Our house after 1 year

This month we’ve lived in this house for a full year! It went fast, but seems like we’ve been here forever at the same time. I think that’s because it really feels like this place was meant for us. You can see how God moved us here in this post.

Board and batten wall DIY entryway before and after - moulding panels wainscotting board and batten moulding wall entryway mudroom diy tutorial


This wall was plaguing me since we moved in. It is wide and tall and everything looked dinky in that space. Finally, I got the idea for a board and batten wall! $100 board and batten entryway with hooks

Before and after filling in wall and adding board and batten

Dining room

We got rid of the pocket doors from the dining room to the home office and closed in the wall. I loved the entry so much that I decided to do more board and batten here. This time I added a shelf on top. DIY board and batten wall with shelf ledge (no power tools!)

All white dining room with board and batten wall, IKEA PAX wardrobe and rustic wine cooler
wine armoire makeover with stripping and liming wax

Bleached wood effect

In addition to closing in the wall and adding a board and batten wall, we added this wine cooler Marcello scored for $200. It originally had an ugly orange stain from the ’90s, but I figured out how to lighten it! How to get a bleached wood finish

hallway with photo gallery before and after


I haven’t shared this one yet, except on Instagram. I haven’t added the chair rail and fames on the bottom yet, so I was holding off on posting it. I don’t know why I haven’t just finished it already! Maybe in the next month.

Chalkboard wall for 9 dollars in playroom

Play room

We use this large bonus room as the kids’ playroom. It was a big, white, empty box. Slowly I added details to make it cozy and colorful — a $9 chalkboard wall, a $100 movie projector and $1 confetti decals on the wall. A playroom with less toys and more activities

Guest house furnishing on a budget

Guest house

My in-laws moved into this guest house from Italy this year! It was emotional and has been a blessing to both of us. I had SO much fun decorating their house as a surprise. Guest house tour: Furnished for $2,900

Guest bedroom

We turned our home office into a bedroom. We closed in a wall and decided this room could be a blessing to others. Neutral guest room with twin beds, blue ceiling

small home office in bedroom - white with ikea furniture and plants

So we moved our office into our bedroom! Office organization ideas and minimalist checklist

Front porch makeover with paint - before and after - painted french doors and walls and stenciled floor


The baby poop brown paint was getting to me. We painted the house, but I couldn’t quite stop there. It’s amazing what you can do with paint. Porch makeover: I painted the walls, doors and floor!

Checklist for next year

The house is coming along great, but I have so many more ideas! This is our to do list for the coming year, in no particular order:

  • put hardwood floors in the bedrooms (because this carpet is not ok)
  • add a feature wall to the boys’ room
  • add a feature wall to Clara’s room
  • decorate our back lanai
  • paint entry door to garage
  • give master bath a mini-makeover

How I budget for projects

So how do I afford these projects? This is the first year I’ve earned any real money from this blog. (Holy six years later, Batman!) I’m always honest with you about money and real numbers, so here’s what I’m doing with the money (and exactly how I make it in this post):

  • 20 percent: donate to Christian charities for children
  • 50 percent: save
  • 30 percent: put back into blog projects

This quarter I’m happily giving away $900 of my earnings to Young Life. This is their mission: “We invite kids to follow Christ, care for them regardless of their response, and change lives in the process.”

I am not telling you this because I want a pat on the back. I really don’t want one. I know my Father sees me and that is enough. I’m sharing to encourage others to give — and find the joy in it! It’s the most exhilarating thing you can do, I promise. This is a bit contrary to say, but a quiet giver is the happiest giver. Never expect something in return.

I’m thinking next quarter I’ll give away the money doing random acts of kindness! I’m SO excited about that.

I’m saving half of my income at this stage in life. When we moved into this house, we wiped out our savings and emergency fund. We’re building it back up. Actually, that’s a little funny because it was never very big to begin with, haha! But with two homes on the property and extra responsibilities, we’re trying to save 3 months living expenses and pay off Marcello’s car this year. It’s pretty ambitious, but you gotta dream big to make big things happen, right?

It makes sense to use some of the money to put back into my blog. Running a blog has some unavoidable technical expenses, which this money will cover, but also I need to consider the cost of my projects.

Depending on the month, I’m left with anywhere from $150-400 to tackle the above projects. To me, that’s huge! I’ve never had that kind of budget. Up until this point, my budget has been: Don’t spend money. Ha!

But because of that budget strategy we aren’t in debt and are doing things right by saving before we do them. We have renovation plans too, so we’ll have to think about how to save some of that for long-term projects (I’m talking to you, kitchen!).

For all the details on how we got out of $18,000 of credit card debit and eventually afforded our dream home, check out my money series.

11 thoughts on “Our house after 1 year

  1. Kate~I love your style, your heart for God, and your honesty. Young Life is such a great ministry. All four of my now-adult kiddos were involved as students or leaders. Wishing you continued success with your blog.

  2. I said it on IG, but I have to saying again: the entryway looks so pretty! I love the stenciling! Your house is looking beautiful and I so admire you for how you are spending your money. My husband started three businesses in the last three years., so we are in the zero-budget-for-anything phase right now. It’s good to gain some perspective and be reminded that it is just a phase. God bless you!

  3. Oh, that’s so wonderful to hear! What amazing kids you must have! And thank you for the kind words :) Makes my day.

  4. Hi Ruth! And three businesses in three years is amazing! I’m praying right now for his success and wisdom. I know all about the zero-budget-for-anything phase. But it helped me think hard about spending first. Now I always see if I can do with what I have before I pull out the wallet. I’m more patient waiting and saving for projects. And now I know that a lot of the time I change my mind from my original decision and come up with something better while I wait! Thank you for your encouragement; it helps keep me going :) I can only continue to be honest because of sweet comments like yours.

  5. Hello Kate – It is truly amazing to see how you have managed the change in your home. Plainly said, it is a grand procedure! The entry way looks so cozy, the stenciling and the cushions on the bench, each compliments the other. If I was a visitor to your home and standing outside I would think this house must be so intriging inside and it is. All the changes you made throughout the house is just picture perfect, and all of this in one year, that is amazing. As you have dedicated the house to the Lord, I can also see His touches inside through you. May you continue living there and be richly blessed and guided, may you also find contentment in the projects you venture into and be richly blessed.

  6. Thank you so much for your kind words, Elize! I hope you are well. I’m still praying for you and your country. xoxo

  7. Hello Kate, thank you so much for your prayers X, we are still on load shedding approximately 3 hours per day throughout the Country! Some sub-stations have blown-up spontaneously because of poor maintenance, copper cable theft, etc., we were almost on a complete black out, they had to fly up to Mozambique to get fuel, there it is also chaos, bridges washed away from hurricane between Mauritius and Mozambique and they have no money to repair the bridges, welcome to “Africa”!!. The Christians are praying constantly, we are binding the strongman, then releasing the blessings of God and declaring that each town has been set free from all demonic powers. Everybody is praying so we need all the prayers that are available. I don’t really wish to speak about it as it is all doom and gloom in the natural, yet God is amazing and He is at hand. God bless you all also those who read this are for your prayers. God bless.

  8. Oh Elize, I’m so sorry. How terrifying for all of you. I know you don’t like to complain, but I’m so happy that you are sharing this so we can pray for you and all of Africa. I’m praying right now for God’s deliverance from corruption and poverty. I’m praying for a revival among the people and leaders, for a great new vision of truth and a God-given plan to move forward. I pray for your personal peace, Elize. That you would find the great peace of the Son hour by hour. Lot of love, Kate

  9. Many, many thanks Kate. This is exactly what we need, peace we can only find by prayer and faith, knowing that God is fighting for us. We just have to pray, believe what you pray and God will do the rest. He said to all, He will never leave us nor forsake us, His words are our comfort presently. I do believe that there is a God change coming, we are presently praying for each town in South Africa, claiming it for Jesus Christ, but first binding the strong man, then releasing Gods Power to thrust out the enemy before us. The words “we shall overcome” are Victory declarations in Christ Jesus. Thank you so much for understanding, this is a Spiritual Warfare, we are victorious in Jesus Christ, we do not walk in darkness, no, we are the light of the world…….. Much love to you and a tremendous big hug :) God bless you and may the blessing of the Lord be upon you :)

  10. Your house is so beautiful :) You’ve done a great job!!!

    Btw, your “Office organization ideas and minimalist checklist” link is dead. Just FYI!

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