DAY 24 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Light It Up

If you think I’m going say for you to go buy all new light fixtures, well you are only a smidgen correct. Maybe 5% on point because there is so much more to be done with lighting than just switching out a light fixture. Today we will work on lighting as a complete package.

DAY 24 Lighting.png

There’s a lot to be done in the lighting department. Below are the many ways you can make an impact in your home by adjusting your lighting needs.

Replace Your Bulbs With The Right Bulb, Even If It’s Not Burnt Out

Edison Bulbs

Early on in the Edison bulb craze, I realized it wasn’t for me. That’s right. No. Here’s why: many of the light fixtures that feature Edison bulbs look great in the fixture, but work horribly in the room. I once put a light fixture in a bathroom with Edison bulbs and my newly renovated bathroom felt like a haunted house. Edison bulbs are horrible for actually seeing anything as they don’t put off enough light, especially in a lighting situation where you want to see what you are doing. They also tend to be a little too orange-y/amber in color for my taste. Maybe this has changed over the years, but still, I haven’t gotten over the let down of a cool looking bulb not working the way I wished it would. I have a hard time going back to things after I have already shunned them, like capri pants and Costco.

Bright White and Blue Hued Bulbs

On the flip side, nothing feels more clinical than a bulb that shines just as annoyingly as fluorescent bulbs. The ones that come to mind are new LED can lights. I tend to stay away from LED lights in general because of this. They typically are so blue in hue that they feel like you’re getting prepped for surgery. If your room feels horrible, try switching out the bulbs for something a little warmer. It seems counter intuitive, yet you’ll thank me later.

Globe Bulbs

Instead of using Edison bulbs I like to grab round incandescent bulbs. They put out great light and have a nice shape as well. They work well in those situations where an Edison bulb would look good, but won’t work well for lighting purposes. They also work well in situations where you’ll be looking up at the bulb from below, such as in the bathroom where you don’t want look up and see the swirly CFL bulbs hanging down.

Appliance Bulbs

How annoying is it to open your freezer or dryer and not be able to see inside? Fix that shit already.

Update Your Light Fixture

Paint It

We’ve hit this in several challenges already so you know full well by now that you can paint a light fixture. Shut off the power to that fixture, flip the switch on and off to test that it is in fact off, then take that puppy down for it’s spray paint treatment. Put it back up the same way you took it down.

Decorate or Un-decorate It

If your bathroom vanity light or dining room chandelier are dumb AF, you have a few options.

  1. Replace the shades with something different. Home Depot sells shades by themselves.

  2. Remove the shades completely. Do you even need shades? Maybe, maybe not.

  3. Replace the bulbs for something a little more shapely and call it a day. Sometimes it’s just that flame bulb that is bringing the wrong vibe. Try a globe bulb to modernize it.

  4. Add something to your light fixture like beads, crystals, what have you.

Replace Your Fixture

Sometimes you just have to jump ship and try something new. I like to buy light fixtures from Amazon, Etsy, Shades of Light , West Elm, World Market, CB2 and Pottery Barn. There is always a sale going on at those box stores so keep an eye out. Here are some of my favorite fixtures I’ve used over the years.

Remove A Light Fixture

This is something I’m doing regularly now, as in I’m not putting fixtures where I would have normally. I may even remove some. For instance, for a long while pendant lights were the norm in any kitchen I would design. Now, I decide if that kitchen would benefit from them or if it would detract. My newest remodel, The Rattan Ranch, was one such case. I have rattan basket style pendants hanging above the table in the adjoining dining room. I couldn’t think of a light fixture that would compliment those lights and not compete with them. I also didn’t like the idea of more lights hanging down in my face. So, I just did without. I do still have can lights, but no pendant lights over the peninsula.

Dim It

Maybe you’re not suffering from a light fixture problem at all. Maybe you just need to be able to tone it down a little. Add some dimmers to some lights, especially the can lights. This will make your nights and early mornings much more enjoyable. See the DAY 22 pleasure post about other ways to make your home feel more pleasurable.

If you shop for a new light fixture or light bulb and if you put this plan into action, we want to see! It’s so motivating to see things getting done! Use #updatedontrenovatechallenge!

DAY 20 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Refrigerator

How many of you have already jumped the gun and cleaned out your fridge early on in this challenge!? I told you to take it easy! There is a lot to get done. Well, I guess if you were one of the few that didn’t take the purge challenges to drastic measures and attack your entire house, then get to clearing out your fridge.

Wipe it down.

Make it feel like its new.

Paint the outside if it’s really bad.

Shit, throw some washi tape on it if it is SUPER bad.

If it’s REALLY REALLY BAD and you have been waiting for me to say, “Time to buy a new fridge.”, wellllll, ok fine I give you permission. Blame it on me if you need a scape goat. I mean honestly, replacing appliances is one of the easiest and best things to do in your house. You don’t have to move walls or take out cabinets (usually) and your quality of life will improve. Maybe that’s a little excessive but sometimes it’s the truth

Ready? Go.

DAY 4 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Clear The Room

This is one of my favorite and easiest ways to update a room and a perfect Friday night project. I know, I’m a party animal. Invite some people over. Have some food delivered. Open some wine. (Yes that’s part of the challenge.) Tonight we…

Often times when I am staging a house, the room just doesn’t feel quite right. I always think I just don’t have enough stuff in it yet. I’m starting from nothing after all. Then it gets to a point that I have to remove some things. Such is often the case in my client’s homes. When I visit homes for design consults, specifically the ones that are having a hard time making the house “feel right”, the problem is simply all the stuff. This is precisely the stuff you hopefully already removed on DAY 1 and 3. Other stuff could be:

  • Something that “isn’t going to stay there”. That hutch that was your grandma’s but you haven’t found a good spot for it.

  • That pile of kids toys that “really should” go or “is going to go” in another room. I hear these two phrases often.

  • That table you have that hasn’t found a home yet.

  • Garbage. In the case of my staged rooms, it’s usually wrappings and tags from things I have purchased, the boxes I toted them around in, cleaning supplies, etc. In your case it might boxes leftover from Christmas, food wrappers, mail, whatever.

  • Stuff that is “extra”. Sometimes, like jewelry, there are just too many things.

Let’s assume you have been in your space for a bit and not just now putting it together…

Your Mission Should You Choose To Accept It:

Choose a room. Your living room is preferred, but a bedroom or dining room is also appropriate. Choose the room that needs the most help, but not the kitchen. That’s a separate deal.

  1. Take everything out of the room. Sometimes you can’t take the sofa, bed, dining table or TV completely out of the room because they are just too big or heavy. That’s ok if you know they will stay. If not, like the hutch, get it out. This is when you might need to rally the troops (and where the wine comes in). Try to pull as many things out of the way as possible. Put them in the hallway, the garage or an adjoining room. You should only have maybe a rug and a bed/sofa/dining table.

  2. TV placement: The TV, the ugliest thing in the room, is often the dictator of where everything else goes. Deal with the TV first because everything else will follow suit. Figure out if it is in the best place. Don’t be lazy. Really consider moving it. Unplug that shit and move it. You can survive without it for a minute. NOTE: above the fireplace is RARELY the best spot. It’s usually too high making it uncomfortable to watch or just a bad idea should you actually want to have a fire. Try a corner of the room if it is not gargantuan. Try on a media stand or credenza/buffet. Try getting rid of it altogether or getting a smaller one. DO NOT FREAK OUT ON ME HERE. STAY WITH ME. You can make your own decision, but maybe it just needs to go. <shrug> Don’t let the TV dictate your life.

  3. Try the biggest furniture piece in a new spot. See if your bed or sofa will be better in a new location. Here are some ideas…not all work in every situation so don’t try to force them if they aren’t working:

    1. Pretend you are going to photograph the room. Sometimes I find that the way I would photograph a room is exactly the way I want to see it every day. A bedroom with the bed centered on a wall would photograph well. It may feel better that way to you, too, even if it seems like less space.

    2. One option is to stand in the entrance or doorway to the room. That is the place you will see this room every time you enter it. Where do you have to put the big pieces in the room to make the view better?

    3. Try a new place you’ve never thought of like angled in the room (don’t lose your OCD mind), on a different wall, floating in the room, etc. Try a place that doesn’t seem to make perfect sense. For instance, in The Lounge Airbnb condo I just furnished, many people working with me wanted the sofa to face the large row of windows so one could look out the windows. My thoughts were to put the sofa under the window. While the windows are awesome, they don’t have a great view of anything in particular. Additionally, putting the sofa opposite the window put the sofa smack dab in the middle of the room. This would cut off the flow of traffic and the back of the sofa as the first thing you would see. That didn’t feel right and feelings are what matter.

    4. If the piece just sucks altogether, get rid it! Too often people choose sofas or beds that are just too big for the space. Sell it, donate it, give it to a family member. More on this later in the month.

  4. Move the rug. Again, like the sofa or bed you were working with, try a different angle or position. Take your time to position the big piece with the rug in different locations. It takes time. Sip your wine. Try again. Don’t lose it yet. It will look bare and uninviting. Press on.

  5. Start bringing back in smaller furniture items like side tables, coffee tables, dressers, etc. It’ll start to look a little better but still naked. It’s ok.

  6. Now, layer in the artwork, decor, pillows and blankets that you LIKE. There are two kinds of “like”. 1. You actually like the item. 2. You like the item in the room. You may actually like an item itself, but it just isn’t working with the overall feel. Try taking it back out for the moment. You’ll just feel it. Something won’t feel right. ***Don’t add something back “until I find something to replace it” unless it’s a dresser and you actually do need to put your clothes somewhere.

  7. Steal like a thief in the night from other rooms to complete “the look”. Take from your kids rooms. Take from a bedroom. Search your basement and garage. Even your kitchen might have a tray or plant or something that might finish it off. You should start to see some life in the room now. It will finally feel warmer and inviting.

  8. Anything left over that hasn’t made it back into the room SHOULD NOT GO BACK INTO THE ROOM. Find a spot for your pile of misfit items. They could come in handy in other rooms if you try this clear out again. Otherwise, make a plan for the things that didn’t make the cut (donation, give to a friend, trash, list it for sale, etc).

OK you should have a pretty fresh looking room by now! If you have holes to fill, don’t worry. We’ll get to that soon.

If you tackle this challenge, show us! Use #updatedontrenovatechallenge in your posts or stories to show us your progress and final results!

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.