Happy New Year!
Happy new year to you! It turns out that the weirdness of 2020 trickled much farther into 2021 than any of us would have liked, didn’t it? Luckily, we were able to get back to some semblance of a new normal. Lucy settled nicely into her half-day Pre K program and we were even able to take few cautious, safe trips to visit family and parts of the country we hadn’t explored before. We’re getting there. Hopefully.
If you’ve been around for a bit, you may know that we don’t really make resolutions for each new year, but rather set a handful of attainable goals for ourselves to keep us on track. We like to ensure that our goals also give us things to look forward to, even in times where the future is often uncertain.
Last year, we encouraged ourselves to pause. Pause before big decisions, pause prior to taking on work, and pause when we step back to consider our impact. We’d give ourselves a pretty solid grade on this one. We paused before taking on additional work, before accepting partnership opportunities and perhaps most importantly, prior to making decisions that impact both our business and personal lives.
This year, we hope to evolve. We’ve been in our Chicago home for the better part of 9 years now and our lives are drastically different than when we first received the keys. When we moved in to this home, we were a two dog, two cat, two adult family. We’ve since had a child, both lost and adopted pets, bought and sold properties, and had two career shifts to full time self-employment. Needless to say, we’ve evolved as people and as a family, and there are a few aspects of our home that have yet to evolve with us. So, what does this evolution look like? Let’s break it down.
1| Design and Complete Lucy’s Big Girl Bedroom
It’s absolutely insane to say this, but Lucy turns 4 this week! She’s sweet, thoughtful, caring and as strong-willed as her mom (I say that with the admiration that only an easily-swayed Gemini can!). She also has quite a few opinions about how her new room will look. She’s obsessed with unicorns and her two favorite colors are pink and purple. We’ll do our absolute best to align her wants with the aesthetic of the rest of our home and give her a room that is functional, fun and very, very ‘Lucy’. Preliminary plans include a DIY lofted bed with some unique touches, a color palette worthy of unicorn royalty and just enough sparkle to keep things interesting.
We can’t wait to get started on this room as our little nugget grows faster than we could have ever imagined. We’re practically in a race against time to get her into her new bed before she doesn’t fit into her converted toddler bed anymore!
2| Take Advantage of Our Chicago Kitchen’s Potential
When we originally revamped our Chicago kitchen in 2015(!), we made thoughtful budget considerations to keep things as affordable as possible. Rather than replacing cabinets, we found a local cabinet maker to paint and reface the builder basic boxes that came with the house at a pricepoint we could afford. Rather than moving the big, noisy HVAC closet that consumes a huge amount of functional space, we worked around it. Rather than committing to a permanent layout, we revamped a dresser atop casters in place of an island. You get the gist.
All that to say, we think we did a pretty great job on our kitchen given the relatively tight budget that we were working with at the time. However, we’ve renovated 4 full kitchens since this one and have learned a lot about functional design, layout and the availability of products that make storing, preparing and cooking food easier and more enjoyable. We’ve also been working incredibly hard and saving for this moment where we’ll give ourselves a do-over to finally move the HVAC closet. This will free up almost 5 linear feet of functional space and allow us to integrate functionality that we couldn’t the first time around!
We’ll do everything in our power to repurpose, sell or donate all of the existing materials. We’ll focus on minimizing waste and will invest in cabinets and appliances that are built to last. Like most kitchens, ours is the center of our home and as our family grows, the space should shift with us. We’ve been kicking around a few of the ideas we hope to implement for 3 or 4 years and are incredibly excited to get started. The first two contractor consultations went well and we should be ready to move forward toward the end of February!
3| Dial In Organizational Systems In Our Craft Room + Family Room
The common spaces on our second floor have changed along with our needs more than a few times. Since we’ve moved toward handling our day-to-day work from our dining table, the main area has become a family room with spaces for arts and crafts, a play kitchen and an open area in front of the sofa that serves as a pseudo yoga studio/fitness area. This area will get a TV upgrade and some new storage options that will tie up the last couple of loose ends since the new sofa and rug went in.
The tiny craft/shipping room will gain new purpose yet again to act as a styling/staging/gift wrapping command center. We searched high and low for the most efficient storage solution and have found what we think will be the perfect modular shelving setup for our needs. Having a dedicated space for art/decor/vases and faux greenery will finally shift all of these items out of our workshop, which makes me very, very happy.
4| Complete More Projects for Non-Profits
This goal is a repeat from last year and will likely remain one as long as we continue documenting them! While the big nonprofit renovation project we had in mind for 2021 hasn’t come to fruition quite yet, we were able to dedicate time and resources to our perennial favorite rescue organization, One Tail at a Time. We’ll continue giving our time and resources to organizations we believe in and will work to orchestrate a large scale nonprofit renovation when the stars align.
5| Continue Down the Path Toward Financial Freedom
For anyone counting, yes!, this is another repeat goal for us and will probably remain top of mind forever. We busted our collective humps this year and finally sold our little condo. We shifted the proceeds from that sale and were able to completely pay off the mortgage on our Michigan Tree House. It’s something we never thought we’d be able to do so quickly, but damn! did it feel good to write that check!
We realize that it’s an immense privilege to own multiple properties as a portion of our overall business. We’ve had advantages, we’ve worked hard, and we’ve sacrificed a lot, too. We’ll continue to save more than we spend, live within our means and invest what’s left in hopes of paying off another property in the next 5 years or so. We’re inspired by friends who have been able to actualize a ‘work optional’ lifestyle, and we envision our lives involving a lot less actual work in 10 years. To get there, we start
6| Be Open to What Happens Next
With any evolution comes the requirement of being open to the unexpected. We’ll continue to steer the ship, but realize things beyond our control can shift at any moment. Opportunities can present themselves or vanish in an instant. Certainties can become uncertain. We’ll do our best to plan for the future, but realize that so many aspects of our lives and work are beyond our control.
We’re ready for this new year and the challenges it brings and we’re thrilled that all of you are along for the ride. We truly appreciate each and every one of you and we look forward to sharing this adventure with you, regardless of what form it takes!
So, how about you? What are your goals for the year? Let’s make 2022 a year of shared evolution.