Thoughts on Living with Less

Happy New Year!  I loved having up my Christmas stuff, but  was anxious to get it packed.  I am always pretty excited about a New Year and a tabula rasa.  Plus, we had such a here or there, gogogo sort of year last year with the move.  So, I'm ready to start this New Year.  Before we moved, we knew we were seeking a smaller home.  So, we purged and sold and donated what we didn't truly love.  After physically moving to a home that is smaller (by about 600+ square feet,) we are still editing.  I'm having to be so picky about what I keep and sometimes it is hard.  But, other times, I feel so free!  It is so much easier for me to pass up some cute vintage piece (with a great price) when I know that I will have to give away something I already love to make it fit.  A "one in, one out" philosophy, if you will.

We aren't just living with less vintage stuff, but with less small appliances and what not.  When we started ripping out the kitchen, we decided that in order to execute our grand scheme of centering the sink under the window, that we would have to leave out the dishwasher. Now, I had already not used the dishwasher in our old house for over a year, so it wasn't a huge sacrifice.  And, honestly, I will complain about doing the dishes whether I am loading them  or doing them by hand.  We also decided that we didn't really need a microwave after we took the  one over the stove down to rip out the old backsplash.  We replaced it with a simple range hood.  Not only do we not miss these things, but that is 2 less appliances to replace when they inevitably stop functioning.  I also gave up my coffee maker for a simple Chemex and a kettle.  My old coffee maker would have taken up a fourth of the total counter space in the kitchen.

Our last home had 2.5 bathrooms.  This one has 1.  As today was my bathroom cleaning day, I can tell you that I do not miss an extra toilet, sink, or tub to clean--not one bit!  And, since we have exactly 7 rooms, I only have to clean one room a day.  I'm technically not even cleaning our ***Room of Requirement yet since I can barely walk in there, let alone vacuum.

Living with less house has been better for us. I know that our house is still huge to some.  And, that we have a long way to go in simplifying.  We don't miss the extra space at all.  I think with some well placed built in shelves that it will work even better than our previous home with more space. And, it frees up time to do things we enjoy (besides compulsive vintage shopping!)

We aren't completely finished with anything in the house, but here is a little before photo for comparison to the first photo.  I'm going to pretend my kid didn't just tell me that this red kitchen looks better.  We need to have a little talk about keeping certain thoughts to ourselves.

Here's to a simple New Year!

***affectionately named since if you can't find a place to put something, it goes there.  If you are looking for something, it is probably in there.

Vintage Junky Christmas 2014

Two sleeps until Christmas and I managed to pull together my first blog post in months.  I have been sharing progress on our new old house on Instagram  quite a bit and Facebook as well.  I just haven't had the whole house photo ready when it has been decently light in awhile.  Usually, we have our dining room table covered in books and projects which is okay.  I, for one, would rather see a semi clean room.

One of the best things about moving is finding new homes for your old stuff and loving it all as if it was new again.  And, it was no different pulling out our Christmas things.  I had purged a lot of extra stuff last year, so I didn't have much to sort. 

The place got snowflaked as usual.   I made a few new things, but I really tried to keep things super simple.  It is easy to overwhelm this smaller space with stuff.  

We weren't near my favorite place to buy mistletoe this year, so I made a little felt kissing ball to hang in the arch between the living room and the dining room.

I made some new stockings this year.  I loved our old silhouette ones, but I also love change! I recently learned how to knit socks, so I decided to knit some giant socks!

I bought very little to decorate with this year.  The poinsettias and the tree were just about it.  I foraged the yard for red berries and some cedar clippings to put in beakers and birch pots.

 We finally managed to use our drum over a tree stand.  It wasn't easy.  It wasn't pretty getting it up.  It may be tilting ever so slightly at the moment, but my whim was fulfilled.

I made some letters out of felt for the wall above the mantle and I also made some slightly larger ones to pin on our stockings.  I "borrowed" or "shared" the magnolia leaves from an empty house on our street in order to make the wreath around the letters. I like the way the green has faded now.

I decorated the kitchen just a bit and the bedrooms too, but I haven't been able to get a good photo of them.  I will post more progress house updates after the New Year.  I have to be honest, Instagram is my outlet of choice right now, since my Mac has been under the weather.  We have done a lot to the house, but there is quite a bit to go, especially the small details.

I hope you all have a wonderful, cozy holiday!  Happy Christmas Everyone!


Wow!  I really haven't been keeping up with this old blog and there has been so much to write about lately.  We have been making updates to our new old home.  Some, like our new counters, were planned.  Others, such as the new heating and cooling system installed just yesterday, were not.  So many things have been surprises in this house.  We don't feel that the previous owner did much upkeep.  And, while I try to keep my blog positive, this has been frustrating to say the very least.  It has slowed us down to to the things we really want to do.  Right now, we are working on the back splash in the kitchen and I hope that will be finished really soon.

We have (ahem, the Mr.) has been installing the lights that I picked out and had rewired or purchased new.  It is so hard to get a clear photo of this one.  The actual fixture is new from Schoolhouse Electric, but the globe was found in a vintage store in Knoxville.  The detail on it is so pretty, but the hallway is pretty dark.  I will see if the Mr. can use his camera and knowledge to get a better photo.

 Our room is newly painted and it nice and light!  I framed a collection of bird prints that I received for Mother's Day.  Now, I just need to repaint the peeling trim in here and find a bed or headboard.

All the windows in the house were covered in wood, stainless steel or pleated blinds.  I've slowly been taking them down and hanging drapes.  I had some great linen Roman shades made for the windows and doors that I didn't want to install drapes.  My friend Annie from My Swallow's Nest did a  wonderful job and they are so much lighter than the dated wood blinds.  I did decide to leave the wood trim unpainted throughout the house.  I am only painting over previously painted trim.  The wood really grew on me and it just suits the house and our style right now.  Plus, thinking of painting all the windows made me crazy!
We have had some other changes around here as well.  We have made the decision to cut out many animal products from our menu and our life in general.  We had already limited our meat intake earlier this year and we try to eat very little processed food. Becoming vegetarian is something that has been on our hearts in differing degrees over many years.  We have been doing this for about a month.  We bought a few cookbooks and we haven't been hungry or missing meat.  We are focusing on our meals being primarily vegan, We have had a very limited amount of milk from a local dairy that we have contacted and asked many, many questions about the cows. We aren't currently getting rid of clothing or furnishings right now.  We feel better using them up and wearing them out and not repurchasing leather items.  I know that this can be a controversial subject, but I feel so at peace with this decision.  So, we have been playing around with some of our very favorite recipes and making them without animal products.  Shh... not all of them are made with lentils and quinoa....

 And, for our next change... we took the big leap into home schooling our son.  We have always planned on sending him to public school and that helped influence where we decided to move.  He was even part of a program in a public school last year that we all loved.  But, after much discussion and research, we decided that home schooling will fit our family's needs best, at least for this year.  We have a huge community here that home schools and offers great classes and field trips.  And, while some days are more difficult than others, I can see he is learning so much already.  Right now, we are filling up a nature notebook with drawings and leaves and taking frequent trips to the library.

So, that's what has been going on our way.  Hopefully, I will have some decent after photos soon.... I will get the Mr. to take them with his camera instead of me just snapping!

New House Progress

If you follow long with me on Instagram or Facebook, then you have seen some of these sneak peeks of what's going on in the new house.  We have most of the major stuff finished.  We have new electrical and plumbing and our attic has new insulation and has been sealed.  We have some more unfun, but important things to do, but now it is more about getting it to look and function how we want.
I have been putting up curtains and fluffing here and there in between the chaos that occurs every few days when we have to demo something.  Right now, we are prepping for new counters and a back splash.
I have been steadily hanging pictures in all the areas that have been painted so far.  I have realized that I have so much wall art, mirrors, frames, etc that I really have to pare down after this downsizing.  And it is so hard!  I obviously love almost everything.  Plus, with the plaster walls, I am having to be very choosy about what goes up and where.  I can no longer grab a pack of Hercules hooks and play around with a bunch of extra holes.  I mean, I could, but I don't love having to patch big holes.  I am hoping to sweet talk the Mr into hanging the super heavy stuff this week.

 4 out of 7 rooms are mostly painted.  The inside of the cabinet doors need one more coat, but I ran out of paint.  That didn't stop the Mr from installing the pulls.  We ripped out 2 built in areas in the kitchen and that helped a lot with the painting and expenses in there.... less counter top area = choosing my dream counters!

My absolutely wonderful, spectacular Mr.  did hang up my sash rods yesterday so I could at least take down the paper and tape on one window.  He can't stand hanging anything window related, so I was happy that he volunteered to do it.

I probably won't be able to show you afters for quite some time since everything thing is in the range of not even started to almost finished.  But, it is coming together like the vision I had for this place when I first saw it.

New House (Before)

I am finally getting around to posting the before photos of our new home.  I wish I could share the exterior of our house, but some creepy people spoil all the fun for the others.  So, trust me when I say that when it originally popped up in my Zillow feed I oooohed.  I went right over to where the Mr. was cooking dinner and flipped through the photos.  He liked it too and told me to send the owner (it was listed as a Make Me Move) an email. At that point, we were quite smitten with Maryville.  We were having a difficult time finding what we liked.  It seems the homes sell super fast here, so we knew we needed to jump on this one.  I think that was a Wednesday evening.  She wasn't ready to show it yet, but said we could come on Saturday.  She also had a few others who wanted to see it.  I asked for her first appointment.  On Saturday, we saw the house and had scheduled to look at one other while we were here.  In between the appointments, we talked about how much we really loved this one.  At the next house with the agent, we asked if she could help us fill out the paperwork to place an offer. We submitted an offer at 4 that day.  There was a verbal offer from another party that day as well.  We found out the next day that our offer was accepted! And, that is where I am going to end the story of our home buying/ selling process since it was completely submerged in stress from that point up until late last week.  So, moving on to the before photos.  When we saw this house, we knew that we were going to make many changes.  But, we love its bones and its location and its size!  

This house has 2 or 3 bedrooms depending on if you consider a room a bedroom if it doesn't have closets.  This is also the only room with carpet, but we were told that it has hardwood underneath, but not necessarily pretty hardwood.  Once I get the boxes moved, we will tear up a little to see what we are working with in here.  Most likely, we will paint it instead of trying to match the stain on the existing wood.

Here is a true bedroom with 2 closets.  One of those will likely disappear.  

Here is another (the largest) bedroom.  In here, we will paint and change out lighting and the window treatments as well.

We have a looooong hallway that has many doors and doorways.  It was so much fun taping off and cutting in around those doorways when I painted earlier this week.  A much lighter color than this medium grey, by the way.

This is the dining room and I do like the color in here, but we have a shady yard, so everything in the house will be lightened up quite a bit.  Except maybe for the moldings in here and the living room.  I usually really like white painted trim, but these original moldings and the wood framed windows are so pretty.  We will be changing out the chandelier in here though.  We think it may be the only original light left in the house, but up close it is quite Gothic and not our style.

This is one of my favorite parts of the house. The set up in the living room around the fireplace.  The arch is pretty fantastic too.I dream of having built in bookcases flanking the fireplace. Sadly, the fireplace is gas burning and we may have it removed.  We will definitely be removing the black and shiny brass front. Here, the paint looks quite light, but in the mornings it is pretty dark.

All of the hardwoods are in really good condition except for this spot in the living room that was covered up with a rug when we initially viewed it.  Well played previous home owner!  No worries though.... it is currently covered up with our sofa.  Now, we know our new home isn't without  its flaws.  The main thing that we dislike about it is that the walls in the living and dining rooms and the hallway have a thick, stucco like texture on all the walls and the upper moldings (not truly crown.) They even textured over some of the light switches! I really, really wish they wouldn't have done that. The ceilings are textured throughout the house.  The ceilings are something that may change eventually.  It isn't the easy, spray water on and scrape off popcorn texture either.  And, the walls are the texture over plaster.  Neither will be easy to change while we are living here since the dust will be maddening.  So, I am painting over the walls and hoping to install some beadboard ceilings at a later date.  

And, now we come to the kitchen.  The newest and my least favorite room of the house right now.  Funnily enough, this kitchen was featured in Southern Living magazine 12+ years ago.  It is probably the room that needs the most, even though most people wouldn't agree with us.  I mean, the walls and trim are painted RED.  No bueno! I am not a fan of red.  And the stainless steel blinds and the stainless steel quilted backsplash make everything seem to glow.  I keep thinking the lights are on in the middle of the day and then I realize the room is just glowing and reflecting the red.

There was (WAS!!) this little built in half round cabinet and eating nook combo that is no more!  The Mr. ripped that out soon after closing and I have a little antique cabinet there now.

He also ripped out the wine rack you see. We don't have much counter space and my mixer is big.  It just happens to fit in the area where the wine rack used to be.

New counters and backsplash are in the future.  The Mr started to get rid of the backsplash but they didn't make it easy.  It is installed about 3 inches behind the cabinets.  It will be easier once the counters are out, but it won't be pretty since it is glued to the wall and rips off plaster when it comes down. The cabinets will be painted and the hardware changed too.

Now, besides the exterior, this bathroom floor is what sold the house for me.  It is original and unglazed porcelain hexagon tiles.  We are missing just a few, but we have them and they just need to be replaced. The wallpaper can't come down fast enough!

The tub seems to be original, but the tile surround is new-ish.  I wish it was subway tile and if I get my way it will be one day.  Right now it is white and khaki tiles.  Not atrocious, but it could be better. You can see in this photo the crystal knobs on the door.  All the interior doors have them!  I may have not decided about painting the natural wood work (that red is getting painted!) but the doors will definitely stay natural.

We have a dream sink we are steadily searching for here, but we haven't found it yet.  So, we may do a big pedestal or a pair since this is the only bathroom.

So, there it is!  Our new home!  It probably isn't obvious, but we downsized quite a bit.  We moved from a 2100 sq. ft. home to this one at under 1500.  And, it was by choice.  Some of my family and friends thought we were a bit batty going into a home willingly that only has one bathroom.  And, 1 1/2 baths would be ideal, but it definitely wasn't a deal breaker.  Especially for me since I only have to clean one toilet now.  We truly only lost a playroom and the Mr's office.  The playroom will be combined into the boy's bedroom.... he really didn't need 2 rooms to mess up anyhow.  It is tight, but with some new storage solutions, we will be able to make it work.  And, the Mr. found a studio space outside of the home.  And, we actually have a space for guests to stay now that will be like a sitting/ guest room.

We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are enjoying ourselves in this pretty little town already.

I will have lots of inspiration posts for each room ahead!

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