I am a list maker. I love checking off boxes next to my to-dos. Coworkers used to tease me because I drew little boxes next to my notes in meetings, just so I could check them off when I was done.
I still make myself to-do lists with little boxes, there’s just no one around to tease me about them now. As much as I love my lists, sometimes I fall into the trap of focusing more on what didn’t get checked off, rather than what did. The unchecked items get more attention because they become the start of tomorrow’s list. They carryover. They’re what’s left to get done.
But what about all the checked boxes? The ones I accomplished. Everything I was able to finish. They’re tossed away when they should be celebrated.
In my home, I spend a lot of time thinking about what is left to do. Sometimes I forget to celebrate everything that has already been done. Right now it doesn’t matter what else we want to do, it matters what wonderful things we’ve already done to make this our home. So I thought today I’d have a mini celebration and share our home victories. Instead of a typical home tour that goes room by room, I want to highlight specific projects that really changed how we use and enjoy our home.
As you might have heard, my new book Project Home is available now. In it I share a list of eleven ways to get and stay motivated to complete more projects. One of my favorite motivational tips from that list is to celebrate often, both during the project and when it’s complete.
Set interim goals to help track project progress and make sure to celebrate each milestone reached. This is especially important for larger projects, but also works on smaller projects. On a small furniture painting project, I might hold off on eating lunch until I get the piece primed. Once it’s primed, I celebrate with a lunch break. Afterward, I find myself more motivated to do the next step.
On larger projects the milestones might take longer to reach, but celebrating them is also sweeter. I remember the night we celebrated the new flooring in our basement. We had a professional install the carpet, but I installed the cork flooring. The night it was all done, we went down as a family and literally rolled around on the floor. We enjoyed the cushiony softness of the carpet and let the boys run around for the first time without worrying they’d scrape their knees on concrete. That’s how we celebrated!
They don’t have to be big, but celebrations along the way help you look forward to the next milestone and keep up momentum.
Excerpt from Project Home by Jackie Hernandez
It’s important to pause every now and then, whether your in the middle of a project or inbetween projects, and celebrate your home where it’s at right now! Please scroll on down and celebrate with me. Then post in the comments and let me know about some of your home accomplishments.
21 Favorite Home Projects We Did in the First Five Years
Before we dive into the home project success tour, I just want to say 21 projects might seem like a lot but to put it in perspective we’ve lived here for over five years. So when you do the math, it’s only about four projects per year. Some were small and some of the big ones were contracted out. Please don’t get caught in the trap of comparing your project list to mine. We each have to take things at our own pace. The point of today’s post is to reflect on the awesome things you’ve already done in your home, no matter how short or long that list is.
1. Chose a Whole House Color Palette and Painted All the Walls
The first thing we did in our home was repaint even inch of builder blah paint color. We chose a whole house color palette and then worked room by room repainting all the walls.
2. Overhauled a Neglected Dining Room
This was the first (and one of the only rooms) I’ve ever decorated from top to bottom in one go. I worked on this room when Jax was still a baby. It was easy to makeover a room that wasn’t heavily used. This big project was broken up into a bunch of smaller projects including: installing board and batten, hacking a DIY crystal chandelier, making silhouette art, and sewing chair slipcovers.
3. Striped the Half Bathroom
With our new dining room for entertaining, I wanted our guest bathroom to have a bit more personality. Painted stripes did the trick.
4. Started a Rotating Gallery Wall
This is still one of my favorite decorating projects to date. I first put up this gallery wall over four years ago. Every year or sometimes more often we swap out the pictures when we get new family pictures. I even tell my photographer before the shoot how many portrait vs. landscape images I need so she can capture the right shots.
5. Changed out the Kitchen Light Fixtures
We took down the ugly builder lights our house came with and installed glass globes over the kitchen island. Once we did that the matching ugly chandelier over the kitchen table had to go. I replaced it with a drum shade pendant that I applied a pattern to with fabric.
6. Made a Guest Haven
Since we had just had a baby when we moved into this house, we had house guests right away before we could properly decorate the guest room. As soon as I came out of the first year baby fog I got the guest room in order before my in-laws visited a second time.
7. Built a Deck
Our house did not have a deck when we bought it…just a door from the kitchen to nowhere. We hired a contractor (after getting designs and bids from three different contractors) to build our ginormous deck, which give us tons of extra outdoor living space in the summer months.
8. Installed Tile Backsplash and New Hardware
Although I love white kitchen cabinets, we decided to work with the nice, brand new cinnamon maple cabinets. To freshen up the look, I installed a glass tile backsplash and polished nickel hardware.
9. Centralized Our Cleaning Supplies and Routine
After two years in our home, it was time I came to terms with what it really takes to keep a home clean and tidy. Instead of cleaning supplies scattered all over the place, I created a cleaning “command center” in our laundry room.
10. Fit a Desk in Jose’s Room
As José approached grade school I wanted to fit a desk into his room. I had him help plan the new furniture layout on graph paper. Then, he helped me put together his new desk. I surprised him with a huge DIY faux newspaper art piece featuring him as a secret superhero.
11. Carved Out a Mud Room Command Center
Once I had a school aged child, I knew I had to get serious about organization. My first step was to create a family command center in a tiny corner of our mudroom. I mounted an accordion file holder on the wall and gave a secondhand file cabinet a facelift.
12. Finished the Basement
We wanted to start on our basement finishing project before we needed the living space. With two growing boys and long Minnesota winters, we knew we’d eventually want more space. We started early, so we could tackle this huge project in phases. We hired a contractor to do Phase 1, which included framing, electrical, and drywall.
13. Installed Cork Flooring and Carpet in the Basement
Then we took over the basement project, planning to DIY the rest. I installed the cork flooring in half the basement. We got free carpet installation during a special at Home Depot. We used the money we saved on installation to buy the cushiest carpet pad available. It’s like walking on a could in our basement.
14. Turned an Extra Bedroom into My Office (aka My Happy Place)
Once the cork flooring was done, it was time to create my studio. Other than the dining room, this is the only other room where I’ve started from scratch. There were a lot of smaller projects in this room too, including: the built-in work bench with bamboo counters, the stair tread wall shelves and styling the shelves, a tricolor dresser makeover (where I store my fabric), and a giant pin board.
15. Repurposed Unused Storage Space into a Home Gym
There is a large windowless room in our basement that our builder recommended turning into a home theater. We opted for a home gym instead. We both use it almost everyday (and the kids have started working out too!).
16. Painted a Focal Wall and Styled the Nightstands in the Master Bedroom
With all the other projects, our master bedroom was a forgotten space. I brought it back to life by painting a dark moody focal wall behind the headboard and styling our nightstands with new lamps and personalized decor.
17. Created a Playroom with a Magical Daybed and Tons of Toy Storage
In the awkward passage way between the basement family room and home gym, we decided to create a playroom for the boys. In the corner of the triangle-shaped room, I painted a wall mural, recovered the daybed to coordinate, and built rollout toy bins for underneath.
18. Turned a Closet Under the Stairs into a Play House
Around the corner, we turned the closet under the stairs into a play house. The best part was making over the boys Ikea play kitchen with paint and a faux tin backsplash.
19. Built a Game Room Banquette
In this fun basement nook, I built a large upholstered built-in bench and made more than a dozen pillows to top it with. This is the spot for family game night.
20. Resurrected a Vintage Bed
I wish he would stay little forever, but I finally had to face the reality that Jax was no longer the one-month old baby we moved into this house with. We swapped out his crib/toddler bed for a semi-DIY big boy bed.
21. Built a Wet Bar (in progress)
Our basement projects continue. Right now we are working on a wet bar for the family room and game room area. We’ve got cabinets, a beverage fridge, and the countertop installed so far.
Now it’s your turn to celebrate your home!
Wow, this was a fun exercise. I hope you’ll take a few moments to walk through your home or flip through your photos and reflect on how far your home has come. In the day to day grind it always feels like we are not making enough progress, but if you take a look back at all you’ve already done, you’ll see how far you’ve come. Tell me about it in the comments!
My new book Project Home: How to Prioritize Your Home To Do List, Pick the Most Important Projects, and Get Them Done is available now. Get it here.
Linda Thomas says
Wow! Jackie your home is beautiful!
I just bought my house two months ago. I am in the planning stages.
Cheers to you, and thanks for sharing all the ideas.
Congratulations on your new home! Be sure to take time to celebrate all your small victories…starting with unpacking all your boxes :)
Michelle Jones says
Gorgeous, inspiring photos of your home and a great read (as always), thanks Jackie! This is just what I needed to hear right now. I am currently enjoying spending time with my children whilst they are on their 7 week Summer holiday and my decorating projects seem to have skidded to a halt! I was beginning to feel quite down about the house as I felt I wasn’t progressing as fast as I’d hoped since we first started re-decorating our home.However, as I reviewed the projects we have tackled, your essay helped me to see my home in a different light and I realised how much my husband and I have actually accomplished in our home since joining SoD and I feel very proud of all that we have done. Thank you! I look forward to reading your next book!
Michelle, You should feel amazing! You’ve done so many projects in such a short time and your home is coming together beautifully. Enjoy this season with your kids (I am doing the same thing) and know that there will be other seasons where you’ll have more time for decorating!
Wow. I must have started following you at near the beginning for it just seems like a moment ago you were doing these projects. ( you forgot the panel led wall using flooring. You were one of the first!). And I’m over half way done with the book and totally inspired.
But I’ve never allowed myself to stop and celebrate my home…I will think about this great blessing I do have.
Goodness Gwen! How could I have forgotten the bamboo flooring on the wall. It’s definitely a favorite project. See, sometimes we’ve done more than we can even remember :) so glad you are enjoying your advanced copy of the book!
I am also always busy with my plans for future projects and forget to celebrate the projects I have already accomplished! So thanks for the reminder! We have lived in this house for 5 years now and it’s come a long way. I have furnished the living room, made over an unused room and created a playroom for our daughter, wallpapered several rooms. Last week we had our patio paved. I also created several garden beds in our garden and built garden edges.
As I work full time out of the house, progress is slow, but I enjoy every little step…
Jule, That’s amazing! You’ve done so much already to make your house yours. Thank you for sharing. (Let me know when you are in Minnesota and can help me make some garden beds!)