Small Changes

Not every change has to be huge, time intensive, or expensive. I think that I struggle because I’m an “all or nothing” kind of person. I have had a list (read: full notebook sheet) full of what I wanted to change at the house since the week after we bought it. Rather than systematically go through and work on one thing at a time, I ignored the list for more than a year, then tried tackling more than a few things at once.

It’s definitely overwhelming, but it’s kind of just how I get things done. Once I have a plan of action, it’s hard for me to pace myself and wait. I have been uninspired and ignoring the laundry room for who knows how long now, and last week, was hit with inspiration. I got out my measuring tape, sketched out a plan, and went online to get everything together that I’d need to buy. I wanted to buy it RIGHT THEN, paint right then, start cleaning things out… Does anyone else operate this way? It makes me anxious to have the plan and not execute it right away. BUT I am learning. So far nothing has been done in the laundry room and the world didn’t end. My online cart at IKEA is still filled with the cabinetry and once we’re ready to start, I will have a well-drafted plan. It’s OK to wait, and it’s OK to do one step at a time.

The backyard has also been another thing I’ve ignored. We’ve planted three trees, and done our best to keep the grass green, but we haven’t put in a ton of time or effort to overhauling the whole thing. My first thought is to save up money and call someone to dig everything up, start totally over, and create a paradise. Instead, I’m trying to pace myself, be patient, and not spend a bunch of money at one time. We decided to start with two small projects.

The first was this small strip of dirt/weeds by the driveway gate. Nothing will grow there and it seems to accumulate leaves, dog toys, blowing garbage or anything else to make it look sad. I thought about planting there, but there isn’t a water source nearby and it’s in the sun basically all day long. I could plant cactus but I didn’t want the dogs getting into it and getting hurt.



Arizona backyard

It’s just sad over here. It looks… hot. Random, no intention, nothing goes. I needed something cheap and quick, that would bring some intention to the area, clean it up and look simple. I found bags of white marble rock for $5 each at Home Depot so we loaded up the car and started this easy afternoon project.


We raked all the debris out and pulled the weeds. We also used a shovel to level out the dirt a bit.


Then we laid down a weed barrier and used pins to keep it secure to the ground. A 30 foot roll was about $10 and we still have about half of it left. Then we just poured in the rock and spread it out! So easy and quick!

The whole process took less than an hour and gives the area a much needed update. I still need to find a barrier for the end of the rock where it meets the grass, and we are hoping to have a mural or something painted on the wall behind it. Then I may add some desert grass and/or solar spot lights in the white rock. While doing this small project didn’t change the whole backyard, it’s a small change, and that’s a step in the right direction! The other thing we’ve been wanting to change for quite awhile is our gates. They were sad, wooden, dilapidated gates. The back gate was held shut by a plastic garbage can filled with bricks, so there’s that. New gates aren’t cheap and I usually don’t really like the way the ones in the store look.

Old wooden gate

So when we moved in, I decided to paint the gates using a mixture of primer and paint. I primed every other piece, then painted every other piece. The primer looked almost like a whitewash, and for awhile, I really liked the look of it; striped and vintage, but the fact that the gates were falling apart just made everything look sad. And of course, as time went on and the sun did its thing, the paint wore away and didn’t do any favors for the two gates.

wooden gate

Here is the front gate. When we got our house painted, the painter painted over my white wash striped gate and made it match the house. Was he trying to tell me something? Anyway, this gate wasn’t quite as sad as the back gate, but still needed help. See the cute arbor my dad built for us out of old doors behind the gate? More on that later!

I had an idea for a gate that would look vintage but would be secure and durable. We were able to find a company to custom make the two gates how I envisioned. They would be made of composite wood which lasts forever in this climate, would be white like I wanted, and would have metal straps that reminded me of a vintage gate.

The process was actually pretty quick once we knew what we wanted. The gates were custom built in the shop and installed about a week later. I knew I wanted black hardware to match the black straps, and also wanted a deadbolt key lock on each side. Secure, and easy to go in and out without locking yourself out (like I regularly have done with the previous gates).Wood composite vintage gate arizona

New front gate! How cute is this? I am really excited about it. I think the black metal straps just absolutely make this gate. The black hardware and lever handle are classy and the slight curve at the top makes it look like it could be vintage. I love it.wood composite vintage gate arizona

This is the walkway area back to our front gate, which I envision being filled with plants and vines, and some sort of overhanging shade structure. We planted the pink bougainvillea that you see to the right, and separates our neighbor’s driveway from our yard. This side of the house faces south, so it gets crazy hot sun and I’d love for it to be shady and lush someday.

The back gate is the same as this one, just a bit bigger. It still needs some adjustments as it seems to have a big space at the bottom (can’t have that with small dogs!) and the gate dude is supposed to be coming back out to make those soon.

Overall, I’m super happy with how these turned out. Now the gates are secure, look great, and are not falling apart.

One step at a time. Not everything has to be done at once. We can keep chipping away the projects, doing one thing at a time as we can afford it. I am learning to be patient in these things! Besides, once the projects are all done, we’d have to move and find another house anyway! And who has the energy for that?


Let Me In – LA MAISON, France

Getting a glimpse into someone’s life and how they live is something that has always fascinated me, which is why I started doing the “Let Me In” blog posts. Another thing I love doing is virtually snooping into someone else’s living space via the internet. I’ve decided that I can easily do a virtual Let Me In post for a house I’ve never been, never talked to its inhabitants, and probably never will see in person because, why not? I stumbled across this amazing house in France through an internet wormhole and it’s been stuck in my head ever since. Going back to visit the blog just now, I noticed a note at the top that the owners are selling! Could this be fate?!?!

All four stories. ALL FOUR STORIES. A shop at the bottom, living space above.

OK this alley is more charming than the front of most buildings I see.

The entrance doors from the alley are unbelievable. When we were in France in 2010, the doors were something that really stood out to me. I think French people understand that the door is the jewel to your home, the hint at what is inside. Not something to be ignored.

The stairway is amazing. Heck, I might even keep the tile.

Absolutely amazing architecture. Check out the mouldings around the opening to the staircase and the beautiful banister.

Seriously?!?! I feel a little sick. In the best way. That wood! The light!

Original cast iron tub. The contrast of the white iron against the wood floors is just perfect.

Amazing original fireplace from the late 1800′s. Perfect, just as it is.

This is the kitchen, after they renovated. I’m surprising even myself when I say this, but I don’t think I would change one thing in here. Those chandeliers!

This room is amazing. I love how they mixed old and new, hung a very modern light fixture from the original ceiling medallion, hung modern art over the original fireplace, and left the floors as they were.

This is the view from that fabulous cast iron tub. Can you imagine this being your life?

This is the landing on the first floor. I love the baroque elements they’ve brought in with the picture and mirror frames, and the carved chairs. I see the shadows of an IKEA light pendant (that we also have!) which makes me very happy. Design doesn’t have to be expensive or original! It can be mass produced, affordable, and beautiful!

I never get tired of seeing famous “rooftop” pictures from France. The houses are all so original and beautiful, squished in there together, and each holding their own secrets to be discovered!

What an amazing piece of property with great history. This is the stuff my dreams are made of!

All photos and information was taken directly from The Celiac Husband

Please visit the site and check out the post in its entirety!


Let Me In – Steph Carrico

This Let Me In blog post is especially near and dear to my heart. I met Steph when our band played at her performance venue, The Trunk Space, in Phoenix years and years ago. Steph does so much, and contributes so much to our community. I will let her explain all of those details, but for this post I have to say the first time I stepped foot into Steph’s house, I was intrigued. There is a presence about it that I can’t explain, as if the house itself has a soul. And while everything in the house is something to admire and talk about, nothing seems “precious” and the house is lived in, and celebrated.

Esther and I had so much fun hanging out with Steph, and learning about her home. She is truly “good people” and one person that I am honored to know.

Steph Carrico

Who are you? What do you do?

My name is Stephanie Carrico, most people call me Steph. During the day I am a photography and visual art teacher at the high school level.  I love my job, I am so inspired by my students.  We have a chemical darkroom and a lot of days I feel like I am teaching them magic.
I also am the co-owner of The Trunk Space, an art space that caters to all forms of art from visual, to performance, music, theater and vaudeville.

What made you decide to move into the residence that you did? Location? Potential?

I wanted to live in a historic house in downtown Phoenix.  I really like being downtown, I am close to creative like minded people and most of the places I like to spend my time are within 10 minutes of my house.  When I was looking for a place to buy a lot of the houses had been poorly remodeled. I saw lots of low end cabinetry and crappy tile put over hardwood floors.  Most of the houses I would have had to spend a bunch of money undoing bad remodel jobs. The house I bought had been neglected for 30 years so a lot of things where in serious need of repair, but it still had the original crown molding, the floors where intact, but buried under carpeting. The house was a lot less expensive because it needed so much work. It made sense for me to buy something that needed work for less money then paying more money for a house that I needed to undo a bunch of cheap upgrades.

What renovations/changes have you made?

The ceiling in the living room was cracked and damaged severely, the solution the previous owner had was to put drop tiles in.  I removed all the drop tiles and had someone repair the ceiling.  I unburied the floors and refinished the wood. I rehung some of the double hung windows and repaired broken windows. In the bedroom someone had taped up small squares of drywall, if you hit them with your fist they fell down as paint and tape where the only things holding them up, so I redid all the insulation in that room and redid the drywall.  I replaced the old wood in the back of the house with cement lap board, I replaced all the electric and plumbing and put in an AC. I painted inside and out. I completely redid the bathroom.  A lot of the “remodeling” I did I used items I found at antique shops to keep the historic feel of the house and to save money.  I found a claw foot tub out in Glendale for $300, it would have been about $2,500 to buy a new one, and the one I got was cast iron instead of plastic.

What is your favorite part of your place, and why?

I really love the whole house, I don’t think I can play favorites! I feel really comfortable in my house and it is laid out really well for all my needs.  I wish I had a little more counter space in the kitchen, but that is my only gripe with the house.

If money were no object, what is one thing you would renovate or purchase for your place?

If money where no object I would put a tin roof on the house.  I think the house would look fantastic with a tin roof, and it sounds so pretty when it rains.

Biggest pet peeve of your place?

My biggest pet peeve is the Bermuda grass. It is such a pain to deal with.  I have tried to kill it, but haven’t had any success.

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

Steph Carrico

The details in Steph’s house just blow my mind. I was looking all over like a crazy person just because I didn’t want to miss anything! Thank you so much to Steph, for being such a generous host and allowing Esther and I to come over and invade your space!

Check out The Trunk Space website:

And special thanks to Esther for the beautiful photos!


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