This week we’re digging into a survey that reveals the top homebuyer regrets – as in what features their homes have that they ended up not loving (and the results may surprise you!). A new study also concluded some shocking-to-us things about millennial dads versus their baby boomer counterparts – and we have some big feelings about one aspect of the results. We’re also sharing a crappy situation (literally) at our beach houses, and the weird measures we’re taking to resolve it. Plus, more design norms from around the world and our picks for summer entertainment.
Since I’m not about to show you a bunch of bird droppings, in that photo above you can see the “bird city” behind the duplex fence that caused quite the mess on the duplex patio, outdoor furniture, and even the duplex itself. Even our cleaning lady marveled at how much “stuff” was on the windows.
Thankfully these decoy owls have encouraged them to stop doing their business in the duplex’s tiny backyard, and we’re grateful for the quick resolution.
We also grabbed a pack of these reflective bird deterrent discs, which actually don’t look half bad hanging from the trees. We even put some over at our pink house because we started to notice things were getting “spotty” over there too.
And if you missed our previous discussions about trying to prevent the deer from munching on our landscaping, check out Episode #99 and our recent update in Episode #142.
Game Time: Homeowner Hindsights
If you want to see more stats from that study we mentioned about homeowner regrets, you can check out the summary here.
We talked a lot about hardwood floors, and Sherry promised some links to posts about how miraculous it is that even super old damaged hardwoods can be shined up to look like new. Like the duplex floors below:
Here’s the Business Insider article about the rationale behind the Charmin Forever Roll we discussed in Episode #143. Speaking of which, our friend was VERY excited about his prize for guessing who would reign at the end of Game of Thrones.
And speaking of things made for Millennials, you can hear our original discussion of things our generation is “killing” in Episode #92.
This Buzzfeed article summarizes the discussion of Millennials not using “scary weird” doorbells anymore because they just text when they’re at the door (and of course, there’s that Wall Street Journal article that was written about the trend back in 2017)
I especially loved this tweet that Buzzfeed highlighted, considering Sherry’s description of hiding when our doorbell rings.
And because we’re still a little surprised a third of households don’t own screwdrivers or a hammer, here’s a simple tool kit that’ll solve that for just $12. Sherry is still seriously disturbed over here.
Global Design Norms
Those are some of the photos I found when Googling “Dutch Stairs” like listener Erin suggested (source for top, source for bottom). I think I just got vertigo looking at them, so I can’t imagine actually scaling them!
I also mentioned that Amazon Key service that turns your garage into a smart garage that Amazon delivery folks can access to leave packages in (it comes with a security camera too!). It’s the high tech version of listener Allison’s in-house mail delivery norm in rural Vermont.
Okay, so here are all those things that’ll help keep you busy and entertained over our podcast’s summer break.
First up, our friend Sabrina Soto’s new podcast “Redesigning Life with Sabrina Soto” which we’re interviewed on this week! You can find her show pretty much wherever you listen to ours.
If you missed Sabrina on our podcast, she was our very first interview waaaaaay back in Episode #2 (!!) and she was super candid about what it’s like to film a makeover show.
And in Episode #4 our second interview was with Orlando Soria, whose new show Unspouse My House is such a funny and fresh series for HGTV. You can watch a snippet of the show’s intro below (which legit made me spit out my drink). We’re so grateful that HGTV didn’t strip out the randomness and hilarity that is Orlando.
And if you’re looking for a newsier podcast, we both loved The Dropout from ABC News, which tells the story of Elizabeth Holmes and how she duped the world with her healthcare startup Theranos (which I can’t hear without simultaneously thinking of a Thermos and the Avengers’ villain: Thanos). Anyways, it was a riveting story!
Lastly, I loved reading the WWII story Unbroken (it has over 25,000 5-star reviews and spent 4 years on the NYTimes Bestseller list!). It’s not a book I would’ve thought I’d get so engrossed in, but I was FULLY engrossed. So much so that I think I might dive into the author’s other big book, Seabiscuit.
And if anyone has seen the Unbroken movie, let me know what you think. I liked the book so much I’m worried the movie won’t measure up.
We recently made two big changes to our shopping habits that are having both positive and negative repercussions. So we’re sharing what we did, why we did it, and how we’re trying to course correct a few pitfalls that popped up. We also got a refreshing reminder that it’s liberating to acknowledge that you don’t have to be good at everything – especially in a social media world where everyone else seems to have it all figured out. Plus, we share a big hiccup that was narrowly avoided at the duplex, an organizational tool that we’ve fallen hard for, and Sherry’s deep feelings for a certain crunchy green snack.
If you want to hear the previous chat where we shared our thought process on not to having Amazon Prime (and even did some math!), it’s in Episode #60 starting around the 4-minute mark. And of course, you can hear about our No Spend Month in Episode #97.
Also, these are the beach chairs and beach umbrellas we bought for our beach house last year, and picked up this year for the duplex (they’re even cheaper in store at Costco). The chairs are durable, comfortable, and they’ve got perks like built-in cup & phone holders, two zippered storage pockets (one insulated), and backpack straps for easy carrying. If you aren’t a Costco member, they’re on Amazon too, but they’re currently more expensive.
The Costco website doesn’t have the Pistachio Squares Sherry has fallen truly, madly, and deeply in love with – but the link above will take you to them on Amazon.
For reference, our downstairs HVAC units are housed under the stairs on each side of the duplex, so the loud humming was coming through the vent near the TV (and was even louder when you we opened our locked owner’s closet next to it – which is where we access the unit).
Luckily the “broken motor” that the installer diagnosed from our video just turned out to be the instruction manual one of his guys had left inside the darn thing. Phew!
It’s Okay Not To Be Good At Everything
Here’s that New York Times article I thought was a good read, especially with the lens of how we judge ourselves as adults / workers / parents / partners too.
The quote that really struck me was: “School is the only place in the world where you’re expected to excel at everything, and all at the same time. In real life, you’ll excel at what you do best and let others excel at what they do best.“
And if you missed it, here’s the recent episode where we talked about our shortcomings in the kitchen.
Above is a photo of some of the labels we made with our new label maker for the duplex. It was $15, and comes with a standard white label & black ink cartridge (we bought a couple of extras though).
You can also hear our full conversation with The Home Edit about pro-level, star-worthy organization tips (yes, including labels) in Episode #60.
And here’s the Boy Brow thingamajig that Sherry bought from Glossier to beef up her eyebrows. She gonna show how it works on Instagram stories at some point this week, but for now you can see it in the side-by-sides below:
And lastly, a big thank you to Annie Selke for sponsoring this episode. Check all of her classic and colorful designs at annieselke.com/YHL, including their Dash & Albert Designer Favorites – to help you zero in some great no-fail rug options. And get 15% off your order with the code YHL15.
After over a year and a half of renovation, the duplex officially hosted its first overnight guests!!! And it was an exciting, emotional, and eye-opening test of all the work that we’ve put into it. So we’re sharing what we learned and what we’re changing before it plays host again. We’re also talking about how a house that we considered buying last fall as a long-term rental popped back onto our radar with some surprising news. Plus, how we solved some household frustrations for under $25 – and Sherry rants about a certain paper product while John finds unusual joy in another one.
***Heads up, there’s a Game of Thrones spoiler a few photos down, so if you haven’t seen the finale yet (and have miraculously managed to avoid spoilers so far) just don’t look too closely at the photo after the one of me holding the toilet paper.***
If you want to hear the original conversation we had about potentially buying another rental property and why this particular house in our neighborhood wasn’t the right one for us, you can tune into Episode #114.
Can We Just Talk About… Tissue Boxes
Now you can see what we were venting about regarding the tissue box options when we recently went to buy them for the duplex.
We can see how they’d offer a nice dose of pattern and color for a simpler bathroom, but with colorful floor patterns (and painted doors) we just wanted something subdued – and it was surprisingly impossible to find. Especially when a four-pack might have two toned down designs that we liked paired with two that were much bolder.
Here is the house-shaped tissue box cover we decided to buy to “neutralize” the boxes throughout the duplex. (That’s just a product shot on the website – I don’t have a book called “John’s Story.” Ha!)
They were $6.90 when we bought them, but now they’re showing up as $14. Boo! But still significantly less than some of the woven versions Sherry looked at. Some were $30, $40, even $100!!! This $17 teak one is a nice option, just not when you have to buy 6 of them… to the tune of $102.
Which takes us back to our appeal for literally just one 4-pack of subtle tissue boxes (like linen-looking ones or some other woven textures scanned onto cardboard). Anyone? Bueller?
But more importantly, I know you guys are DYING to see the Forever Roll. It arrived shortly after recording the episode and…WOW. Just wow.
That’s the standard “Double Roll” that we buy in our household on the left above, compared to the behemoth that arrived as part the Forever Roll starter pack that we bought as a gag gift for our friend (he won our Game of Thrones finale episode bet).
And for any GoT fans out there, you might appreciate the image I photoshopped to dress up the outside of the box that we gifted him. Now he’ll never have to leave the iron throne.
The Duplex’s First Guests
You may have caught on Instagram recently that our family stayed at the duplex a few nights to test drive everything before our first Airbnb guests arrive in June.
It may not look like much, but seeing the kitchens in use (and the bedrooms! and the dining tables! and the outdoor showers!) was so exhilarating in the weirdest way. It was like all of our work was finally paying off and people were enjoying the house!
Here are just a few of the items they helped us realize we were missing (some may seem obvious, but with aallllll of the things we’ve been trying to check off, it’s easy to forget literally everything):
Outdoor furniture covers for the patio sets (we realized as a group that it would be the easiest way for guests to enjoy the patio – they can just pop off the cover versus having to bring out all of the cushions from the shed each time they use it).
Here’s the freezable grocery bag that we bought (in “Fresh Stripe”) to use as our beach cooler this summer after seeing my sister with hers. We love that it’s simple, affordable ($25), and the whole thing folds up to be stored in your freezer – so it’s always ready to use!
We mentioned it matches our beach chairs – so here those are in case you’re in the market (in the “ocean stripes” colorway). These hold up so much better than others we have bought.
And here’s a look at our coat closet situation with the motion-activated puck lights (of course we ordered the warm white option). As Sherry pointed out, they aren’t the brightest lights in the world, but a 3-pack is just $18 and the motion activation works remarkably well (they turn off after a few seconds of no motion). Here you can see 2 of them that we stuck to the inside of the door frame so they illuminate the items we’re looking for in the closet. The third one is on the other side.
And if you were curious, here’s a peek at the fluorescent light we have hardwired in there. It’s in a weird spot that made our options limited when we replaced it a few years ago (it had to have its own on/off switch, since there isn’t a wall switch in the closet itself). I think it’s actually an under-cabinet light, now that I think about it.
You can’t see it in this photo, but the switch – which is VERY tiny – is tucked way back into the lefthand corner, so it’s annoyingly hard to find in the dark.
And there on the metal electric box (for the house’s old alarm system) is one of the puck lights. They can either be screwed in place, attached via magnet, or stuck using the included 3M adhesives.
So it turns out there are some weird spots in the kitchen where germs go to party – so we’re learning more about that (and what you can do about it), as well as talking about why we gave up on those meal delivery kits and found a better solution for our family. We’re also talking about how shopping for your home can be fun, but it can also be frustrating and time-consuming. So we’re sharing our tips for how to streamline your hunt and pick things with confidence. Plus, you’ll hear how our backyard is finally winning the war against our hungry deer, and what new face thing Sherry is obsessed with now.
We originally took a bunch of meal delivery kits for a spin in Episode #66. You can hear more about what we thought in that episode, but I think our general conclusion was that Hello Fresh was our favorite of the bunch – the recipes were good, not too complicated, and not too expensive.
We hadn’t tried Home Chef’s boxes at the time, but below is a peek at one of the a la carte, single box meals we picked up at the grocery store recently. Remember, none of these are sponsored, we buy them ourselves, just to see what we like (and what we don’t).
And you can hear about last year’s landscaping massacre in Episode #99 and how we were trying some weird/gross techniques to deter the deer from munching on our new landscaping any further. You can see below how they stripped off any new growth that was within their reach.
This is what those same bushes and trees are looking like now, after all of our faithful applications of Liquid Fence over the last year-ish (as discussed in Episode #105).
I know it’s kind of hard to see in pictures (it all just turns into a blob of green) but we’re extra relieved that our cherry tree and gingko tree not only survived, but came back even better than before.
When you feel like you’re burning hours and hours shopping for the “perfect” thing for your home (whether it’s a light fixture, sofa, table, basket, bathroom tile, etc) we ultimately think it’s worth it to hold out for something you truly love and not settle…
…buuuuut we also talked more in Episode #130 about how sometimes it’s helpful to buy a cheap placeholder to hold you over and give you more time while you keep your eyes peeled for the perfect solution (like the current secondhand coffee table in our living room).
In short: don’t settle for something meh or basic & hold out for “the one” that makes you feel super elated. But if you’ve looked for a while, and still can’t find it – a cheap secondhand option can help you hold out longer for the right thing to come along (so you don’t rush into buying something you’re only feeling warm about because you’re just tired of not having one at all). Note: you can usually resell that secondhand thing on Craigslist later – once you find your long-term favorite – so it doesn’t ultimately have to cost you much at all.
We also mentioned that we’ve been using the Google Shopping search function a lot more lately (it’s just the “Shopping” tab on the regular Google results page) because it helps us browse lots of sites at once – which saves us a lot of time versus searching something like “fabric shade pendant” on 10 individual home websites.
Like any Google search, it’s not perfect, but it does offer some helpful filters. Sites like Overstock and Wayfair are also good for searching a lot of options of something if you just plug in a keyword or two – they just won’t return results for other retailers like Pottery Barn, Target, Crate & Barrel, West Elm, etc…. which is where that Shopping tab comes in.
Here’s a link to Highlights Magazine and Highlights High Five (the preschool version our son gets). They’re both a bit more than my random guesstimate of $12/year (more like $35 – oops!). But they still make a great gift, so much so that we got one for our 4-year-old nephew right after we recorded this episode!
And that’s Sherry ice roller that she uses on days when her regular jade roller just isn’t enough (she says it’s for when she’s feeling extra puffy or didn’t sleep well). You literally store it in the freezer so the roller part is like a cold ice pack on yo’ face.
And lastly, a big thank you to Agility Bed for sponsoring this episode. For Memorial Day you can get 15% off your ENTIRE ORDER. Just visit AgilityBed.com and enter your email address to unlock the discount. And after the 28th, you can still use the code YHL to get $200 off a hybrid mattress of any size.
Our recent Chicago meet-up with fellow bloggers Chris Loves Julia, Yellow Brick Home, and Making It Lovely left us with lots of feels (and very full stomachs). But it was seeing one of their homes in person that completely changed our minds about a “design rule” we had proclaimed for our own home (on this very podcast, no less). We’re also sharing what surprised us most about the final phase of getting our duplex ready to rent. Plus the results of Sherry’s latest staging assignment and a dynamic decor alternative to just hanging another picture frame.
There’s the crew from our blogger meet-up/vacation to Chicago a couple of weeks ago. In case you don’t recognize all of the faces, they are (from left to right): Me, Nicole Balch from Making It Lovely, Sherry, Julia Marcum from Chris Loves Julia, Kim and Scott Vargo (our hosts) from Yellow Brick Home, and Chris Marcum.
You can relive some of the trip via highlights in Sherry’s Instagram profile (click the circle that says “Chicago”). Julia also has highlights in her profile if you want to see us being exceptionally camera shy.
Here’s a quick rundown of what we saw / where we ate while there:
And if you heard Episode #134 a few weeks ago, you probably heard us talk about why we don’t have a ton of family photos hung on our walls. So here are a few examples of what we saw in Kim & Scott’s Chicago home that had us rethinking our approach.
And here’s a shot of those framed Polaroids (Instax?) that I mentioned. See how it’s not big art, but it still has impact because of how and where the little snapshots are framed? Kim even wrote a whole post about how she DIYed the framing of these.
Oh, and if you want to see their new renovation project (the “Two Flat” we mentioned touring), they posted a before tour last week on their blog. So much potential!
If you want to hear the original story (or see a before & after) from Sherry’s recent staging project, check out last week’s show notes.
Finishing The Duplex
I think it was back in Episode #125 where we talked about all of the kitchen progress we made over the holidays, and I therefore declared new hope for finishing the duplex in time for summer (something I had been doubtful of after many construction delays last year). But boy did I underestimate the furnishing process!
The calendar below shows the days (marked in red) where we were in Cape Charles working on the duplex over the last four months. It was 16 separate trips – each involving a 5-6 hour round-trip drive (all done in the same day wherever you see a single day that’s red). Looking at it this way really emphasizes how the furnishing phase – which Sherry guessed might take “three long weekends to finish” – ended up being a lot more involved than we thought.
Here’s an idea of what many of those early trips looked like. Just lots of unpacking & furniture assembly (and making long lists of what else we’d need for the next trip).
In the end, it took longer than we expected, but it feels really, really, REALLY good to be so close to the finish line (still needs to stock some more things in the kitchens, plus a few little outdoor projects – but it’s safe to say that we’re 98% done with this almost-two-year project).
And if you missed the links to the duplex listings in last week’s blog post, you can see them here on Airbnb (Left Side, Right Side). Within 24 hours of sharing them, every single summer week we listed it for was booked (I know! WE WERE SHOCKED AND SO RELIEVED!), but as of this moment, there was one cancelation (the last week of August on the Right Side – so if you click that bold/black Saturday date, the full week will become highlighted in blue and then you can click the following Saturday as your checkout day to request to book that last week).
We plan to release off-season dates for this fall (which won’t require a week-long stay) later this summer. And we’ll open reservations for the summer season of 2020 after this summer is completed. So there are more dates to come, we’re just taking things one season at a time for now.
In the photo above you can see the mobile that we hung in one of the duplex bedrooms to add some interest and movement to a bare looking corner. That mobile is from Pottery Barn but is no longer sold (you may recognize it from when it originally hung in our bonus room near the TV).
Since we stole that one from our bonus room, Sherry’s currently on the hunt for a replacement mobile for our house. Here are a few she’s eying (lots of good sales going on right now). 1/ 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 /6
You can see another mobile that we hung – this time in the beach house’s middle bedroom below. This one’s from Target, but is also no longer available.
Also, now on to our very important survey…
And here is the compact car battery jump starter that was highly recommended. Again, we haven’t had to use it yet, but we feel much better knowing we’ve got it just in case we find ourselves in another dead battery bind (we’ve had two of them in the last year or so).
Home improvement can be stressful, and we’re no strangers to that tension leading to some pretty memorable arguments. So today we’re looking at some data about what do-it-yourself projects cause the most issues between couples to see if we agree (and we share a recent fight we had in the name of data). We also reveal some takeaways from a recent house staging project that we took on together, including the big secret to getting your home ready to sell and how you may have to unlearn everything you know about decorating. Plus, John falls for another lighting product, Sherry ups her face game, and we see if people really do hate textured walls after all.
That room above is the basement living space from the recent staging project that we worked on together. As you can see in the before photo below, it was acting as sort of a “gaming room” for the family. Note that they were in the midst of packing and moving, so things were a bit more scattered than their usual day-to-day (reminder: moving is messy).
Sherry will go into more detail when we write up a full post about this project, but you can see how we minimized the amount of stuff in the room and on the walls – because the goal isn’t to sell the decor, it’s to sell the house. They also repainted the walls throughout the house with Sherry’s paint recommendation (White Dove by Benjamin Moore with Extra White trim by Sherwin Williams) before we swept through on the final staging day.
On our final day we moved some furniture around (for example, flanking the TV with two chairs to disguise some of the TV components) and then lightly styled the space – without putting anything on the walls at all except for the star over the mantel.
You can see more examples of what Sherry does during her staging projects in this post from last year that’s packed with specific tips, before & afters, and even some examples of the difference between a “decorated” room and a “staged” one.
Game: DIY Fights
If you want to read the full Porch.com survey about DIYing that we referenced, you can find it at the link above, and below is a snapshot of the DIY argument data.
We also mentioned a tool that can detect an electrical current that can keep you safe! We have one of these non-contact voltage detectors and our electrician once left us an outlet tester as well. They’re both good safeguards that your power is correctly shut off before beginning any electrical project (remember the labels in your panel box can be wrong!).
And if you’re thinking of tackling some of those “fight-inducing” projects above, here’s are links to the times we tackled them:
If you want to hear our original discussion about textured walls (or see some examples of them in the show notes) – check out Episode #135.
And here’s some data (you know I LOVE DATA) that we gathered about textured WALLS, which appear to be more common in the western/midwestern portions of the United States (shown in the purple shades below):
Whereas textured CEILINGS are a bit more evenly spread out:
We often get asked for a tutorial for removing textured walls or ceilings, but since we haven’t had any of them in any of our hoes, we haven’t done one – at least not yet. Sorry about that, but I’d check youtube and I bet a million will come up.
And here’s some of the orange peel texture “patch” spray that some people mentioned using (with varying degrees of success). Some people said it was super easy, others weren’t satisfied with how it matched their existing texture.
Above is one of the SnapPower nightlights that we installed in the duplex hallway. And by “installed” I mean I unscrewed the old cover and screwed this new one on, just like a normal outlet cover. THAT’S IT. Can’t say enough good things about these.
Lastly, here’s that Thayer’s Facial Toner with 4,000+ five star reviews that Sherry has added to her skin & face care routine. It’s under $9 for a big 12 oz bottle, and she puts some on a cotton ball and wipes it all over her face every morning along with her other magic kitchen/face things. (Don’t ask me how that works – but she detailed it here).
And lastly, a big thank you to Grove Collaborative for sponsoring this episode. Sign up at Grove.co/YHL and spend your first $20 to receive a FREE gift: a trio of Mrs. Meyers cleaners, a 60-day VIP Membership AND a surprise bonus gift on top of all that.
Painting our brick house white was just the tip of our home’s exterior update iceberg, so this week we’re sharing more of our plans – including one that’s turning out to be much more complex than we expected. We’ve also got an exciting announcement about a color collaboration we’ve been working on and we’re sharing more of everyone’s favorite thing: design norms from around the world, including bomb shelters, frost lines, and… special windows that keep witches out of your house?! Plus we try a strange but awesome subscription box that makes us feel like we’re on Law & Order.
Spring has sprung, so here’s an updated shot of our house (which we painted white last fall), complete with the white flowering dogwood out front.
And below is a picture of the awning we’re planning to order from the UK. You can see how it has a gentle swoop that we had trouble getting someone to replicate locally – hence all of the legwork it took to get our hands on it.
And if you missed the full details about our masonry paint color collection with Romabio, check out that link for the big post we shared a few days ago on the blog. It has more info on why we love this paint (we paid for it and used it on our own house after lots of research and tons of recommendations from you guys last fall!) and it also covers how we picked the colors, and how you can get your hands on it.
You can also visit a special landing page on Romabio’s website with all of the colors in the collection, and some additional our tips for picking colors that go well with your existing roof and trim (and even some door color ideas).
If you missed our original discussion of “design norms” from around the world, check it out in Episode #133. It’s one of our favorite eps of all time! We also did a first round of updates in Episode #135 and the original shoes off discussion was in Episode #132.
As for the global design norms we shared in this episode, here’s one of the photos we received, which shows how two twin duvets can be made nicely on one larger bed (this is a hotel in Copenhagen sent by a listener named Adrianne).
And if you couldn’t picture the “Vermont Witch Window” we mentioned, here’s one that was shared as part of a Vermont Public Radio story. That’s also where you can read about the lore behind it.
Lastly, if you want to read more about Singapore’s bomb shelter rule – and see not only lots of pictures, but read interviews with residents who live with them, check out this Vice story.
Below is a photo of some of what we’ve received so far in our two Hunt A Killer boxes. It’s not everything (and I’ve blurred some things to prevent potential spoilers) but it gives you an idea of how elaborate the story is and the range of evidence & clues you’re sent.
I couldn’t find the coupon code that got our first box delivered for free, but I’ll do you one better. The code FRIEND30 will get you 30% off your entire order. That’s almost like getting two boxes free!
But if you’re looking for something a bit more family-friendly, this is the SET game I was digging this week. I feel like I did a terrible job explaining how to make “sets” in the episode, so I displayed 3 examples of “sets” below:
The top one shows a trio where almost everything is the same (all green, all ovals, all filled in solidly) – just the number of icons differs (3, 2, and 1). Which means it’s a set!
The middle set has the same shape (squiggle) and number (1) but all different colors and shadings. Which also means it’s a set.
The bottom is where everything is different – no cards share the same number, color, shape, or shading. So yes – that’s a set too!
There’s also a SET Junior that says it’s for ages as young as 3 if you’re interested in something a little simpler – but we haven’t played that one yet.
Installing Ikea cabinets in all three of our beach house kitchens invites the question: why didn’t we use them in our home’s kitchen in Richmond?! So this week we’re diving into the answer, including what gave us pause about using Ikea back then, how it could’ve changed our final result, and what we’d choose if we had to select kitchen cabinets for our home today. Plus, we share how a simple outdoor project turned into a major plumbing issue at the duplex (yes, another one – the water curse lives on!) and why there was also an emergency call to an electrician one evening, you know, for balance.
That is literally the text I sent Sherry when I realized one of the water shut off valves had been buried over at the duplex. You can see the exposed one in the foreground, and the other should’ve been about 4 feet in front of it, but I dug around for a while and… nada.
We always knew it was buried a bit deeper than the other, but you can see below how deeply it had been hidden when the guys were installing the pathway along the side of the house (it was around 4″ below the ground level once the path went in). You can also see how it was so close to the path that some of the plastic edging pieces actually prevented someone from removing the cover.
I didn’t take any pictures while I was digging it out because I didn’t expect this to be a moment worth sharing with anyone… and then the water line broke. But the photo below shows some of the aftermath. You can see the box (aka “margarine tub”) removed from the hole in the background. The lid to it is set off to the right side.
And here is a detail of the break itself (at the bottom of the picture). It’s not very big, but it sure did release a lot of water very quickly! The pipe wasn’t visible for hours until the water drained, leaving this lovely mud situation.
It’s all fixed now and when the plumber reconnected it, he set everything a little higher so that one is level with the ground as well. So we won’t have the issue of it getting hidden again – AND it’s further away from the path, which was also an issue.
And if you’ve missed our previous water dramatics out in Cape Charles, you can catch up on it all here:
We’re making lots of big progress in the beach house backyard that we can’t wait to properly photograph and write a big ol’ blog post about, but for now, there’s a peek at the lights on the sheds that gave us all that trouble.
You can read specifically about installing those Ikea cabinets here. Like we say in the episode, these were the only 4 Ikea cabinets (3 uppers and 1 lower) we had ever installed before we started planning our kitchen. The door style here is called BODBYN.
Our bonus room built-ins in Richmond were our next Ikea project, using the same BODBYN cabinet fronts. We actually shared this project on the blog before our kitchen remodel, because it came together faster… but the decision to use the local cabinet company for the kitchen was made far before we had this second go at Ikea cabinets for the bonus room. You can see how we created the bonus room built-ins in this post.
One last thing on the subject of kitchens. When Sherry mentioned an “appliance garage” as one of the more customized features in our kitchen, she was referring to this area that our cabinet installers were able to put together with stock doors and filler pieces to resemble a cabinet (notice how the cabinet has no back?). We use it to store a lot of our breakfast foods and large/frequently used appliances like the toaster and the crock pot. We just leave it open when they’re in use and close it to hide them the rest of the time.
If you’re ready to jump back into our unofficial Creepy Murder Book Club, here are the two books I read over Spring Break: Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown and The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.
We’ve got a really exciting announcement this week about a new design project we’re taking on, including how it came to be, what has us most excited, and why it’s going to challenge us in some new ways (did we mention it’s out-of-state?). We’re also sharing how last week’s spring break trip reinforced our mission to minimize our belongings, even if John did bring home something very strange from vacation. Plus, a new solution we found for wrangling digital photos, a DIY tool that’s brilliantly simple, and… well… nutmeat.
Like we mentioned in the episode, our Spring Break trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida was another reminder that all four of us are perfectly happy with less stuff and more time together.
We talked more about that first realization in Episode #45 after our first Florida Spring Break in 2017. That’s also when Sherry talks about reading the book Simplicity Parenting (which she has since reread a bunch of times).
That’s a peek at the house we rented (we found it on HomeAway). It was spacious, clean, pretty well updated, and pet-friendly. But most importantly to us, it had a great backyard pool that we basically stuffed with the floats left by previous guests (we think there was a bachelorette party there at some point, hence not one but TWO engagement ring floats).
Activities: Birch State Park (that giant tree shown a few photos up is there), Water Taxi (we went at sunset and it was GREAT), Everglades Holiday Park (probably the most tourist-y thing we did, but it was a lot of fun – a wild alligator swam next to our boat!)
And since we mentioned it, here’s that Tenzi game we played every evening while we were there (you guys have heard us mention it a lot) and of course, we love Uno.
I wish I had taken a photo of the offending (and aggressive!) closet that “attacked” me in the dark, but maybe it’s best left to your imagination… so that you picture it much more sinister thing than a simple built in dresser. But here are a couple of photos of my unlikely injury:
The photo at left is obviously in Florida, taken the morning after the incident. The other is back in Richmond as the bruising was just past its peak.
And if you’ve picked up the April issue of Real Simple, perhaps you’ve already seen Sherry’s unforgettable quote on page 126. If not, here it is in all its nutty and meaty glory.
Real Simple Idea House
We’re VERY excited to be designing a room in the Real Simple idea home this summer in Brooklyn, NY. It’ll be happening over the next few months and will be revealed in their October issue. If you follow us on Instagram, Sherry can’t wait to share more over there as we go.
Here’s a link to the Gemini Photos app I like using for sorting and culling down pictures on my phone. By grouping similar shots and automatically suggesting that you keep only the “best” one (along with any you’ve favorited or edited) and then allowing you to delete the rest of them in one click, the app helps you cull down tons of photos without much stress.
There’s my new StudBuddy stud finder in action during a recent project at the duplex. I took a video of it as well, so maybe I’ll convince Sherry to post it to IG Stories this week so you can see it in action.
This week we’re talking to Joyful author and expert Ingrid Fetell Lee about some simple ways to inject joy into your home without breaking the bank. She also explains why joy is easier to achieve than happiness – and how seeking it at home can actually help you unlock your decor style. Plus Sherry marked her recent birthday by getting a long-awaited tattoo (actually, two of them!) so she’s explaining the meaning behind them, how much it hurt, and what finally convinced her to go for it. We also share our latest escape room attempt, how we’re battling car clutter, and a BIG change to the podcast that you won’t want to miss.
That’s a little birthday decor the kids and I surprised Sherry when she turned 37 last month (phew, we’re finally the same age again). But while we don’t have pictures to share of our Escape Room escapades (photography isn’t allowed, and you know we’re rule followers), you can hear more about our first experience with one in Episode #43.
And if you missed the “unveiling” on Instagram, here are the tattoos Sherry got for her birthday (thanks to the talented Amy Black).
As Sherry described in the episode, the 7-leafed laurel is because 7 is a significant number in our relationship and family, and the letter “V” is for two important women in her life, her grandma Victoria and great-grandma Vincenza.
I will not show you a picture of our messy car, but here’s the mini trashcan we got to help us keep the inside a little neater. It’s all about having a system that you can stick to, right? So for under $10 we went for it. We got the all black one (surprise) and we store it in the passenger side door’s cup holder.
And if you’ve got an iPhone, you can find the “Do Not Disturb” options right near the top of your Settings. You can see how we have ours scheduled for nighttime hours, and how it still allows calls from our “Favorite” contacts to break through – and how “Repeated Calls” can help anyone get through if they call twice within three minutes.
And lastly, a big thank you to Cree LED Light Bulbs for sponsoring this episode. Find out why better lighting matters at CreeBulb.com and learn more about why they’ve become our go-to bulb in our light bulb resource post.