Who is Renovating instead of Travelling?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how important creating a look and feel for our homes is right now, more than ever. 

With all of us spending the majority of our time at home as well as working from home, I’m curious if you had a trip planned this year that had to be cancelled? And if you spent it on your home instead? Like so many people did. 

Our eDesign department certainly had our busiest year ever!

I’ve also heard that a lot of people were building sheds in their backyard to create office spaces.

Lucky for me, I already have a backyard office (above), and I also renovated it this summer (I’ll reveal it here soon), if you were following me on Instagram you would have seen the whole thing.

One of my designer friends reported that she had a new client who confided that they had allotted $70,000 for cruising this year and were now using it all for their home renovations.

It’s no wonder the price of lumber quadrupled this year.

Spending more time at home also means more time to notice the little (or big) things you want to change and update. For many, being constantly at home means getting restless about the decor they are looking at day in and day out. 

So I’m curious, I’d love to know what you’ve tackled around your house. Does being at home more make you feel more invested in making it more beautiful? Did you create a more functional home work space? Did you shift your vacation budget into your home?

Please let me know in the comments!

And if you are a new reader and binge reading the blog, make sure you scroll down and read the comments on my blog posts, they often make the post even better than it was!

I love my readers, especially my regular commenters, I appreciate you!

PS. If you are decorating a home office and have a question for my Ask Maria column, send it here along with photos taken in good natural light without flash (Questions without photos will not be considered).

Related posts:

Ask Maria: My New Cherry Desk makes the Room Look Dark, HELP!

My Nephews Homeschooling Room; Before & After

What we Learned When we Shut Down Half the eDesign Department

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  1. We were going to extend our house this year anyway, as well as go to Europe with extended family. So the shut down we had has made our financial and mental burden significantly easier. We are also not renovating the kitchen, so no hard finishes to choose there. In fact so far the most difficult decision (still unresolved) is finding decking material that is both beautiful-feeling and ethically sourced. I’ve been dreaming of this extension for a long time, well before lock down, so I chose all the bathroom hard finishes way back in 2019 (with your advice in my mind), so now we just have to watch it all come together!

    • Hi Fiona,
      We just finished building our dream/retirement home on the beach in Southern California. I, too, was stumped on decking material. I wanted something that was environmentally ethical, durable, met our fire codes, AND didn’t get too HOT in the sun. I obtained dozens of samples, did hours of research, and finally settled on thermally modified wood by Thermory. It was a “first” for my builder and the decking contractor, but we ALL ended up LOVING this product. It’s real timber that’s been super-heated making it unattractive to termites, warp resistant, and easy to work with, and compliant with our fire code. It has all the character and feel of real wood. I can’t recommend it enough.
      Virginia

    • We went with 100% plastic lumber made from recycled milk jugs, etc. It’s the same material used as pilings to hold up bridges in rivers and the ocean. It’s not Trex or similar, which has a percentage of wood fibers in it. It’s smooth, solid, and the color goes all the way through, so it doesn’t need maintenance. Everyone who’s walked on it ends up bending down to touch it when told it’s plastic lumber; they don’t believe us since it looks natural. It’s very easy to clean; the only product that can’t be used is one that’s citrus based. Our contractor had never used it but after just a cut or two remarked that it’s just like working with wood – except no splinters or imperfections. It comes in quite a few colors. We worked with Plastic Lumber Yard but there are more suppliers these days.

  2. Spent money last year for new family room furniture–pre covid, so don’t feel the need for an inside remodel. Did, however, buy some lamps and end tables for a guest bedroom which hasn’t had a guest yet due to covid. Also spent a little more on landscaping than normal.

    • Forgot to talk about travel. Went with to Outerbanks, NC and Scottsdale, AZ this fall staying in private homes. Haven’t made any plans yet for the winter like we usually do. Had been going to Europe, but I think that will be out again this year.

      • We sat that Saturday morning with our suitcases zipped up debating whether to go or not. What? no Cuba for me in March? How can this happen?! Then by noon they had announced a mandatory two week quarantine if you were coming back into the country. Definitely not happening. Watched the flight take off and return a week later online. Depressing. And suddenly we found ourselves prisoners in our home with two adult children now no longer working plus one was toting a COVID wife from the U.S.! So three extra opinions! Everyone outside!!!
        As we rolled into summer we quickly discovered that our deck isn’t big enough for the larger group and it’s cool north facing direction can be quite unpleasant at times. We dragged out an old charcoal bbq behind the garage but found ourselves on several evenings cutting it short due to the wind or the 6pm rain/hail storm would chase us inside.
        Meet the wood shed cook shack! An answer to our dilemma. A place to hang out in the yard by the fire pit. But first we had to clear a space on the edge of the forest to tuck it into. Needing a spot that provided some sun and shade and wasn’t too far from the house. Uneven ground and on a slope was the perfect spot. We can level the dirt right? Hahaha. Out came the chainsaws and weeks of dragging branches and clearing roots followed. Timber frame on a large deck so we can enjoy some sun. A roof. Sliding doors for the three sides that are open with large glass inserts to capture the sunset on the lake. Entertaining and outdoor kitchen in the front, wood shed in the back. An old Malm fireplace for when it’s cool. It’s going to be perfect!
        The decking was done rather quickly which gave me a foolish idea that this would only take 4-6 weeks to complete. Ha! As we purchased our supplies we quickly realized that some items had tripled from our original quote. Argh! There went the holiday money and this winters holiday money too! Assembling the timbers and standing them was hard. OMG I questioned our sanity more than once! The tin roof install….delay if it’s going to be a hot day! Then came the snow and the -12c with wind chill made it -20c. Not fun! Up went the tarps!! Light the Malm. It was time to get the T&G ceiling installed. Tedious and time consuming. We are still puttering with T&G between the rafter tails on the eaves. The wall with sliding barn door that separates the kitchen area from the wood shed is getting completed this week. Yaaa 🙂 Then we’ll move onto making the sliding glass doors for the perimeter. I’m hoping by Christmas we can make the exterior siding for the wood shed and get it installed. Why did I choose wood that has to planed. Why?! But it will all be with it in end.

        Oh and I replaced all the toss cushions in the great room and master this week. Out with the old for a fresher look!

    • We are just finishing up a month long mini update of new shower tile, new LVP flooring, repainted kitchen cabinets and simple subway tile backsplash going in today. It was long overdue!

      • Not sure where all the readers are located but in the USA we supposedly have Freedom of Speech under the First Amendment. Part of the cultural problem world wide is that everyone can comment whenever, where-ever and however they wish w/o consequences and several people think it is appropriate to comment on everything that is communicated. I recall a time when someone disagreed with something, you just kept quiet…as in ….If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut. This may not be appropriate for the 21st century but it appears that some sort of decorum should still be adhered to. Most readers do not leave negative comments when they disagree with an opinion posted by Maria. Why do that when a reader leaves a comment that it doesn’t sit well with you with such vitriol. I have been reading this blog since it’s inception when it was Colour Me Happy before the colourful banner. I enjoy 90% of the posts and find the comments interesting too. I have learned so much and gives me some joy each day. THANK YOU Maria and Teeria (enjoying the new healthy you and your journey)!

  3. We redid our 80’s oak kitchen last fall. Timeless slightly creamy white cabinets with marble like quartz, lots of lighting sources. Reno fatigue set in and we were looking forward to a European cruise in the spring. We used our new found time and money to diy a beautiful pantry and order a denim blue sofa and chair for the adjoining family room. Just refinished my dining chairs in Hale Navy with pale wood table. Getting there. Just bought dark yellow cotton velvet for toss cushions and now need drapery that is not navy! He he, I read last weeks post!

  4. No renovations YET as we didn’t have a travel budget to begin with, and also we plan to sell next year. So it’ll just be fixing things up and maybe updating one or two things. But the reason I’m commenting is that, I’m a fairly new reader of your blog but today we drove through a neighborhood I’ve been through hundreds of times but I couldn’t stop noticing the undertones of all of the houses! I’m so excited for our NEW house (and any updates we do to this one before we leave), to go into it equipped with everything I’ve learned here! I’ve already bought your books in anticipation 🙂 So thank you for being such a wonderful resource and teacher.

  5. We have interior non-fun work to do – like repainting a very high ceiling from a roof leak before it was replaced – and need to do a partial remodel of a bathroom, like replace tile bathtub surround, new hardware, etc. But with Covid at its highest level, it’s too dangerous for us to have contractors in the house huffing and puffing. I’m high risk and my husband fairly so. What I am doing is looking for a rug for one room and for different art for above the dark chocolate brown sofa (ugh) in that room. The art pieces there now were expensive but I’ve come to dislike them – first time that’s happened in the many years I’ve loved and collected art. But every time I walk by the room I feel a bit of an ugh. Maria’s recent blog post pushed me to move on this.

  6. I am a artist and my kitchen table has been my studio! With the help of my brother, husband who I think got tired of seeing my table filled with paints has turned one of our three stall garage into a studio. It will be 10 by 20 we are about ready to put floors down and we will be done! I am so looking forward to decorating for Christmas. I have lived in a small house so I have never had a extra space, such as a family room so this studio will also serve as and extra room to entertain.

  7. We travel extensively for pleasure when things are normal. We have only taken 1 trip for my 50th in February, on a cruise. We have not traveled since. We also have been working our normal routine at the office since March. My Husband works for FEDEX and I work for an essential business. We never closed and we never stopped working, in fact, we have both been in overdrive since March with work. That being said, in August, we started refreshing/renovating our entire main floor of our home, which consists of our master bath/bed as well. We are updating from the Tuscan trend, which we have been ignoring because we traveled so much. We are almost done, the kitchen is the last room that needs updating, and we will need to hold off until after my Husband’s “peak season” at FEDEX, although peak season has been since March. We have redone our masterbath cabinets,lighting,paint every room, bedroom,pictures,linens,carpets, furniture. It is dramatic and looks wonderful. Next up will be refreshing our basement colors. I would love to see you do an article on basement colors. Our are Tuscan, travertine floors, brick arches. Dark trim, warm walls. It actually looks very nice for a basement with pool room, bar and theater room, but I would like to update it next year, unless we get to travel again :). I love your site!

  8. Maria,
    We are tackling a lot more projects this year.
    I am sure being at home has motivated us but also a pipe bursting in the kitchen ( ruining our wood floor) and having my 3 children all getting married in 2021 pushed us on our way.
    My husband and son want to complete the work themselves( to save money of course). We have decided to use the allotted money from insurance to put VPL throughout the entire house instead of wood( hope that is not too tacky). We have 3 dogs and our Engineered wood floors were so scratched after only 7 years we thought this was the way to go.
    We have also painted the whole house and are putting in a new counter top and backsplash ( Subway and quartz)…. husband is even getting a quote on adding a beam to take down a way!!
    I am not confident in my decorating choices so your website is so helpful! Thank you

    • Hi Suzo,

      I feel your pain. Our Kitchen is “high-end” Tuscan and the cabinets are a very strong (bossy) element in the Kitchen and throughout the house.

      In your house, is your Kitchen open concept (i.e. open to the Family Room? If so, they’ll need to coordinate.

      For choosing a wall color: pick your source of inspiration (a rug, artwork, drapery, chair fabric, etc) and choose a color from one of those. I think choosing a new cabinet color would come before deciding on wall color. The cabinets should coordinate with your existing backsplash and countertop (unless those are changing, too).

      Buy a few some samples of paint ($4 at Sherwin Williams) and paint a 2’ x 2’ swatch on a piece of poster board and move it throughout the room. Put a piece of white paper behind it so it’s not influenced by surrounding colors.

      It’s just paint. If you don’t have time to redo your cabinets before Christmas, you can paint your walls… and change it if you go in a different direction on your cabinets.

      What color scheme are you leaning towards?

      Good luck!!

      • Tara, Thank you so much for taking an interest. I am trying to do as you advised and pick cabinet color first,just so I can pick wall color and dining room furniture color to paint. I am stuck finding the undertones. I used Maria’s system but I just don’t see it. I guess I don’t really know how to look at it or what I am looking for exactly. Yes, my kitchen is open to family room which is a hot mess of undertones. I don’t really have any furniture or decor that I want to work around. I figured if was able to make a cohesive pallet then with permanent pieces, then I can change furniture and decor when I have the funds. The floor is the biggest issue. There is tons of advice for cabinet colors coordinating with granite and backsplash, but nothing I have found involving the floor. I have a travertine look tile that I don’t think is pink. I would love to talk to you more, but I’m not so sure this is the thread to do so. May I contact you in another way?

  9. Yes, we did two major projects! We finished our basement and had a home theater installed. This was directly as a result of spring quarantine and watching a ton of movies to pass the time. We also redid our whole back yard and had a patio and retaining wall installed and the lawn regraded and sod laid down.

    We also already had an exterior eDesign from you that was completed, so we used that to paint the exterior and have the roof replaced.

    Our vacation was not canceled since we had a beach rental, but we had been spending much less since stores and restaurants were closed.

  10. No renovations for me. I had to shift my vacation budget to campaign contributions to get rid of that horror in the White House!

  11. I was going on the Via Rail Prestige Class ‘Great Canadian Train trip’ to Vancouver from Toronto with my 2 cousins and their spouses and then spend another 10 days visiting Vancouver Island. It was my first vacation since 1996. Yup, 24 years without an official holiday. (Though I retired in 2006 so that’s like being on holiday all year. Kind of). So now the lower level bathroom is being enlarged and totally renovated – heated floors, custom vanity and linen closet etc. – to match the work I’ve done on the upper level. Any interior walls that were on the outside of the house had the plaster removed and spray foam insulation was added. The added warmth has already been felt. I have usually spent money on my houses in lieu of holidays so I guess this is par for me – though the train trip is still dreamt about! Sigh. Cathy

  12. We had just completed a whole-house renovation (I mean we gutted everything keeping only windows & exterior doors) so spent our $ and enjoyed having a fully functioning kitchen because we didn’t at Thanksgiving but still managed to put dinner together 😱

  13. My husband and I were planning on a trip to Italy for my 50th birthday this fall. We put that off and I’m now redoing the kitchen! I also just wallpapered the laundry room, a project I took on myself and really enjoyed. I may try papering another room this winter. I too have a brown sectional sofa, so your blog last week has led me on a quest to update the room with new pillows and a chair. Thank you for your advice!

  14. We did! We updated our kitchen: extended the hardwood floors into it, new quartz countertops, painted the cabinets, extended the island, new light fixtures, paint etc. All using all your tips and tricks I’ve learnt over the years. I’m still decorating (my favorite part), but also struggle with analysis paralysis 🤣). I find it 200 times easier to help friends and family pick than myself!

  15. Maria, I have practically zero budget for reovating but with so much time on my hands, I have been tweaking my studio apartment. I have given it a thorough overhaul in terms of: “Do I need this or is it cluttering up the place and using up unnecessary real estate?”
    Then I have been using your ideas – the bookcase – the coffee table – to make this place more attractive. Thanks for the wonderful ideas.

  16. Our planned 10-day Danube River cruise in May was cancelled. Since then we have added a screened porch on the back of the house for outdoor socializing and repainted our den/TV room. I am waiting for a new sofa, chair and tables to arrive for the den.
    After that we are turning one of our guest rooms into MY room for art, yoga, solitude by repainting, redecorating and replacing the queen size bed with a queen Murphy bed I can fold up when there is no guest in the room. All of this has definitely helped me get through the monotony and isolation the pandemic has brought. I’m waiting until all of these projects are done before I break it to my husband that I’d like to redecorate the master bedroom!

  17. Yes, you are so correct! While being in isolation for almost 9 months, I started projects like a mad woman. Using left over paint and spray paint, I painted or refinished an end table, shelves, a couple lamps, antique trunk, painted closet, inside of office shelves, changed door hardware and painted doors….. I am currently working on a dining table and hutch that I am trying to figure out what to do with (paint, stain, color).
    Then one day I thought, I really don’t have anything big to show for all my time and my kitchen cabinets and wall color are driving me crazy! They are way overdue for some TLC. That is when I signed up for your blog and bought your e- book. I have spent weeks researching, collecting paint samples and trying to figure out undertones. I am more confused than ever and frustrated. I wanted to get them done before Christmas, but that’s not going to happen. I don’t have the finances to purchase your services. But maybe you or someone can help me with undertones and/or point me in the right direction?

  18. YES xs 3!! My husband and I purchased an elderly ladies homestead in June. It has a 1925 farmhouse/cottage structure that we updated and currently finishing up an ADU (bungalow) in the back. The farmhouse is already rented and the bungalow will be leased soon too! And the biggest news is we just signed a contract on another property in old town Florida….a fish camp!! Which definitely has challenges. I can’t wait to jump into that one. As always, I read your excellent blogs constantly. Of course with this being said, the exterior consult I received from you has not been completed yet..we both work full-time and do the renovation work after hours and weekends.

  19. LOL You all exhaust me! But I’m so glad you got so many wonderful projects done. With creaky older age setting in, our idea of travel is letting our minds wander! 🙂 We rent a really neat apartment with a huge deck overlooking our quaint downtown Ashland, Oregon tourist magnet. Visitors mostly stayed home this year because the Oregon Shakespeare Festival closed in March and never re-opened, so they are probably spending their travel money on home projects. We had already furnished the deck in 2019 after moving in, so we enjoyed having coffee in the morning and hanging out in the evening from May into a balmy early November this year. I’ve been researching outdoor heaters, thinking we might be able to sit out even longer, but I’m not sure we actually would, so no decision on that yet. I did a lot of online retail therapy…FedEx and UPS are our new best friends, as is Instacart so we can avoid grocery stores. Since Oregon now has the fastest growing number of Covid-19 cases on the west coast, and our county is boasting the most cases in Southern Oregon, we are hunkered down for safety in our cozy home surrounded by colors we love. Stay home if you can and stay well everyone.

  20. We had 2 big trips planned this year to Europe…a 3 week bus trip to Italy and a 3 week cruise of the Norwegian Fjords and Arctic Circle…plus possibly a third to somewhere else. Having been planning a complete new kitchen for 6 years, having retired a year ago and Covid gave me the impetus and time to finally do it! All new cabinets, appliances, floor, etc. plus took the cabinets into the dining room to make it all one room. Then pulled up outdated carpet and refinished hardwood floors throughout the main floor, painted everything and bought new living room couch, love seat and recliner. Countertops arrive today, then floor goes down and appliances come in…and backsplash 2 weeks after that so we’re just about done! Love the new more modern look! Have been keeping colours in mind after reading your blogs.

  21. Hi Maria!

    As a design specialist, especially in renovations, we have been very busy in the past months and I can confirm that many of our clients are using their travel dollars to upgrade their homes as they are spending a lot of time in them right now!! It is keeping small business alive here, and that is a good thing! Painting, new countertops, tile and bathroom renovations are the most predominant. Loved your wording on the blog heading, it is so, so true!

    Kindest Regards,
    Cathryn

  22. I can’t afford to travel or renovate. But I painted a picture and hung it in my living room. And I moved some pre-existing plants around in my garden.

  23. We were lucky to be closing on a fixer-upper in March 2020, so conveniently our plans did not change at all (my mind still boggles at the timing). I’m so glad we chose an older home with separate spaces (vs. a new open-concept) because of how easy it made it for the whole family to be able to work/play in separate spaces without bothering each other. We may have had ideas of knocking down a wall or 2 prior to the lock down; not anymore!!! I’ve become a huge fan of “walls”. Now, my fantasy renovation would be to add a guest house in the backyard to host friends I miss so much who are stuck in their homes too but can work from anywhere.

    Now, just need that furniture I ordered back in July shows up sometime soonish …

  24. Definitely renovating! Bucket list Africa and annual Maui vacations both shelved. Installed a hobby greenhouse, renovated our Master including all new flooring, lighting and furniture, and are now making decisions for a kitchen “updo” – no footprint, just a few functional tweaks and major cosmetic upgrade. (Maria you actually consulted on the kitchen for a previous “ tweak” 7 years ago. Kitchen was featured on the blog.). The new designer we are using this time is part of the build. But I wouldn’t do it without one!

  25. We were going to go on a Baltic ocean cruise. Since we had to postpone that I had beautiful custom drapes installed instead. Also ordered large hand painted and framed Chinoiserie panels for my dining room which have taken 6 months to be completed. Maybe a cruise next year instead? In the mean time I really LOVE my new drapery.

  26. We are choosing to safely stay home. We’re adding on a three-season sunroom to hopefully have family and friends over with fresh air flowing freely.

  27. Covid prompted me to finally get a raised vegetable garden built, complete with wood trellis for climbing roses and clematis. I harvested greens just before our freeze hit. So fun! I can’t wait to plan my full vegetable garden this winter…I am new to growing vegetables. I also planted about 200 flowering bulbs, can’t wait to see those this Spring.

  28. All of it! I reorganized my home office, put a new roof on the house, edited and restructured the decor and art in the family room and replaced the dining room chairs I hated. Right now we are having new hardwood put down in the upstairs bedrooms and hall, and getting new rugs for those spaces. We also updated the deck furniture for how we actually use the deck back in the spring. Next: new windows, and I plan to go crazy with Holiday decorating since we won’t be traveling.

  29. Like everyone else, we had to cancel several trips including a trip to Italy for our 30th anniversary. But, we finally got around to updating our 3 bathrooms. Gone are the brassy gold fixtures and the awful “Hollywood” bare bulb lights. Refaced all the cabinets and new doors and drawer fronts, marble-ish looking quartz to replace the tiled counters, new sinks and faucets, mirrors, etc… So happy to enjoy the new spaces now and know they will go a long way to helping sell the house when my husband retires and it’s time to downsize. Thank you for your blog-you were in my head as I was making color and design decisions!

  30. To get away recently, my husband and I camp in a Class B van, traveling all over the Pacific Southwest so space is tight and organization is important. I draw most of my color inspiration from the great outdoors. Also Hawaii before the quarantine, which is like another world of color on this amazing blue planet. The tall daughter got us hooked on Hawaii because her husband’s family has a condo there. I like to come home to a space that’s organized and not too packed with bells and whistles on my eyes. My mom had all the knick-knacks everywhere, every wall filled with furniture, and there wasn’t a calm space in her home (to ME, anyway), so I try very hard to not bring items home from my travels. Maybe a special scarf or small piece of jewelry, and of course lots of photos. That’s about it. I love to travel and be outside.

  31. There was no vacation budget this year as I was still working on last year’s bill. My daughter had a destination wedding in the Dominican Republic and I cannot tell you how glad I am that she didn’t listen to my advice to wait for 2020 because the date was cooler than 2019! Most fun trip ever. We did have to cancel the follow up reception/party here, but since I was laid off…no extra funds. I am now working very minimally, which is my choice and slowly going though an old desk that belonged to my mother and my grandmother before her. It is full of treasures, such as WWII era letters to my father from his college classmates. I’m enjoying connecting with his friend’s children to share the letters as well as one classmate who is still with us at 101!

    • Oh, Lorri, thank you for your comment and best wishes to your sister & niece. Maria sent a nice email, as well; so sweet. These are strange times and I do believe things will get better. Remind myself every day how blessed I am: I haven’t lost a loved one and there’s still a job for me to go to on Monday.

      Meanwhile, this website keeps me learning & dreaming; when the kitchen renovation finally happens, it’ll be so much better for the wait.

  32. Yes! I am renovating instead of vacationing. Our Hawaii trip was cancelled back in March, so I am now renovating our master bath, and thanks to Maria’s color boards I now know what color to pick out. Because lo and behold I have freaking pink beige tiles (4 X 4 mind you) all over my floor and tub surround. It’s horrendous, but I do not want to spend $$ tearing them out and replacing because I’ve found so many other rooms to tackle! So (thank you, Maria) I have chosen Benjamin Moore Maritime White for the walls. And, since I’m hopping on the Timeless and Classic train, I’m tearing out my awful pink beige shower insert and going to subway tile it up and down and all over. I even knew what color grout to pick!! I’m loving life here in my beautiful, respite home! So thankful to have found this blog!

  33. Both more and less home improvement, because we are sitting here looking at things. The small DIY projects continue – with supplies that I can get mail order, curbside pickup or the one local home improvement store with a strict mask policy. We have had a couple of maintenance things done outdoors. But no big indoor projects that I had planned happened this past summer (cabinets, new fireplace and flooring) because Covid-19 infections are worse than ever here so I won’t let contractors in my house. (1.5% of the population of our county currently has an active case of Covid.) If anything, it has motivated me to choose things that I like, not that suit visitors (that we don’t have) or nonexistent future buyers. The challenge is to pick DIY colors and styles that will match both my current and future flooring etc..

  34. My husband and I had been planning a big trip to celebrate our 25 years of marriage when the pandemic hit. The cancelled trip worked in our favor because not much later we found out that we need a new roof, which are very expensive here in Florida. We’ll also be painting the exterior and doing a refresh of the landscaping. I’m trying to use all the knowledge you’ve imparted, Maria, to take our exterior from Tuscan to fresh and modern, but will probably use your exterior e-design for help.

  35. Wow Maria,
    You nailed it on the head. More time at home means we need changes to our spaces. We ripped out our UGLY deck and replaced it with a gorgeous custom stone patio this summer. It makes me smile every time I drive onto our yard as it is the first thing we see. Also stripped multiple pieces of furniture to the bone and refinished to coordinate and freshen up our open concept living room and dining room. Added some new art pieces to further coordinate our main floor space. We cannot afford to start from scratch, but it sure made the space feel freshened up and tranquil. Used so much of your advice from over the years. Eternally thankful to you! It is just what I was hoping for.

  36. When we bought our home 6 years ago, we purchased all the furnishings, because they went so well with the home and we could tell a decorator was involved. Over the years, we’ve sold a few things that were not to our liking, but there have been a few other things that we just lived with. During the pandemic, I asked my husband if he liked the valences (that I know were custom made and very expensive). He said “no.” Yay! I don’t like them either! He took them all down. So much better. And we did a “bedroom botox” in our master bedroom (just new bedding, new artwork, redecorating shelves, etc.) What a difference something that simple can make! We’ve tweaked a few other things in our home and have been going through all our stuff (that we moved with us!), trying to get rid of as much as possible. That will be an ongoing task!

  37. Definitely all travel plans canceled this year! We did a 2nd re-model of our kitchen last year plus remodeled our upstairs bathroom. This year we’re finally making our four front porch posts larger which we’ve wanted to do for a few years. They used to be very small with round turns plus turned spindles, etc. Years ago we made the posts 6″ wide square and removed the spindles. We’re now making the posts 8″ square! We’ll then have them painted a new trim color to match our windows plus have our garage door painted to match that new trim color. And finally a new front door color. We’re finding it hard to get workers to do all this though. So it’s taking a long time to get it all done!

  38. We just finished building our home and are still waiting for sofas, chairs, finishing touches. We did stop traveling and were able to not fret as much about the extra money we were POURING into our rebuild. Updated touches all around us are going to make our last 20 or 30 years so much more enjoyable and comfortable!!!

  39. My vacation fund was spent on my teens’ rooms! Both my son and daughter had somewhat outdated built-in desks in their bedrooms that were just too small to accommodate distance learning. My daughter got a full room makeover with a new built-in desk, furniture, lighting, etc. For my son, we completely removed the built-in and bought a him large desk and comfy chair. Both are happy with their new study spaces and the updates look so much fresher. Money well spent!

  40. Hi Maria
    During the first lockdown I was too worried to turn the house upside down in case one of us got ill. But I used the summer to plan to makeover of four rooms upstairs, in terms of function and furniture, but colour scheming has always been a struggle and these days it seems even harder to bring colours together harmoniously as something is always a bit ‘off’. However I was lucky enough to come across your blog and website in September, and from that I was quickly able to pull together a decorating scheme for upstairs that flowed nicely from downstairs. Neutrals in particular have always been tricky, but your wonderful neutral colourwheel approach deals with that issue systematically. The biggest thing I learned from you is the need to use large paint samples and to compare everything against a white background. What a game-changer that is! So in my project I have painted A4 sample of colours that are staying, new colours to be introduced etc and laid them all out with wallpaper for the new rooms on a white background in a good light. What a revelation that was! I then added samples of my existing downstairs decor and I could see immediately that the creamy hall wallpaper is just to yellow to go with the rest of the house. I had known it was wrong for a while, but didn’t change it in case I just made another timeconsuming mistake! So once I get the upstairs sorted out, the hallway and cloakroom will be my next project.
    My elder daughter has just bought a townhouse, so there are three floors to decorate. I feel much more confident in discussing options with her and I have extolled the virtues of the A4 colour sample approach. Hopefully I can see her new house before too long, when we are allowed to travel and gather again.
    Thank You so much Maria! You are an inspiration!

  41. After seven years without a full-size washer/dryer, we finally can do lots of laundry! We had to get the water softener installed because we have very, very hard well water and I wasn’t going to get fancy machines and ruin them with the water in a few years.

    I painted the room in BM Semolina-a bold yellow/orange, because of your encouragement to use color. I absolutely love it and I’m not a yellow/orange person, at all. Also, I saw a photo on pinterest that used it with a very pale blue, which combo I may just use in my kitchen.

    I live in an old adobe house, so there is no trend to go with, it has to be classic rustic southwestern. OK, I have to throw in my favorite mid-century a bit!

  42. The only traveling for me this year was to drive 4 hours with my ex-husband in hopes of seeing our son in the hospital in June. He was in ICU with a non-covid health emergency. It was a fruitless trip; they turned us away because of the pandemic. He is doing better and out of hospital, but so vulnerable still that I have not been able to see him.

    So I’ve stayed in my city and tried to quell the heartache with cleaning every square inch of my tiny apartment and with rearranging cabinets to tuck away some spare TP and extra cans of soup. I was off work with pay for three weeks in April and am terrified of another lockdown… What if they don’t pay me next time? What if they let me go permanently?

    So while I started reading Maria because my kitchen needs help, all that will have to wait until better times, which I sincerely hope are just around the corner for all of us.

    • Beena, I hope things get better. So many people are suffering silently. My sister and niece who work for the same company were furloughed due to Covid-19 causing massive losses at their company. No idea if their company will recover from this. They are the lucky ones who have plenty of savings to tide them over, but many are not so lucky.

    • That’s really tough – I’m sorry about your son. Glad he is recovering.

      If you look online (Emily Henderson comes to mind), you can find some great ideas to update rental apartments that don’t make permanent changes.

  43. We were fortunate to travel in February. My husband and I paint cabinets for a living. We were in the middle of a large kitchen when we had to stop, right in the middle. while we all waited and watched what would happen with Covid. Once we (our client and us) kind of figured out how to navigate in our new normal, the work resumed and we finished, giving them a brand new look! We are booked until the end of March 2021 as of today and I don’t see any slow-down in the near future.

  44. We’ve been waiting for a year for our contractor to get freed up to do our jobs. Of course everything has at least doubled in price, so we are already 50% over budget. Ugh. We’re getting in some small trips as well, however.

  45. Yes we’re another couple who’ve been going around the house and completing projects here and there that need fixing and updating. It’s surprising how much you’ll spend when you’re all done. It starts slowly, but just like the pandemic, whoever expected we’d be cooped up so long that we’d have this much time to find this many things that needed our attention. We started with a simple clean-up and modification of our paver patio which then led to looking at our landscape lighting which after 30 years needed an overhaul and tweaking. As the year wore on and we looked at fall and the thought that we’re no getting any younger we began to contemplate add’l projects that’ll make living in our home easier for the log term, not all fun things either but necessary. This winter I’m going to have the last of our 3 bathrooms remodeled, a few light fixtures replaced, new carpeting and a little paint should pretty much finish things. Yeah right, you know how that goes when a woman gets going. Hopefully by the time all this is over we can add travel back onto our agenda.