We physically write our yearly goals for ourselves, but we share it publicly to hold ourselves accountable. Anything from home projects to new family traditions can make the list, and we allow ourselves to be open and vulnerable in the process. Some of you might remember that in 2020, we wanted to reach personal finance goals. Well, it goes without saying that 2020 took us all by storm, so we gave ourselves the grace to reset and try, try again. Then came 2021, and the same goal came along once more.
Maaaybe you’ve noticed that this was the year we held off on big projects? After the Two Flat, we needed this year to catch our breath, and in doing so, we were determined to make a big dent in those earlier financial goals. And just last month, we wrote a check in full to pay off our beloved Tree House! (Deep breath.) I’ll be forever grateful that I was able to type those words.
And so, as we think back on the projects we’re most proud of this year, the award goes to Project Finance. We know that there’s immense privilege in renovating, project hopping and working together full time. And with that in mind, we feel that the more we can share, the more we can learn. Financial health should be celebrated, not taboo. How else can we absorb knowledge and take action? It’s not without life lessons from our parents and advice from friends that got us here. Every decision we made this year – to pause, to save, to sell, to choose this (not that) – led us to our goal, but it took a lifetime to find our way.
This is another round of Collective Q+A, a blog series focused on sharing voices other than our own to promote new ideas and encourage outside-of-the-box thinking. Today we’re asking: Which project are you most proud of completing in 2021, and why?
Allison wanted people to feel good and eat good, and we were so happy to help her build her dream. — Jordan + Barry
Jordan + Barry, Brownstone Boys | We usually work in historic Brooklyn brownstones restoring and renewing their beautiful original features but we had the opportunity to take something on that was completely different this year….. a cafe renovation!
When we met Allison and heard her dream for opening her first cafe highlighting her Jamaican roots we couldn’t resist helping her do it! She grew up in Jamaica and moved to Brooklyn to start a new life as a woman business owner. We were so inspired by her story that we wanted to help out! She wanted to build a vibrant and colorful space that would be a community gathering place to bring a piece of home to Brooklyn. Allison wanted people to feel good and eat good, and we were so happy to help her build her dream. We made the space colorful and welcoming which perfectly reflects Allison’s personality. The space features a beautiful combination of a vibrant pink, bright white tile, and warm white oak wood tones. One of our favorite features is the white oak curving slat banquet that makes a cozy and warm seating area in the back of the space. And you can’t miss the fun and tiny tropical inspired bathroom! Since renovating her space, Hibiscus Brew has been doing very well and we are so happy that Allison has realized her dream of building this beautiful space and making it a little taste of her home.
Taking a daily negative and turning it into a daily positive has been a fun challenge with a huge return. — Jessica Akemon
Jessica Akemon, @mrsjessicadarling | For years our garage has acted more like a dumping ground for project scraps, kid toys, and general clutter. We primarily use the garage as our main entry point, so as you can imagine, it was quite triggering and certainly did not spark joy. So this past spring we decided to do something about it!
With lots of DIY hurdles (per usual) and new skills learned, my husband Jeff and I built custom wall cabinets from scratch, finished the walls and ceiling, and added a very aesthetically pleasing wall organization system that now sparks ALL the joy! Although this particular project was a pretty big undertaking, we then applied the same philosophy to other small daily problem areas, such as a junky kitchen drawer, the refrigerator (clear containers are everything here!), and even a small coat closet! Taking a daily negative and turning it into a daily positive has been a fun challenge with a huge return — we highly recommend giving it a go, even if you simply start out with your sock drawer!
Follow along with Jessica on Instagram @mrsjessicadarling.
We quickly realized that making the most of every space (outdoors included) was a top priority. — Brittni Mehlhoff
Brittni Mehlhoff, Paper & Stitch | After purchasing a small(ish) home in California earlier this year, we quickly realized that making the most of every space (outdoors included) was a top priority. So I’d say the exterior of our home / front porch is the project I feel most proud of, this year. My husband and I painted the entire exterior of our home together, after receiving a painting quote that was out of our budget. And then a few months later, I did all the landscaping (planted more than 50 plants throughout the backyard) and painted the tile flooring on the porch to give it a refresh. Now we have several additional ‘rooms’ to enjoy outdoors that truly feel like extra square footage.
The thing I’m most proud of is building a small team of wonderful people, connecting with others over design & vintage details, and supporting small businesses. — Sarah Gibson
Sarah Gibson, Room for Tuesday | I’m really proud of launching our shop, Tuesday Made! Oddly enough, we didn’t complete any renovation projects here at home this year. There may not have been shiny before & after images in our house, but starting something new, connecting with creatives, artists, other small business owners, and design-lovers has been such a joy and really fueled my passion for design in 2021.
We did manage to renovate our Tuesday Made office space, but the thing I’m most proud of is building a small team of wonderful people, connecting with others over design & vintage details, and supporting small businesses. It has certainly been a fun, creative, and fulfilling adventure! I’m looking forward to seeing what 2022 has in store… and to crossing a couple rooms off the list here at home (finally).
It was a real doozy of a project, but I couldn’t be more proud of how it turned out. — Emily Cosnotti
Emily Cosnotti, The Sweet Beast | The project I’m most proud of completing this year has to be our cabin bedroom makeover. This project was full of firsts for us, like installing new flooring without my dad’s careful assistance, hardwiring wall sconces, cutting and installing new trim, sewing blackout curtains, and scraping a stippled ceiling. And in case all of that sounds easy peasy, know that each of those tasks was full of hiccups, procrastination, and supply chain issues – all balanced with a healthy dose of persistence. It was a real doozy of a project, but I couldn’t be more proud of how it turned out. We now have a comfortable, functional room that feels like a soothing getaway every weekend.
In the middle, I wanted out. Of course, there was no out. — Melissa Coleman
Melissa Coleman, The Faux Martha | I’m most proud of completing our little/big idea called The Minne Stuga, a cabin rental in the Northwoods of Minnesota, because we completed it! I honestly never thought I’d say that.
This was one of those construction projects that started a year late and took 3.5 times longer to finish. (We bought it in 2019 and finished construction late 2021.) In the middle, I wanted out. Of course, there was no out. So I leaned on the wisdom of the board book “Going on a Bear Hunt.” “We can’t go over it,” they say at the sight of every obstacle. “We can’t go under it. Oh no, we’ve got to go through it. Stumble trip! Stumble trip!” That simple wisdom carried me through as we stumble-tripped to the finish line. The final product, though, is somehow better and more beautiful than we hoped. We’ve been lucky enough to have guests stay at the cabin these last couple of months. This idea is doing what we had hoped, and that is a great gift.
It goes to show that you don’t always need premium materials to make something beautiful. — Ursula Carmona
Ursula Carmona, Homemade by Carmona | The biggest project I took on this year, and the one I’m most proud of, was the monumental task of transforming my ordinary shed into a sophisticated garden house. It goes to show that you don’t always need premium materials to make something beautiful… I built storage closets from scrap 2×4’s and rough plywood, then zhushed them up with moulding. And instead of laying new flooring and installing ceiling tiles, I stained the bare plywood floor, and painted the wood beams on the ceiling… I even put a coat of paint over insulation foam boards on the ceiling to hide them! The space got a whole new look by repurposing materials and adding a few beautiful new details.
Thank you for supporting the creators that inspire us every day! Which project are you most proud of this year?