As has become tradition, the last two weeks of the year I glance back at the 50 home columns I've written, pull one takeaway tidbit of from each month and re-share them here.
This year brought no shortage of material. In the first six months I moved into a new old home, met Martha Stewart, moved my parents into assisted living and learned how to make a home smell great.
Here are the lessons from the year's first half.
In January, after eight months of living in a state different from my husband, I realized the many advantages of having a man around. For instance, when the garage door gets stuck, the sink backs up, or a towel bar falls off the wall, I'm the guy.
Stephen Fanuka, host of DIY Network's Million Dollar Contractor, came to my rescue. “A lot of people think DIY is just for men,” he said. “So we have a little more muscle, but you women are cleaner, more organized and more efficient.” I felt empowered.
Lesson: Know builder lingo. for when you do need to hire help. “If you sound as if you might know what you're talking about, you'll save 20 percent,” Fanuka said.
In February, while touring the New American Home, a showcase for the National Association of Home Builders, I came away with a bad case of toilet envy.
Kohler has a toilet that features a wall-mounted LED pad that looks like an iPhone. With a finger tap you can auto-magically raise and lower the toilet lid without touching it, heat the seat and play music. Plus, this smart piece of plumbing sprays, dries and has adjustable flushing. In March, I moved into a 130-year-old home. My job was to stage this historic lakefront charmer for sale.
I called Amy Hughes, features editor for This Old House magazine for moral support.
“Just because you live in an old house, doesn't mean you have to live in a bygone era,” she said. “Technology evolves.”
In a few days, I moved old pieces out, keeping some, and moved transitional and contemporary furniture and art in.
Lesson: Putting new decor in an old space, or vintage pieces in a new space, creates the best of both worlds — timeless appeal.