When The Original Plan is the Best Plan

We spent the month of June doing some house renovations. As the girls grow and play differently, our playroom also changed. Housed in the formal dining room, the playroom sat at the center of our home for over three years. I could read on the couch and watch the girls play or make dinner and peak in on them from the kitchen. It was an ideal spot for creativity and imagination.

It was also always a mess and a source of stress as I tried to find a space of peace in our home. Play, by nature, isn’t tidy or organized but it felt like an overwhelming task to keep it presentable. We knew that one day we wanted to finish a large and mostly unused storage room in the basement but that was in the future. Until a friend asked, Why not just make the unfinished space into the playroom?

IMG_9066I won’t go into all the details, but that’s just what we did. We cut a hole in the basement wall, opening the space to the finished part. My dad painted a bright and welcoming mural on the concrete wall. We covered the floor in mats and moved all the toys downstairs. It’s still an overflowing mess but it’s out of sight and feels more contained. IMG_9655

We changed the playroom into a library/study. I love that the center of our home is filled with books. We kept the legos and blocks upstairs and it’s still clearly a home with kids – an entire bookshelf is devoted to their books. But it’s also much more reflective of the grownups who live here, too.

I had a vision for the paint color for this new study for more than nine months. This was a hope and vision and I kept that color swatch taped to the wall to remind me that one day, the playroom would be reclaimed.

IMG_9703We went to Lowe’s and I told the woman behind the paint counter exactly what I wanted: One gallon of light yellow and one gallon of that same yellow, mixed 50% lighter. She looked at the swatch and said, That’s too complicated. You’d better choose a darker color. What about this? She pulled a swatch from right above mine and suggested using the lightest color on that as our contrast. Quickly convinced that my vision wouldn’t work, I agreed, we went home, and painted a light orange under the chair rail and my envisioned yellow above it.

Immediately, I knew this wasn’t what I had imagined. It looked like an orange and yellow wall rather than a yellow and slightly lighter yellow wall. I thought maybe I just needed to live with this new color scheme and I’d fall in love. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about it; I had my parents come and we held artwork against the new color. I knew I couldn’t live with it.

So, we went back, bought the paint I originally wanted. (This time, I talked with a woman who said, Yep! We can do this!) Frank spent another day painting and immediately, I loved the color. I saw my vision appear on the wall and knew I would love spending time in this room.

As I rearranged furniture, hung pictures, and finally settled into a chair to read a book in this space, I knew I had made the right choice in repainting.

Sometimes, we do need to live with something unexpected and it turns out better. This happened with the paint color in our bedroom and I love the unexpected color so much more than the one I had thought I wanted. Sometimes, in life things go unexpectedly and, in hindsight, those switches in plans are so much better and richer.

But sometimes, we need to fight for our original vision. Sometimes, when we’ve thought and planned for months, that path is confirmed and set. And it’s ok to go back and readjust to make sure we’re on that right path.

As a planner, I need to learn to hold plans loosely, to let the journey take me to unexpected places, and to remember that I am not in control of every single detail of my life.

I also need to remember to trust my own instinct and to remember that I am an intentional person. That I rarely make quick or spontaneous decisions and so, when things don’t go as planned, I need to pause to really evaluate if it is a good new direction or if I need to recalibrate.

I love our new spaces. Right now, the girls are busy in their playroom while I write. The other day, I read while Bea spent an hour building a castle in the study. Our house feels more calm and intentional. And I learned that I can trust my well-planned vision.

How do you balance holding your plans loosely and trusting your instinct? Has there been a time when you’ve needed to recalibrate back to the original path?

A Chaotic Haven

Home improvement shows are my go-to veg option. Especially during tax season, when I can watch whatever I want, I’ll spend my evenings with Chip and Jojo or the Property Brothers, looking at beautiful homes made even nicer. (We watched one of these with a friend visiting from Zimbabwe and it was so uncomfortable watching people make their “must have” list and share the amount of money they had to spend. But that’s a post for another day…)

IMG_1014.jpgI always laugh when a couple talks about wanting a master suite that can function as a retreat away from the kids. At the reveal, it’s always beautifully styled with a throw tossed across a perfectly made bed, a fire in the fireplace.

When we first found this house, we loved the master suite for that very reason. It has a little nook for chairs and a fireplace. We envisioned this space as a place to reconnect, to unwind from parenting, to use as a haven from the rest of our house.

Of course, it’s not. The small bookshelf between our chairs holds our books and a variety of the girls’ favorites. Toys are strewn across the floor each morning as I take my shower. Our big bathtub isn’t used for baths but as a kind of playpen for Elle as we get ready.

Perhaps one day, our white bedspread will always be wrinkle-free, but for now it’s hastily made each morning and the throw pillows are used for forts.

I realize our haven isn’t relaxing and that we could probably train our girls to stay out of our room. But, is that the point of our home? To have rooms that are off-limits? I guess, before long, they will view their own rooms as a quiet haven from the rest of the house, but for now, they want to be near. And (most days) I’m ok with that.

Which home improvement shows are your favorite? Is your room off-limits or do your kids have full run of the house?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “haven.”

What I’m Into 2:15

I haven’t participated in Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into roundup in a long time and for some reason, this February felt like a good time for a recap. It’s been two months since the move and we’re settling in, painting, organizing, and making a new house feel like home.

The weather this month has been a bit crazy – we’ve had days with picnic lunches and days with enough snow to go sledding in the neighborhood. I really can’t complain about our cold snowy days, since we aren’t packed in with ice and the sun comes out in between snows to help melt the sidewalks.

Feb 12 & Feb 22
Feb 12 & Feb 22

Read and Reading
After a slow start in January (I only read one book!), I managed to get back into my groove this month. I finished A Place of My Own by Michael Pollan. I love his books on food, and this one about building his own writing house did not disappoint. I learned so much about the history and philosophy of architecture as I followed Pollan along his amateur building adventures. I love his writing style and ability to meld storytelling with information so seamlessly.

I also read Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison and The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan. I reflected about both here on the blog and highly recommend both for their amazing storytelling and thought-provoking subject matter. (My post on Song of Solomon is here and The Lemon Tree is here.)

Right now, I’m finally finishing Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I had started it before Christmas and for a variety of reasons, didn’t start it in time before needing to return it to the library. I finally worked my way up the holds list and returned to it as soon as I got home. Her description is phenomenal and I can see why she won the Pulitzer.

You can connect with me on Goodreads for all of my reading updates.

Home Improvements
Even though we thought we’d “live with” our house for a while before doing anything, once we started painting, it was easy to just keep going! At first I liked having all the rooms white – it seemed like a blank canvas. But, after painting the basement, Bea’s room, and Frank’s office, the more color seeped in, the more I wanted it!

We just finished our bedroom, and aside from a few decorative items (a reading nook for us with an icon corner is on the way), and I couldn’t be happier. I had seen birch wallpaper in photos for the past year or so, but the price was a bit shocking. So, I enlisted my dad to help us paint a mural. We decided to go with Aspen trees instead of birch, since it’s a bit more “Colorado.” It is amazing!! If you live in the Front Range area and are looking for affordable murals, I’d highly recommend hiring him! (Not that I’m biased…)

Custom aspen mural
Custom aspen mural

It feels so wonderful to be working through the rooms. Up next is (unexpectedly) the powder room. Frank and I also bought our first piece of artwork together for Valentine’s Day. We’re waiting for delivery and can’t wait to hang it in our foyer.

Screen Time
I probably shouldn’t even include this as a category. We tried going to the movies the other day and ended up just walking around and talking. Oops! Especially when face-to-face time is at a premium during tax season, the idea of sitting next to each other in a dark theater seems unappealing. Maybe we’ll watch something again someday… In the meantime, I found out Frank has never seen Jules et Jim, so I checked it out of the library and we’re hoping to watch it this weekend.

Two blogs really stuck with me from this month: A (Love) Note From Your Personal Trainer by Megan Gahan (for SheLoves Magazine) came at a perfect time for me, right when I was at that thick-but-not-yet-pregnant looking stage. And I loved this very honest, very practical advice from Austin Channing, Putting in the Work, supporting people who are figuring out this reconciliation thing. If you’re not following Austin, I’d highly recommend her straight-forward writing.

Over here, my most popular post was Five Things Saving My Life. It was fun to write and think about. What’s “saving your life” right now?

I thought I’d leave you with my favorite picture from this month. Bea has taken her forthcoming role as “big sister” very seriously and insists on singing and reading to the baby everyday. It’s a precious time and I hope the magic continues when the baby is actually part of her life!

Introducing the baby to Patricia Polocco

What about you? What are you into these days?

Linked with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into. Head over there for fun books, activities, and goings-on from February.