DAY 1 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: GET IT OUT OF HERE

Happy New Year! Welcome to day one of the Update, Don’t Renovate Challenge! I hope you’re ready to kick some ass! It was tricky picking the very first challenge. The first one has to be something good. Impactful. EASY. Can’t scare you away from the rest of the challenges. And since it’s New Year’s Day, we may need to go low key with that hangover of yours. You don’t even have to put a bra on or leave the house.

The first challenge is to clear some space…

I’m sorry this is a boring first challenge but sorry not sorry. it’s IMPORTANT! The NUMBER ONE recommendation I give to my clients AGAIN AND AGAIN is to GET RID OF THAT THING. It’s so easy, but never seems obvious or that it will be impactful for some reason. Everyone is so wound up about having perfect tile and the right paint color. Those are great, too. But, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a decent renovation also ruined by someone’s stuff. We need room physically and visually. Not only will the space feel better but your brain will feel like AHHHHHHH a weight lifted. Something ticked off the list that has been at the back of your mind, sometimes for way too long to admit.

Today to start the month off, let’s get rid of something that has been in the way, once and for all! Here are some ideas:

  1. Move It: A lot of my clients have furniture that is “just there” because it doesn’t have a home yet or they haven’t committed to a location yet. It might be a chair, a dresser or an antique that someone gave them… like grandma’s hutch. Today DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. You don’t have to throw it out. Just get it out. That might mean giving it to another family member, moving it to another room, moving it to storage, the garage or basement. Let storage rooms be for storing that thing. Get it out once and for all. You can always bring it back in if you feel you have finally found it a home..

  2. Donations: Take that pile of donations you’ve been meaning to get out of your house and do something with it. At the very least put it in your car. If you get a wild hair, actually drive to the drop off location.

  3. Put Your Christmas Away!:

    • Take down that Christmas tree and deal with it. Don’t just throw it in the garage. Take it to the curb or drop off area in your community.

    • Put your Christmas lights away.

    • Throw out anything that is broken like ornaments or lights. Do it now. Don’t store it for another year.

    • Grab a container or bag and fill it with Holiday items you no longer want for donation. Put it in your car immediately.

    • Throw out the trash from gifts like boxes, instruction booklets you can find online, wrapping paper, etc.

  4. Furniture/Rug/Thing in your way: That thing you’ve been meaning to sell, DO IT. Consider doing it even if you don’t have something to replace it with yet. For instance, instead of waiting to find a new dining room table and then having both the new one and the old one taking up space, just get rid of the old one now. You can suffer through not having a dining room table for a minute. Take photos that are focused and bright. Use your Photos app to brighten the photo if it is still a little dark. Now share it! Here are some ways to sell your stuff from easiest to most difficult, although still not that difficult. If it’s me I just do all of these at once. I dislike waiting.

    • Ask friends and family if they want it.

    • Post on Facebook to your friends.

    • Post on Facebook Marketplace, Offer Up, Craigslist, etc.

    • Bombard everything like a maniac

If you can’t get an entire task completed today, no worries! Get the ball rolling by at least listing and item or scheduling someone to come help you if that is necessary.

These challenges are going to come at you fast and furious, so don’t delay if possible! I know you won’t be able to complete some tasks right away or in one day (or maybe ever), so don’t fret. Just try your best and try to have some fun with it!

Did you do it? Comment below or use #updatedontrenovatechallenge on Instagram to share!

If you’re not yet subscribed to receive the challenges in your inbox, sign up below!

The Update, Don't Renovate Challenge!

I’ve been doing consults for many years now. I’ve seen so many houses! About half of my consults are for renovations, while the other half are with clients simply bringing me in to get my opinion on anything from rugs to curtains to furniture placement. They sometimes wonder if they need a renovation or what they should do in X room to make it feel better. MOST of the time these homes do not NEED a renovation to feel, look and function better. Sometimes a homeowner has wanted to change up their home by doing a renovation and that is fine….great! I obviously understand that in my line of work and I love renovation. However, many and MOST houses DO NOT NEED a renovation unless they are trashed and literally falling apart whether from neglect or faulty construction. For most of us, our house is in decent condition, just maybe a tad ugly or not our taste.

Update Don't Renovate Challenge

For the entire month of January I’m hosting a challenge for that group of people that don’t want, don’t need or can’t afford a renovation. And guess what, that’s me, too! My house is in good shape, but I didn’t renovate it. We bought it the way it is and have been tweaking it here and there. It’s not my favorite, but it’s fine. It just needs a little more oomph. I’m not in love with the kitchen, but it’s not something I care to rip out, nor do I have the money to do so. Same goes for the bathroom and the rest of the home. Like any good flipper, I want to spruce it up doing as little as possible. I know that isn’t what we’re seeing much of these days on the flipping scene, but you see I’m an old school flipper from back when we just painted walls beige and called it new. I’m bringing that back. Wait no. Not the beige. Just the concept.

In the Update, Don’t Renovate Challenge we’ll work on our homes to make them feel updated….without renovating. That means there will be no demo. There will be no walls coming down or new cabinets going in. No tiling. No drywall dust. No, 10s of thousands of dollars spent. Once we’re done, our homes will feel as if we had, though!

How It Will Work

The challenge begins January 1st. Every day for 31 days will be a challenge to help you move toward a better home. Some challenges are big, some are small, some have 18 parts. Do some. Skip some. Do them all. Whatever. Up to you. Some will result in AHA moments, where as others will be exactly the thing you’ve been meaning to do, you just needed a little nudge.

For each challenge I’ll offer many options so everyone can get something out it. Sometimes I’ll recommend you buy something to spruce up the space or help things function properly. Sometimes I’ll recommend removing, pitching or donating things. Sometimes both in the same day! Do what works for you, in your space, with your pocketbook. As always, I will recommend thrifting to find something at a discount but new is also fine. I know thrifting isn’t as prevalent in some areas so I’ll give as many ideas as I can think of to pull something off. I don’t care if you ask someone to buy something for you or gift you that item for your Birthday (thanks Mom!). Maybe you buy something off of Craigslist, Offerup or Facebook Marketplace. I don’t even care if you buy anything at all. Can you tell I already know people will be whining about spending money? The point is that sometimes we’ll want to bring new things into our home to make it feel a little better (HELLO PILLOWS) but that doesn’t mean we have to spend a ton. Or do! I don’t care. Let’s just have fun tweaking our homes for the better!

Are you ready!? You don’t have to do anything to officially join in, although I recommend subscribing (see below) so you don’t miss a day.

But wait.

Everybody Is Doing It

I’ve done these challenges before (remember my School of Badassery?!) and nothing makes a challenge better than having friends join in. The people that had their friends and family do it with them had the most fun and were the most productive holding each other accountable. I can already envision moms and daughters tearing through closets together. Oh!!! Or friends on a Friday night with a bottle of wine rearranging a living room. It’s fun to have someone to bounce ideas off of as well or help move your couch to the other side of the room. What are friends for? Forward this email or blog post, however you got here, and get them involved!

Show & Tell

If you’ve made any progress, show us! The more people share, the more motivating it is to keep going! Post your progress by tagging your Insta posts with #updatedontrenovatechallenge!

I can’t wait to see what you guys do! I’ll be sharing the ones I tackle as well. The challenges begins January 1st! Don’t miss it.

Saturday Six: Flippin Gift Guide Edition

I could probably write 6 gift guides. Instead of dragging this shopping on, I’m going to just jam all of them into this post. I think you’ll quickly learn this is more of a post about gifts you’ll want and maybe you should just forward it on to your loved ones as a hint.

There are affiliate links galore in this post. Thank you for your support!

ONE - vintage

Train Case - $20+

Train cases look like some kind of display piece but in actuality they are storage! I keep all of my paint decks and swatches in one and carry it with me to design consults. They can also hold sewing stuff, craft supplies, make up, all sorts of things! Sometimes they can smell a little so if you can’t do a sniff test ahead of time, consider asking the seller if you’re going to buy on Ebay or Etsy.

Toilet Paper Holder aka Vintage Phone Stand - $30+

It’s things like these old AF telephone stands that are perfect for other things like holding TP. They slide right in next to the toilet where it can get real tight. They hold extra TPs so you aren’t left stranded. They have a nice little shelf on top that can hold something like an old wooden box that in turn conceals those not so beautiful feminine products. Some even hold magazines for those of you that like to camp out for a bit. You could even rest your coffee on top if you are a weirdo that brings your coffee in with you. It’s a win all around. I found mine at a second hand store but you can easily find one on Etsy or Ebay.

Kaya Kilim Vintage Rug - $200-$800

So, if you don’t know about Kaya Kilims Turkish Rugs you must be dead or something. I’ve lusted after a KayaKilims rug for years. One of my friends just got one and then she mentions that she might get another and about threw my phone in jealous rage. But, also happy for her you know because I mean she’s my friend. NOTE TO EARTH: I want a Kaya Kilim. These can get kinda pricey and you won’t even know which one to get so if you want to surprise someone with this gift of love, start up a collection jar for them. Maybe a mason jar with a Kaya label? Throw in some bones. You’ll win at life.

TWO - gadgets

Cold Brew Maker - $18.99

Cold brew is delicious. What else is there to say? Also, I’d go for the bigger one today. The small one makes 2 drinks for me. I want more. I suffer through.

Upholstery Cleaner - $124.99 (but read on for discounts)

I bought mine for $10 at the thrift store, probably because the sprayer wasn’t working but I just poke that shit with a safety pin and boom cleared. I would pay $125 for it now, though. I like it that much (but no I wouldn’t bc why??? read on). I have cleaned many a used sofa with this thing. I’ve cleaned spills on rugs in my Airbnbs. The last sofa I bought, the teal one in my newest Airbnb (used to be flip) was so dirty you wouldn’t even believe it. It was not people/pet dirt but like actual dirt. Like maybe the people left it in their garage and just dust and garage type dirt layered all over it. I got it all out. There is a version that doesn’t have the heat button. I don’t think my heat button even works so I don’t use it.

PRO TIP: See the “Add to Cart” button? Scroll down slightly to the “Used & New from…. ” link. This takes you to other options like Amazon Warehouse deals. You can buy an open box or refurbished one for much less. Some have never actually been used or even opened. It will tell you in the description. See what’s available. This works on many Amazon purchases!

Kitchenaid Soda Stream - $229

—-> another good looking cheaper option —> $69.99

Stop the madness with buying and carrying all of the cans and bottles of sparkling water into your house. This is what drove me to buy this machine because we would go through so much and carrying them up the stairs into our house every few days was lame AF. I don’t need all the flavors, although you can buy some and um also though squeezing a freakin lime is not that hard. I also sometimes smash up some mint leaves or blackberries or whatever and throw them in. For parties I make a sparkling water garnish bar bc I’m fancy.

THREE - homesick

Need a little home State love? Here are a couple of ideas:

Homesick Candle - $30

Wow. These candles even smell like home. I hope your home State doesn’t smell like a dumpster fire.

State Eye Chart - $18.95 (Use Code FW17 for a discount!)

How many States are you celebrating? My mother-in-law has 2 of these in one of her bathrooms. I have one in each Airbnb. They are just great easy on the eye ways of fitting in a little home State love. And since it is the print only, they could also fit in a stocking!

FOUR - design books

Everyone knows I’m a design book junky. I’ve been hosting a low key Design Book Club monthly if you want to check out some of the past choices. Below are some of my favorite books that may or may not have been part of the book club.

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon - $10

A book that could fit in a stocking — it’s 6 1/8” x 6” x 1/2” thick. It doesn’t fit in mine but it fits in my daughter’s so measure it out. Lots of great ideas about creativity and borrowing ideas.

The New Bohemians and The New Bohemians Handbook by Justina Blakeney - $19 each

If you like yourself some boho... I mean the person you are gifting does…grab one or both of these. They are super colorful and fun.

Urban Jungle by Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff- $20

A book for people who love to kill plants. Wait. Love them but kill them. If you are gun shy about buying yet another plant and murdering it, get this book. It’s pretty AND it tells you how to keep it alive.

The Modern A-Frame by Ben Rahn - $22

A book for A-frame fanatics. If you or your friend like MCM, retro style and lots of pretty pictures, you’re not going to regret this book.

Surf Shack by Nina Freudenberger- $35

A book for boho geeks. Add the beach and I mean what else is there? This is about surfer’s homes and lifestyles from the newbs to the lifers and everyone in between. Total house + decor eye candy.

Nomadic Homes by Philip Jodidio and Russ Gray - $54

A book for people who have a wee obsession with tiny/mobile homes. So many good photos. It’s huge and heavy and FEELS like a sizable gift, then you open it and your eyes are blown off from the awesome photos.

FIVE - pillows

DK Renewal Kantha Lumbar - $48

DK Renewal is like an explosion of boho. This is is just one of the hundred boho stuffs they have. Check out their other items like artwork, rugs, poufs, etc.

CB2 Zbase Pillow - $40

I’m finding myself gravitating towards the black and white pillows. They can just go with so many styles. This one even comes with an insert.

Circle Grid Tassel Pillow - $50

Good ole’ Target coming through with a really nice pillow. I had to have this one for my new Airbnb. So I got it. The end.

The Citizenry Lumbar Pillow - $199

A client of mine had one of these on her bed and I stopped in my tracks. I had been drooling over it for years, but the price tag was like whoa. She told me her mother-in-law had bought it for her for Christmas. So, that’s how this pillow made the list. Because awesome pillows would be a great gift. Not to mention anything else on their site. Their blankets and bedding also look to die for.

SIX - snuggle

Soft AF Blanket - $25.00 Amazon

This blanket is like luxury. I got it for The Lounge Airbnb and yeah it’s amazing AF just like the reviews say. Price is right, too!

Best Bamboo Sheets - $40 (but read on)

OMG I could punch something right now. I seriously just bought like 9 sets of sheets and I’m just noticing that there is a discount code for 2 sets, 3 sets and 4+sets hidden in their photos! GAHHHH the humanity! Anyway, these things are obviously amazing because I buy them for all of my Airbnbs and myself. Both the queen and king sets are around $40. On my screen there is also a 5% coupon and then of course the coupon codes if you are going to just go hog wild like I do. I’m so pissed right now. I’ve honestly bought 15 sets of sheets in the past 4 months. Q#$%@#$%@$%@ Merry Christmas.

Boho Upcycled Cotton Sari Robe - $50

I asked Santa for this robe. I mean it looks so freaking comfortable! Considering getting a couple for The Shack.

Bed Sized Blanket - $50

I bought this blanket for the camper (No, it’s not done yet bc life. GET OFF MY BACK! <—note to myself). I stole if from the camper stash and have been using it to cozy up with on the nightly. The king size one obviously fits my king bed and stretches all the way across. You may decide on the twin size one to use on your sofa. I love that the king one is so ginormous bc my whole family can sit on the sofa with it together. We are snuggly people. I know you don’t believe that about me but it’s true.


I know it’s supposed to be six but I have a couple stragglers that doesn’t have a home.

KEVA Contraptions Plank Set - $47

I saw this on the show New Amsterdam and was like yep gotta get that for my 5 year old. Santa will be bringing it to her this year. You see her self proclaimed super power is that she can build things. She’s been building all sorts of things like…a Starbucks…out of paper and tape and toilet paper tubes. My friend that’s a preschool teacher told me she has an invention box in her classroom. She throws random bits in there like mayonnaise jar lids, recycling stuff, egg cartons, tape, whatever and the kids get their time with the invention box, I have started the same thing with my daughter and created a Building Box. I throw random shit in there like coasters from a restaurant, recycling, straws, some of her school work and this colored masking tape. She goes to town building all sorts of contraptions.

Empack Travel & Fitness Backpack - $149

This backpack is awesome. I have it in orange and have been using it when I travel whether it to warm or cold climates. Mind you I’m not a fancy dresser by any means, but if you enjoy a good travel backpack, you’ll like this one. This backpack is built for WORKOUTS. Got a Crossfitter you need to buy for? Check out this bag. It has water reservoirs you can fill up to add wait to the bag. It has handles on all sides so you can use it sort of like a sand bag for workouts when you travel or hike. Really cool stuff for that fit him or her.

Airbnb Gift Card - $25+

Of course I can’t end a gift guide without the gift of travel and experiences! You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who won’t appreciate some mula toward their next Airbnb stay! And if your gift receiver is traveling to Cincinnati or Phoenix any time soon, you know where to send them. :)

Have anything to add to this list? Comment on this post so we can all learn about the coolest things!

My Update, Don’t Renovate Challenge is coming in January! Subscribe to join in and not miss a day! Your home will appreciate it.

December Design Book Club: Nomadic Homes

OMG you guys this book! I can’t wait to feast my eyes on this month’s read. Truth is…I’ve been saving it! Last month my husband gave me this book for my birthday. This is shocking for two reasons.

  1. That my husband would give me a design book for my birthday. That’s like me giving him a geek book. Our obsessions are totally foreign to each of other.

  2. I can’t believe he found a book that is so awesome and I have never even known of it’s existence. I thought for certain I had seen everything that is out there.

When I opened it I literally gasped because it is so beautiful and SUBSTANTIAL. It’s a nice heavy thick book filled with all the eye candy!

This month’s book is:

Nomadic Homes: Architecture on the Move by Philip Jodidio.

I’ve literally tried to keep my eyes off of it until December. Just taking those photos got me all excited! I think this would make a great gift for the Holidays for anyone who is design obsessed! Clearly it got me on my birthday!

I really hope you guys grab up this book for yourself or a friend. Your eyeballs will love it.

Miss any previous month’s books? See them all here!

Cyber Monday Design Consult Sale!

I did it last year….let’s do it again! I never discount my consults because they are worth every penny in my opinion. I share with you as much as I can and I share TONS! But, what the heck, I’m in the festive mood!


At Checkout Use Code: CYBERMONDAY2018

In a consult we’ll discuss anything you want from kitchen design to Airbnb ins and outs, from flipping houses to furniture placement. It can be your home or an investment property. It can be given as a gift for your kid’s or parents’ home. It can be general flipping or Airbnb questions with no particular home in mind! IDGAF.

It can be over the phone or in person! Below is more about what a consult entails:

What: A one hour renovation, design or investment strategy consultation (or all of the above!)

Cost: $250 over the phone or $300 in-person in Phoenix

Who: Consults can be for any or all of the following (should time permit):

  • Narrowig down design decisions

  • House flipping help including personal discussions about financing, how to find houses, etc….

  • Running an Airbnb

  • Material sourcing

  • Badass design ideas

  • Floor plan options

  • Expected general costs

  • Alternatives that will save money or update the look

  • Actual material options (this light would look good here, maybe X faucet, etc)

  • Color schemes

  • Things to avoid

How: You'll send me photos, videos and a sketch (if necessary) or I’ll just see it all in person if you are in Phoenix.

See more about the entire process here.

Clients typically find that after their consultation they have a more focused direction for their home renovation or investment property. They feel confident in how to proceed and have new ideas for the space that they had not considered. Often times they are relieved they now know what they can do in order to avoid complications, delays and sometimes disaster.

***A consult is verbal and does not include formal physical design plans.

If you’ve been thinking about a consult but have been waiting for the right timing, then pull the trigger now! There is no expiration on the consult. You don’t have to schedule it now. Schedule it when you are ready! HOWEVER, my schedule is open beginning in January, so any consult purchased now can be “cashed in” beginning in 2019.

Check my January calendar now if you don’t want to waste any time! Remember, if the times shown don’t work with your schedule, I am flexible and can work with you on a better time. Just reach out!


At Checkout Use Code: CYBERMONDAY2018

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