This what I’m calling an “earn and learn” year – where I take a break from any personal MAJOR renovations of our own, giving our bank accounts a chance to recover, and me time to get my head around what I want to do next (outside of major renovations). I love taking a break to look more closely at our numbers and see if we can do it better next time before we jump into the second house on the property. I’m really excited about this year because of this – it’s a year I get to fill the well instead of deplete it. I get to enjoy our property mostly without construction AND I get to hang out with my friends and family while I help them with all of theirs. Here’s what we have happening…
My Brother’s River House
This is our big projector for the year (outside of finishing the farm which I wrote about here). For those of you paying close attention (thank you!) we introduced my brother’s new build on the river in this post on March 21, 2021. That’s almost 3 years ago. We have shown a bit here and there, but what I’ve learned is that with all the noise on the internet showing multiple large construction projects at the same time doesn’t work well – construction just looks like construction. I’ll write a more detailed recap and timeline but let’s just say that the fun stuff is happening like NOW (tile, flooring) and we have been recording and capturing content to roll it out in a way that is easier to follow (rather than mixed in with the farmhouse, and having it drawn out over four years). As a reminder this project is with Architect Annie Usher (she did such a good job), Contractor JP Macy of Sierra Pacific (love him always) and Max Humphreyanni (my friend!).
Fun fact, creating the content around design is almost as time-consuming as the design process itself and I was still building my team up here so we figured we’d start fresh and relaunch the project – In less than TWO WEEKS with all my learnings thus far and where we are at in the process. You will likely see reveals in late spring (bathrooms first) and then room by room as we decorate. What I can say is that it’s such a dreamy, warm, open space full of so much natural light and surrounded by the prettiest views of the river and trees. It’s definitely mountain house 4.0 and a big departure from the farmhouse. But it’s hard because a lot of it we designed over 3 years ago!!! So I’m in the process of pushing my brother and SIL a little to add more color, more pattern, etc (it’s working). I’ve learned A LOT which I can’t wait to share.
The Garage, Carriage House, And Sheep’s Barn
We finished major construction on our farmhouse in September 2022, but then the outside landscaping took until June (and it was intense). While I’d love to continue taking a break from construction there are multiple projects on the property that we should tackle, starting with what looks like the 3-car garage. It’s 150 years old absolutely falling apart, but we can’t just demo and build new because it’s likely too close to a property line. While this project will likely still cost a lot and of course, we’ll have construction again on the property (I’ve loved the piece and quiet of a post-construction home!!), I don’t think it will take a lot of design brain space on my end. Plus where it is on the property (near the edge, far from the backyard) we can still enjoy the the backyard without it being disrupted at all by machinery and crew. Our thinking is that if we can get the garages done to be finished, safe, and with concrete, drywall, and basic electrical then we can move the prop storage into there and then in 2025 we’ll have saved and planned for the other house on the property. While I’d love to push it off as it’s going to be a less fun way to spend money, in order to continue to rehab the whole property this needs to happen. I hope you like garage content!!!!!! The truth is I was not really going to make this content, because the second that I do I end up spending so much more money on it. I truly just want this to be where we do something super basic and functional and not blow through our savings with details that just aren’t necessary for a garage interior. Let’s see what happens!!
Portland Friends And Family Projects!
It PAINS me not to be able to help my friends and family when I’m super busy (but I just can’t, I’ll simply disappoint them which creates stress for me) and obviously couldn’t really help when I didn’t live here. So this year, I’ve “carved out time” (LOL) and I think it’s doable because I have a couple of friends with new homes, big jobs, and a lot of questions. One of the main reasons I moved up here was to be closer to my best friends (30+ years of very close friendship) and my family/siblings. So as I take a break from my major renovations (fine, besides the garage) I’ll spend time with them and help them spend their money LOL. Also, we are all so busy with our jobs and kids that are different ages so I love that this is an excuse to see them more frequently. Also Max helped them pick the wallpaper and paint colors and they look incredible – more to come asap.
In order to do these they have to be low stakes and low lift for me – just decorating, furnishing, painting, etc, but no remodeling (and no stressful deadline). I can’t volunteer my time for renovation – it’s just too stressful and too high of stakes. So if they remain easy, fun, and without deadlines, then I try to just charge just enough to cover the cost of blog production in hopes that the blog posts will produce some revenue to pay for my time. If they become like a “job” then I’ll revisit the deal so that it makes sense for everyone and the relationship stays healthy. This year we’ll be decorating two of my closest friend’s homes (both traditional, but one wants to go more “Soho House” and the other more “rustic lodge”). And then as the year rolls out, I’ll also be helping my sister finish up a renovation that was halted for years due to permitting and budget issues and hopefully provide some relief for her (she’s already fully designed and has all materials so I’d likely be more of a consultant). Squeezing these in has been harder than I thought it would be (the weeks go by so fast!) so they might be a slow rollout (that hopefully doesn’t drive them nuts), but right now they are super fun. I work on them on the weekends in the mornings and then text, “Hey, buy this mirror” with a link. I’ll also get things partnered up where it makes sense. I’m trying to leave Fridays open to work on them as by Friday my brain is ready for just the fun stuff.
Family Promise of Tualatin Valley Family Shelter
In September the dream service project fell into my lap. For those of you who remember, almost 9 years ago I did the San Fernando Rescue Mission, a family shelter in LA. It took about two years, we raised money, we got it all partnered up and myself (and Ginny and Brady! OG EHD!) Furnished the whole thing. It was incredibly rewarding and fun. While I want to continue to do these feel good flash makeovers for individual families (we did one over holiday break that was so fun and fulfilling,) I wanted to do something larger, that I can really sink my teeth (and business) into for a while. What I love about doing these shelters is not just how they make the spaces so much better for the families that are staying there (some for months) but also how it really changes the morale of the space for the people who have dedicated working and volunteering there. Social workers are real angels and I want them and the families to walk into a nicely pulled-together warm, uplifting environment. I’m also learning a lot about trauma-informed design which has been interesting.
I’ll go into more detail soon, but we are definitely looking for partners. It’s a 75-room hotel, purchased by the nonprofit (through grants and government funding) and they need to renovate the main floor while updating the rest of the floors. So we’ll start with the other floors (family lounges, staff offices) and then as the construction finishes help furnish the main spaces downstairs (while of course trying to tackle each family room). Currently, we need like 60 bunk beds if anyone has those :)) We had a partner lined up, it felt PERFECT, but then they laid off the whole marketing team, and the project got canceled for now so we are looking for others to help bring this to life. If interested reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Our Second Rug Line
I’m so happy to say that our first drop did so well and we are on to the second (coming out in the fall). I have some requests of my own that I hope you’ll see come to life and Jess has some awesome ideas, too. This process has been way more streamlined than I predicted because Rugs USA is a huge support and has the right infrastructure, so we are excited to keep it going as long as it makes sense for everyone. The success of this one has made us think about what other lines we can do while keeping the company (and my mental state) healthy (i.e. not overstretching and then disappointing everyone). While I’m always looking for new revenue sources to reduce our reliance on social media, I’m taking a pretty slow and thoughtful approach to it all (a benefit of 15 years of hustling I suppose) to avoid some mistakes I’ve made in the past. So we’ll see. We make lists of holes in the market all the time because that’s where I want to put my energy.
Makeover Takeover Reveals (AKA EHD Team Home Projects)
This year we’ll be revealing Jess’ apartment, Caitlin’s dining room, kitchen and bedroom, and maybe an Arlyn space or two. Gretchen (my PDX assistant in all things), also moved into a new apartment that we are hoping to get going on but these MOTOs take at least a year so that’s a late 2024/early 2025 reveal. Mal has a NYC apartment and Kaitlin has a few rooms left in her house to furnish and shoot – all happening behind the scenes. I’ll help with Kaitlin’s but otherwise, these are no lift for me (besides producing the photo shoots, providing some of the budget, social media for partners, and styling) – but fun for you to expect to see on the blog in 2024 (and 2025 LOL).
Oh And A TV Show
Oh right! I’ve signed on to do a TV show this year which I’m excited about, and yet also know that if it doesn’t happen that’s ok (a lot in flux in LA right now). I’ve promised I wouldn’t go back on TV unless it was the right situation (AKA not 60 hours a week, away from my family, spending my own money on the design, etc.) but this one is different and the producers totally get it (and are making it work within my life). Non-scripted design shows famously don’t pay a lot (read Orlando’s blog post about it here) and yet they can cost a lot, so you don’t do it for the money and I don’t necessarily want to become more well-known so I’m not doing it for the fame. Most people sign on to do a TV show to grow their brand and awareness in order to get partnerships (that do pay well). I’m lucky to have partners I love so the reason I’m doing this is because I’m highly motivated by the premise of the show and I think it’s going to be really fulfilling, fun, and without the stress of carrying the show by myself. But let’s just say that Hollywood and streaming are VERY tumultuous right now and while it’s fully cast and the pilot has been bought anything can happen. If it’s meant to happen it will 🙂
Of course, now that I’ve written that all down I’m like WOAH THAT’S A LOT (including the farmhouse stuff) and that doesn’t include blog posts and other larger partnerships in the works! But listen, the only real deadlines we have are the river house bathrooms, mudroom, and kitchen (all need to be revealed by end of 2024). The rest are up to me, just the way I like it.
So We Are Hiring…
We are looking for a part-time social media producer/assistant in Portland – someone who loves design, is obsessed with social media, and knows how to shoot/edit for social. Gretchen and I are trying to stay on top of it, but we need more help (and someone who is social media-specific). We juggle multiple cameras a day to capture stuff WHILE we are doing it and it’s far harder than it looks (which makes me admire so many people who do it by themselves – HOW???). I don’t care if you went to college, where you went, or where you “trained”, I’ve always hired on potential, great attitude, willingness to learn and do anything, bringing good ideas, and work really hard. Sure you need to have basic media skills (editing, some graphic design skills) and you have to LOVE design in order to engage in our projects. It will start part-time hourly, and likely grow. And we have fun 🙂
Hope y’all are ready for a fun year. xx