7 Quick Fixes to Love Your Home More

You've heard "Love the Skin You're In." The same goes for your home.
Love the home you're in. Now. As is.

Whether it's a 1 bedroom studio, a rambling ranch, a fixer upper, or the home you've always dreamed of --- love it. Today. Here are a few tricks that help me L-O-ve our DIY home a little more...

Bring the outdoors in.
Splurge on a little bouquet of flowers if you live in the cold tundra or 
very SOON we will be able to go outside a bring a little nature inside.

Pamper your home EVERY day. Don't wait for company.
Add the warm glow of a candle for no reason at all. 

There's no doubt that we all are looking to SIMPLIFY.
Life. stuff. relationships. 
Posts about beating clutter are by far the most popular but I know that we each
have something we L-O-ve to collect. 
Gather up that collection and just enjoy it.

Get comfy. Fluff a pillow or two and not just for looks.
Use the pillow. Make your home a place of rest.

Gather up some good reads and keep them near a comfy reading chair.

Turn a lamp on. I'm just catching on to this.
Maybe I'm getting old?
The warmth of lamp light just makes everything feel more relaxed.

Find a place for something that makes you smile.
Maybe it's a saying, maybe it's a souvenir from a trip, or maybe it's something that doesn't totally go but you just L-O-ve it. It's a home for YOU so just do it!

Would love to know what you do to love your home...
Leave a comment or follow me on Instagram and I'll follow you back!

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Linking to:

A light of hope in the hallway

We have a long narrow hall down to the children's bedrooms. You don't see this a lot in newly built homes and some would consider it dated, but it is one of the reasons we bought our house. 

Primarily because OUR bedroom is NOT at the end of that hall.

It's great for the kids in many ways. Their doors are all so close together that even if sent to their rooms they can still conspire and chat and torment. 
There's no secret keeping as the doors are not soundproof by any means. 

And perhaps most importantly -- you can start at the other end of the house by the office and sprint through the kitchen to slide down the hall working on form and creativity as if it's an Olympic sport. Recently the boys have changed it in to a sort of bull fighting sport waving beach towels and shouting 'Ole!! to the runner charging in. Why do we take them to the rodeo?

This window frame was leftover from the Farmhouse Market sale. I thought it would break up the length of the hall by adding a little dimension. And...for those curious the far right of the photo gives you a view of the runway they use to get up speed for the aforementioned sporting events.

The collage frames are my very favorite birthday present ever. My dad put these old family photos that I didn't even know existed into frames. The photo of my grandmother above is my very favorite. I was called "Little Wanda" so much of my life because they say I looked like her. This was a roadside stop on a road trip they were on. It's timeless.

And this Cowgirl thing -- well it's not really a phase. I came by it honest. Before my grandfather squandered away all the money my family had a large farm and draft horse business.

You may have noticed this unique light fixture in the first picture.
It happened sort of randomly. At a shop I saw three of these wire basket like things on the wall. It took a few minutes for me to realize they were old lamp shades. Right now the other two are nestled into an industrial looking laundry basket that makes me feel better about dirty socks. But, this one had a life to be lived as a light fixture. 

When cowboy was installing it the fixture which I happened to have laying around didn't cover the whole for the box in the ceiling. I truly just grabbed the pie pan from a shelf in the kitchen and the idea was born. I like it when things like this happen on accident.

Side note: For those of you distracted by the ceiling. It's not quite a popcorn ceiling --
 it's like one notch above it. so be nice.

This little gallery wall won't mean much to the rest of the world, but you can imagine what it does for this mama's heart. Soon I will need to face reality and start adding in their senior pictures.

And for those young mama's out there wondering why on earth I let my kids use the hallway for bullfighting runway stunts --- here's my prayer. It goes SO fast. 

 I still want to plank the ceiling, shiplap up to 3'on the walls and put up cedar trim that better matches the rest of the house, but for now the light makes me smile.

I hope it makes you smile too.

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Linking to:

Simplify. Cut the chaos. Get organized.

I am not alone.

The response from my Clear the Clutter post was overwhelming. We all want to feel more organized and less controlled by stuff. This isn't just about making our homes beautiful but freeing up more time to make our lives and relationships beautiful.

Another attempt at this here around R7 is finally giving in and setting up a system to handle the paperwork. I'm a teacher, so I'm familiar with how much of this paper we send in and out of your lives!! I've hesitated to set it up figuring we would never stick to it. I think we finally have it. 

I'll be honest that having our new white plank wall increases my LOVE for this.
This little basket actually folds up but it's the "inbox" if you will for mail, receipts, and other items that Cowboy and I need to sort through. There's even a handy little notepad in case the world stops spinning and our kids decide to communicate via written notes.

Mostly -- I'm hoping for a little love note from my Cowboy...

This "command center" if you will is set up near the back door. It's a nice central location just off the kitchen, the office, and the stairs. In the summer when we don't need it so much the back door will be open and it will be out of sight and mind. (Teacher perks)

I found this great calendar at Target. We've tried sharing Google calendars, family apps, day planners and all the rest. The desk size calendar seems to work best to keep us all on the same page.
I've always hated the ugly of a big white calendar on the desk or dining table, so this beautiful one from Target hanging on the wall is a little piece of delicious for the eyes to me.

Each kid gets a clipboard for their calendars and invitations and reminders and lists and whatever else would otherwise clutter up the fridge.

The natural light in the space makes it a pleasant place to stand and jot notes and look things over.

I've left room for more clipboards or baskets as we need them.
The most important thing is to keep it simple, so that it works!

One step closer to more time available for the people we L-O-ve!!

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Linking to:

Simple Fireplace Design

Recently, I shared the Before/After  of our family room in a post on DIY gas fireplace. 

Designing this from cedar planks was so much fun!

It has so much natural texture that I wanted a very simplified look that was warm and contemporary while still looking vintage and classic.
Not a contradiction at all.

The simple touch of a floral added the warmth.

Cherry blossoms lend a touch of modern with its clean and simple blossoms.

I needed some height and weight and these iron Pottery Barn candle holders that I've had for literally over 10 years gave just the right lines.

I think there are blue Ball jars in every room in the house, so on the fireplace they add just a pop of color and the glass adds a clean impact to all of the texture.

The medallion is from an old university building and  sets off the fireplace perfectly.

It's all very simple and gives us a warm and comfortable place to relax!

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Linking to:

The Evolution of DIY Fireplace

It's been almost one year since our Family Room was revealed on the DIY network. One of the best features of our remodel was adding a gas fireplace.


You can see in the before photo the black gas line pipe that stretched across the ceiling. 
That's what gave me the first idea of a fireplace that I shared with Renovation Realities.

Although it was not my style, I found this fireplace on Craigslist and ended up getting it for just a few hundred bucks. I knew with a little creativity I could make it our own.

The first step was figuring out where to put it. This was my way of "getting the vision."
Super professional.

We had no idea when we moved it into the house the journey we were in for!

First we had to decide how to position and square up the fireplace, so we could properly place the gas line and venting. As you can see we were TOTALLY agreeing on that process.

It sat like this for longer than we ever thought it would. 
The key to squaring it up turned out to be mark chalk lines on the floor and using a plumb line from the ceiling to establish square lines.

The next challenge for Cowboy was to get the fireplace to light.
And of course for me the challenge was what to do with the 1990's oak.

So he split the gas line off of our hook up in the kitchen which fortunately was just above the fireplace. He also moved the gas line above the ceiling. In addition to hooking up the gas lines you have to hook up to an electric switch for turning the fireplace on.

The lesson learned was you DO NOT hook that switch up to electricity. There are only 12v needs to trigger what they call the "thermopile." After 12 hours of troubleshooting with the owners manual and You Tube we figured out we had ruined ours by hooking up to electricity.

$50 later and a new thermopile -- we had FLAMES!!

We had it framed up and flaming, but still no decision on design.

Finally an idea.
A compromise.

I wanted white and modern. Cowboy voted for wood and classic.

We decided to go with open hearth rather than the raised box.
At this point I saw the vision, but if I was giving into oak I wasn't sure about the granite.

The faux reclaimed wood was the easiest part of the project and I started to see the simplicity that could be involved in the design.

It turned out to be a great compromise. The oak compliments the wood plank ceilings and the granite adds a touch of class to the simplicity of it all.

We learned the steps of installing a gas fireplace, but we probably learned more about ourselves.

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Linking to:

Funny little story about loving Jesus

Don't blink. We've heard this so many times about little bitty towns and about our precious little ones growing up too fast! When it comes to the amazingly giant thing they call parenting, the whole not blinking thing gets difficult when your eyes are desperately drooping in exhaustion. So...maybe that's a metaphor -- Look at me using my teacher talk...

Don't blink. It's so true that we need to pay attention while these little ones are sprouting up. I find my problem is not paying attention as much as it is focusing my attention on the most important things.

I've started a little journal of "kids say the funniest things."
My most recent entry goes a little like this:

While relaxing in the tub tonight my youngest unnamed 8 year old boy comes in to 'spend some time.' He settles in all too comfortably to do his thing, while I on the other side of the shower curtain invent again a plan to add a master bathroom. He breaks up my dreaming by starting our conversation ritual..."Good thing, Bad thing?"

So he tells me his good thing for the day, bad thing for the day, something he's learned and something he's thankful for. In a split second I have a parenting moment of genius and decide this is my chance to throw in a curve ball I've been meaning to add to the ritual. I say "What's something you did for Jesus today?"

After a bit of hesitation he says -- "Well I didn't get in any real trouble today."

After making a mental note that I'm still needing to ask for more grace and less legalism, I urge him to think about something he did instead of something he didn't do. He triumphantly reminds me that he reminded me to pray and boom he's done. My turn.

Good thing, bad thing...thankful for and something for Jesus.
"But Mom, that one should be easy for you. You always do things for Jesus and are nice to people."

Mental note 2 -- I adore that kid.
Mental note 3 -- make sure I'm confessing my mess-ups in front of him more often, because I'm thinking his perspective is a little rose-colored

I humble myself and admit to Him that most of the time I do those things because they are right and not always because I'm trying to show the love of Jesus. I tell him about someone who doesn't know Jesus that I'm trying to talk to every day and show kindness to so I can share with him about Jesus love and hope for us.

The innocence of my well-churched 8 year old says "Oh that's sad. There's not very many people who don't know Jesus."

Mental note 4 -- sheltering him is working.
Mental note 5 -- If I'm trying for a distorted world view I can check that off the list also.

So by now he's comfortably seated in the laundry hamper and settled in for a long talk. I run a little more warm water into the tub knowing I don't stand a chance of shaving my legs anytime soon, and I tell him how there are really a lot of people who don't know Jesus in the world and that even Jesus said there would be many who don't know Him.

He ponders this and asks
"Does so-and-so know Jesus?"
(insert name of 17 year old daughter's guy friend for so-and-so)

I gladly say "Yes, he does know Jesus."

"Oh good because if he's going to be...um...what's it called....you know...oh -- brother in law, then he has to know Jesus!"

My jaw drops and mental notes are flying too fast to be documented. I assure him that I don't think that he will be a brother in law anytime soon and recover with something along the line of I'm glad you want him to know Jesus.

To which the 8 year old replies...
"Oh bummer! I just can't wait to be an uncle!!"

Bath time talk is over. I need to process this.

Processing required  repeating the story a couple of times which Cowboy didn't find even remotely humorous or entertaining. (Dad of daughter thing I guess.)

But here's the thing. I find myself looking for signs that we are doing okay at this daunting job of parenting and that our kids are turning out alright. Too often in my search for signs I look for good grades, clean rooms, nice manners, respectful attitudes and I assess how we are doing.

This funny little incident made me see so many more things I should be paying attention to! Do they love Jesus? Do they love others? Do they want others to love Jesus?

I mean don't get me wrong, I'm not falling off the clutter free, clean your room bandwagon. I still love good manners, good grades and sweet talking children. BUT, that's not what I should be counting as signs of success. Those are signs of progress in teaching little hearts to LOVE!

Anyway -- long story. Simple message. Let's not just look up and pay attention to our kids....let's pause and look into their hearts and souls. We will find every single joy that parenting has to offer right there in that moment and might even find time to blink.

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