, and presentable, and then work from there. Good thinking.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Elisa @ What the Vita
    December 6, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Done is better than perfect. That quote hit me so very hard two years ago and it’s still making a big difference in the way I approach and complete projects. Done is better than perfect.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      December 6, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      Wow I so love this quote!
      Kristi, this was an awesome post – I really needed to “hear” it!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      December 7, 2014 at 12:34 am

      Great quote. My husband has two favorites . . . The best tool in your toolbox is the checkbook and When in doubt, throw it out.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 6, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Will your breakfast room still be your primary focus?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 7, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    I can really relate. I tore the drywall off a wall that made our dining room too small and the entryway too large this summer with the help of my oldest son. Then our busiest time of year hit. That wall is still there, stripped to the studs. We now have a goal to finish by mid-February.

    The flooring won’t be complete. The counters will still need replacing. The walls will need repainting (no test swatches). That project will be done, though. And the room won’t look torn up. The rest will have to fall in line behind the dining table and chairs I am refinishing.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 8, 2014 at 1:10 am

    I got so sick of every project being under 50% done that I actually did not buy a major DIY project for my second house. I couldn’t live like that again. It’ll need some upgrades but on day 1 it will be liveable. My plan for those upgrades is to make a project cart. That cart will hold all the trash and tools needed for most projects. If I’m working on the office the cart will go in there. Everything either needs to fit on the cart or be in the yard/basement for active cutting that day. Anything bigger than that cart needs an unbreakable project timeline attached to it.

    I can live with 1 room of chaos at a time but that’s it. I’ve found that the last 3 years of chaos in my home meant I didn’t want to come home from work, I hid in the calmest room of my home, and I never finished half the projects because I didn’t have the space. I always felt stressed. When we put our home on the market we had to finally do all those little things we’d been putting off and suddenly I could breathe again. It took 2 major weekends to do about 80% of the work and yet we’d put it off for years because we had this vision of perfection that we couldn’t live up to. I’m not setting myself up for that kind of failure again.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jenn @ EngineerMommy
    December 8, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Great decorating plan… I love the idea of starting fresh in the new year!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 8, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Great post. I’m looking forward to seeing how this unfolds. One thing I will be interested in seeing is what constitutes “done” for you. Is it paint and curtains? Artwork? Baseboards? That’s something I’d be interested in knowing.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 8, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Hi Kristi! Love following all that you are doing! I thought I remembered in all of your plans, about doing a workable garage. I wonder if you made that “workable” that most of the tools, lumber and building could be contained in there. Of course there is always messes when you’re doing remodeling.

    We decided to finish our garage first and it has made working in the house so much easier and more organized. Just a thought. 🙂

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi Linauer
      December 8, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      I definitely need to make that a priority. I have a very narrow path where I can walk from the breakfast room door, through the garage, and out the garage door. That’s it. The rest is full of junk. Well, it’s not all junk. I do have the old kitchen cabinets in there that I want to use in the garage. But everything is so disorganized and jumbled that it’s completely unusable.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 9, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I am a recovering perfectionist with my house decorating (with nowhere near your talent and skills as a DIY-er). This summer, I read a book that opened my eyes to how perfectionism complicated my life and stole my joy. I’ve been trying to live by author Myquillyn Smith’s motto ever since…”It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”
    I’m enjoying my life and my home immeasurably more now. : )