The Craziest Year Yet : A Review

Hi friends, this is a long one. About 1,500 words long of no crafts, DIY projects, or how-to’s. Just a good ‘ol update on our first year in Nashville, and what’s to come.

To be honest, I kind of expected to still be in New York at this very moment. We didn’t think we would sell our first home in four day. The average days on market for our area was about 120 days and it was winter. I figured it would be about now that we would be moving into our Nashville digs.

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We have been in Nashville a whole year, March 1st to be exact, and it’s been quite the journey. Getting here was a nightmare, but being here is a dream.

Being it’s our one year anniversary,  I figured I would spill the beans about the drama to get out of New York, what we are up to here, and what the plan is.

The main question we get pretty much weekly, still, is; “Do you miss your old house?”. The answer is kind of complicated. Do we miss how pretty she was an how much space she offered, “yes”. Do we miss being responsible for a 1930 tudor with no AC downstairs, the inability to open windows, the $1,000 a month heating bill the $25,000 (!!!) a year property/school taxes, laundry in the basement, constant-ongoing renovations to every corner of 6,000 square feet, “no”.

I start with this question to express that us leaving New York wasn’t us throwing our hands up in failure because we couldn’t handle it. After me being there 15 years, and Joey 10, we kind of just had enough. It was really that simple. It’s very expensive and beyond maintaining the $10,000 a month house expense you have tolls no matter where you go, and everything is so expensive and the weather kills half the year. We didn’t want to raise a child under this amount of stress.  We absolutely do not regret buying this home. We were very connected to her from the moment we saw her. She was a beast to tackle, but after five years we were simply tired. I was ready to leave New York before the ten extra years I stayed for Joey to grow in his industry and am so grateful we got to take the time and explore and move someplace great.

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Enter, our 1,900 square foot cottage in Nashville. This was not the plan. If you remember, we were building a lodge out in the country. We had the plans, we just needed the land. Then we got scared frightened. We were moving to a new town, a 12 hour drive from anyone and anything we knew, and were were planning to isolate ourselves.

So we made a new plan after realizing this may not be the best decision for Joey’s growing music career and me opening a storefront for Rich Hippies. We looked at 30+ houses. We lost eight of them. We fell deeply in love with a cabin in the city, and thought we had that for two weeks. We would hop in the car in New York and drive to Nashville randomly to house hunt until the buyers from our house were handed the keys. We still had no plan, or anything that looked like a plan. It seemed like everything was against us moving to Nashville. We had an infant, two dogs, our life in storage, and no home for five weeks. We AirBNB hopped in the middle of winter and it was all very very very stressful.

After caving and looking at a neighborhood our realtors kept suggesting, we four our house. Of course. We wound up in the equivalent of Williamsburg Brooklyn, but this time everyone was married with kids and home owners. We four our home at midnight, peeking through windows after realized the home was staged. Actually, Joey went alone and we had the realtors draw up the contract before the open house the next day. We viewed the house for six minutes and made an offer. Not because it was our dream house, but because we were desperate and tired.

So, how do you cram 6,000 square foot of furniture in a 1,900 square foot house? I would love to know the answer to this because we still haven’t figured it out after a year. Our dining set is still in storage, but we were able to use our couch. Our bed is inappropriately placed in a too-small master bedroom, but other than that, we have grown to really love our new home and neighborhood. A lot.

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We decided to make the edits to this home that would make it not just “work” but work well. We are making the living room bigger, twice the size actually. Turning the two tiny bedrooms into one larger one and then adding a master suite upstairs so it will still be a three bedroom.

We will make a huge wrap around porch to greet the driveway. We also plan to add square footage to the back of the house, and maybe add additional square footage upstairs. That part is going to be a surprise.

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And if you pay really close attention, you know about our AirBNB across the street. We are lucky enough to turn this duplex into a two unit AirBNB and a work space for me and a work space for Joey and we will be adding a greenhouse. It’s not pretty, but it will be one day.

As for the next major question “What are you doing in Nashville?”. I am no longer a marketing director or in artist development. I actually have been working for myself for two years now and it’s been the most favorite thing I have ever done for myself. I just don’t like long term work relationships. I like new-and-fresh and what I am doing now fills all the needs with newness and creativity daily.

I am a Nashville interior designer and stylist. I mostly work with brands and home owners, and I am so happy I went out on my own. I was in a partnership for a year between New York and Los Angeles before officially launch Rich Hippies, but owning my own is more my speed. I also have a shop in East Nashville, by the same name, Rich Hippies. The shop is a tiny lifestyle shop of lovingly curated kids clothes and home goods. We teach maker classes, and host events, and it’s pretty much my dream come true. I have finally begun to hire employees because after opening shop in November because things have grown rapidly. Also, being an AirBNB host is a bit more time consuming than one may think. Of all my new jobs, blogger has become a main priority with the move and we have been making efforts to create a new schedule with posts, and with new help being hired, I am confident we can get the weekly posts to daily sooner than later. It’s been over five years since we started this blog, and it was our first baby, and we plan to nurture it and have it grow with us, always.

Joey is still co-producing blog efforts, in addition to his full time job as composer and song writer. Nashville has been so good to him, and he couldn’t have picked a better spot to be and grow.

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Atlas had his first year of life with Joey and I taking off work and focusing on being new parents and discovering were we were going to move. Now that he’s two (how did that happen?!), he’s in an educational program and we are looking for breakdancing or drumming classes for him. He loves to dance, and he loves music so very much. He’s cooler than both of us, and has been seen rolling his eyes at his lame Mama or Dada. It goes without saying, he’s the center of our universe and it just so much fun. Owing our own things has also opened up so much extra time to parent and make special moments and memories.

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The plan is pretty simple and exciting. We have planted our seeds and are growing our roots, and so happy with all of our decisions. It kept us up many nights, and we had many many discussions before making this major life change, but it was the right move for us. We still want the lodge in the woods, and we are still taking steps to find acres of land and build a vacation lodge. It’s just become part of the five-year plan. We want to continue to create more AirBNB’s as well.

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East Nashville has become our home so quickly. It’s this nook of amazing and creative neighbors who act like neighbors and strangers quickly become friends. It is crazy to be surrounded by so many creative people who have learned to make a life creating and sharing. This corner of Nashville is so special to us and was worth every ounce of chaos to get here.

xo, lana katsaros I makingahouseahome.com

Shifts > Resolutions

Have you broken your new-year-new-you resolution yet? We are two weeks in, and this seems to be the breaking point for most people to skip a day at the gym or eat a cookie (or two) when they so sincerely promised themselves it would be different this year. I use to do that. I would make a laundry list of promises to myself about what I would do, who I would be, now that this new year is upon me. I would always, and I mean always, break every single little promise. While mid-manicure today I found myself listing off the gyms I joined, exercise plans I failed, and last-ten-pound stunts I pulled. I never stuck to any of it. Why? I simply don’t like working out.

 

Then it dawned on me. I don’t want to work out, but I do want to lose ten pounds, so what now? What am I willing to alter to make my goal? It came down to food. I decided to cut out cheese, dairy, and eggs completely. As a vegetarian I eat a lot of cheese as it seems to be the only readily available form of food being I don’t actually like eggs very much, and fish is not vegetarian food contrary to popular belief. I made a shift I knew I could handle. I am already use to “restrictive” eating, what’s a few more ingredients to avoid? I am not use to working out, or dedicating time I don’t have to do something I don’t want. I am curious to see if this shift actually lands the results I want. I am cool with slow and steady, as long as there is progress.

With this attitude (I didn’t realize exactly what was going on until the manicure, but it was happening none-the-less) Joey and I have shifted so much in our life to start this new year fresh and more manageable. Resolutions scream that something is wrong, and by fix that thing, everything will then be right. That’s too much pressure, especially when things feel good. We did our annual purge of people/places/things that don’t feel good, and man did we purge every drawer and corner of our life. Sometimes life just needs a little edit, not a big elaborate ritual.

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We have finally opened a unit of The Rich Hippies House (you loving know it as #MAHAHProjectHouse via instagram if you follow along) and are on to the second unit, opened a Rich Hippies store front, have a good idea about renovations in our current home, expanded the Rich Hippies line of kids clothing and now have home goods, still work with our media partners on this very blog and for them directly writing and styling, and of course Joey is still making music for movies, TV and commercials. Atlas just started a school program a month ago, but still we have yet to learn to breathe. We thought by working for ourselves we would have more “us” time. More time to blow dry my hair, go on dates, cook every single meal from scratch…..not so much. We consider this our biggest needed shift. Taking back time.

Each thing we do we love so much, we have never be able to let any of it go. We crafted the exact life we want to live in the place we want to live it, so the only thing to do is start delegating and hiring out some of the less desirable parts of the work we love. I hate shipping, Joey hates painting, so it’s time to pay someone else and not be nailed to the DIY-every-single-thing-you-do cross. It’s hard for us controlling folks, but I rather be planning a two week trip to someplace amazing than sitting in a sea of boxes.

I guess you can say we resolved to shift things around to keep everything we have created for ourselves, let that grow organically and be able to use the boss-card a little more liberally and enjoy the life we spent so much time sorting out. A lot of this ability has come from a six week planning period before 2015 hit. I am so excited to share what we did to make it all work. It’s like dumping your busy brain out so you can focus on life. I was literally at a point I wasn’t showing up to dinner dates with friends because I simply forgot, and that’s not my “me”. Now that it’s been two weeks and I can see how well this self-created system is working, I am excited to share. Everything I did was found, made, and free with the exception of a binder, dividers, and some plastic binder sleeves.

Stay tuned, and go buy some printer ink because I have a some print outs for you to help stream line your 2015!

Cottages and Cabins

This was our first Nashville Christmas, and it was a very packed two week holiday for us! Joey surprised me with a magical weekend in a cottage in the woods to celebrate the first moment we met 10 years ago. That happens to be the day before Christmas Eve, which means it’s difficult to manage a focused celebration, but this time Joey killed it with secret planning and lots of mushy sweetness.

Joey’s parent’s and brother came to town en route to New York, and then we left for an extended Christmas upon their departure to a cabin in the mountains. It was really nice to have a Christmas sandwiched between a cottage and a cabin, and Atlas loved it all. Nashville really is magical during this time. The snow is clean, and the snowflakes are shaped perfectly. Lots and lots of homes decorate and you can really feel the season here.

In between our break/vacation/Christmas we got to wrapping up the project house (well, one unit!) and are almost ready for booking! Just a few final touches to make it more homey and we will welcome our guests. We are so so so excited and hope and dream to open many more AirBNB’s in and around Nashville!

I know this is the time to share hopes, resolutions, and goals – but right now I am still living in my dreamy head about what magical moments we had while Atlas was off school and my shop was closed, we were all together in the mountains splashing in creeks and collecting rocks by the riverbank. I have so much to share about the project house, our current home, resolutions, and business, but for now here is a visual snippet of the last moments of 2014. Hope you and yours had an amazing holiday and transition into 2015.

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Gosh, I love the woods. I love them so much. I feel so at peace while wondering around and Atlas is just so engaged with it all. These pictures are from the lest few days of our break in Pigeon Forge. I have been coming here since I was a kid, and it never gets old.

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Before we headed for the hills, we spent our first Christmas in Nashville in our cozy home. We went traditional this year with decor. Ghee, our Elf on a Shelf, was found each morning of December by Atlas with such a huge smile. It was amazing to see him so into our traditions. We built (and by we, I mean Joey) Atlas an art bench that Atlas fell in love with at The Frist. Joey constantly impresses me with his ability to just see something and build it.

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Our membership to Cheekwood has paid off so much! It’s a wonderful place for toddlers. Atlas loves to watch the train, and they always have great events and holiday activities. We went to see the reindeer, decorate cookies, and model Joey’s sweater that he wore when he was Atlas’ age because it happened to fit just in time for Christmas.

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Perhaps my favorite part of our holiday was when Joey surprised me with a cottage in the woods in Liepers Fork (the cutest town outside Nashville) that was basically perfect. Lots of snuggles and cocoa and s’mores. The first night we spent alone, and then missed Atlas way too  grabbed the babe and all headed to the woods for another night. Clearly he got sick of us taking so many photos.

I loved the down-low decisions we made this year. It’s been a good vibe to enter 2015 with. Did you all do anything exciting this holiday? Any funny Elf on a Shelf positions you tried?

The Calm Before The Storm.

This is a DIY blog, and for five years to the date almost (YAY!), we haven’t gotten too deep and personal about much and have kept it DIY and home design related. That doesn’t mean we have had it easy breezy 24/7, it just means for two folks who pour their home improvement hearts out, we keep everything else pretty close to the vest.

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Moving to Nashville was a HUGE life decision that took a lot of weird exercise to get to. Almost three years ago we were packing up and ready to move to Los Angeles for all the wrong reasons, and then two years ago Richmond, VA was where we were house hunting pretty seriously. Making a decision was debilitating, so I put it all on Joey and he picked Nashville and I am so happy he did. We love our new home.

We have been here six months now, and a lot is happening. The DIY projects are being curated and scheduled. We actually set up a pop up shop for Rich Hippies at Old Made Good in East Nashville, and open our first full store front in East Nashville on November 1st. We will have our home goods line, children’s line and a host of brands we use and love at the shop. Interior styling and decor services will be available via the store as well. This + a new home + our really big news in the works with only 10 hours of reliable daycare each week makes for an interesting schedule.

With that being said (after the big ol’ break we took to get things lined up), we are ready to spill the beans.

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We bought another house. Across the street.

This house needs a lot of love. It’s currently a duplex and our plan (as of now) is to turn it into an Airbnb. We are very, very excited. After blogging for five years and turning into a full-time career, we decided that opening up a storefront and keeping renovations and DIY projects alive was what’s int he cards for us. It truly makes us happy. We have never gotten too deep personally, like I started off mention with this post, but we are just so grateful for you guys who follow along and keep us dreaming and scheming of new projects and new ways to do things. Cheers to figuring more stuff out and sharing it with you.

 

It ‘Rox

So, this happened.

It’s not anything new around here, and it’s not worth crying over – but it is worth a deep cleaning over. If you know me personally, you have an idea that I carry around a travel size of disinfectant spray. I have a variety of hand sanitizer that would put Baskin Robin’s selection to shame, and if there is a widespread virus that suddenly pops up, you better believe I have shoe covers and medical grade face masks for you to wear if you stop over to say “Hi”. I wasn’t so bad before we had Atlas, and I don’t think I am that “bad” now. I like to think of it as prepared. I only whipped out the blue shoe booties once, and it was for the pesticide guy who had just walked around our muddy house. He gave me a look, but hey, I got a toddler running around this house. And a wool rug I really like.

It’s not easy keeping things clean, especially when you work from home (and your husband works from home), and your toddler is in the height of exploring everything. We have have to stick to a pretty strict nightly routine to keep things acceptable around here, and hopefully our routine could be of some use to the parents out there.

Bathe the baby, then the toys. A simple solution you can do nightly/weekly/bi-weekly to keep toys (and other items that can get wet) is to make a bath for toys. It takes about five minutes for the soak, and two seconds to set up. This soy milk incident is a perfect example of a toy bath night.

Clean Toy Committee Recipe

1/2 cup Clorox Bleach of water per gallon
Let sit for five minutes
Drain and air dry

I got the recipe straight off the Clorox website, they have a few more solutions and tips, like what to do if your little catches a cold, etc. The reason I mention Clorox is because Regular-Bleach disinfects 33% more than store brands. Win.

Another thing we just got into is making our own cleaners. I found some glass bottles tinted amber and one of them I fill up at the beginning of the day 1/2 way (it’s a 16 ox bottle, but I only fill it up 8 oz with warm water) and then I add 4 tablespoons of bleach and a teaspoon of laundry detergent. It only lasts a day, but round here we go through cleaner super quickly. And if you aren’t comfortable DIYing cleaning solutions, Clorox makes one you don’t need to replenish daily.

We are finally hiring a cleaning person (crew?) to help out around here because “doing it all” all the time is leaving us a little sleepless. So Clorox toy baths and a for-hire weekly clean is my secret weapon, what’s yours?

All thoughts, opinions and stories represented in this post are my own.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Clorox. All thoughts, opinions and stories represented in this post are my own.

Kitchen Addition

“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Rubbermaid, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #RMDishRack ”

We finally got to showing you our kitchen, and as soon as that post went live, our dishwasher stared getting fussy. Really fussy. It’s working, but who knows how well and for how long.  We hopped over to Target to get our hands on a Rubbermaid dish rack because we were not prepared for the hand-washing dishes party to start just quite yet. Also, we just won a really amazing mug that needs special care.

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It fit nicely next to our sink, above the dishwasher and wasn’t an eye sore at all. It actually matches our kitchen, which is bonus. So bonus. I decided to do a little “dishwashing inventory” as I allowed my tougher dishes and pots battle with our unruly dishwasher, I carefully cared for my more precious pieces and washed them by hand and lovingly drained them on a proper rack instead of just plopping them on a dish-towel  or baby bottle grass-y drain like we had been doing before.

I had recently won a pretty amazing pour over and mug and have been staring at it’s amazingness and treating it like a puppy that could suffer from broken bones if the wind blew too hard. It’s my mug. It holds my coffee (aka “mommy milk”), and it’s painfully cute. I don’t want it to get ruined. It’s the object below with the eyes on it. You think it’s cool too. I know you do.

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Anyway, I thought I would only use the rack for my precious mug until we got a fix on the dishwasher, but in my little experiment I learned I have a lot more kitchenware  that needed extra love than I thought. The bunny bento for Atlas which is made of steal and would be so sad if his face rubbed off, so we wash it by hand. My cutting boards, hand carved ladles, raw porcelain measuring spoons, pottery from the Smoky Mountains, and baby food maker all are pieces I care about and treat like little treasures.

If you have cartwheel, you can grab 15% off your own off Rubbermaid Deluxe Drainer and keep your fussy precious pieces safe.

Do you love your dishwasher (we just started the research)? Do you dishrack it too? Clue us into what’s been working for you over in your kitchen.

House Hunted

I am dying to dump my DIY plans and design dreams of our new home into the internet right now, but I know I have some explainin’ to do and catching up of things need to be had.

Back when Joey and I met in Manhattan about nine years ago, I had already actually moved back to my home town (Boca Raton, FL) with my fiancé and best friend to live a beachy and more relaxing kind of life. The plan was to do interior design for high end homes after working under my dad a while. After a small stretch of working with him, I realized we may not be able to maintain this kind of perfect thing we have going on, and I should quit because trying to explain why he needs email in this day and age was getting exhausting, and I love him too much. So I got another job, which brought me to New York on business, and this is how I met Joey. After just hours of knowing him, I knew I was in major trouble. I was mid-break up with my fiancé, and not loving my new job and Joey insisted I move back to New York, and in with him, and he would promptly be in Florida to pack me up and bring me back. And the crazy part was, I did. After only two weeks of knowing him, I moved right back up to New York and the rest is history.

I really wanted to see where this relationship would go, but I hated the idea of more winters and the constant buzz of the city, but in the line of work he does, it’s New York or Los Angeles, and I certainly wasn’t moving to LA. Basically, I was done with New York nine years ago, and we just now finally got around to moving. It took a while to find a spot what worked for us. Moving home seems to be the obvious thing to do, but Boca and Houston aren’t exactly on the top of the list for either of our industries, and though they lack snow, the heat is a bit much as well. We went back and forth between Richmond, VA and Nashville, TN about a hundred times after some pleasant vacations and enough possible work for both of us was evident. Literally. We took so many trips to each over the last year, they were both started to feel like our new home.

When we put our house on the market, we certainly didn’t expect to sell it in four days. In the middle of the holidays. We had to rush to pick and place, and I finally just told Joey, “It’s your call“. Joey picked Nashville, and that worked for me. Us and timing, it’s a thing, I swear. We seemed to have picked a time in the history of Nashville, that everyone is buying. Inventory is low. Prices are high. Every house has a major problem, and they aren’t that much cheaper than Westchester County, NY. We bid $50K over asking on a cabin we were sure we were going to call home a few weeks before closing on our New York house, and it wasn’t until we actually moved to Nashville, that we found out we did not get the house. WHAT?! Yep, that crazy of a market.

So, Joey, Atlas, Rocket VonScience, Porkchop VanderSandwich myself, and one surviving house plant had been doing the AirBNB hop for three weeks while we hunt for a house full time. We happen to have the most amazing husband/wife realtors who have been so kind and flexible with us. After losing the cabin (on an acre! ah!), we proceeded to be “too little too late” on a handful of other properties. While mid-contract on a pretty large house (with a theatre, studio for Joey, three large bedrooms on one floor, big new kitchen), our realtors sent us a cute little cottage next to the park, in a very family friendly area. The house looked super cute. It was pretty small, but had a good vibe to it. It was 10 pm when this house got listed, and Joey went to drive past it. We have learned the game. First one in with a big bid gets the house. Inspect and get quotes later. 

When he came back after peeking at the house, I knew this is the one we were going to call home. The next morning at 10am, we went to view it (along with a million other people), and thew in an offer $50K over asking, and crossed our fingers again. This time, the offer was accepted. We are currently trying to figure out how to put 6,000 sqft of stuff into a 2,000 sqft house! We LOVE this little cottage, and plan to expand and truly make it ours. We can’t wait to share! Thanks for hanging out and checking in along the way. We love you guys.

 

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