Hello, hello! This week, we’re talking about how to add charm and magic to a cookie cutter home. There are endless ways to add personality and character to a newer home and this episode will help to get your creative ideas turning.
You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.
Big thanks to this week’s sponsors! Be sure to check out the offers from Modern Fertility, BetterHelp, HappyDance and JuneShine! All of our sponsor codes can be found on this page.
-Elsie mentions @CheapOldHouses
-Emma mentions her Harry Potter bnb, which you can see pics here and there’s an episode about it here.
-Here’s a peek at Jeremy’s studio (we’ll be sharing a tour this year sometime!).
-We mention our book, Happy Handmade Home, which is FULL of budget-friendly projects.
-Our cabinet painting tutorial—they come out professional and not sticky!
-Elsie mentions her porch light she is spray painting. Here’s a photo of it!
-We mention Laura’s rainbow accent wall.
-How to change a light fixture.
–Gold and brass light fixture guide.
-Favorite wallpaper sources: Spoonflower, Chasing Paper, Anthropologie, Lulu & Georgia, and Urban Outfitters. Here’s a guide to Elsie’s favorite removable wallpapers on Etsy.
-Learn to create your own built-ins here and here.
-If you want to see Collin demolish a stone counter, check Elsie’s renovation highlight.
-Murphy door source.
Thanks so much for listening! We appreciate you! xx- Elsie + Emma
Episode 85 Transcript
[read_more id=”1″ more=”Read More” less=”Read Less”]
Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast. This week, we’re diving into how to add personality to a cookie cutter home, a really fun subject. We’re also sharing the little joys that are getting us through this season, a little something having to do with organizing.
Elsie: So in this episode, we’re talking about how to add personality to a cookie-cutter home, which is one of our favorite subjects. I am currently living in a 1990s home. I wouldn’t call it cookie-cutter because it —
Emma: I was going to say, I want to hear what you think a cookie-cutter home is.
Elsie: Ok, I’ll say, OK, the thing about my home that falls into the cookie-cutter category is the finishes. It has standard 90s finishes. There’s like multiple bathrooms where they use the exact same everything, things like that. You know, just there’s not a lot of thought, not a lot of custom put into it.
Emma: Kind of contractor grade, like when you buy all your hardware in one big pack.
Elsie: Right, but I think that what people traditionally think of when you say cookie cutter is a row of houses where they all look exactly the same, which is not exactly the kind of neighborhood I live in. On the outside our house looks really different. On the inside, I just feel like a lot of the rooms were very like beige, boring, 90s, hadn’t been updated. And you know what I mean. So it kind of falls into that category, but kind of not. But this episode is definitely for anyone who is living in a home that is a new build. Any kind of new build where you didn’t pick everything out is going to a lot of times be somewhat standard. And then anyone who’s living in a home from the 80s, 90s, 2000s or more recently, that hasn’t been updated. So new homes have a lot of advantages. I think a lot of people —
Elsie: Like I, you know, love cheap old houses. I love old homes. But we ended up buying a new home. Why? When you love old homes so much, it’s because they have certain advantages in our area, they’re what’s available. So that was one. But they have other things that are really great. One thing is that a lot of times you get to live in a space that feels fresh and new, especially if you get one of the new, new builds. A lot of our friends in Nashville have moved into these brand new, new builds like think of like how our AirBnB was. If you remember our Nashville, AirBnB, it was a brand new, new build. There was nothing especially interesting about it or unique, but it was fresh, clean, nice. And they have certain modern upgrades. Like a lot of times they have prioritized space for the kitchen and they have bigger closets. Like if you get a new build, you’ll almost always have walk-in closets. And if you get a historic home, you’ll almost always have smaller closets.
Emma: It’s true.
Elsie: There are certain things like that that are nice and a huge advantage for people like me is that you can steer the style of your home into any era you want. So I love that because you’re not locked in. For example, when we were house shopping…in our last home, so we had been living in a seventies ranch and we decorated it really mid century style and we were shopping for homes that were historic, like from, you know, around 1900, things like that from the 20s. And I was so nervous when we were doing that because it was like all this furniture that I love and I’m attached to is not going to fit into a historic home. Not that you can’t take it with you or not that you’re required to buy all new furniture, obviously, because most people can’t do that. But you’re still going to go in with a feeling that it’s not quite right. And in a newer home, you get to kind of pick your decade, which I think is great. Like if you want to pick, like when I moved into this 90s home, I was like, I think I’m gonna decorate it a little bit seventies. And that is fine. I get to do that because the 90s didn’t really have like a strong point of view, at least our home didn’t. And so I think that’s a major advantage is if you’re someone who really likes a certain era but you’re not able to get a home from the era, you can kind of fake it with a newer home.
Emma: Yeah, I agree. I would say the nineties had a pretty strong, like, fashion point of view, but for whatever reason…yeah, the home decor just wasn’t as poppin. People weren’t as I don’t know, it wasn’t as specific.
Elsie: I remember in the nineties the thing that people were excited about in a home was that it was new and there was so much — there are so many big subdivisions that were built in that time. So I think, yeah, that kind of wore off because now it’s not new anymore. (laughs) It’s just kind of boring.
Emma: Just a lot of 90s houses like yours.
Elsie: Yeah, I’m not saying that it’s all disadvantages at all because there’s definitely this one silver lining that you get to steer your decade. And also for my home, I have been using some traditional inspiration and some mid-century inspiration. And you can combine styles too which I think is great. If you’re a person who has very eclectic style, a newer home might be the best fit for you.
Emma: Yeah, I was going to say I actually really appreciate a house that kind of lets you mix styles or just doesn’t really steer you. You get to steer it. I…something about that. Maybe it’s my I have a tiny bit of rebellion in me, but only when it comes to like furniture I guess.
Elsie: Oh! We’ve had this conversation a lot when Emma was last house shopping. She was like I don’t want mid-century home because I don’t want to be in this retro thing.
Emma: Yeah. I just can’t stick to a theme very well. I like to change too much and I just like if I see a good deal on something, I’m like want to consider it instead of being like, oh it doesn’t fit the decade. So the end. And it’s like kind of a bummer. That being said I do live in a historic home. (laughs) But, what can you do!
Elsie: So I talked about my, like, cookie-cutter elements of my home. Have you ever lived in a home where you moved in and it was kind of in that category?
Emma: Cookie-cutter? Well, our Nashville duplex, your side, my side, that was definitely like the most cookie-cutter to me. So that and then also when I did our short-term rental in Florida, that whole neighborhood was a very like sherbet-colored kind of cookie-cutter, new builds. And I did that house, though, is kind of like a vacation theme. It was a Harry Potter themed house. You hear about that in a way, previous episode. So that was kind of different, though, because I feel like it’s not that it doesn’t count, but I’m not sure if anyone would ever decorate their house Harry Potter, like to live in. I mean, I would like it if they did, (laughs) but I’m not sure.
Elsie: Unlikely. (laughs)
Emma: Yeah, unlikely.
Elsie: Well, your home, your home that you lived in before in Missouri, it had some standard features…
Emma: My home I lived in before the one I’m living in right now, it was — it is mid-century, but it had been flipped and in my opinion, it had been flipped and not my favorite way. It had kind of been flipped to look like a 90s house in a way. So it’s like it had elements of mid-century as far as like the layout and just certain like architectural elements of it, I guess. But then it had a lot of tile choices and flooring choices and countertop choices that felt very beige or not super stylish, but new, unfortunately. So that was basically a lesson in I don’t really like flipped houses that much. I think you have to be for me, kind of I don’t know, I have to be very picky if I buy a flip house, because it turns out I like to change things a lot and I have too strong of opinions to really enjoy that. So it ends up being kind of a waste on me. But not everyone’s like that.
Elsie: I always look for a home that hasn’t really been messed with recently because I do think that sometimes it means you get a better price and it definitely means you can get a better before and after photo, which for what we do for A Beautiful Mess does matter because you don’t want to rip out something brand new that’s like kind of, you know, like…
Emma: It’s sad, feels wasteful.
Elsie: Mm hmm.
Emma: Yeah, I agree. I also really like houses when it’s nice if someone’s been there a long time because, you know, it depends. Every owner is different, but a lot of times that means that it won’t have any major, major repairs like they probably have taken care of the roof because they didn’t want to have buckets every you know, for leaks every time that it rains or things like that, because those are the repairs. Those are the things that can suck up all your money. And they’re just not very fun. Like, you don’t get to make the house cute. You’re just like fixing it. So and sometimes flip houses, they actually don’t do a great job with that stuff. They just do the cosmetics. So.
Elsie: We hate a flipped house. Every once in a while. I see like a really fancy one that’s done professionally, but not that often.
Emma: When I see A good one in Springfield, I send it to all my friends right away. I’m like, whoever flipped this, they did an amazing job because it’s just like, you know, I think it’s an art.
Elsie: Oh, OK. So let’s talk about the secret sauce, the things that you can do to add personality. And I put a lot of things with different budgets in here because obviously, you know, we’re all coming from a different place.
Elsie: But yeah, OK, the first one is paint. Paint is so obvious, but I feel like so I have…did you know that you can order the paint like a paint book? Of every paint color that a brand has? A lot of paint stores will just give them to you.
Emma: I’ve seen yours. Yes. I don’t own one yet.
Elsie: So I ordered one from Behr because that’s the paint brand that we typically use and it is so great just to flip through it. And I was doing it actually with Nova I think yesterday morning. And I was just like letting her flip through it and show me which colors she picked, which were the most neon colors because she’s five. And it was so fun. Anyway, I think that being really creative with your paint is a great way to do it, because you can do so many different things and you can also change it when you go to move. So you can really, like, take a big risk with it and there’s really no downside. So you can create moody rooms. I’ve done that recently and I love it. Actually the room I’m sitting in right now is Jeremy’s recording studio room. I don’t think I’ve fully shown on the blog yet. I will put a peek in the show notes. So it is dark green and it has bookshelves all the way around it. So when we bought it all, it was was just an empty white room, nothing special about it. And now it feels super, super custom. But yeah, the moody paint color does a huge, like, emotional thing whenever you walk in.
Emma: It definitely does. It’s also like you can do — I love paint that you can change it because it’s like you might be feeling moody one year and then you might feel like you want a brighter space. Another year…
Elsie: Paint trends are gonna change. Yeah.
Emma: Yeah. Well and so many people are working from home now and that may not be forever, but for some of us, it is forever. For me it is. And I’ve also noticed that I kind of prefer to take my Zoome calls or like work meetings where I’m going to be on video in certain rooms because of the color of the paint and where the window is like it just, you know, kind of changes like certain rooms. I’m like, oh, I look a little bit green because this room is painted green. OK, cool. You know, and it could be kind of fun, though. It can be a little bit of like a psychedelic feeling too. Like it’s not necessarily about I don’t know, I love that paint, for like 50 bucks, you can change the whole vibe of a space. It’s crazy. And you will never regret learning to paint well, like learning to like properly tape things off and sand things down. That is a skill that even if you’re like, I’m not interested in DIY, like I don’t want to own a drill or any power tools, that’s fine. But I still think painting is like the one thing that anyone should learn how to do because anyone can. And it can save you a lot of money and it’s actually very satisfying and fun. You can catch up on audiobooks or podcasts while you’re painting. It’s just kind of enjoyable.
Elsie: I agree. It’s one of the DIYs that I love to do, so you can do, we talked about moody rooms also mural walls. So this is a great idea. If you can’t afford wallpaper or you aren’t sure you want to commit to it, do your own wall with just like a simple stamp or a simple stencil. It’s very easy to do. You can search, statement wall on A Beautiful Mess and we have a whole bunch of them. Like 30.
Emma: A lot.
Elsie: Yeah. Because through the years, that’s one of our main obsessions, because we started off the blog without very much money and even our first book, our first home book, Happy Handmade Home, we really I was thinking about it recently and we really had very small budgets for our home still when we wrote that book.
Emma: We did.
Elsie: And a lot of what we did is with paint.
Emma: Yep. It’s true.
Elsie: So I recommend that for sure. If you’re on a tiny budget and you want to see how to get the most from it, that book is very budget-friendly. So you can also paint trim, you can make cabinets. We have a cabinet painting tutorial. I will link that in the show notes at abeautifulmess.com/podcast. That’s our show notes link that you can always find all of our links at and also you can spraypaint. I love spray painting. Spray painting is probably the most satisfying because it’s so quick it dries so quick. So I have a thing I’m about to spray paint. I have a big lantern for our front porch light that hangs down. It’s like a pendant light I guess. Well, it’s a lantern. And it is really big, like it’s probably almost three feet tall, two and a half, three feet tall. Like it’s bigger than you think just because the scale of the porch area is bigger than you think. It’s all kind of just like jumbo scale, you know? So I tried to replace it for so long. We’ve lived here about eight months now and the whole time I’ve been shopping for a new light fixture. And I finally just decided, fuck this. It’s time to spray paint it. Because I cannot find anything that scale or that even works. And when I got down to it, they’re like, they can be like two to four thousand dollars for a lantern and I’m not, you know what I mean?
Emma: Yeah if you’re not in love with it, that’s not a purchase that’s fun or….
Elsie: Right. I’m not trying to spend my fun light fixture money on a porch light. Right? So that would be a light that’ll go inside the house for me. Personally.
Emma: What color are you spray painting it?
Elsie: Ok, so I got like four colors to test, so in this next week, maybe by the time this episode comes out, if it has I’ll link it. We will be doing it. And I got a light gray because I just wasn’t sure. I got a gold that was kind of a champagne gold, like almost like a little bit of a silver tone. Not the real brassy color.
Elsie: And I got, I think, a creamy white. And those are my choices. And it is it’s not the easiest choice because I really just want to do what’s going to blend with the space.
Emma: And on spray painting, I really it’s worth it, I think, to wear gloves, even if it’s summertime when you’re outside for ventilation, I still think it’s worth it. Just go ahead and get sweaty. It’s worth it because scrubbing spray paint off your fingers is not worth it. And then also those little triggers. Do you buy those that you put on to the can? Certain brands, you can’t necessarily use them, but certain brands you can. And I always use that because, boy, does it help, especially if you’re doing a big project, a big spray paint project. You have the claw by the end of it. (laughs)
Elsie: Yeah, I will like that in the show notes so people can see what we’re talking about.
Elsie: You can also use that to make, like you can make your own spray paint can out of paint. Right? And spray it on. So that’s kind of a cool hack as well if you’re painting like cabinets or whatever.
Elsie: Yeah. So paint the obvious one. You can do so much. Don’t limit yourself. Dream big. Make that arched wall…
Emma: Yeah. I was going to say we didn’t even mention arches and that’s kind of like the big thing right now that everyone’s doing.
Elsie: Everyone does the thing where you take the thumbtack and the string and the pencil and then you draw an arch on your wall and then you paint it in and it goes either like over your bed or behind a bookshelf. It’s really cute.
Emma: It is. And you could do it with tape, too. We can link Laura did one that’s a rainbow wall, but that’s basically a series of arches, you know, a rainbow. And it’s really pretty. And now we’re going to take a short break and hear a word from our sponsor:
Elsie: Actress mom and do it all are Kristen Bell, co-created Happy Dance, the premium CBD Skin Care line to help everyone make the soothing benefits of CBD skincare a part of their daily routine. I love that the ingredients list is super minimal and clean. I really like the lotion. It’s great for relaxing and I use it before bed every night. I’ve been looking for a bath bomb with clean ingredients for a while now and I really like the Happy Dance one. It has no synthetic fragrances and smells really fresh and clean. Happy Dance products are made only with the highest quality and premium ingredients. The Happy Dance packaging is so colorful and fun. I love how it looks sitting on my vanity and I use it every night. Right now, A Beautiful Mess podcast listeners get fifteen percent off their first Happy Dance order, but only when you go to doahappydance.com/abeautifulmess. That’s fifteen percent off your order of Happy Dance CBD skincare at doahappydance.com/abeautifulmess.
With warm weather comes sitting outside and enjoying a nice cold hard kombucha. June Shine Hard Kombucha is the most insanely delicious better for you alcohol. My favorite flavor is blood orange mint. It’s very refreshing. Not only does June Shine have real functioning ingredients. My favorite thing about June Shine is that it’s sustainably produced. They plant trees for those used to make boxes and they also donate one percent of all sales to environmental nonprofits. June Shine has committed to becoming 100 percent carbon neutral and the June Shine brewery is powered by 100 percent renewable solar. I love that they’re transparent about every single ingredient they put into their products. They also deliver. We’ve worked out an exclusive deal for A Beautiful Mess podcast listeners receive twenty percent off plus free shipping on their best-selling variety pack. This is a great way to try all their delicious flavors. Go to juneshine.com/abeautifulmess Or use the code ABEAUTIFULMESS at checkout to claim this deal that’s juneshine.com/abeautifulmess. This discount is only valid on their variety pack. June Shine and can also be found in over ten thousand stores across the country, including Whole Foods, Safeway, Kroger and Publix.
Elsie: All right. My next tip is to express your style with light fixtures and hardware. So this is definitely an important detail. It might sound like it’s not important. Like in my very first home, I don’t think I changed any light fixtures because I didn’t really know that you could, you know, like, it’s something that not everyone realizes. But I would say it’s not super expensive, like I would say, it’s in the medium prices of projects you can do and you can order, you know, there’s lots and lots of affordable places we’ll link a few in the show notes where you can order light fixtures. And then having them swapped out, even if you do it professionally, is not too expensive. So especially if it’s like a chandelier over your kitchen counter or your dining room table, if it’s not something you really love, you can probably get something for a couple hundred dollars that would really blow your mind. And I definitely recommend that. Also, if you’re a renter, you can have it taken back down and take it with you when you go. You can just keep the extra one up in the top of a closet or something.
Emma: Yup. Then you swap it back and we have a tutorial. We can link it in the show notes for how to change out a light fixture. But if it makes you nervous because there are some safety things, you need to know where your breaker box is you need to be aware of, you know, you’re going to be working with electricity. So if you’re not comfortable with that, it is really one of those very affordable things to hire someone to do.
Elsie: Yeah, but if you want to learn, you can save a couple thousand dollars on a whole house. Doing it yourself — Collin does it all the time. It’s not that big of a deal. Yeah. I remember when we got that blog post up that people were kind of like losing their shit a little bit, that it’s like so dangerous. I wouldn’t say it’s one of the more dangerous DIYs. It’s just, it’s just not.
Emma: You need to know that electricity is involved. So don’t be a dumb ass. (laughs) But as long as you’re, yeah. An adult person can learn to do it. I believe that adults are very smart. So you can do it if you want. I will say, though, if you’re doing a difficult light fixture like those kind of Sputnik ones, you know what I’m talking about — you, you may want a partner to do it with you, like a friend or a spouse.
Elsie: Or if it’s really heavy, because when you take down or put up a heavy one, it sometimes is pretty tricky.
Emma: I’ve sometimes had to help certain handymen or contractors if there’s only one of them there that day just just to help hold it while they do the wiring part, because it can be really heavy and a little bit treacherous, you know, and if you drop it, then it’s a big deal. So, yeah,
Elsie: That’s a good tip. OK, and then as far as switching out hardware, this is so easy. So you take your old hardware off, you fill in the holes, sand them once they’re dry. A lot of times if it’s just a single knob, you don’t even have to do that. You can just use the old hole and then, yeah, you just put on your new hardware. So all you need is a hand-held drill and that’s about it. And yeah, new hardware, fresh hardware makes such a big difference because it’s very unlikely that you’re going to buy a home where you love all the hardware. If you didn’t pick it out, especially if you’re like me, like I, I just like love like I love picking out hardware. It’s like a passion for me. So I’m never going to leave what’s there unless I’m just not getting to it yet.
Emma: Yeah. I remember this being like kind of one of the first things too that I would do in high school, like change out like your drawer knobs or something, because I remember we would get because we were, you know, in the age where the Internet was like just starting like when I was in high school, we had like dial up at my house. So I didn’t do a lot of online shopping back then.(laughs) But we would get like Delia’s we would get the anthropology magazine in the mail, you know. And these this was like Pinterest for me at that age because I didn’t, we didn’t have that. So I remember being so obsessed with Anthropologie hardware and it was really fun to dream about, like swapping out your drawer knobs, you know, in your high school room. Like that was a big deal and you just needed a screwdriver. So, like, you could do it, you know? (laughs) So, yeah.
Elsie: Yes. I remember when I first learned about Anthropologie that I wanted every single hardware in my house to be a little animal. It’s so cute.
Emma: Yes, exactly.
Elsie: I’ll still do an occasional little animal. So but yeah, it used to be like every single thing.
Emma: There’s nothing wrong with a little gold deer, you know, or whatever! (laughs).
Elsie: (laughs) Yes! Ok, the next tip is add wallpaper. So if you live in a cookie-cutter home, I really think this is the most powerful thing you can do is add a wall, add or wallpaper in a room or even just one wall. So if you’re on a tight budget, just do one wall. If you have a little bit of a flexible budget and you can find a good deal on your wallpaper, do the whole room. I think if you have a choice, always do the whole room. Unless you know it’ssomething you’re going to swap out soon. You know that it’s something that, or if it’s just really expensive wallpaper and you can barely afford it, then just do one wall.
Emma: Yeah, I was going to say it can save on budget. And so that would be the reason I would do it if I was like, I really want this wallpaper, but if I do the whole room, that’s all my money forever. (laughs)
Elsie: Yeah. It depend so much on the size of your room. Like I’ve had rooms like when I’m doing a. A bathroom or something where it’s like six hundred dollars for the wallpaper I need and then like recently, like with my office, it’s like over four thousand dollars for, you know, all those walls. It was doing the ceiling and it can really add up. It can be, and then, yeah, when I started delving into the more like fancy wallpapers, it was a little shocking.
Emma: Get a little sticker shock sometimes.
Elsie: Yeah. But I really believe that nothing adds personality like wallpaper because it’s something that, you know, that you picked that’s just custom for you. And I think that you should definitely spend some time. Don’t just spend like an hour a night, spend like a week shopping for your wallpaper, like give it your heart and your soul, because this is a really good opportunity for you to express personality in your home.
Emma: Yes. And I would also encourage buy wallpaper samples, because…
Elsie: Good point.
Emma: I love to hang those up on the wall and kind of see, like, what the light in the room looks like. I did that in my nursery recently. I shared I put up a spoon flower wallpaper and I think I had six that I was considering. And I put the samples up on the wall. I actually just used glue dots and I just left them up for like a couple of days. Like, I wasn’t like installing them proper.
Elsie: I will say from experience, like I’ve done a lot of wallpaper now. Always order the sample, if you can, because sometimes it looks really different in person.
Elsie: With a lot of the removable wallpaper places, I’ve gotten samples and where it looks like really cartoony in a bad way, where I was just like, yeah, I’m not going to use that because it doesn’t have like that rich luxe feeling that you want from wallpaper. And then I’ve had fancy brands of wallpaper where it looked pixilated, which is the biggest disappointment because maybe some people would be able to get past it. But I personally couldn’t because I want to have wallpaper that looks good in a close up picture and a far away picture. So, yeah, if you have a chance to order a sample, definitely do it. And every once in a while there’s other little things you like, maybe there’s like a metallic element that you couldn’t see in a still picture, but you’ll be able to see it when the sample comes. Sometimes the color is a little bit different, you know, things like that.
Emma: Yep. There’s been times I got a sample too, and I liked it more. I was like kind of like, I might not like this, but we’ll see. And then it came and I was like, oh, this feels even more luxe than I thought or, you know, whatever. So it just pays to do that, I think.
Elsie: Yes. I’ll put some links to some of our favorite wallpaper sources in the show notes today. The next tip, I think this is a really, really good one for fixing up a cookie-cutter home is to add built ins. So I’ve been doing this like crazy in our last three or four houses and it makes such a big difference. So what we do when we add a built-in, it can be in a nook. It can be a whole wall of shelves. It can be like in our home where we are now. There’s kind of like a small wall in our entryway that it’s like on one side of it is a room. And on the other side of is a hallway. You know what I’m saying? Just a very small little like a five-foot wall and it’s a plain wall. It would look, it would make sense to just put art up on it. But one day I came home and I had the idea to build it into shelves and it has the space to pop out a little bit because I was thinking of putting a bench there. So it definitely has the space. And I know that when it’s done, it’s going to look like it was always there, No one. And it’s going to add a lot more of like an interesting look to our space. I think that the biggest thing that you can say negatively about a newer home or a cookie-cutter home is sometimes that it lacks detail. So when you add in these details and you go through the proper steps of trimming it out so that it looks like it was always there, your trim’s matching, it’s, you know what I mean? It’s built-in. It is such a game-changer.
Emma: I agree, because there’s a lot of times I look at houses on Zillow and it’s not like I would buy it just for the window seat or something. But you remember it, you see it and you think, oh, how charming. Oh, look at that little this thing in the room, a little, you know, window seat or whatever it is.
Elsie: It’s surprising how much those little details can mean to people or the absence of them can kind of like make your house blend in with all the other houses like our Florida houses were a great example of this, because it was a whole neighborhood and almost all, but I would say like a large number of the houses were listed on AirBnB and they all looked exactly the same. And the decorations would be like amounting to like a Disney poster or something in a room. Yeah. So if you take the time to customize the house and make it look different. Like that stands out a lot. And it’s the same thing when you go to sell your house. And honestly, it’s the same thing just to live in it and enjoy it along the way. Our current home that we’re living in, we’re not planning on selling it anytime soon at all. But yeah, so we just took this nook in our dining room, let’s talk about this. You know the nook with the stone?
Elsie: So what it was was just basically like a cut out nook in the wall where it kind of looked like bookshelves, like a bookshelf could fit in there, like if you, you know what I mean? If you wanted to, you could stick a bookshelf in there and it would be flush. And it came with a stone shelf that was set into the wall. And it was really, really high. It was like counter height. So it made the whole room look off scale. When you looked at it with the dining room table, it basically made the dining room table look like dollhouse furniture and shrunken because it was so different in height and it was really, really big. So what we did is we ripped out the stone, which there’s a satisfying video on my Instagram, my personal Instagram @elsielarson under renovation highlight. If you like to see someone demolishing a stone, it’s there. So then we built in inset shelves. So there’s three drawers like and it’s like storage for all of our dining room stuff, all of our fancy gold silverware that’s just for holidays and things like that. It has cloth napkins, it has extra like serving boards, things like that in it. And then we’re getting a quartz counter that’s just like simple and plain. And I decided on quartz, because it you can put a hot plate on it basically, because it is like it’s kind of for like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Emma: Yeah. Then you don’t, I mean you can always use a trivet, but it’s kind of nice if you’re like, oh, can I set it like a hot casserole in this countertop. Oh yes I can. It’s quartz or granite or whatever is not going to ruin it.
Elsie: Yes. And it was a small little spot. So it’s not too expensive to do courts for small spaces. And then we’re adding an arch at the top, which is probably the most exciting part. And the trim is going to look straight across. So it’s going to look like it was always there. And then a couple of shelves. And I’m planning to display like our white ceramic vases and things like that in that spot. So anyway, it is a spot that previously it had no personality or kind of a weird personality. And by the end of it, it’s going to have a personality that’s really custom to what I love. And I think it’s going to make the whole room feel more charming. And I’m really excited about it. So if you have a chance to do any kind of built-ins do it. It’s worth every penny.
Emma: A great.
Elsie: Oh, another thing I forgot to mention the Murphy door. So in my office we took off the door. So it was like an OK, so what it was originally was a mother in law suite, which means a bedroom with another room attached to it with a small mini kitchen. It’s on a lot of like bigger homes. They usually have them in the basement. It’s kind of weird that ours is on the main floor with the other bedrooms. I don’t love that part of the layout. So I decided to use that room as my office. It has really fun vaulted ceilings and I just felt like it was like a good, it’s set off a little bit from the bedrooms and it felt like a good space for my office. So it has this extra room attached to it. Big, very strange bedroom with a tiny little bathroom. So two closets.
Emma: Yeah. That are actually kind of big walk in closets.
Elsie: Two giant closets that kind of do the length of the room. So what we’re doing it’s so exciting is we’re going to knock out the wall where those closets are and build in on each side of the room four bunk beds. So it’s like two and two to two on each side of the room. So there will be eight bunk beds in the room. And I love that it’ll be a place where our kids can have sleepovers with their friends and cousins as they’re growing up. Because, you know, obviously the main point of this house is that it’s our house where we’re raising kids. That’s what it is. That’s what we’re doing. That’s our season of life. And we’re fully in that zone right now. But since it’s off my office and you have to go through my office to get to that room, which is fine with me, I thought it would be fun to add a hidden door. So we took the door off and we bought a Murphy door. Actually, the place is called the Murphydoor.com I think I will link in the show notes just to be sure that I said it correctly. If you if you care, it’s a place where you just buy a Murphy doors. And so what a Murphy door is, is a door that looks like a bookshelf. So when it’s shut, you can believe that there’s just a bookshelf there and then you push it and it opens and it’s basically the Knives Out house in my house.
Emma: I was going to say, I feel like this is like a mystery novel type thing, like because it’s like a hidden room, basically.
Elsie: Old houses have this these like charming little secrets like. Secret nooks, these secret rooms, these like cozy attics, things like that, the bunk beds, you know, just like every I don’t know. So I think that if you have a newer home, make that stuff for yourself, like create that magic for yourself. That’s what I’m doing. And I’m such a believer in it. So, yeah, the more charming details, the better.
Emma: Yeah, I agree. I actually rewatched Knives Out the other night and I’m obsessed with the house again. I was like, this house truly is like — that movie is so good. I love it just generally. But the house — and it really did inspire me because I totally agree with you. I just feel like adding a little bit of like whimsy or mystery to your house with, you know, just little elements decor elements that you love. It’s like, oh, that’s like what life is all about. And I also feel like we’ve been doing it a long, long time, because I remember even in high school getting like some kind of furniture that dad helped me get off the side of the road like someone was getting rid of it and it was on the side of the road and it was like a wooden draw or something. And I put it in my bedroom and I painted it to kind of look like a tree. And I like carved in the side of it like a heart with initials and stuff. So it was like tree bark, you know what I mean? And it was so goofy, such a high school thing to do, but it was very whimsical. And I’m like, honestly, I’m thirty-five and I’m still kind of doing that just on a different budget now, sometimes with donated furniture and stuff.
Elsie: As soon as my kids get old enough to have ideas for decorating their room, I’ll be like, get in the car, we’re going to Home Depot because that is the most exciting, magical thing. And I think that it’s a skill and an interest that can last your whole life, which is always good to find those, because a lot of things, you know, that kids invest a lot of time in when they’re kids are like it’s kids only stuff. And that makes me kind of sad. So anything that they can do forever, like I love teaching my kids to cook. Anyway, I’m getting very off track, but I love, love that idea. And I love that Dad stopped for you. I think that’s really special. It’s also a memory that you’ll always have with him.
Emma: Yeah. And I’m sure he was like, what are you going to do with this? And I was like “I’m going to paint it. So it looks like a tree and I’m going to carve in it!” I’m sure he was like, “OK”. (laughs)
Elsie: I love that. All right, let’s take a quick pause for a sponsor break.
Emma: Mental health is so important, whether you’re wanting to work on specific goals or talk through issues, working with a professional therapist can be a great way to help you meet your goals and navigate life situations. We are true believers in counseling and this week’s sponsor BetterHelp is a great service providing access to professional licensed therapists. It’s not a crisis line. It’s not self-help. It’s professional counseling done securely online. Better Help will assess your needs and match you with your own licensed therapist. You can start communicating in under 48 hours and they provide the flexibility to change counselors. You’ll get timely and thoughtful responses. Plus you can schedule weekly video or phone sessions and financial aid is also available. You can check out their testimonials on their website to see how their services have benefited others. Visit better help dot com slash A Beautiful Mess. That’s Better Help and join the over one million people who have taken charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. And listeners can get ten percent off your first month at betterhelp.com/abeautifulmess.
Learning about your reproductive health doesn’t have to be intimidating whether you’re planning or trying to conceive or just want to learn more about your body’s reproductive health, Modern Fertility’s simple at home test is a great resource. It’s so helpful to be able to collect information about your body and Modern Fertility is a great tool to get started. It provides you with information about your body and you can learn about things like account, menopause, timing, and if your hormone levels indicate conditions like thyroid disorders or PCOS, there is so much valuable information you can gain. No matter what your motivation for learning is. Doctors are still able to provide the most important resources when it comes to medical information. But being able to understand more and have more knowledge from an at-home test is amazing. What I loved about Modern Fertility and what made me give it a try was I didn’t have to make an appointment or go to a doctor to complete the test. They simply mail you the kit. You complete the fingerprint test at home, mail it back and you get your results online through their website. Right now, Modern Fertility is offering our listeners twenty dollars off the test. When you go to modernfertility.com/mess, that means your test will cost one hundred and thirty nine dollars instead of the hundreds or thousands that it could cost to the doctor’s office. Get twenty dollars off your fertility test when you go to modernfertility.com/mess. That’s modernfertility.com/mess.
Elsie: All right, well, I hope that this was helpful. If you are in a cookie cutter home or if you’re house shopping, I hope this inspires you that if you are like me, you’re not able to find this historic home of your dreams. Like, if I could live in any home in the world, I would live in the Father of the Bride house. But I have to make my own Father of the Bride house my own way. And that’s good, too. And it’s possible. So I want that to be reiterated because there’s not every area of the country has super affordable, historic homes. It’s just not a thing (laughs) that exists everywhere. I want everyone to know that new houses are cool, too, but you kind of have to create your own magic. And anyway, if you’re interested in the subject, send us questions, because we’d love to do more follow ups. So let’s head into a segment. OK, so we haven’t done this hell yes or hell no segment in a long time it was one of our early segments that honestly we kind of forgot about. So I’m bringing it back today and I have a surprise list of questions for Emma. Let me get it out. The rules for this game are that when I say the statement, you have to either say hell yes or hell no. So you don’t get to be like kind of.
Elsie: The first one is primary read is coming back in style.
Emma: Hell no.
Elsie: (Gasp) Oh, I would have said hell yes.
Emma: I hate primary red. Primary anything. No, thank you.
Elsie: All right. The next one says cottage core and shabby chic are the same thing.
Emma: Hell no.
Elsie: (gasp) Really?! I don’t think so, because I love cottage core and I don’t necessarily love shabby chic. So I do feel like they’re different. So I don’t think they’re the same.
Elsie: I would have said, hell yes, They’re exactly the same thing.
Emma: We are divided today.
Elsie: We are divided. OK, all right. The next one is
Elsie: There is a such thing as too many baskets.
Emma: Hell, no, (laughs) you never have too many baskets!
Elsie: I also would say hell no, because I feel like if you could have too many baskets, I would have already discovered that limit. And I keep buying them and they keep being useful for me. So I don’t know.
Emma: I mean, if you’re going to have too many of anything, I would go baskets or houseplants. So just, you know…
Elsie: I agree. You know what I need more of his vases. I never have a vase.
Emma: That’s true. I have like two. And that’s not enough at all.
Elsie: It’s not. All right vintage rugs are better than new rugs.
Elsie: What’s she going to say?
Emma: I’m going to go with hell yes. So mean to the new rugs. Because I like new rugs and I do have a lot of them. But yeah, vintage ones are better. I don’t know.
Elsie: They just are. All right. And the last one is white kitchens will always be cool.
Emma: Hell yes. I don’t care if you’re over it. I think they’re a classic forever. So…it’s like saying jeans are out. I’m like, get out of here with that! (laughs)
Elsie: There’s always a place for a white kitchen in my heart.
Emma: I agree.
Elsie: Thank you so much, everyone, for listening. If you are loving our podcast, it would mean so much to us if you would share it on Instagram. Every week we see you sharing our podcast on Mondays and it means a lot to us. It really helps us grow. And yeah, we’ll be back next week. Have a great week!
Author / Contributor: Elsie Larson