And now we come to the time of year when we look back on the last 50 columns and review some of the outstanding moments. We’ve done a lot together this year, from the power of lighting to the power of love, from shopping for less to immersing yourself in a dirty industry. And these are just lessons from the first half of 2021:
In January, I brought my home from the dark ages. Months of shelter (and climbing the walls) made me fixate on the shortcomings of my house, including the dark, heavy, oil-rubbed bronze lights that looked like something out of a medieval torture chamber. I called the style “early dungeon”. Today’s homeowners want lights that are light and airy in color and weight, rang the designer choir. I joined them and pulled the plug on the old fittings.
Lesson: Updating a home’s lights or changing those that came in the original “Builder Pack” is one of those simple steps that will produce great results and make each production home look more individual. Highly recommended.
In February, I read a poll that touched on my two favorite subjects – love and home. Like the researchers, I was concerned about what a study of love in the age of COVID would reveal. I feared that the pressures of constant togetherness combined with pandemic panic could push more couples to the limit. If not, all that familiarity would surely destroy the secret that had remained between them. (If she wears these yoga pants one more day …)
Lesson: Cupid would be happy. Love may not conquer everything, but it conquers a lot and home improvement can fix the rest. The Homes.com study found that 63 percent of respondents said spending more time at home, even in subpar circumstances, improved their relationships. Only 10 percent said their relationships had suffered. Plus, every third couple had to deal with the new abnormal through renovation work – my favorite way of dealing with it, without a doubt.
March, With the number one COVID-driven home improvement company having a home office, I searched for the secrets that make a successful home improvement company. Chris Peterson, author of Home Office Solutions: How to Set Up an Efficient Workspace Anywhere in Your House (Chapel Publishing), has designed many workspaces, including some that backfired. He emphasized that great home offices are not only created by pulling a chair up to a desk or table. They require careful and deliberate planning.
Lesson: The most important component of the work environment is the chair. “The wrong chair can literally be a pain in the back,” said Peterson. Don’t buy a chair that you haven’t sat in and don’t make a price. In addition to a great chair, the optimal home office should have natural light, furnishings that match the rest of your home, and a place away from others.
In April, I stumbled upon the great no-shopping frenzy that swept the globe. The Buy Nothing Project, a worldwide network of Facebook groups where members post things to give away or need, spread as quickly as the pandemic. I called the co-founder of the Liesl Clark movement. We’ve talked about how the free forum removes one of the biggest excuses I hear from people who want to thin out their homes but don’t want their stuff to go in the trash. Now you can make sure your items get to someone who can use and appreciate them. Problem solved.
Lesson: Since discovering this type of gift giving, I’ve been giving away plastic hangers, home accessories, and furniture, and I’ve joined a movement that is saving money, reducing waste, reducing the impact on our planet and bringing communities together.
In May, I was acting out a vicarious fantasy. Admit it. You, too, have always dreamed of buying a ramshackle old house for a song, repairing it by moving a wall, raising a ceiling, swapping out the furnishings, putting on fresh paint, and – phew! – Selling the dump that turned into a dream home for a nice profit. Matt Lavinder, president of New Again Houses, started a franchise chain that does just that. However, his job isn’t always a trip to the ice cream parlor, he assured me. True, my daydreams don’t include finding dry rot, black mold, burst pipes, or snake holes.
Lesson: Successful flips are all about math and data, not emotions. This confirms my suspicion that my dream of doing this must remain a dream. Although every flip is different, the method is the same: choose the right home, evaluate the systems before buying, and then plan out the entire renovation before you begin. “Too often people make 80 percent of the decisions about what they’re going to do and decide the rest in a snap,” said Lavinder. Plan it 100 percent in advance. Then don’t change your mind.
In June, I buried myself in the dirty flower shop. After several bad experiences with florists where I didn’t get what I wanted, expected, or paid for, I barbecued a few industry experts to get to the bottom of what I’m doing wrong, what florists are doing wrong, and how consumers can do it increase their chances of satisfaction.
Lesson: Avoid middle players who all get part of your payment. Always go straight to a store in town where the flowers are being delivered. Do not go through a wire service or call center masquerading as a business. Don’t call your local florist to send flowers to someone in a distant city. Realtors take up to 40 percent of the payment and then pass the order on to a real florist who has no relationship with you and can work with less money. Even so, florists need to step up and not clean their cool boxes for free or replace roses with carnations. As one florist said, “We must remember that there are people behind these orders.” Amen.
Come over to me next week for a recap of the highlights from the second half of 2021.
Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books, including “Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Loss”, “Downsizing the Blended Home – When Two Households Become One” and “What to Do With Everything You Own.” it to leave the legacy you want. âYou can reach her at marnijameson.com.