You asked and I’m answering! Click through for a fun and in-depth video chat, where I answer 30+ questions you submitted on Instagram last week. I’m talking design, interiors, personal life, and anything in between (in my favorite sweater). Let’s do it…
To preface this, I sort of lied in my first sentence… this “short” video ended up being wayyyy longer than expected, BUT I wanted to get through as many questions as I could and there were too many good ones. I also break down a short summary of the Q&A after the video- in case you can’t listen or would rather just read. If that’s the case- keep scrolling.
As promised, here is the short video Q&A recap (with those links I mentioned!)…
Q: Do you and Emmett renovate full time? No! We both have full time jobs, so we renovate after 6pm on weekdays and on weekends.
Q: What mascara and lash serum do you use? I’m VERY allergic to mascara (trust me- I’ve tried them all), so I get natural lash extensions instead. I like not having to put on makeup everyday and they don’t irritate my eyes.
Q: Can you paint a basement a dark color or will it feel super small? Yes- paint it! Dark colors often times have the opposite effect… it tricks the eye into believing a space is larger than it actually is. Remember when I painted my bathroom ceiling black to elongate the ceiling height? Dark paint is a good visual design trick and I would definitely encourage painting a basement a darker color if you feel inclined to do so.
Q: I can’t wait to see your plan to transform the doorways in your new house?! Ahhh, yes. If you missed the “before” house tour as we were moving in, definitely check that out to see what she is talking about. We have ugly, dated (90’s) doorways that have odd angles. Those will be replaced eventually. I’m thinking arches! I just have to convince Emmett to expand his millwork skillset for that project.
Q: Do you ever hire out certain jobs? Nope. I’d say we do 95% of the work ourselves. An exception was when we had to hire a mason to repair our exterior brick- we busted out the exterior wall when drilling the dryer exhaust for the laundry room One Room Challenge. We couldn’t find an exact brick match and it was easier to recruit a professional.
Q: Should a bathroom and laundry room across the hall from each other have the same tile, or can they be different? They can be different! Just make sure you consider the transition (use a threshold) and select something that is cohesive to the home’s aesthetic.
Q: How do you become a renovating expert or interior designer without an education? I have a formal design education, but I totally believe in hands-on experience. It provides so much learning… I think you probably learn more in the field than you do in school. I’d recommend finding an internship or mentor to help expand your skillset. It’s also a good idea to broaden your portfolio. I still say yes to educational opportunities and love learning (trade shows, courses, seminars, webinars, workshops, etc).
Q: Can you mix black and white windows in one house? Absolutely! I actually did that in our previous house… check out the tour here. The bathroom, living room, and breakfast nook had black windows, while the remainder of the home had white.
Q: My hubby and I are also doing a full house reno… how do you balance time for just you and him? Emmett and I actually aren’t great at this. Luckily, we both enjoy projects and renovating, so we spend a lot of time together making memories doing that. Otherwise, we try to schedule dates and fun things in between projects. For example, once the guest bathroom renovation is complete, we have a fun camping trip planned, family is coming to visit, and we have a handful of other fun date nights lined up. It’s hard to renovate after business hours and have time for anything else. At the very least, we cook and eat dinner together every single night.
Q: What took your blog to the next level? Did you have a collab or reach a certain amount of visitors milestone? Ehh, not really. Collaborations are wonderful and fun, but I’m a fan of slow and steady. Collabs may give you a little short term spike, but longterm is the best mindset. My philosophy has always been to share useful and inspiring information. Period. I want to put out quality posts that are beneficial… that has always been more important to me, rather than growing quickly. I also don’t know that I’d say I’ve reached “next level” status yet, haha!
Q: What should we use on top of cement board when rehabbing a shower? Water resistant membrane. I prefer MAPEI AquaDefense… you can see it in my bathroom reno highlight on Instagram.
Q: Is it just you and Emmett running the show over there? How many work on your team? There is no team. It’s just us. When I’m super busy with renovation stuff, sometimes you’ll see a post by Jacqueline (my best friend from Ohio)… she’ll pop into the rotation 2-3 times per month depending on my schedule. I like to stay consistent with 5 posts Monday through Friday and sometimes it’s just not possible. That’s where having an extra hand (even a few times a month) is super duper helpful. So yes- it’s just us!
Q: What are your thoughts on mixing picture frame materials- brass, white, black, wood, etc? I vote yes- do it! I hate “matchy matchy” looks. I prefer to mix finishes. It adds depth, interest, and contrast.
Q: What are your recommended ceiling fan sources… preferably with a light? Here is a roundup… and I also loved this one (that has a light!), that lived in our previous master bedroom.
Q: Any thoughts on renovating an unfinished basement? I would do it IF it adds value to your home (more on home value in this post). Can the room be called “living space” and add square footage when it comes time to sell? You’ll need to check the building code and permits in your area to see if it qualifies, but it can be a great investment. Or… if it’s your forever home and you’d like additional living space, I’d say go for it!
Q: What are some tips for renovating a small older home? Maximize your space AND consider storage. Storage is usually the big issue, so design each room with that in mind. For example, in our previous home… I designed the breakfast nook to not only provide a nice place to sit and share a meal, but the entire banquette also provided closed storage. Make use of every nook and cranny. Remember our hallway linen closet? How about when I turned the carport into a dining space? You really have to get creative with a small house.
Q: What are some tips for a tub / shower combo curtain? Do I mount it to the ceiling? Does it hang to the floor? Help! I’ve been talking about this a lot lately because I’ll be using the same treatment from our previous bathroom in the guest bath. This time around, I’m sharing a complete tutorial… so look for that very soon! In the meantime, it doesn’t matter if your shower curtain mounts to the ceiling or hangs from a shower rod. However, I do prefer the curtain to “kiss the floor” – 1/4″ or less floating above the floor tile. No high water shower curtains.
Q: What is the best way to personalize a space when you’re renting and it’s not your style at all? Do just that… STYLE! Bring in your favorite furniture, decor, artwork, textiles, etc and style the living daylights out of it. The furniture and decor living within a space makes a huge impact in regards to aesthetic- even if you’re not able to make any permanent changes.
Q: Can you go into more detail about how your husband smoothed the guest bathroom ceiling? Yep! To clarify, it was NOT a popcorn ceiling (that’s a very different ballgame)… it was just textured. We ended up skim coating the ceiling, sanding, and priming to make it perfectly flat, rather than scraping the texture.
Q: What order of rooms / projects would you do in a home reno if you can’t afford to do it all at once? Great question! There aren’t many people who can afford to renovate all at once (we definitely save project by project). It’s a personal preference for us… we know we’re renovating the entire house, so we pick and choose the spaces that make the most sense at the time. If we weren’t renovating the entire home, we’d think in terms of resale and begin with the kitchen and bathrooms first.
Q: Is it ideal for crown moulding and trim to be consistent throughout every room? It is ideal, but definitely not necessary! As long as it’s cohesive, you’re good. Our previous home had matching millwork EXCLUDING the mouldings in the kitchen… we ordered those to match the custom cabinetry. Feel free to read more about my thoughts on millwork.
Q: Have you ever painted cabinetry? Would you recommend it and is it worth it? Yes and yes! Remember when I designed my best friend’s kitchen using IKEA cabinetry? I also helped them paint the cabinets and they still look amazing and are holding up beautifully today.
Q: What do you think of luxury vinyl wood flooring? Meh… I’m not into it.
Q: What accent colors look great with navy blue? We’re starting our office this week. #1: the office envy is real. #2: orange, burnt sienna, cognac (like our gorgeous leather bed paired with the navy nightstands)… or neutrals: white, black, grey, tan, taupe, etc.
Q: Should light fixture styles be tied in throughout the home to seem cohesive? While it’s not necessary to repeat the same fixture (or variations of that fixture), light fixtures throughout a home should feel cohesive to a certain style. For example, mixing a mid century chandelier with an uber traditional one in the next room would feel weird. Make sense?
Q: Could you post about what type of paint to use (furniture, exterior, interior walls, etc)? You should certainly use a specific paint product for each product. Depending on the project, I recommend asking the experts… find tips for choosing the right paint in this post!
Q: Tips on elevating builder grade for an industrial condo… millwork wouldn’t match the style? I think millwork works anywhere and everywhere… but you have to find a style that matches the architecture. Given the condo is industrial, opt for a flat shaker style millwork, or even use an industrious material as opposed to woodworking (example: finishing an edge with metal schluter instead).
Q: Are white walls over- or what color should I paint the walls in my 1928 house? White walls will never be over, BUT I am extremely tired of seeing them. I’d opt for a bold, historic color instead. Who wants their house to look like every other home on the block? Not me.
Q: Do you have a dream home or dream design board… if you had no budget? My dream has always been to design a beach house or quirky coastal cottage. I have a Pinterest board for that here.
Q: Where is the best place to start designing a kitchen- cabinets, tile, what? I think this is personal preference based on your design process. I like to start with cabinetry, but it should be whatever is inspiring you. I happen to be inspired by cabinetry and millwork.
Q: I have a large yard that has a gentle, yet significant slope, what would you do design wise? The slope is concerning because of drainage and settling. If you’re building a permanent structure like a paver patio, pergola, firepit, permanent seating, etc… I’d suggest leveling your yard or at least the area you plan to build on.
Q: Decorating with wall to wall carpet… help! I love the cozy and inviting vibe carpet brings to a home. Since it’s made of fiber, be mindful of decorating with other fabrics (example: upholstery) so it’s not too much of a good thing. Opt for something with wood or metal legs to break it up. Keep in mind if you layer with rugs, opt for a low pile that isn’t a tripping hazard.
Q: Tips for first time renovators? Just start. Dive in and try new things even though it can be intimidating.
Q: How long have you and Emmett been together, or been renovating together? We started dating when we were 15 years old in high school (so crazy!), dated all through college, got married shortly after, bought our first home a year later, and have been renovating ever since. I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else! Here are 5 tips for renovating / tackling home projects with your significant other.
There you have it! A big Q&A that was hopefully entertaining and helpful. Next time, maybe I’ll break it into shorter sections? Regardless, did you enjoy this post? Let me know in the comments below and I can plan to do more of these! I hope you all are having a great week.
AmandaFebruary 20, 2019 at 5:59 am
Loved this post! I didn’t ask this when you posted for questions on insta but I’m curious how you and Emmett got your skill sets to start renovating? Did you watch your parents growing up? YouTube? Take tiling or woodworking classes?
SarahFebruary 20, 2019 at 8:56 am
Thanks Amanda- glad to hear that! Emmett and I both come from handy construction-ish families. We helped his parents build a home while we were in high school, and my step dad (who used to own a construction company) helped us renovate our first home, and we learned a TON from him (plumbing, electrical, etc). With that said, we still watch our fair share of YouTube videos, ask tons of questions, and I’m a big fan of seminars, webinars, trade shows, classes, etc.
PeggiFebruary 20, 2019 at 8:22 am
So fun! Your regular posts are so informative, I’m not sure I could think of a reno question off the top of my head. However, I’m a snoopy snooperson, so I’d love to hear about your time studying in Italy, your education (is a BFA always the way to go for interior design?), and on-going education or training. (Maybe it’s the teacher in me that wonders!) Also, dog cameos on the videos would be stellar!😉 (Sidenote. Crosby is getting so BIG; I’m curious to know if his poodle parent was a standard?)
SarahFebruary 20, 2019 at 9:05 am
Thanks Peggi! Next time I’ll let the dogs wander around and I’m sure one will end up in my lap. Haha! I was just afraid their stomping around and biteyface playtime would be noisy and distracting. Crosby’s poodle parent was indeed a standard! He’s STILL growing- I have no idea how big he’ll get, but I love his cuddlebug self.
I was pretty busy during college… I have a BFA in design (graphic design specifically), BA in art history (which I finished studying in Italy), BA in fine art, and BA in telecommunications (marketing specific). I spent a semester studying art (drawing, painting, etc) and art history in Florence- such an incredible experience I’m very thankful for! As for interior design- I took lots of elective interior related classes to obtain my fine art BA (textiles, interior design courses, drafting, photography, etc), but it was never my plan to be an interior designer. After spending a few years in a more corporate environment as an in-house graphic designer, that’s when we decided to renovate. I fell in love with the process and knew THAT is what I was supposed to do, so I took a couple more interior courses, found a local design firm / mentor, learned a lot working in the field under a very talented designer, and then started doing my own thing with the blog / home renovations / client projects. Whew! Sorry that was long winded. Have an amazing day! :) xox
PeggiFebruary 21, 2019 at 4:08 am
Clearly, you’ve been a go-getter from the beginning! Those sound like some packed college years. Thanks for sharing.
LizFebruary 20, 2019 at 8:53 am
Good Post! Loved the variety. I’m interested in your time in Italy too. I love your drawings from the time.
SarahFebruary 20, 2019 at 9:16 am
Thanks Liz! I spent a semester studying art (painting, drawing, etc) and art history there… such an amazing opportunity I’m so thankful to have had.
KathyFebruary 20, 2019 at 10:26 am
Love the Q & A,
SarahFebruary 20, 2019 at 8:41 pm
Yay!! Really happy you enjoyed it Kathy :)
ViktorijaFebruary 20, 2019 at 10:29 am
Loved this post! Definitely bring the FAQ post into the blog rotation! :)
SarahFebruary 20, 2019 at 8:42 pm
Can do! I’ll try to make a shorter one next time… if you made it allllll the way through, thank you! True dedication ;) haha xox
Greta WesslenFebruary 20, 2019 at 10:47 pm
I loved this video! This answered questions that I didn’t even know I had. I am definitely looking forward to your shower curtain tutorial! Do you have any tips for renovating when you have a big doodle puppy around? Our sheepadoodle is always so inquisitive, I have been pretty afraid to try painting anything since we got her!
SarahFebruary 21, 2019 at 9:34 am
So happy to hear that Greta! Yes- the shower curtain tutorial is coming in March… so stay tuned for that. As for tips for renovating with dogs, obviously keeping their safety and well being in mind is our priority. Our boys would eat construction material and drywall bits if we’d let them (they have before, yikes). Ha! Therefore, we try to keep them out of the construction area unless we’re closely supervising and paying attention. We also try to expose them to anything we’re doing (with positive rewards- treats, praise, etc) so they know there is nothing to be fearful of… like loud noises- hammering, power drill, etc. Neither of them seem to mind it- if anything, they’re more curious so we’ll let them come in to take a peek at what we’re up to. “Leave it” is a command we use allllll the time. If I see one of them heading toward an open can of paint or something, I’ll say “leave it” and they immediately turn around and know not to get close. If they already have something in their mouth (like the drywall bits), I’ll give a stern “drop it” command and 95% of the time, they spit it out. Haha! Sheepadoodles are SO SO cute. Goodluck! xox
Debbie BuckFebruary 26, 2019 at 2:19 pm
My husband and I are remodeling our master bathroom. We built our home 18 years ago and the master bathroom today Is definitely outdated. We have a hickory two sink cabinet with a 30” high vanity on the end, a corner jacuzzi tub with two windows above it. A showe with glass doors. We did a terra-cotta tile on floor, tub sides and shower.
Do you have any advice on style of tub? Should we keep a corner tub, maybe just update it. We don’t plan on selling right now, but I’d love to not have to update the bathroom again. Alls I’m seeing today are the stand alone tubs, but I worry that they are just a trend as well and it’s hard for me to invision a tub like that in the corner.
I’m not sure how to style our shower. Should we always make it larger? I don’t have a bench in there so I think that is important to add.
Any cabinet advice. I’m thinking about lowering it to 30 inches so it’s the same height as the vanity. What do you think is the best cabinet height?
And tile color and style. I loved your black tile floor and the shape. Any insight on tile/design? It’s a little overwhelming. Any advice you could give me would be so appreciated!