Hey guys! It’s Key, the EHD mentee (I love that that rhymes)! Yup, I’m still here, steadily surviving the EHD Design Blogger Bootcamp… I mean, school 😉 If there’s one thing I’ve learned these last few months it’s how much work, and time, and planning goes into growing a successful blog. Sheesh! Em & her team are powerhouses, and consulting with them on how to get my blog off the ground has been a godsend and saved me from several mental breakdowns. But enough mentee talk, let’s get to the business at hand — my makeover project!
Just to recap, as part of the mentorship program, in addition to having access to the EHD team to answer my blogging questions/concerns (which may or may not have resulted in me texting design dilemmas to Emily at 9 am EST when she is on PST time 😬 sorryyyyy.) I will also be making over a room in my house and documenting the process here, as well as on my blog (HERE).
That said room is my home office. Well at the moment, it’s more of a catch-all room with a small makeshift desk shoved in a nook, which I begrudgingly call my “office”. Fancy, eh?
I honestly can’t believe I work in these conditions. Someone call OSHA! And would you believe me if I told you this isn’t the only room in our rental that looks this bad? Well here’s some before pics to prove it.
Shameful, I know.
But why on earth would anyone rent a house this dated? Oh, I’m glad you asked!
I briefly mentioned this in my intro post, but I’ll elaborate a bit more here. You see, I love old homes, and I’ve always dreamed of buying and renovating a fixer upper and documenting the process on my blog, as design bloggers do. But like 42 million Americans, I’m a victim of student loan debt. And the thought of adding a home mortgage to that debt gives me anxiety and literally makes me feel sick just writing about it. Oof!
So what’s a design-enthused, old home lovin, aspiring blogger to do? Wait eons until my student loans are paid off and then pursue my renovation and blogging dreams? ::scoffs:: Nay!
Instead, I had the (questionably) brilliant idea to rent what I call a “fixer-upper rental”. Similar to how people buy and makeover an old home, I would rent and makeover a dated rental and document the whole process on my blog. I must say that writing that out and reading it back to myself makes me question my intelligence.
At the time, it seemed like the perfect solution for me to be able to pursue my passion for design and blogging, sans going into debt. Plus, I’ve always felt like renters were a forgotten population when it came to design content, and I was eager to fill that void.
So when it came time for my husband and I to find a rental, similar to Jess’ rental search, I had a pretty detailed list of wants. Not so similar to Jess, my wishlist was comprised of things people typically don’t wish for (with the exception of #5).
1. Older home
2. Dated/needs work (and a landlord willing to pay for updates)
3. Ugly kitchen
4. Gross bathrooms
5. Great neighborhood
And can you believe I found a rental that checked every box! Apparently, dated rentals with ugly kitchens and gross bathrooms aren’t in high demand. ::shrugs::
And here we are! 2.5 years into this (not so) brilliant fixer-upper rental idea, and the only room completed thus far is my kitchen. Originally, I thought every room would be finished by now. But whether it’s because of lack of time, lack of money, or sheer procrastination, there seems to be a huge discrepancy between the timeframe I initially set in my mind, and the timeframe it actually takes me in reality to accomplish a home project. And I’m not just talking about large projects, like updating the bathrooms. I’m mostly referring to those smaller tasks, like organizing the junk drawer in my kitchen, which has been on my to-do list since last January. Please tell me I’m not the only one with this human flaw. Everyone has home projects they keep pushing off… right? Everyone (except maybe Marie Kondo) has a junk drawer that needs organizing….RIGHT?!
Needless to say, I have plenty of ugly spaces that I want to make beautiful and document the whole process. Just like the legit (read: wealthy) homeowner design bloggers do…. except I’m a renter, and kinda broke. So this should be an interesting journey!
But I digress. Back to the makeover…
First things first, the blue walls and yellow trim has got to go! Unfortunately, that’s a little easier said than done because all of the trim, windows, doors, even the freakin’ door hinges are painted with oil-based paint, which means there’s some additional prep work (ie. sanding, special primer, etc.) that has to be done before I can slap a fresh coat of latex paint on. Needless to say, the paint job is going to be laborious and a HUGE part of the transformation. That’s why I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be partnering with KILZ for this makeover.
I’ve used this KILZ Adhesion Primer in other areas of my home and quite frankly, it’s the only primer brand I trust now. If I tried to paint directly onto my trim and walls as they are now, it would come off in big sheets. I’m sure you can tell that changing the walls in this room is going to make a HUGE difference…but it literally wouldn’t be possible without first priming with KILZ, so I am so grateful to have them as partners for this project.
Once we get the new, fresh, clean base up on the walls, I’m planning to go a little bit brighter and airier in here. Trying to go straight from this saturated blue to a lighter choice would have been a nightmare, so again…primer to the rescue:) As a bonus, KILZ also has their own line of paint products, so once I have a blank canvas, you know I’m going to be back here asking your opinions on which wall or trim color I should pick!
Spatially speaking, the goal is to transform this room into a multifunctional space, serving as an office, lounge area (read: girl cave) and guest bedroom if/when we can ever safely have guests over again. I also would like to leave some floor space for me to exercise (getting fit is another one of those “projects” I keep pushing off). Sounds like a lot, but the room is fairly spacious. It’s about 12×20. However, because the house is a cape cod style, there are awkward bump-outs from the dormers that eat up some of that space. But, it creates great nooks and crannies that will allow me to divide the room into a designated work zone, and a lounge zone.
Here’s a 2D floorplan so you can get a better idea of the layout. And if you really want to see the room in all its glory, I made a before tour video on my IGTV that you can check out here.
Now let’s talk design.
This is the part that makes me nervous for a few reasons:
- I’m finding that the older I get the more my design style is evolving. Like, day by day, minute by minute, insta scroll by insta scroll evolving, which is making it hard for me to nail down a design direction for this space. I’ve done some calculations (based on recent purchases that I no longer like) and I basically have a three-month turnover rate when it comes to changing up my style. So from now on, I’m only purchasing items that have a 90-day return policy because who knows when my current love of California casual will be overruled by my fascination with the “Eccentric English Grandma” aesthetic that this blog so graciously introduced us to last year (here).
2. Prior to being the EHD mentee, my mom was pretty much the only person who read my blog (and what mom doesn’t think everything their kid does is great…even when it’s not). So this is the first time I will be showcasing my design and home to millions of eyeballs. And as kind and supportive the EHD community is (I love you guys so much), y’all can be VERY opinionated. It’s actually what I cherish most about this community, but it’s also a bit nerve-wracking to know that my design will either be loved or hated by the masses.
3. I’m an enneagram 3. So there’s that. #PerfectionistProblems
Public scrutiny aside, “Organic Coastal Cottage” is how I (currently) describe my aesthetic and this is the initial inspiration board. It has a mix of modern and vintage decor. It’s light and airy with earthy tones and textures woven in, and a subtle coastal vibe. But let me not pontificate as if I’ve created some new design style. It mostly resembles the effortless and minimal California casual aesthetic that we all know and love, but I want to incorporate more of a cozy and collected feel (like a cottage). So California casual meets cozy cottage is the vibe I’m going for.
There are also a few DIY’s I want to tackle in this space. One is building some type of partition wall to create some privacy between the lounge area and office area. I love this DIY rope wall idea. Second, I’m a firm believer that every dormer deserves a window seat! So I plan on building one. It will be the perfect spot to curl up with a good book!
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…. I told you guys my design style has been in a state of constant evolution. Well, over these last few weeks I’m slowly finding myself being drawn to spaces that are layered with color and pattern, which as a self-proclaimed neutral loving minimalist makes me feel like I’m having an identity crisis. I’m not sure if I should stick to my tried and true “organic coastal cottage” roots, or lean into this more cheery and dare I say maximalist aesthetic. Since this is supposed to be my “creative” space, if there was a room to step outside my comfort zone and take more design risks, it would be this one.
So I made a second inspiration board that I’m calling, “Understated Maximalist”. And the more I look at it, the more I’m falling in love with the vibe. But I would love to get your vote on which mood board you think I should implement. Remember a few years ago when Emily did the “I Design, You Decide” series? It’ll be kind of like that! Except there will be no fancy voting system. And you don’t get to stay here when it’s done. And I may or may not actually go with the design board you choose 😉 Okay so it’s nothing like the I Design, You Decide series, but it will be so helpful to get your thoughts and opinions along the way! So head over to my blog here and take a look at the alternate mood board option and weigh in!