A year ago when I started this blog, my dream of having a Pinterest-pefect house with my very own craft room was simply that...a dream. As a senior in college, preparing for my final semester of classes and then beginning my semester of student teaching in August, I didn't even have the chance to think about where I would be in just one year. In the midst of the craziness of finishing my degree, my incredible parents also did something crazy...they bought another house! It was a little house in the city that happened to be just perfect for their college student daughter (that's me!) to rent from them while she finished up her music education degree and began her first year as a certified teacher!
It was a dream come true! I started Pinteresting (yes, it's totally a verb!) like crazy and planning what every inch of the house was going to look like! Paint colors, IKEA furniture, DIY decor...you name it, I had it all figured out! And then I realized that my #poorcollegestudent budget was in no way going to cover a complete makeover...at least not immediately. That's when I had to embrace Lesson #1:
"Be happy with what you have while working for what you want."
...and so began my journey living in a rent house! Thankfully, my obsession with home decor started early AND I was using the same color scheme as my college apartment, so I already had a lot of things at my disposal to use until I had enough money and time to add more! I did make one celebratory purchase though: my beautiful Watermark Floral Threshold Arm Chair from Target! It was on sale at the time and had the exact accent colors I wanted to use throughout my living room and dining room! It was the first piece of furniture I placed in my house and served as the inspiration for every other decor decision I made throughout the rest of the year! Just looking at it gave me so much joy and excitement for what was ahead in this little house of mine!
My parents purchased the house in February, but I didn't end up moving in until after graduation in May, which gave me about three months to get it ready for move in...while also preparing for my senior voice recital, completing my education portfolio, and checking every little thing off my pre-graduation to-do list! My parents (aka the best landlords ever) were a HUGE help in detailing and fixing things that I didn't even realize needed to be fixed! My big pre-move-in project was painting! The original color in the living room and dining room was a dark greenish/grayish color that just wasn't doing it for me. I wanted something brighter and more neutral, so changing the decor down the road would be easier. I have also always dreamed of having a striped wall in my house, and I had picked out the perfect wall for the stripes! So my entire Spring Break was dedicated to painting my little house! I went into it with so much energy and excitement...and then began the process of taping off the walls. I realized very quickly that taping was actually the worst thing in the world, and doing it by yourself was by no means enjoyable. My lack of excitement for this tedious part of the painting project resulted in a lot of procrastination. Naturally, Friday rolled around and I was nowhere near done taping every inch and crevice of the two rooms I had wanted to paint. I knew my dad was coming down on Saturday though to help me out, and I really wanted that striped wall to be done before classes started back up on Monday. This meant that all of the painting and taping had to be done by Saturday so we could do the stripes on Sunday! So I ended up pulling an all-nighter on Friday night to get all of the taping and priming done. Lesson #2:
"Nothing makes a person more productive than the last minute."
You better bet I worked hard to get all of the taping and priming done that night, all while keeping my self entertained by creating a delirious Snapchat story with as many pop song/painting puns as was humanly possible. Keep in mind that the whole week I have been alternating between painting at my new house and sleeping at my on-campus apartment, since I didn't have any furniture in my new house yet. Well, after pulling a nearly all-nighter to get the taping and priming done, I was way too tired to even think about driving back to campus. Lesson #3:
"If you're tired enough, you can sleep just about anywhere."
We painted all day Saturday and into Sunday, and I was starting to get nervous that we might not be able to get the stripes done. As we added the final coat of grey to the wall, I began to research painters tape that wouldn't peel semi-fresh paint off with it. I was desperate to get this project finished that day, mostly because I knew I would need my dad's help to do it, but also because I was still trying to get my mom on #TeamStripes and thought that the finished project might finally convince her that a striped wall was the perfect addition to any house! So there we were at 8:00pm on Sunday night finishing up the stripes and peeling the last piece of tape off the wall...but boy, was it worth it! Lesson #4:
"Teamwork makes the dream work."
There I was standing in my freshly painted house, furnished with only a rug and an arm chair, just beaming with pride. This little house was on its way to becoming all that I had ever dreamed of. Now it was time to finish up my last semester of classes and get everything check off my graduation to-do list so I could move into this beautiful little house of mine!
With Senior Recital and Graduation celebrations, my little house quickly became the perfect place for entertaining! I was actually shocked at how many people we were able to fit in what seemed like such a small space! It was so fun for both me and my parents to show off all of the hard work we had put into the house so far! Window frames were cleaned and repainted, wood floors were scrubbed, and appliances were installed. My parents had brought down a couch and outdoor furniture
from our house in Tulsa, and my dad helped me hang string lights across the backyard. The bathroom was already painted a bright yellow when my parents bought it, so I accessorized it with a navy and white shower curtain and rug! I was also given several of my Grandma Baxendale's old furniture pieces from my aunts and uncles, including a bed frame, large dresser, vanity, and a table and chairs set. Getting to enjoy my new space and celebrating my graduation with family and friends was the perfect way to kick off the summer! Lesson #5:
"Family is life's greatest blessing."
I still can't believe how blessed I was to have so many furniture pieces given to me when I moved into this house. My family was generous enough to provide me with all of the basics I needed to begin putting my little house together, so it was just up to me to accessorize and add my own touch to it! Props to my summer roomies, Hope and Sarah, for putting up with an ever-changing house as I played with the decor and furniture placement....and also for not complaining when I let the grass grow a little taller than it probably should've been. After spending four years away from home, I quickly forgot how often you have to mow the lawn, especially during the summer. I found myself many times running home on my lunch break to mow the lawn before a storm came in to keep the grass from getting even taller. Lesson #6:
"The lawn doesn't mow itself."
The summer was filled with so many craft projects and fun memories with friends. Here's a peak at some of my favorite adventures and decor projects I kept myself busy with. Lessons #7 and #8:
"You can never have enough chalkboards."
"Mason jars make anything more exciting."
Along with all of these little projects, two pretty big things happened as well. I played a million games of Monopoly Jr. and ate way too many Dunkin Donuts at my Grandma B's table when it sat in her kitchen. Since she passed away, the table has been in storage, collecting dust and a whole lot of water damage. I knew it needed a lot of work, so I reached out to Sarah at Southern Willow Design to refinish it. It turned out beautifully! I have thoroughly enjoyed having my Grandma B's table as the centerpiece of my dining room and can't wait to create even more memories around that table! Lesson #9:
"It's totally okay to paint old furniture."
This summer, I had the opportunity to attend Kappa Phi's National Council celebrating it's 100th Anniversary. While I was in Kansas, my mom happened to stop by an estate sale for a local church that was closing to merge with another congregation. While walking through the church, she saw they were selling beautiful upright pianos for $50! So naturally, she bought it and set up a date for it to be delivered to my house! I've had a great electric keyboard to play for a few years now, but it doesn't compare to playing the real thing! Plus, any party is 10x better if it ends in a sing-a-long around the piano, and now I can enjoy piano-accompanied sing-a-longs whenever I want! Lesson #10:
"Moms are kind of the best thing ever."
Once the piano was delivered to my house, I was on a mission to find the perfect DIY decor project to go above the piano! I kept coming across lyrics from my favorite hymns, but I couldn't pick just one. I've always been a fan of frame collages, so I turned all of the hymns into a giant collage! I printed out a mixture of sheet music and lyric prints and used the same of set of frames I had in my college apartment. Which means the whole project cost me all of $0! Lesson #11:
"Do it yourself."
Summer came to a end faster then I could have ever imagined. I started student teaching, my fantastic summer roomies moved back onto campus, and then all of a sudden it was just me and my little house. There was still plenty to do, but life also got a little bit busier as I was spending most of my days surrounded by tiny children and most of my evenings lesson planning. Somehow, I still managed to squeeze in more decor projects, mostly thanks to the two-week Fall Break built into my schedule! Decorating my house was the perfect escape from the craziness of teaching! I have never been more sure that I am supposed to be a music teacher than when I was in the classroom, but it definitely feels good to take some time to focus on myself too! Lesson #12:
"Setting aside time for yourself is a necessity."
One of my favorite things about having a house is entertaining! Whether it's for one person or twenty, I love having my friends and family over! Throughout the semester, I was able to open my house up to so many people for Big/Little crafting parties, game nights, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas celebrations, and so much more! I love spending time decorating my house, but hosting people in it is even more fun! Lesson #13:
"A little party never killed nobody."
Living by myself has not always been all fun and games though. I've dealt with my fair share of critters, a week with no power, and that one intruder scare when I dropped something in my house and my alarm system started blaring because it thought someone was breaking in. I've learned a few things along the way. Lessons #14, #15, #16, and #17:
"Leaving a pineapple out for too long will lead to a fruit fly infestation."
"If you find one mouse in your house, there's probably another one."
"Sticky mouse traps are actually so awful. DON'T use them."
"A flashlight placed on top of a water jug makes a great lantern."
The last few months in my little house have been some of my favorite, mostly because that's when the two best decorating seasons occur! My Fall and Christmas decor collections have been growing slowly but surely over the last four years, and I knew that this year I wanted to go all out! The best part is I already had most everything I needed, and the only thing I ended up buying was a new full-size Christmas tree! That is, until the day after Christmas, when I used a Michael's gift card I received as a gift to basically clear out their entire 70% off holiday decor section in preparation for next year's festivities! I'm already looking forward to it! Lesson #18:
"Wait to shop for holiday decor until the day after the holidays."
As the year winds down and all of the holiday decorations are being boxed up, I couldn't help but reminisce over the last 10 months in this little house of mine! I often find myself wondering how I got so lucky to end up where I am. Lesson #19:
"Every good and perfect gift comes from above."
God has blessed me with the most amazing family, incredible friends, and this beautiful house that I've had the pleasure of putting together over the last ten months. I know I probably won't be living here forever, but this little rent house will forever hold a special place in my heart. I have already learned so many important lessons and made so many wonderful memories living in my #LittleHouseintheBigCity, and I cannot wait to see what adventures are still ahead! Lesson #20: