Taking the house my mom grew up in, the farm my grandparents shared for over fifty years and making it a home for us to grow old in.

The 10 design choices I made in our house that I LOVE

There is a real benefit to doing the majority of the work yourself in your own home – it means you get to do things that are not necessarily standard that may just make your life better. I was in charge of the plan and I was also the electrician and the plumber, my husband helped, but it was entirely on me. He tackled the majority of the gutting of the home, siding the whole place and building the garage while I was running wire and water pipes! Of course we helped each other along the way but my being directly in charge of what happened and when (because I was doing it) meant I got to really think about things like outlet placement and where I would want lights meaning: I got to do some things in our home that I absolutely appreciate every day and here are my top ten!

#1 Let there be light!
I don’t know about you but I’ve taken many showers in the dark in my life. And it’s not like you need a TON of light for bathing but it sure is nice to have some! Because of this I put a light right in the center above every shower in our home. The lights are recessed and then covered with a wet-environment cover so it’s safe for the bulb. Love it!

#2 Annoying TP holder.
Well, as far as annoying TP holders go I think the ones with the spring action take the cake. This was actually a request made by my husband, “Can we NOT get the ones with two sides and a spring in the center thing? I hate them.” I told him I was already on it. Every bathroom in our home has the simple TP holder where the roll just slides on them.

My top ten favorite design choices I made throughout the renovation of our 100 year old farm house

#3 Not being able to find an outlet.
When our electrical inspector came into our home he brought a measuring tape with him to make sure that every room in our house had an outlet at least every 12 feet. After the first two rooms, he stopped bothering to check. I put probably way more outlets then the average home would ever need but, ya know what? I regret nothing, it is SO fabulous to always have an outlet when you need one.

#4 Outlets in the middle of windows.
Someone explain this to me please because it makes no sense. Why would anyone want an outlet in the middle of a room under a window? Generally that is literally the worst most inconvenient place to put one. Either there will never be a piece of furniture there (because it would then be in front of a window!) or there is a huge piece of furniture there (like a bed) making the outlet uber inconvenient to get to. The outlets in our house are all close to the corners.

My top ten favorite design choices I made throughout the renovation of our 100 year old farm house

#5 No storage in the bathrooms.
I’ve lived with medicine cabinets and the standard vanity you can buy at the big box stores and I can’t say I’ve ever been real pleased with the amount of storage, or the convenience of the storage, of either. (We all know the black hole under sink cabinets become over time.) Using dressers and buffets for our vanities in our house created SO much storage! Joe and I don’t compete for storage at all!

#6 Dark closets.
I know, this makes me extra special spoiled, but I ran all of the electrical in this home (with Joe’s help) and I did a couple of things just because I wanted them. One of those things was a light in EVERY single closet! We use them almost every day!

My top ten favorite design choices I made throughout the renovation of our 100 year old farm house

#7 Refrigerators with no elbow room.
I mentioned this in my design tips for our country kitchen but it is such a big deal to me I’m mentioning it again. I designed and built our entire kitchen and the very first thing I knew I would be doing was building a rolling pantry that fit between our refrigerator and the wall. The pantry is not as deep as the refrigerator so when it slides away it gives ample room for the refrigerator door to open in front of it. MEANING: the refrigerator doors open all of the way!

#8 Book storage in the kitchen.
Yeah, I know, you’ve already heard me talk about my kitchen island that I built out of an old radio stand but it is just SOOOOO cool to have cook book/recipe book storage directly in the kitchen where it belongs! My last house it felt like a mile walk to my book case in my office to grab a recipe now they’re all right here – at my finger tips.

My top ten favorite design choices I made throughout the renovation of our 100 year old farm house

#9 Ample shoe storage
At first I wasn’t entirely happy with our shoe storage in our main closet until I replaced the 1×6 I had for a shelf above the rod with a 1×10 and BOOM it dawned on me that we could put all of the shoes we use rarely up there! Now, we have so much extra room for our shoes that it opened up the majority of the side of my closet now so we can bring in our golf clubs and store them there for the winter!

#10 A closet devoted to being an office.
Last but not least might be my very favorite addition. Because I knew which bedroom would be my office I set up the closet with outlets and telephone lines that were counter height knowing that I would be keeping ALL of my office equipment in there. That includes: my scanner, my printer and my modem! I put my ancient old dresser right in the closet for all of my paper storage and on top of it is all of my office equipment that is NO LONGER on my desk! Yay!

My top ten favorite design choices I made throughout the renovation of our 100 year old farm house

The truth is most of these things were very little cost and time to add to our home but my gosh how they make our lives better!

My top ten favorite design choices I made throughout the renovation of our 100 year old farm house

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  1. January 16, 2017 at 4:11 am

    All of these are such great ideas! I’m hoping in a couple of years I’ll be able to buy a small, fixer upper home and I’d like to incorporate a lot of personal needs and wants like you’ve done.


    • January 17, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Thanks Tania! It was a lot of work but these little things we were able to incorporate definitely made it all worth it!

  2. Sue
    January 22, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Hi Tarah,

    AGAIN you just blew me away, you think of Everything. I wish I had known you when I was building my house. I did Some of the same things you did, but not all. (However I built in 1994 and I am not ever sure you were ALIVE then~!! haha)

    I have a closet with a light and shelving for my office supplies, I have light plugs in unconventional places, I have a light in my shower, I have shelving in my kitchen for cook books, and a few more things, but you thought of them ALL…

    You amaze me all over again every time I look at your newsletter of the day…

    Thanks for posting all this information.

    You give me so many wonderful ideas!!


    • January 23, 2017 at 3:46 pm

      Hey Sue! Oh there are many things I did NOT think of lol, I plan on putting a post together eventually of all of my failures as well but this post made me feel better, I did get a few things right 😉

      Thanks for coming by as always!!

  3. Roberta Comeau
    January 22, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    I purchased an old radio to create my “shabby chic cash out station” in my shop. It was just the fit with other display furniture used. Thanks for sharing your transformation, great idea.

  4. Melanie
    January 22, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    I love the dresser in the closet office. Beautiful! I laughed when I saw how you felt about the toilet paper issue. We first installed one like you have, but we found that the roll would fly off of it. Maybe we did not have it turned in the correct position? In any case, we changed it out and really like the traditional spring action ones!

    • January 23, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      lol Melanie, isn’t it funny how some things work for others and yet don’t work for some of us? Thanks for commenting!

  5. January 25, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    So clever to have all of your favorite design ideas in one place for your readers, Tarah. I’m especially taken with the lights-in-the-closets and convenient-TP-holder tips. Thanks for sharing them all with us at Vintage Charm 🙂

    • January 25, 2017 at 8:09 pm

      Thank you Diana! Someday I’ll have the courage to post about everything I did wrong too 😉 lol

  6. February 14, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    I love that sliding pantry – Thanks for sharing on the Pleasures of the NW’s DIY party!

    • February 14, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      Thanks Helen, it is one of my favorite things in the house!

  7. February 15, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    You’ve made a lot of smart choices during your renovation projects. Congrats on all your work!
    Carol (“Mimi”) recently posted…My Family Gallery Wall MakeoverMy Profile

  8. February 16, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    My house is surrounded by large trees and light is one of those things that I wish I had more of. Thank you for sharing at the Creative Muster Party. Pinned
    Robin | Fluster Buster

    • February 16, 2017 at 6:11 pm

      Robin, I feel the same way about our place! Love all of our trees but we get so little direct light!

  9. Fonda
    March 11, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    I’m proud of you. This is why women should design the inside of their homes. It’s the details that count, and you hit all of them.

    • March 13, 2017 at 3:09 pm

      Thank you Fonda 🙂 I didn’t get everything right but in some places I appreciate my choices every day!

  10. March 18, 2017 at 2:53 am

    You’ve included tons of great choices. The work that you are doing on your home is so impressive. Thanks for sharing with us at Snickerdoodle. This was the most clicked from last week’s party and it will be featured on all of the co-host’s blogs at tomorrow’s party. Hope to see you there!

    • March 20, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      Thank you so much Beverly!

  11. March 30, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    Wonderful ideas… we have done some of them, but not all. It is so nice to make small, but very effective, changes. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  12. March 31, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Really great ideas here! How fortunate that you could do all the work yourself. LOVE the pantry by the fridge!

  13. April 2, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    You hit on at least two of my peeves…poor lighting and lack of outlets. Someday we hope to move to our dream house of a Cape cod. Right now we live in a nice double wide but it isn’t our dream home. Thanks for joining us at Family Joy Blog linkup.

    • April 3, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      Hi Charlotte, yup I hear ya! Lack of outlets and poor lighting have been a consistent annoyance of mine in every single home I’ve ever lived in! Makes you wonder what the heck electricians are even thinking!? Thanks for coming by!

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Making a shoe rack and closet storage out an old ladder


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