Joe and I have flipped, renovated and now built a home from the ground up… we’re no experts BUT we have learned a thing or two!! Here are a few tips and tricks, do’s and don’t and suggestions for successful remodel/build. Stay safe and good luck!!

Building a house or renovating a space is not something you do everyday, so it’s best to be prepared, research and do some serious shopping around yourself first. When you are getting ready to do a large remodel project or build a home here are some things to consider first:  A custom build project requires close collaboration between you, your architect and your builder. This team will be responsible for making your dream become a reality (or a nightmare).  Many people work with an architect long before choosing a builder (this is what Joe and I did and honestly, I would recommend choosing a builder and working together WITH an architect!) . By incorporating the builder early, you can avoid significant surprises when you get to costing out your project. Nothing can take the wind out of your sails as much as believing you’ve designed your dream home or space, only to find that it is much more expensive than you can afford! Spending a little more time now to have it your way and love the space is MUCH better than spending the next two to three years after construction thinking you should have done it another way. It is MUCH cheaper to do something during construction vs. living with it and not liking it, then tearing it out and re doing it. Here are some tips on how to create that beautiful, functional and affordable space. Now, Joe and I were creating a 100% custom home from the ground up. We didn’t have any floorplans to walk though or design center to choose from. There are definitely pro’s and cons to this. The pros are that we had all the freedom in the world and were not limited one ounce on what we chose. The con’s are that it was pretty hard to design it because we were really shooting from the hip on budget. Without a builder involved in the beginning it was really hard to know what things cost. We designed our home with an architect and then got it bid by several different builders. Some may say this saves you on cost, but I’m not sure it does. If I could do it all over, I would probably find our builder first, work with his architect and do the process hand in hand with all of us together. Either way you choose to do it, these tips should help you in the process!

  • In the beginning (a year or so before we started), I invested in a large 3 ring binder and had a file folder for EVERY space in our home. Including the exterior, windows, doors, cabinets, paint colors and fixtures I liked. I created a pinterest account and did the same thing so I would have access to these images at all times.
  • I looked through home decorating magazines, Houzz, Pinterest and internet images. I found images that inspired me and that Joe and I loved.
  • Drive around and take photos of houses in your community or wherever you visit. Look at different stone exteriors, color schemes and styles that appeal to you.
  • Organize the information by room. Your kitchen folder may have custom cabinet covered appliances, a gas range, a large center island, colorful backsplash tiles, a convection oven or oversized farm sink.
  • Choose which features seem ideal to you and your spouse and also how you envision your day-to-day routine.
  • Including some fun ideas of things, you have always wanted like a brick wall, a rustic hood vent, a beautiful chandelier… put these in a separate folder called finish ideas or extras.


In order to come up with an accurate budget for your project, your builder/designer/project manager needs to understand as clearly as possible what is most important to you. Unless budget is no concern at all, it is likely that you will need to prioritize and make decisions about how to best spend the allotted money you have committed to put toward your home.


Make a list of MUSTS in your dream home/ new space, and also know where you are willing to compromise if finances require.

MUST HAVE LIST: Must Haves: • Additional guest suite with bathroom • Gourmet kitchen with granite countertops and stainless appliances • Views • Natural stone masonry fireplace • Crown moldings in dining and living rooms

  • Make a list of WOULD LIKE TO HAVE:

WOULD LIKE LIST: • Coffered ceilings • Wine cellar with refrigeration • Built-in audio/video system The more that you can do to determine your own tastes and desires, the better the builder can do to make your vision a reality. Don’t be intimidated by this step in the process. Consider it a blank slate. This is the creative part…have fun!

  • Also, take these items and make PRIORITY LIST:

As soon as the construction starts (if not before) you’ll find out the original budget has most likely increased. It’s only natural you’ll have to give some things up or increase the budget, so it’s good to know what’s priority. You must also consider that during construction you’ll probably have to add things you never thought of things you budgeted for are not really what you thought they were. This happened to us several time during the build process. We ended up spending a little more for better quality windows and larger bathtubs. We also decided to put in two furnaces and A/C units instead of just 1 because we have two floors and our how is quite large. Some things get over looked during the planning so…


This is VERY important. It is VITAL to have a contingency fund for those “just in case” moments or those “but this one is so much nicer” moments. I would suggest 10% of your total budget be put into this fund. Believe me… you will probably end up using it, and if not… then great, you have a little in your pocket at the end of the project and you can celebrate!


For some this is easy as you like to see things progress and make decisions when rooms are framed and you can see the vision clearer. For others, you may just want to get it all done in one fair swoop and not have to think about it anymore! As the construction advances you will have it clearer in your mind what you really want.

  • Don’t rush the process. Poor planning is the leading cause of cost overruns on projects of any size. Nothing is more expensive than doing things twice. You should spend several weeks to a few months on the planning process of any space. In building new it’s easy to place things where you want them, but when you are redesigning a space you should coinsider trying to keep things as close to original placement as possible. This will help eliminate large moving costs and can free up money to spend on finishes.
  • It’s much easier to imagine what the house will be after the walls are up and you have a better notion on the actual dimensions. Visit the house or space often in every stage and then think about it. A little tweaking and manipulation may be needed now that you can see the space more clearly.
  • After you have thought about it and made up your mind, go to the store and look closely at all the different options.
  • BUY SAMPLES!! If you have a show room or not, either purchase lots of different samples or rent them out. Place them in the space and look at them during different times of the day. Feel them, match them up with other material you like. What looks best? What will last the longest? What will be the most durable? Ask yourself “What is the priority of this space?” Is it beauty? Functionality? Durability? All these are things to consider when making design choices. If it’s too hard for you to imagine or choose…try to getting some help at the store or an opinion form a friend or loved who knows your style. Show them the plans or space if you can and ask for some opinions. If it’s a good store, they will help out a lot and even narrow down the extensive choice selection there is, based on your taste, budget and style of house. This can be a plus, because sometimes you can really get lost in the middle of it all!!

I hope these few tips can help with the new build and or renovation process! Happy renovating!!



  • Kelly Shepherd

    Hello…what beautiful master piece you created! Love your style. If you don’t mind me asking did you use an existing home plan or did you and your husband create it yourself! Would love to hear from you. Kelly ShepherdReplyCancel


      Hi Kelly! Thank you… It took us 2 years to design this home from scratch.ReplyCancel

      • Kelly Shepherd

        Hi Heather, thank you so much for the response:) We are thinking about building a home and have found it overwhelming just picking a design we both like!! Your blog is very inspiring and makes me want to do it now! I am sure you have been asked about the blueprint/design of your home. And I too am very interested in hearing more about the layout of the inside of the home? How many bedrooms/bath? Total square foot? Do you have a basement? Also if we do design our forever home can I purchase some of your time for design? I am Canadian and live in Windsor, Ontario but would love to pay you to help me create the perfect spaces once we can decide on a darn plan! From your pictures the inside of your home looks sprawling contrary to parts of your blog?? Hope to her from you again. Thanks for taking the time to respond Heather.


        Kelly ShepherdReplyCancel

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1.) Teach children about SAFETY FIRST

  • Larger projects having anything to do with constructing or building using power tools require a safety first policy.
  • Work with your children in setting these rules. Ask them what they think is safe and why. (this will help them remember and make them think for themselves)
  • Make a rules list and POST IT!! You can even let the kiddos write the poster out. Make for sure the writing is clear and bold and that the list is in a very visually accessible spot where EVERYONE can see it.
  • This list may include a set of rules to be followed by ALL in the work site to ensure safety are proper use of tools.
  • For children, the basics include wearing protective work clothes (safety goggles, gloves, masks, and clothes that can get dirty).
  • Using only age-appropriate tools and having adult supervision and assistance IS A MUST at ALL times.

2.) Choose age appropriate projects and tools

  • Most DIY projects require the use of tools, from simple ones like scissors to power tools like drills or paint guns.
  • Make sure your kiddos only use age-appropriate tools that are appropriate for the project.
  • This means providing blunt-edged cutters to toddlers or giving them simple power tools like a glue gun instead of a heat gun.
  • Never, under any circumstance allow children to experiment with electric-powered tools on their own.

3.) Choose a safe and appropriate area

  • Choose a well-lit, well-ventilated area for the children’s DIY workshop.
  • Having a separate shelf for their own materials, tool and supplies, is a great idea.
  • Install a first aid cabinet within reach of children.
  • An organized place dedicated to their own DIY projects with a proper first aid kit make children feel more responsible and more careful in ensuring that their DIY project is as pleasant as possible.

4.) Admit to yourself it’s going to be messy.

  • Choose an appropriate work space. Obviously, you are not going to saw in the middle of the living room. If you are using power tools, I highly suggest being outside or in the garage.
  • If making large messes stresses you out, choose a location where it’s ok to be messy or somewhere where a mess can me left and then returned too. (the garage or outside work well for crafts as well)
  • If you do not have such an area, make sure to cover surfaces with newsprint or butcher paper to protect the underlying surface and to catch bits of material.
  •  When crafting or finishing up DIY projects, use materials (adhesive, paint, markers, etc.) that are washable, easy to clean up and don’t stain.
  •  HAVE FUN!! (i’m guilty of NOT doing this) If you get paint on your hands, it’s okay. If your child gets marker on her shirt, it will wash. I get major anxiety when working with my children sometimes. If it’s too much to work all together, take shifts. Working one on one can be just as fun and rewarding as working together.

 5.) It’s okay to ask for help

  • Let your children know, it’s not only okay to ask for help, but it’s the smart thing to do if they want to become better and more knowledgeable at DIY projects!
  • While DIY projects help develop skills and dexterity at an early age, children’s safety is NUMBER ONE and should never be compromised.
  • When the safety rules are observed and followed, adults should know when to give assistance and when to let your kiddo rise above a difficult step on their own.

6.) Work with what you have

  • Sometimes it’s necessary to purchase material or tools you don’t have abd most of the time, it’s not worth running to the store to get the perfect paper/trim/detail.  Working with what you already have can spark creativity and force resourcefulness.
  • Don’t present a firm example of how the craft should turn out. Either don’t present an example at all, or present several options, so your children know they can use their imagination!
  • REMEMBER– The idea is more important than how they execute it!
  •  Being unique and clever by using materials and tools you have at home can build confidence and reaaly boost a child’s creativity.

7.) Not every child likes DIY projects 

  • And THAT’S OK. I like to provide several options my kids can do. If we are having family time and I want them to participate… let them choose what project they want to work on. Weather it be a DIY project, a craft project or building something… just providing them with the tools and materials will help jump start the process!


  • We like to have different challenges and create various projects that feed my children’s creativity. I love to see what ideas and concepts they come up with on their own.
  • Pinterest or google searches are a great ways to spark a creative thought. Let them choose what they want to do! Sometimes letting a child guide the process helps them become a leader and makes them more passionate about the project. Happy Crafting!! 


I really wanted a guest suite since I’ve never had a special place for my guests to stay before. So When I designed this bathroom, I had the idea of crisp, clean and modern rustic in mind. I already knew I wanted to use the old decor from my previous guest bedroom which included a few Colorado pictures and a lot of rustic elements. Since this bathroom is an en suite, I knew it had to go with what I already had. So, I set out to create something rustic and clean. I simple LOVE how this bathroom turned out! We found the vanity first which was a grey-brown tone and then I chose the tile to coordinate. I found the MOST gorgeous hexagon carerra marble tiles that had a hint of brown and creams to them. The problem was, there were only two boxes! So, I had to strategically plan the shower with only a small strip of the tile. I was lucky enough to find matching herringbone (which also only had two boxes left!) All in all, I’m so happy with how this bathroom turned out! It is clean, modern, rustic and has a touch of charm!




My 5 year old (Tate) is OBSESSED with all things swimming.  Including the ocean and learning how to surf.  I really wanted to give all my children rooms that reflect their personalities. So that is why I decided to go with a vintage surf theme in his room. These colors just screamed Tate to me and I HAD to do them together. I thought some really bold stripes in a fun pattern would be fun and funky and that’s just how it turned out! Although this was the HARDEST room to paint, with 4 different colors and those angles!! Seriously, the angles kicked. our. butts!! It’s a good thing my smarty pants sister was there to come up with the idea of the bubble level app! Worked like a charm and totally did the trick! We were able to get the lines laser sharp and all the same angle! The caulking in this room was pretty treacherous. Not going to lie…it took for.ev.a!!! And seeing that I am a painting Nazi… my lines had to ALL be perfectly taped straight and caulked to perfection!  In the end… this room is bursting with Tate’s personality… so full of joy and bright and cheery just like my Taters!

My 3 year old Neve (Aka Nevie) is a spitfire, a ham, a daredevil, and our little princess! She LOVES to dress up, do gymnastics and is girl to the core. I really wanted a room that showed her spunk yet was soft and girly. This mid century mint and cream room turned out PERFECT for her!! This room was a little tricky, as I have never actually painted haring bone before, so it was an adventure!  I have painted a lot in my day so I didn’t think it would be too hard. Especially now that we got the whole angle thing down in my son’s room.. it was actually a breeze!

  1.  We measured the wall out, started in middle, decided how wide a part we wanted each section and divided it evenly.
  2. We painted the wall the white color first ( Polar Bear by Behr) Then we used frog tape to do the angles.
  3. We got the angle we wanted and then with the bubble app (free download on your phone), we made for sure each angle was the same. I wanted a more random look so I did the angles different heights apart.
  4. I then caulked ALL the lines to make for SURE there was NO paint leaks! THIS STEP IS KEY!!!! DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! This is how I get all my lines crisp and clean. I use a caulk gun with a few beads of caulk and then go over it with a credit card or a damp rag and really work the caulk into the gaps.
  5. You wait. I like to pull the tape off when the paint is still wet so, I usually only wait about 20-30 mins.

With all the painting, taping and caulking it did take a while and we did this at night with only a spotlight! Eeek! In the end, we over caulked and I had some MAJOR touch ups to do. Well, you live you learn. After adding the curtains, decor and a cute bed spread… it’s exactly what I was envisioning for my little spunky princess!