2019 was the year that I decided to focus on myself again. If you know me personally, this probably sounds exceptionally selfish considering I have three young children. However, for the better part of 2018 when my children were even younger, I trudged along the days, weeks and months very much like a single mother. My husband is in the military and is an exceptional father. He has taken on every challenge of parenthood as my equal since the moment we found out we were having our first baby. So when we were given his command's official workup to deployment schedule in early 2018, I braced for his impending absence like a semi truck was coming at me at full speed. I was going to have to make it through the daily grind of an almost 10 month deployment, not including the time he would be out to sea prior to his official deployment date, alone with our children. In that time I would be working full-time opening a first of it's kind office for my 9-5 career, taking care of school and extracurricular activity schedules for each of our littles, make holidays without their dadda extra special, and here is the kicker- staging, listing, selling, purchasing and moving our entire household ALONE within 30 days of my husband leaving for deployment.
To say the least 2018 into 2019 was chaotic but we survived and are stronger for it. However, once my husband returned home I felt an obvious sense of relief. I had proven to myself that I could in fact handle everything thrown at me and be successful. I stopped doubting my own ability and I had time again. Time to wash my hair, brush my teeth, focus on my career and to breathe.
When we quickly decided to purchase our new home we knew we would be leaving a small community we loved where we had many close friends. Still, our need for more space to keep up with our growing family was our priority. With my husband's impending deployment date looming I knew that our daily walks to the parks together with the kids and riding bikes on the street in front of our home because we only had a small patio was going to be nearly impossible for me to do alone.
Maintaining physical control of three little kids is comparable to herding cats. Turn your head for a second and one slips right past you. When you go to reach for the escapee, the other two are gone. I imagined an entire summer and fall where the kids were inside all day because I could not shuffle them to the park on my own.
So after stumbling across an open house listing one Sunday afternoon a few weeks before he deployed, my husband and I were unknowingly walking into our new home. He did a quick walkthrough alone as I waited in the car with our kids. When he returned he told me that I had to go inside and look for myself. I truly hate open houses, the awkward small talk I feel I need to make with the realtor, poking around in a stranger's home, questioning paint choices and furniture placement, for these reasons I usually avoid them. My husband knows this about me so when he insisted I walk through this home I knew there must be a reason. That reason was evident the moment I walked through the home and looked through the back windows. The yard was huge and ready for our children. There was a play structure, a trampoline, cement to ride bikes, a side yard to store their toys and a patio for outdoor furniture. I honestly do not remember looking at anything else in the home. I know I walked through the entire home but I only remember focusing on the outdoor space. I knew I had to have that home for my babies.
Within minutes of leaving the open house we were back in the garage of our own home. It felt even smaller and more cluttered than before. I had been on a yearlong purging spree trying to make space and stay organized with all the kids toys and stuff. We had begun to move items into the garage, leaving us only a single parking space in a two-car garage. We were busting at the seams. After a brief conversation that included questions such as- "Can we really do this? Do we really want to leave this community? Would they accept an offer knowing we have not even listed our home yet?" We were on the phone with our friend and realtor. We told her that we had fallen in love with a home and wanted to make an offer.
She knew our home could sell quickly but could not guarantee it would sell fast enough in order to meet a 30 day escrow. She told me that she could have photos taken of our place on Tuesday morning but that I would need to clean, organize and make the home look presentable. I accepted the challenge. I had exactly 36 hours to stage my own home so that it did not feel cluttered to prospective buyers.
Thankfully, my husband and I had spent the year prior remodeling and updating the entire home. I had also spent a lot of time and energy in decorating, rearranging and updating my home regularly to fit our style and our family's needs as we continued to expand. It was a beautiful starter home and I received many compliments regarding the feel of the home from friends, family and neighbors. The trick was to create space and a functional luxe living environment that my children could still live in while we held open houses.
I made it my mission to have our home sell at the first open house. I did not sleep for 36 hours as I painstakingly staged my home, analyzing it from every angle, accessory added or removed and adding hidden "this is your new home" messages for prospective buyers to inevitably pass during their walkthroughs.
I was proud of the home I designed and we received four offers on the Saturday of the open house and three more by that Monday. Ultimately, our home sold for 30K over asking price and we were able to make the 30 day escrow deadline we needed in order to move into our new home.
As a military family, we have moved into countless homes. Some that we purchased but mostly we rented since the length of orders often vary. learned to be creative with the spaces we moved in to. I always had our staple furniture pieces, but often times my preference for modern understated luxe did not fit the vibe of our rentals including the colonial style second floor-walkup with bright yellow walls, green linoleum counters tops and slate tile floors throughout. Still, I needed each address we moved our belongings into to feel like home no matter how long we would be there.
When we first started out my husband and I did not have a lot of money. We were a young couple just trying to get by which did not leave much in the budget to go out and decorate our home. So we would move our staple pieces into each home and I learned to shop second-hand stores, consignment stores, yard sales and estate sales for all additional odds and ends that would bring each space together. My favorite would be to find furniture in the "free" section of Craigslist. I never knew what I would find but I would always make each unique piece fit into our new place with some repurposing, spray paint and DIY attitude. I continue to finish our home in the same manner now.
I became really good at walking into a space, studying the environment and the people in it when applicable, then being able to identify the appropriate flow and furniture placement. I have used this in my 9-5 career as I design offices, as well as when I am staging homes. Understanding the function and goal of a space while knowing how someone will interact with the environment makes designing an understated luxe space a true craft that I continue to refine.
In 2019, after years of helping friends and family stage and restyle their spaces as a hobby, I officially started my own staging and home restyling business- In Good Design. I decided to focus on myself again by diving right into a talent I can share with others. Most recently a home I staged listed and accepted multiple offers, selling over the original asking price. Those that attended the open house spent most of their time sitting in an outdoor seating area imagining themselves living in the home. This seating area did not exist before I arrived but we used multiple pieces the owner already had to create this outdoor retreat. In the end, this small area closed seal the deal for the new owners.
I am lucky to have friends and a community that support my talent and my business. Also, I have a husband that is willing to ride with any and all crazy design ideas I might have. Our new home has been my DIY center as it is often the space that I fine-tune ideas that I carry into my client's homes and offices.
Although In Good Design (IGD) is focused on home staging and interior restyling, moving into 2020 IGD will transition into a lifestyle brand. As I do during my in-person consultations, the IGD blog will offer ideas on bringing a home to life through functional design elements, repurposing pieces readers might have and living in a clutter-free environment by incorporating and maintaining basic organizational habits. I will share many of my personal home decor ideas, organizational techniques, DIY projects and design visions here on the IGD blog and website. Stay tuned for more bold moves with IGD.
Happy New Year!
-In Good Design