Renovations, re-do’s, and painting, oh my!


Creating a home is important, actually it has always been the basis for who I am and where my brain is. I have been designing and redecorating homes in my head since I was a child, sitting on the floor of my father’s library, and making a home for Barbie from books, washcloths, and knick-knacks. But what if you have a strict budget? What if you just aren’t creative, and you have no tools to make all the things you see all over social media? Don’t be disheartened, because there is more than one way to skin a cat, and as my family always says, “when there’s a Jill, there’s a way.” Never underestimate the desires you have, as there is always a different approach to get what you want and make things happen.

Luckily I met my soulmate early. Four nights after we met (we were introduced the eve of my brother’s wedding, and were paired in the wedding party) we sat on the couch in my parents home and literally planned our life together (yes, we had JUST met). We talked about destinations we wanted to travel to, homes we would like to own, and places we would live. We were married four months later (that was 1982). Two years later, our first home we purchased as husband and wife was a cute little house in Michigan built in 1913, on Church Street, where we could hear the bells from the historic building down the street. It was full of charm with a white picket fence, oh so ideal for a Norman Rockwell type life, and will always remain in my heart as we brought our first baby home to this house. We walked to town, went antique picking through the shops and occasionally on the sidewalks on trash day (much to my new husband’s horror), and enjoyed concerts in the park.

We loved that little house, and we had not owned an older home since (that is until 2014). My heart had been yearning for a home with history, although I could never claim depravity for those we have owned, but I still desired that quaint feeling that only an older home can provide. There’s something about houses with history and nooks and crannies, and I do love a good decorating challenge. We moved back to California to San Diego, where baby number two and three arrived. During this time we purchased a few new homes, and then ended up renting, knowing we wanted to leave California again for another adventure. After much research, we chose to return to Michigan, and purchased three acres of wooded land, to build our dream home. While renting a tiny condo with three children for a year, we built the home I had designed and drawn as a teenager, but with a new eye for optimum family living. It had everything we could want, gorgeous property, and we could hear the bells from a church nearby (which tugged at my heart for the memory of our first home). I thought we would live there forever.

Fast forward to us moving back to California eight years later. Since I had reluctantly gone back to a place we were born and raised and near family, I spent most of that time trying to figure out how to get back to Michigan. Let me just say, I can be persuasive, but my dear husband saw the need for our children left at home to return to our quality of life in Michigan, and two years later back we went. I was desperate to return, so when I was slightly unenthused about a newly built home, I conceded because it was lovely and I really couldn’t complain. Besides, I was finally going to get my little cottage on a lake in northern Michigan as well, so I figured I could daydream there.

Our little lake cottage living space

We spent eleven years in that home, and finally sold it when we downsized after all of our birdies were out of the nest and married. I was anxious for a renovation, so we purchased a home (from it’s original owners) built in 1956. When my youngest daughter first saw it (she was engaged to be married and moving on with her life, living in another state but currently visiting) she cried (literally) and exclaimed “It’s not even cute!” I yelled from the other room “It’s gonna be!” It took us a year to complete that renovation inside and out, and we finally settled in, to enjoy our empty nest. However, I am never comfortable relaxing for long, so we found another project house in the same neighborhood, and moved to that in 2018. After another extensive renovation, we settled in for what we thought would be 5-8 years, hoping later we could find a home with a main floor master home. We finally got the chance in 2020, just two short years later. (That’s another story and it’s a good one.)

This original watercolor artwork was given to me by my daughter (AKA the baby). She hand painted all the homes we have owned over the years and presented this to me on Mother’s Day. When I say I cried, I mean I really let loose. I may have wept. She gets me.

After three full house renovations in the past 8 years, way too many (and I mean waaayyy) DIY projects, and moving and shifting crap around from house to house, I am happy to say we are settled. It’s always very important for me to honor the history that the house had lived before we got there but to also make it work for our lifestyle. I’m constantly antiquing, finding new items, and reworking what we have, always sure to carve out the areas for the activities we are engaged in. Painting, restyling, sometimes reupholstering, and painting some more. Having your home work for your lifestyle is key. Don’t be afraid to do stuff, and if you don’t know how, then learn to! Isn’t that why the internet was invented? Even with a strict budget, you can always make a change with paint, which always provides such a big impact for minimal dollars. Cleaning, organizing, and crafting will bring you closer to the home you want, and can be ways to keep busy and make plans for when you have the budget to make bigger changes that are important to you. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t, especially yourself! Self doubt is the one thing that keeps so many of us moving forward and getting what we want. If you are lucky, you can enlist the help of a partner, or barter services with a friend, and make the updates that will help you live comfortably in your space. Remember, when there’s a will, there’s a way, and you my friend can get there!

Forever painting something

I’d love to share the things I have learned over time, because as I have gotten older and looked back, I was always greatly influenced by experiences I had, people I met, and places I visited. I feel like creating a home sends you on a bit of a self discovery tour, because it is only through truly knowing yourself (your family) and what you want, that you can create the space that you are most YOU in. Start daydreaming and get ready to make that ‘to do’ list. I’m here for it all, and I’d love to hear how you are doing and what changes have meant the most to you and your everyday living.