Interior Designer Elkhart Goshen Indiana
30 years ago, we purchased an old farmhouse built in 1900 that was a blend of turn of the century charm and bold 1960's design style....and I'm not talking an iconic Eames chair but instead...
dark pine kitchen cabinets......(which I quickly painted white)....
Harvest gold shag carpeting....
Dark knotty wood paneling, wallpaper and yes the dreaded.....textured......
linoleum floors (sorry ignore the cute kiddos dressed up in Halloween costumes and look at that ugly flooring--and what's that hideous black rubber line on the wall--is that supposed to be trim???)!
The tiny farmhouse was only 1300 sq ft, of which 300 was a back porch. That's almost 1/4 the size of the house! It was basically a giant utility room for laundry, storage and for the large outdated boiler (that's a furnace sweetie).
But I saw an old home full of character and charm that can only be earned by experience that was hoping that a family would love it. And I could envision and imagine the possibilities and potential of the home and the life I wanted to live there.
Because of love, our family grew. But, this growth brought new challenges to our already tiny, ugly duckling farmhouse.
Some of our friends recommended that we sell the home or even tear it down and build new instead. And sometimes that does make good sense. I mean, do you remember the Money Pit?
But we loved the character of the home and the simple life we lived in all eight rooms.
We raised our four children here - mostly outside (because inside it was too tiny).
Because of that, I'd have to say, they really gained an appreciation and curiosity for science and God's good creation (and yes, even the Amish buggies would slow down when passing by on days when naked kiddos played happily in the garden).
And all the kiddos were able to enjoy the responsibilities of raising and caring for pets.
Both large ....
They also learned some basic engineering and physics principles. Like how things work.
And what goes up...must come down.
And because I knew that my house was my canvas for creating beauty in everyday moments for others, I did so whenever and wherever I could. Sometimes in the oven for my lovelies or for others.....
..... and sometimes on the mailbox which I painted for my handy honey (p.s he loves tractors)...
...but mostly in the yard and gardens which became extensions of our tiny house
The moments & memories we created here are priceless....
And so is a home that nurtures and restores you.
You see, our love affair with our home is not just about the size of the house or the floor plan, or the gardens or the cooking or the decorating--they are all just pieces of the puzzle--instead, a home is part of a much bigger picture.
So, we decided to love our family by loving the old house as much as it was loving us.
But this meant change and change is a good thing but getting there can also be stressful.
I was already busy in a successful creative career as well as being a wife and mom and the thought of a home renovation was overwhelming especially thinking about all the decisions to be made. And because I'd made some poor choices in the past by flying by the seat of my pants, I decided it was better to create and follow an intentional plan this time so I would not regret my choices and let the 'if only's' divide my thoughts.
So, I started my design research by asking for 'free advice'. I thought this would be an easy answer to my design challenges as I had plenty of ideas and had redesigned, staged and flipped another home a few years earlier. But this time there were more variables, people to please, boxes to check and options to consider. and everyone I talked to had different opinions and points of view that either didn't make sense or fit our style, goals, values or budget.
You see, there was no local, experienced interior designer available to teach me and shepherd me through the process without a long term commitment of time and money.
So I returned to college to finish what I had failed at earlier--a design degree. And the first thing to change was my mind because I learned not only that I did have what it takes to become a designer (you can read about my first massive design failure here).....but I was also pretty good at it!
I learned how to think and problem solve like a designer and how to plan and manage all those 'details' and ideas - not just for myself but later for others as well.
And after the thinking changed my responses and decisions did as well.
And my Handy Hubby and I started creating a master plan that worked for everybody and when we were finished, we knew exactly what we wanted, and needed, what it would look like and what it would cost.
It was a massive remodel but we decided to invest in the details that reflected the old farmhouse's original warmth and character and open up the floor plan to better fit our family's lifestyle.
When the planning was finished, we had a map to get us to where we wanted to go and knew exactly what needed to be done and what to do next. This made things so much easier for us to not only obtain apple to apple quotes from contractors but also enabled them to do what they want to do - build quickly, avoid missing deadlines, second guessing and misunderstandings.
Here's what our floor plan basically looked like before...notice that giant utility room outlined in green....
.....and here's what it looks like now.
You'll notice we tried to maintain the original footprint of the house but make better use of the space.
In addition the kitchen was gutted and rebuilt according to my drawings and specifications.
Have you ever had something custom built for you? This kitchen fits me like a tailored suit and has inspired and motivated me to extend hospitality in new and creative ways!
Because we live in the middle of Amish town USA, custom built cabinets were attainable and affordable.
And I turned an unused bedroom dresser into a stylish focal point for one kitchen wall by designing a coordinating hutch to display my antique dishes.
And even though we had a plan and a process, it was still stressful at times. Like when we caught Joe and Ben on a ladder trying to help out!
With an old barn, acreage and four outbuildings on our farm, we've decided God's strategy for change is best... "little by little" ( Exodus 23:30:).
Preserving not only a piece of our history but a piece of our future as well.
And that's okay because the best therapy ever is to live in a home you love...
and love to come home to.
A peaceful place where you feel safe and loved and everyday moments are made - a beautiful place to recharge after a stressful day. A place where you belong.
I have found that such a place makes you want to live up to the expectation.
And isn't that the story of the Gospel as well (1 John 4:19) to live a life of generosity, love and faithfulness and to inspire this love in others so that they can do the same?
Here's the truth -beauty inspires, heals, empowers, encourages and gives us hope. It doesn't matter how we are inspired - whether from a home, a person, a meal, a song or a story. All creative expression tells a story and ultimately points our hearts and imaginations to the greatest Story of All.
Let me ask you a question.....If your home is your story. what story is it telling? In such a time as this, it is so important to share your home and hospitality any and every way we can! Because home nurtures, inspires and influences the way we live, which changes us and the world we live in.
So, in your quest and calling to create a beautiful, meaningful & purpose driven home, do you feel overwhelmed or stuck? I've been there and I believe my early design challenges and struggles actually prepared me for what I'm doing today - teaching, coaching, planning, designing and helping others create beautiful and meaningful homes better than they could do on their own.
I also believe that there is a very powerful lesson in that statement for all of us. Sometimes it's the challenges that we face that become the very thing that leads us to our unique purpose.
I hope you enjoyed my story and how I was called to help others. And I hope it inspires you to keep moving forward despite any challenges you may be facing..
What big change is coming up in your life? How can you embrace it? Would you like prayer support?
Just contact me. and let me know.
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About this blog...
I began writing this blog in May 2016 after discovering that my mother always wanted to be a writer. She had Alzheimer's disease and never realized her dream. Sometimes in our deepest grief we are motivated to encourage others to fearlessly be themselves so that their gifts and stories are shared. I mean, how else can we change the world?. So I began to record the things that reflect who I am and what is important to me, because one day my memories too, may be gone and what would that mean to the people God gave me to care for and the good works He gave me to do? So, here is where I share the important stuff so that you can learn real design, not decorator tricks, but fundamental and salient concepts to apply so that you can create your own exemplary home and so that my family and I can remember the life we lived and created here in our home, our sacred place. Because my work is important, this is also where I share my favorite design projects and how good design enhanced their lives as well. I hope you're inspired and encouraged as I share my memories, my work, my mission & my life. Hugs & blessings, (Numbers 6: 24-26)