A Year of House Projects

This post was created in partnership with Esurance

I spend a lot of time thinking about our house.

We moved in nearly 18 months ago, and while everything was move-in ready, it was definitely not our dream house.

(Because in none of my dreams does my house have acres of green carpet, every wall painted beige, and delightful extra features like mismatched laminate/granite countertops).

We haven’t been super fast to get things done, since we’ve really wanted to do things right and end up with final results we’re happy with, plus we’ve really tried to be smart about prioritizing the projects we work on.

Also, I think that it’s easy to make mistakes if you try to do it all at once or before you really have a feel for how you use your home.

So sometimes it feels like we’ve made very little progress.

But Christmas had provided a nice comparison for me to be able to see what we’ve done since LAST Christmas (when we’d done basically nothing).

Since last Christmas, we’ve:

  • Repainted the kitchen, breakfast nook, and family room, going from beige to white.
  • Replaced all the worn green carpet upstairs with patterned tan carpet
  • Painted our master bedroom white with a navy accent wall and hung curtains
  • Replaced all the furniture in our master bedroom
  • Hung a barn door in our master bedroom
  • Painted Ella’s room, hung curtains and furnished it
  • Painted Ani’s room, hung curtains and (mostly) furnished it
  • Replaced our sad old family room couch
  • Replaced our kitchen table
  • Added bar stools to our kitchen breakfast bar
  • Replaced the chandelier above the kitchen table
  • Painted our family room/exterior door
  • Ripped out the stone entertainment center in the family room
  • Hung new shelving in the family room
  • Hooked up the existing sound system in the family room
  • Hung the porch swing (technically this went up just before Christmas, but whatever) and added a rug to the front porch
  • Repainted my office
  • Hung bookshelves in my office
  • Furnished my office

Although our list of home projects is still milllllles long, this reminds me that we’ve made a lot of progress in making our house somewhere that really is starting to feel like us and a place we like to be.

We’ve also tried to pay close attention to doing things that make the most impact on the house without breaking the bank.

When we were looking for houses, we were pretty in love with one new floor plan in a new community. Unfortunately, the house didn’t have a model, so we weren’t able to actually walk through it.

Then the guy at the sales office told us that they had just completed one of those houses but that the buyers hadn’t closed yet, so they still owned it for another few hours and if we wanted to walk through, we were more than welcome.

Of course, every model we’d been through before then had been gorgeous furnished with every possible upgrade made, so this empty house felt preeeettty different. Our real estate agent called back to the office and asked how much the new owners had spent on upgrades for this house and the sales guy looked it up and told us it was $40,000.

We were all fairly shocked because the house just didn’t look that crazy amazing – it looked pretty average.

Bart and I talk about that all the time as we work on house projects here; if we’re going to spend money on upgrades, we want it to feel like it’s made a big impact, not like “what in the world did that $40,000 go toward?”

For us, that’s meant a lot of painting, which makes a huge difference and costs very little (except for sore arms), and replacing the carpet which changed the feel of every single room in the upstairs for about $2000.

It meant tearing out the entertainment center to the tune of $100 for a crowbar and a sledgehammer and a Craigslist posting for someone to take away the stone.

It meant hanging pictures to make the rooms look lived in instead of bare, and adding inexpensive rugs and pillows and curtains to add texture and warmth and color to various spaces.

Β It’s meant rearranging furniture again and again and again.

It’s meant some little fun projects like painting our back door navy blue.

All of those projects have not only made our house look a lot better without spending a fortune, but also helped connect us to this space and feel a real sense of ownership.

Of course, this house is our biggest financial investment, so we’re also motivated to keep it safe and protected, not just beautifully decorated, so Esurance makes sense because, like our home projects, it’s an efficient choice with a big impact.

I love that Esurance uses state-of-the-art technology to help you pick the right coverage, plus it’s easy to do online (or even on your phone!) and that they’re making insurance something that gives you peace of mind instead of a big headache.

And they have 24/7 customer service because inevitably when something goes wrong, it’s not during business hours (I’m pretty sure everything that has ever gone wrong in our house has done so on a weekend or in the evening).

If you’re in the market for homeowners insurance, check out and their competitive rates and great tools.

And then go paint a wall.

From quote to claim, Esurance is working to help you make smarter, more efficient choices with your home and auto insurance. Using state-of-the-art technology, they offer a seamless online and mobile experience along with intuitive tools that help take the hassle out of insurance.

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  • Reply Whitney December 16, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    I have been searching for some great frames like the ones above your couch. Where are your from?

    • Reply Janssen December 16, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      Fancy place called Target πŸ˜‰ Here's the direct link:

    • Reply Whitney December 16, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      Awesome! I was actually considering those. Thanks!! I love your blog, I have three girls almost the same ages as yours and your book recommendations are always perfect.

  • Reply MommySizedHeart December 16, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    I love how Bart looks at his little girls! He seems like the perfect daddy to little girls!

    Also, we moved into our house a year ago (the walls were Barney purple and pink, 3 different shades of beige,and a yellow guest bathroom+ bedroom… Total dream home!) πŸ˜‚ We've made a lot of improvement with paint and it's finally to the point where I'm started to love it! Just wish it wasn't so expensive to fix up a house!

  • Reply Brooke @ Silver Lining December 16, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Homeowning is a dream of ours. We're keeping our fingers crossed that it happens soon! Love your cute house.

  • Reply Lauren December 16, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    I totally understand the feeling looking at new builds. When we were house hunting, we looked at several houses that were "move in ready" but when we looked at how much more they were selling for we just couldn't justify the cost for upgrades that weren't even our style. Instead we bought a house that was in rough shape in a better location and was WAY below market value. We have been slowly updating it (maybe a little faster since we're selling in a year). Your house looks great and I'm stealing some of your decorating ideas. πŸ™‚

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