When my husband and I decided to move across the country and back into my childhood home, we knew it would be a major life change. What I didn’t realize was how long it would take me to get back into the swing of things. And we are very much trying to figure out what the new normal feels like. (I could say a lot more, but let’s just focus on the house for now.) It’s one month after our move, and I finally have enough boxes unpacked to show you the “new”/old house.
It’s a blank canvas, you guys.
You’re going to want to stare at a color wheel after this overload of beige, gray, and white.
Really…we are just swimming in a sea of neutrals right now.
But it’s ok.
In fact, it’s how I wanted to start off in this home.
TAKING A “DECOR DETOX”
After laboring over our first home for 6 years, now I’m starting back a square one after the move and gearing up to start the decorating process over. Even though I do this for a living, the thought of doing it for myself again makes me exhausted.
(Insert tired eyes Emoji.)
But I’m not rushing into the decorating yet. For the first month, I intentionally left every room as bare as possible. We did have most of the rooms painted and new carpet put upstairs in before we moved, so we are starting fresh in a sense. Recently I posted on Instagram that this feels like a decor detox. All I want to do is hang my art on the walls, order drapes, and take home every yummy pillow I see at Target.
Seriously, I have visions of running through drapes and falling into piles of pretty pillows.
I’ll take ALL THE THROW PILLOWS, please!!!
But like a real detox, my system needs to reset and living in a big greige box will do me good temporarily. I believe it. (I just hope I’m strong enough to resist temptation when shopping for clients.)
LIVING WITH BLANK WALLS & SUCH
Many times when clients move to a new home, they want to start decorating right away. I always encourage them to wait a few weeks before working with me. Here’s why…Living in the home without decoration allows you to see how you and your family truly use the space. Also you feel more free to change things up and experiment with furniture placement.
When decorating a new home, you need to establish function before anything else.
Waiting a bit gives you time to see which of your old pieces don’t really work in the new place. It’s easier to let them go when they don’t serve a purpose. It also helps inform the new purchases you make.
Ok, enough decor coaching for now.
I’m having to practice what I preach these days. For real.
JUST FOR NOW…OR LATER TOO?
Since this was the house I grew up in, it’s quite a challenge to reimagine the rooms differently. My dad had been planning to sell and downsize because 3,200 square feet is far too much home for one person. When Stu and I began talking about making the move from Missouri to Texas, dad suggested keeping the house and us moving in too.
One of the reasons this appealed to us so much is that the Houston metro area is GINORMOUS. Even though I grew up in the suburb of Sugar Land, a lot has changed in 20 years. We didn’t want to rush into our next home situation right in the middle of a major change for our family. There are so many areas to consider now, and real estate moves very quickly in this market. Schools, work, and the insane traffic play a big part of where you want to live. Rather than renting while we figured all of that out, dad keeping the house and us moving in was a win-win for everyone.
Plus Gemma seeing her PawPaw everyday has been a major bonus:)
BUY, BUILD, OR STAY
Right now, all options are on the table. We are going to explore all the different suburbs surrounding the city. We’re also open to a fixer upper if we could find one for the right price in the center of Houston, an area we really love. If neither of those feel right, we’d even consider buying land further away from the city and building a home.
OR if we like living in Sugar Land we could stay in this house long-term, and my dad would move to a townhouse.
So really, everything is up in the air.
Which is totally comfortable and not at all stressful, right?
Surprisingly I feel OK about the uncertainty most of the time. (And end up in freak out mode, binging on chocolate the rest of the time.) The not knowing has been a major exercise in personal growth and will probably continue to stretch me the next year or so.
WE MOVED INTO A (MOSTLY EMPTY) “MAN CAVE”
In true guy fashion, decor is not really a priority for my dad. While he may be the best dressed grandpa around, he’s not so much into home decor.
“As long as there is a bed, a large TV, and a comfortable chair, then what else do you really need?”
(I have a hunch the men in your life might feel the same.)
It is nice that there’s not much to sort through. We are starting with kind of a clean slate. I do have lots of plans brewing though. I’m approaching any improvements to the house as a good thing whether we stay or move. I’m going to pick finishes and fixtures that I love, so they’ll work if we stay long-term. If we do move in a year or so, the updates will help the house sell.
(kitchen + dining room + living room + powder room)
Dad gave me carte blanche, so I ended up going through and getting rid of several pieces in the downstairs living room, but the giant beige leather couch and chair are staying for now.
Don’t you love them?
I know, I know. Try to hide your envy.
We all have to live with some things we don’t love for a little while.
I did end up hanging a couple pieces of art downstairs because I likely won’t be working on these rooms until fall. And totally blank walls for that many months would give me heart palpitations.
This is an awkward spot I’m trying to figure out. When the house was built, it was a wet bar. Dad had it turned into a shelving unit with a large cut out to house the TV. But it’s not the right placement in the room for a TV.
(I’d give anything to have the wet bar back.)
I’ve got a few ideas to consider for this corner of the room, but it will probably be late in the year before we tackle it.
The lighting in this room needs to get an overhaul soon…The chandelier is too large and ornate for the breakfast nook, and the blue pendants were my dad’s attempt at bringing in color.
He tried. Really, he did.
(But clearly I was not consulted.)
These as well as the cabinet door fronts and potentially counter tops will be replaced in time. But the FIRST thing happening in this room is a new dishwasher. You guys, that is the original dishwasher from the 80’s. Can you believe it lasted that long??
I spent a lot of time (complaining about) loading and unloading that thing in my awkward middle school years. We go way back, but I feel it’s time to finally part ways.
I had planned to sell this console table before we left Missouri because packing a mirrored piece in a moving truck seemed like a recipe for disaster. Surprisingly, it survived the move. I will eventually sell it though. (Houston friends, email me if you’re interested.)
I’m glad we ended up bringing it though, because it let me know we need a piece like this in the kitchen. We use the kitchen door as our main entry, and there’s really no good place for all of our stuff to land when we walk in the door. I’d like a more casual piece with closed storage here, but for now it’s serving as a great placeholder.
And that lovely piece of Lindsay Letter’s from my Christmas mantel was just calling to me. It’s the perfect size for this wall, so it’s going to take up temporary residence here for a little bit too.
The kitchen leads into the dining room. I’ll likely redo this room in a major way, but I have no idea the direction I want to take here. It needs new paint, carpet, furniture-the works.
Believe it or not, that chandelier was hot stuff about 20 years ago. She will also get rehoused in time.
Two rooms that you won’t see down stairs are the master bedroom and the study, which are my dad’s domain for now. We will likely do a major master bathroom renovation in time, but that will be the last thing I tackle.
(family Room + bedrooms + my office + 2 bathrooms)
The upstairs is where I’ll be focusing my efforts first. These rooms sat mostly empty for years. Before moving in, we went ahead and replaced all the carpet and painted the upstairs. I chose one of my favorite paint colors, “Agreeable Gray” by Sherwin Williams. It serves as a nice and bright neutral that I’ve used in several projects. I’ll repaint a few rooms in time, but for now it’s a great backdrop to start with.
I picked a very light carpet from Mohawk that had both warm and cool tones represented in the fibers. (I know it might be too light for some people, but I wanted to keep the rooms looking as bright as possible.) We went with the stain resistant line at Mohawk since I did pick such a light color.
I swapped our old living room rug with this one my dad had downstairs. It’s a hand woven Persian and is seriously the softest thing ever on your feet. In time I’ll want a rug with color, but for now this is comfy for Gemma to play on.
Eventually I’m going to start from scratch with this room. The sofa from our den in the last home has seen better days. But it stays for a while. I’m leaning towards putting a swing in the room and making it a really casual and kid-friendly space.
Maybe with a bohemian-coastal vibe. We’ll see how I feel in a few months…
Right now I just need this room to house toys and be a comfortable place for us to hang out and play.
THE CHEAPEST MEDIA CONSOLE EVER
Q: What do you do when you don’t have an entertainment center (because you used your mantel in the last house)?
A: You push together two IKEA drawer units. Media console. Boom.
We had these drawer units laying around because my new office can’t house the old IKEA desk set up. Instead of buying a new media console before I knew the plan for the room, I decided these drawers were a good height and would make the perfect temporary house for our TV.
Last Christmas, I spent hours searching for Gemma a dollhouse. I even debated making her a one. But then I realized that I was a crazy person to take on a project like that in the middle of trying to sell our house.
This mama ain’t got time for that.
I ended up buying the Melissa and Doug high rise house and used Hape dolls. She loves it, and it’s not too delicate for a three-year old’s enthusiastic handling of small items. (PS: If you’re into adorable dollhouses, my friends Cassie and Anu have an amazing DIY
dollhouse challenge on their blogs. So much cuteness.)
Excuse the terrible lighting, but this might be my FAVORITE SPOT in the house…Gemma’s closet is so spacious that we were able to turn it into a mini-playroom. You can’t even see them, but I was able to fit a large toy shelf in the cutout on the left, rocking chair, and even hang her wire book baskets too.
You guys…like 80% of her toys fit in her closet.
And she loves to play in here. So this means if I can’t handle negotiating with a
terrorist toddler to clean up toys at the end of the day, I can close the door. Hallelujah.
Ironically, this was my bedroom growing up. I spent hours in those window seats reading, drawing, and later listening to the radio and dreaming about boys. (Like all middle school girls do.)
While it’s not a “master suite”, it’s definitely a step up for me and Stu. In our 1940’s cottage, we had tiny bedrooms and even tinier closets. We haven’t been able to share a closet in ages. You lose the charm, but larger closets and attached bathrooms are nice to have again.
Yes, we put a TV in our bedroom…After 7 years without one, it feels like a guilty pleasure.
And at this stage in life, I need a guilty pleasure that doesn’t involve calories.
The bathroom connects to my office, which is the best lit room in the house. This is the room I”ll be starting with and have lots of plans already in play.
I’ll be working on it over the next couple weeks and have a full reveal later in the month. Stay tuned for that.
WHERE TO START?
When you have a lot of rooms to decorate, my advice is always this…start with a room that you either A.) Use the most or B.) Is almost finished. I’ll be starting with my office since I’m in this room 5-6 hours a day. Here’s my plan on when to tackle the rest of the house…
1. My office
2. Gemma’s room
3. Family room
6. Our bedroom
7. Dining room
8. Downstairs living room
There is a lot to be done. And just like the lovely clients I work with, I feel a little overwhelmed thinking about it. I know eventually I’ll find my inspiration and make plans for each room. The tough part is being patient with myself and the unfinished spaces in the meantime.
This home is filled with so many childhood memories…mostly good but some that were not. As a teenager, I left this house when my parents’ marriage fell apart. Even though my brother and I came back here to visit my dad throughout the years, it never really felt like “home” again.
Moving back as an adult with my own little family has been a completely surreal experience. I left it during such a tumultuous time in life and am returning as a wife and mama with a very full heart. Seeing my daughter make memories here is already proving to be something really special:)
cassie @ primitive & proper says
so i am actually pretty amazed because when we moved my house did not look even remotely like that within a year! i think it looks great so far and will be a great canvas for you! and thank you for the shout out! 🙂
Thanks, Cassie:) I did paint and re-carpet the upstairs before we moved, so that helped a lot. Oh, and I TOTALLY have doll house envy. I thought about showing your dollhouse posts to Gemma, but I’m afraid she might take after her mother. lol
Hey Heather! I was wondering why I hadn’t received any emails from you and if I missed out on any. Then I remembered you are in the middle of a big move. 🙂 But I stopped by on the right day!
Good luck with the home search, if you decide to go that way.
And your new old house may not be decorated, but to me some of the shots look like great! It has that intentionally minimal, neutral, scandi vibe which I love!!
Your daughter is adorable by the way!
Thanks, Vin! Yes, this move took a lot out of me, and anything I had left over went into client work. Hoping to get back into blog/email mode now though;) Stay tuned!
Mary Jo says
This house makes me smile because it feels sooo familiar to me (my grandparent’s house in Spring actually feels a little like it). But I know that you have a LOT of options- my vote is to move to where all the fun artsy stuff is near Bissonnet Blvd. or find a small fixer-upper in Bellaire.In all seriousness though, I know that once the dust settles, you will be able to make the best choice for y’all.
I love your priority list of your rooms (I think it’s interesting that the Patio is above your bedroom) and I am excited to see your progress. Give yourself grace to move in baby steps, especially with coming from out of state. I see now why you are letting yourself be in the space before designing it!
If you want to get out of your house for some fun….there is a fun store called Biscuit off of Kirby that is such a sweet spot (pricey but sweet ;). And I think it’s time for the Azalea Trail near Braes Bayou area- you should take Gemma to Ima Hogg’s house! My mom would take me there every year when I was little 🙂
Oh, I would LOVE to move right into Montrose or Bellaire, but not sure if our wallet will allow. It would have to be a steal. OK, I went to Biscuit YESTERDAY! It’s one of my absolute fave home shops anywhere but definitely my fav Houston spot. I ended up seeing Bailey Quinn and awkwardly introduced myself and professed my love for Biscuit. (She was nice but eventually backed away slowly. Lol.)
Yeah, the backyard is so bare. When my mom lived here she had it landscaped so nicely, but now it’s totally bare. We really want to spend time outside this fall (when the weather is tolerable again). So hopefully I can get it looking good.
Thanks for the suggestions about the Azalea Trail and Ima Hogg’s. I hadn’t heard of either one. I’ll take all the suggestions I can get. There’s so much to explore. If you’re ever back this way, be sure to email me and we can grab coffee:)
What a beautiful home! I can’t wait to follow along on the journey! Thinking of you friend!
Thank you, Summer! I need to go soak up time on you and the other ladies’ blogs, so I can get inspiration…It’s been a while since I’ve done much in my own space:) XO
Love that you take your time decorating- it makes me feel like I’m not behind the game. We moved into a new home 3 years ago, and after getting settled in I was too tired to do anything ‘extra’. But now I know how I want the rooms to function (and the kids are getting older so I can stop worrying as much about things being ruined) and I have the decorating bug again.
Can’t wait to see what you do with the former-wet-bar corner near the stairs. I have the exact same situation and am trying to figure out what to do without making it too crowded.
Totally get it, Nicole! Thanks for stopping by and sharing. Honestly, I’ve brainstormed so many options for that weird nook, but none of them will be cheap or easy. (Figures.) Part of me wants to just knock it out and create a doorway to the dining room on the other side. That may or may not be feasible though. Stay tuned!
Omgosh that house is beautiful!! Such a great feeling to start fresh again, and really feel the space before you “finish” it.
That is so special and you have a beautiful daughter. I can’t wait to see your plans and your daughters closet is AWESOME, I would play in that everyday #kidatheart for hours.
Lauren | Lovely Decor
Hah! Thanks, Lauren. Her closet is pretty fun…Even I like squeezing in there with her. I’m considering painting it a fun color and adding twinkle lights. Heck, maybe I’ll throw a tent into the mix while I’m at it. Lol. XO
Wow what a great big house and spaces to work with.
You get a lot of house for the money in the South, Julia! Ours is shockingly on the smaller side for this neighborhood, believe it or not. Basically, you could buy a McMansion if you relocated from the east coast. Lol.
Sara Moore says
This is so cool! And the house looks fantastic, even if it is a big greige box right now. I can’t wait to see what you do with it. In other news, I’m also moving back to Houston, where I grew up, probably sometime this summer. What a small world! Finding the right neighborhood, schools, oye…I’m getting all anxious just thinking about it! Let me know if you start a support group for it. 🙂
Oh my goodness…TOTALLY understand, Sara. It was overwhelming, and we didn’t even have to settle on where to buy yet. Houston has changed SO much over the years. It’s familiar, but post-college I grew accustomed to living in a smaller community. I need a support group like yesterday! You get down here, and we’ll form one. Seriously. Email me, sister. (Even it’s just a group of two.)
Sara Moore says
Totally will do! 🙂
What a lovely home! I can’t wait to see what you do with it. We (with our 6 month-old at the time) lived in my childhood home for a few months before moving into the house we’re in now. It’s kind of nice to have a familiar place to be when you’re figuring things out and I bet Gemma loves having her grandfather so close. 🙂 Thanks so much for mentioning the dollhouse challenge too!
Thanks, Anu! (Ok…I did it again. I called you by your blog name in the post. Hand to forehead. Sheesh! Sorry.) Yes, it is really nice to be in a familiar home when so much else has changed in our lives. Thanks for stopping by today, and I seriously have doll house envy:)
Noelle Hamilton says
Heather I love how bright and roomy your new old house is!!! It’s looks great now, just with your beautiful things, so happy you’re settling in, enjoy the process:)
It will be an adventure in minimalism for a while. Lol. Thank you so much, Noelle!
Sara Davis says
I love this home and your honesty about it all. I don’t think I could make minimal look this good! This is such a great way to start with a blank slate. I wish we had purged more when we moved into our home, but I am learning and following you is teaching me so much. Keep it coming and hats off to you and your family for conquering the move! Much more wonderful memories to come. xoxo
Kilim Pillow Covers says
Love the pattern of carpet on floor. But wondering if it is hand-woven or machine woven. If it is hand-woven then it is a really great piece.
Wow, what a nice big house and spaces to work with.