Thoughts on Home Improvements

Thursday May 26, 2016   

I think this has been the longest break from blogging ever for me. And after making a post about how long my blog has been active!

I didn’t mindfully take a break; it just happened. I spent March painting, installing appliances, and just overall spending every moment working on the house. Then in April relatives came to visit and family occupied a lot of my time. May has been dealing with my health. A flare-up had me feeling mostly miserable lately and trying to get into the headspace of dealing with chronic illness.

So that brings me to here. I wanted to talk about my home improvements and also the Minimalism documentary I caught earlier this month.

A few months ago I got into listening to The Minimalists podcasts. It was good timing as I was beginning my home improvements. I ended up getting tickets to a screening of their documentary which was very good as well as the Q&A afterwards.

A lot of it built off my whole Marie Kondo experience from before. Only taking it a step further. Discussing relationships. Discussing the societal influences of capitalism. And within that finding my own way for a life less complicated. I put more time into my relationships. Some of it paid off. Some of it was a disappointment (but nevertheless a lesson.) But I learned and moved on.

The home improvements were another great lesson. Doing the whole house clean-out back in September made it easier to pinpoint things I wanted changed. At first I did the usual thing of going online and comparing my home to that of specifically-designed-aesthetic-spaces… mistake. HUGE mistake.

“Comparison is the thief of joy!” I remind myself often. I thought I’d need to make big pricey changes. New cabinets, paint every room!? … but did I really need those things to be happy? And then I realized I was doing everything in my power to work against the space rather than with it. When I started appreciating the existing elements things became much easier.

I looked at inspiration that came to mind right away (magazines, sites.) I read in Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy that looking through inspiration should be done all at once en masse and across styles so you can swiftly see what you like, why you like it, and move forward. It worked really well in focusing my decisions. I found 1 major reference I referred to throughout the process.

magazine clipping
magazine clipping

This came from the first issue of Lee I ever picked up. I remember seeing these pictures and something just clicking for me. I realized the kitchen was dark like mine. My kitchen isn’t near any windows so there are shadows and what I liked about this kitchen was how the lighting worked with that fact. I liked the clean utilitarian surfaces. The magnetic knife strip especially. And just overall how simple, useful, and easy it seemed. It wasn’t trying too hard. It didn’t seem preoccupied with perfection. I didn’t need all new kitchen cabinets. I needed better lighting, more space over the stove, and my favorites at an arm’s length.

magazine clipping
magazine clipping
magazine clipping

After all was said and done I ended up removing the above stove range and replacing it with a more powerful, quieter, ventilated hood that had two super bright LED lights. I ditched the wood block for a magnetic knife strip which made space for my 2 most used cooking pots. I added a few large counter-wide chopping boards that tied in the cabinets natural wood texture. I also put up a backsplash using adhesive glass tiles. No grout necessary! And they don’t budge trust me. We replaced the leaky faucet with one that’s also a spray hose. Beyond the kitchen we upgraded our TV, repainted the home office, hung new light fixtures and art work all over the house, took the guitars off their stands and hung them up, built a new TV cabinet, and took a lot of things to the recycling center. A LOT. And when I was done I came in way under budget.

I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the whole Konmari part earlier in the year. If I had clutter everywhere I wouldn’t have even considered new light fixtures. I would have felt “what’s the point, the place is still a mess.” Now I can do these upgrades and really feel they were worth the time and effort.



9 Responses to “Thoughts on Home Improvements”

  1. Angela says:

    I’m moving this summer and something I’m going to try and bear in mind is the idea of working with space rather than against it. Also “specifically-designed-aesthetic-spaces” yes!! They are not homes!! I have to consciously remind myself of that all the time before I fall into a spiral of “why doesn’t my thing look like that (perfect, unused, prop) thing?”

    Your office looks great in white btw. I loved the yellow but seeing the white looks really refreshing. Love the curtains!

    • jenny says:

      Yes! And have you ever noticed that when “perfect spaces” are shown in video they feel somehow… more real. Less “perfect.” Like some sort of magic is gone. I was noticing this and it makes me think that’s why interior magazines and photos are still so widely popular but videos of spaces just don’t seem to get as much traction!

      I loved the yellow too. It was something I put a lot of thought into before changing. But the white space actually matches the rest of the house better and morphed my “home office” into more of a “home studio” feeling.

  2. Hannah says:

    I am actually moving soon to a house instead of an apartment! I didn’t realize how much stuff I have accumulated in a few years. Its hard, because I am also taking college classes on the side and working too.

    The place that we found has more than enough space! I actually get to have my own studio, and library too. Instead of competing with my bf for the desk and computer.

    • jenny says:

      It’s amazing what getting more space can really do for you seeing how much you actually have. When I lived in an apartment I think I had a lot more “stuff” in general than I do now in my house. Even clothes and back then I shared a closet. I wish I knew how to let a lot go sooner. Moving would have been much easier! I think about all the things I brought cross country with me that only a few months later I donated.

  3. Kate says:

    Ahhh, we’ve been working on our house lately, too. My husband and I just bought our place this past August, so it hasn’t been that long for us. We wanted to live with our space for a while before making changes. I appreciate this post!

    I’ve been meaning to read Kondo’s books for a while.

    • jenny says:

      I think that’s a great idea. Living with the space really gives you a feeling for what changes you might actually need to make. If you ever read Kondo’s books I hope you enjoy them and get a lot out of them!

  4. M says:

    So helpful and inspiring, as always. I am a big fan of the white walls in you studio and I love those curtains!

    My SO and I are looking to buy our first house soon and seeing these “specifically-designed-aesthetic-spaces” has made it so hard! Nothing can live up to those standards! At every house we see I think that we need to change out ALL the flooring, replace the cabinets, totally remodel the bathrooms, put in bigger windows, etc. etc. etc.

    • jenny says:

      Thank you, the curtains were the ones from before. I really thought I’d feel like I’d need to replace them but it’s a good match and a reminder of something familiar!

      Good luck with finding your home. Looking back I think I put too much pressure on myself as well. It can feel overwhelming!

  5. Mija says:

    I hope you’re feeling better. We moved a few years ago into a house and I gave myself a time line to get the place decorated – especially before we have kids. OOooops – we only really decorated our office and SOME of the living room. It is a process – thank goodness for pinterest for ideas and inspiration!!

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