Getting Real with our Renovation Goals

I read this great post by The Catholic Table the other day.  It’s not a pure home interiors blog, but the writer made some really good points about being realistic about your renovation goals – her discussions really resonated with me because I’ve been feeling a bit lost lately about our home.   While I mentioned in this post that my objective was to love the home we’re in right now, I also couldn’t deny I was still getting confused about the extent of work I should be doing.   It all boils down on waiting on God – that much I am 100% sure of.  We are waiting on God to guide us along the plan he has for our family – do we move or do we stay put and renovate extensively?  And like any obedient Christian, while we wait, I resolved to make our home as neat and as pleasant as I could make it for my family.  Hence, the “love the home you’re in” drive.

But then I realized, the making do bit does involve renovations still.  And as I likewise said before, I found myself getting confused about the extent of the renovations I should be undertaking – all the while taking in mind, and balancing, the possibilities of a) selling and moving out; or b) making sure the quick fixes now will blend in seamlessly with any long-term major renovations we might end up making, so as not to waste any money we shell out now.

This is where the points raised by The Catholic Table in her post really helped me.  She said if you intend to stay in your home for at least a decade or beyond, then it makes sense to invest in your renovations – materials, quality, etc.  But if you intend to pack up and leave in the next few years, in less than 5 years, then you’re renovating to sell.  So no need to go overboard on your renovation expenses and choices right now.

Huh.  That makes sense.  I made the H sit down to discuss all this because I was feeling anxious about it all.  I also found myself praying repeatedly, because I do feel the anxiety is also a form on impatience, and I really do want to wait on God, and I do trust His perfect timing.   I suppose it’s the overwhelming nesting instinct that really kicks in when I find myself pregnant.   But the H indulged me and we made a rough plan.   We are waiting for some news this year, you see, and if nothing comes of it, then that means we aren’t selling and moving this or next year.  The H gave us 3 years in this house.  If the project doesn’t kick off by that time, we then seriously sit down and start renovating and truly expanding this home to fit 4 (yes, FOUR) growing boys.  But before then, our mindset is “renovate to sell”.  Hence, we need to get real with our renovations.   Love our home, make it work for our expanding family (easier while the boys are all still little), but worry about today, not tomorrow, just yet.

This means I don’t have to worry about replacing the staircase to a more kid-friendly version in the next 3 years!  This means setting aside the nights researching on whether I should cut down the windows in the study room just yet!   This means having to live with ONE bathroom on the 2nd floor for now.  (This is actually not so bad, because the kids have a bathroom downstairs.  But ideally, I’d like to have the 2 younger boys upstairs, with their own bathroom, while the 2 older boys can share downstairs).  It means being realistic, and not Pinning like crazy, and getting my goals all mixed up.  Hopefully, this will translate to more patience and focus.  It’s never recommended to sit idly while you wait on God – we are all expected to do our parts while trusting Him – but in my case, I felt I was all over the place, and this shows LACK OF TRUST!

So there you have it.  We’re now embarking on our “Get Real Renovations“, and I’ve made a sub-category in this blog so I can keep track.  Wish us luck, and pray for us, please!


Alo’s Shelf at 33 weeks

I’ve been slowly and carefully trying to integrate some Montessori-inspired learning principles at home. Nothing hard-core, but I figured Diko needs the extra help.  I won’t be posting about it in detail here because I’m leaving the in-depth Montessori posts in the boys’ blog.  But I’m sharing bits and pieces in this site because Montessori is becoming part of our home decor!

These shelves (for my 3 year old/33 month old), for instance, are standing right outside our bedroom door right now: 

We are focusing on sorting and matching, and cutting this week.  More about Alo’s shelf here. 


The couch, that is. 

Since we moved into this house last year I had convinced myself that the antique narra sofa that used to be my grandmother’s was horrible. I thought it was too big for the space, too clunky and too outdated. We all hated the way the backrest cushions kept popping out of the frame, and I detested the red and beige striped foam covers. I kept promising myself I’d go to Uratex to ask about replacing the cushions, and I even sent our driver then to the palengke to look for someone to sew me new slip covers – but I just never got around to actually going to Uratex or having new slipcovers made. I think we lived with torn slip covers for at least a year in the old house. 

And then I got obsessed about Scandi interiors and just gave up on my wooden sofa. I was bent on getting a light grey upholstered couch – something smaller and more Nordic or mid-century I thought. I thought then – small room = small couch. So I chose the loveseat, and my parents very kindly got it for me for my birthday last year.

Well, I love that 2-seater but instead of making our living room look bigger, it made it look… even smaller. When I put it by the front windows, the loveseat looked tiny and oddly proportioned as to the rest of the space. Putting it in front of the side windows meant facing the front door – and why should the front door be the focal point eeeeeh. Ideally, the seating there should face the dining area. Diagonally across the corner was where I ended up putting the loveseat.

Now almost 8 months in, I finally admitted to myself that it just wasn’t working for me. The area rug helped, but the furniture arrangement just felt too small and I had to accept that I never really got around to liking the loveseat on diagonal in that corner.

So before my dad could sell it, I asked for the wooden couch back. And since I didn’t have slip covers I threw a white duvet cover over it… and it didn’t look bad. In fact, I liked it. My throw pillows look so much better on it. I never would’ve gone for a white couch, but with the rug and all, I just really ended up liking how it looked. I didn’t realize how white can really bring out the wood quality.  The boys approve, too. Plus, more seating, so everyone happy.

I also ended up using our bench as a coffee table. The loveseat and small round coffee table (which I had made to size with our loveseat in mind) went to the lanai. The loveseat replaced the wooden daybed (which I again didn’t get around to buying a mattress and cushion for) and is just so much more comfortable for the kids when they watch videos there.  I moved the Muji lounge chair to the shared boys’ room and used our round coffee table as a side table in the lanai. The daybed I returned to my folks. The lanai is not the next corner on my list right now, but these little changes have helped to improve the space, too! So two rooms with one stone, just because I got the couch back! 

Here’s a full(er) shot of that corner. I also finally took down the dirty half curtains and had our help wash them. I also removed the chunky wooden curtain rods. Obviously, from the photos alone, there are still things to do with this corner (for instance, the play gym should be in the lanai).  But I feel more optimistic now. I have felt stuck on progress with the living room for a while now – like that time with our Family Command Center, I was getting more and more frustrated because the space just wasn’t coming together. Well, I have a better idea on how to move forward, and have drawn up my Bare Essentials List for the living room – which is up next! 


Finally, we have an area rug, people!!!

Boaz clearly approves of the new (and bigger!) rug

I seriously thought it would take me at least a year before I’d be able to purchase an area rug for the living room.  I didn’t want to settle for any old rug – I wanted it to be something I really love.  I had set my mind on a handcrafted abaca rug from Weave Manila and, like I mentioned before, they promptly gave me a quote.  I asked for quotes for smaller rugs though because I knew rug prices are pretty nuts, and I figured I’d only be able to afford a small one.  I even asked for pricing for just 4×6 and 5×8 rugs from Weave Manila!

After reading Emily Henderson’s guide on rug sizes (basically, “go big or go home” – she has an article on making the mistake of getting rugs that are too small for your space, and another article on how to pick the right size rug), I learned that even that 5×8 rug would have been puny. How clueless I was!  But I was scared that going big meant spending way, way more.  I was right, too, because the rugs I ended up checking out truly were expensive, the more square feet you go for!  Apparently, area rugs are one of those major pieces you have to invest in for your home.

I liked that boho rug I spotted in Triboa Bay, but I didn’t ask how big it was because at the time I saw it, I knew I couldn’t afford it. But it made me realize that I’ve been liking prints on my rug – nothing too busy or colorful, but some print definitely for texture.

Going home with Rug #1

So you can imagine my joy when I: 1) discovered the West Elm outlet store in Paseo de Sta. Rosa in Sta. Rosa, Laguna; 2) discovered and fell hard for their “Souk” rug; and 3) found out said rugs were on sale!  The H and I went back a week after discovering the outlet store, and we bought a 5×7 Souk rug.   Clearly, I didn’t want to listen to Emily Henderson at the time (she did say small living rooms can get away with smaller rugs).


I was so, so tempted to get that pink print Morrocan-esque rug from West Elm, but I knew I’ll end up regretting it.  It’s like those printed b&w plates I got – I was so enamored when I first got them, but a month after, I wish I had gotten classic white plates first.  So my rule now is to always get the white or neutral-colored piece first.  (I know this is a very basic rule, but I have made the mistake way too many times of picking out the funky, colorful piece first before my neutrals).  Anyhoo, here is a photo of that Ashik rug from West Elm, in this blogger’s lovely living room.  The Ashik rug in the West Elm outlet store only comes in 5×7 though; in that blogger’s post I think she has at least an 8×10.

You can see how small the rug is, relative to the engot sprawled across.

Here’s how the 5×7 Souk rug looked in our itty bitty living room:


The boys looking glum – because the rug made our small furniture and teeny living room look even smaller hahaha

Some people might think the rug looks fine.  But I thought it looked narrow, especially coming from the front door and considering I don’t have seating across the loveseat to sort of anchor everything in.  I took tons of photos and realized since the rug was small, having my furniture sitting on it made the living room look even smaller. I was also thinking long-term: should we move someday (and most likely to a place with a bigger living room!), then the only place I’d be able to put a 5×7 rug like this would be beside a bed.

So we decided, screw it.  Let’s go big.  I rang up the people in West Elm Sta. Rosa and reserved the 8×10 Souk rug we saw there.  We rolled up the little rug, put it aside, and a week after, we went back to Sta. Rosa and got the bigger one.  (Yes, this rug business was 3 weeks in the making).


This is the Kasbah, another wool rug, but without tassels like the Souk and Ashik.  I really liked the print on this one too, a bit busier than the Souk.  In the end though, I ended up with the rug I liked first, and right from the start – the Souk.


That’s Vince, our very awesome sales rep from the Sta. Rosa West Elm/Pottery Barn outlets.

Excuse the mess under the stairs!  We only have one help right now and I’m losing the battle against clutter.

We measured our living room and knew this 8×10 rug would be too big since there’s a spiral staircase in the middle of the open floor layout we have here at home.  We knew we’d have to either fold it or hem it or even cut it.  Naturally, since the point was to go big so we can bring the rug with us if we move, we opted to fold the rug.

I need to move the rug so there’s space between the rug and the far wall, but honestly, I think the whole set up finally makes our living area look bigger. The rug also solved my problems with that wall – it no longer looks so oddly bare as compared to the opposite corner, and now I don’t feel compelled to fill up that spot behind the front door.

Best of all, the whole family really enjoys the Souk.  I read online how the rug sheds, but I don’t mind – I have 3 boys, and there are plenty more messes at home to worry about.  It’s fluffy, and it’s soft, and I love how it toned down the redness of our terra cotta floor, grounded the furniture, and added just enough oomph to the living room.  The boys have been spending a LOT more time in our living room (they usually hang out in the lanai), and I’ve spotted both my eldest and my youngest taking naps there.  Since the family has been spending more time in the living room since the rug arrived, I’ve had to tweak my living room checklist a bit – for instance, floor pillows are now in order, as the boys have been hanging out sprawled in the living room.


Bo has been taking his morning naps on the new rug – sans playmat and all my gosh. (In case you can’t tell, I’m not too fussy about the kids getting dirty).

I have seen this rug all over design blogs and in Pinterest, and I am honestly so chuffed about having one at home.  I so love it, and I never in a million years thought I’d be able to get an area rug for the living room this year!  (Thank you to my H!).

The living room is far from perfect, but I feel we are closing in. (I’m honestly having second thoughts about my love seat.  I think I should have gone fore a streamlined 3-seater or even a sectional; and because the “couch” is small, the coffee table now feels small too).  I’m looking forward actually to moving on from this corner because I’ve been rearing to focus full-time on the kids’ rooms.  I’m positive new (and clean!) curtains will make a big difference in the living room – I promise, that’s next on my list.


Oh, and we got a home diffuser, finally oh finally!  It’s not the prettiest thing but the one with the bamboo top isn’t  bad, and we’ve always wanted to have a diffuser at home.  The H was the one who got it too – we found them for Php 500 in Dapitan!  The stall there claims it used to supply the same diffusers to Mia Maison – they sell them for around Php 2,000 there, so yay, nakatipid!  (As for the baby bottles on the table they’re there because #LIFE).

Speaking of lists, here’s a quick rundown of my immediate/priority tasks and needs for the living room:

  • 6 new curtain panels (2 sets: 1 for every day, 1 alternate set for laundry days)
  • 2 new curtains rods
  • a doormat
  • anti-mosquito plug ins
  • replace my white knit pillow sham (it sheds like crazy)
  • get 2 or 3 floor pillows
  • find a print to cover the outlet beneath the windows

My complete and last updated to-do list for the living room here.

SHARED BOYS’ ROOM: The “Where We Are” Photos

I gave myself a break from working on the living and dining rooms, and I thought this would mean taking a breather from all things house related, period. WRONG. I found myself focusing on the boys’ shared bedroom now. In fact I ordered a custom bunk bed. Teehee.

I don’t have the photos when we moved in, so this is called the “Where We Are” photos instead of “Before” photos.  We’ve done some things to the room (painted the walls in this lovely dark grey-navy color, painted the baseboards and window frames white, removed the old blinds, got the downstairs crib, painted the crib and the old single bed white).  But since the room still looks like a hot mess (as you can see from these photos that I am bravely sharing, eeek!), I absolutely refuse to refer to this as “Progress” or “Midway” updates.


Eek right?  There’s a bunch of discarded furniture in that room from other parts of the house, like the wooden magazine rack wedged between the bed and the wall.  And that grubby thing beside Alo, below the window?  That’s the old mattress from the driver’s bunk outside.  Someone pulled it out to put in the lanai, and now it’s in here, arrgh.

In my original list I said I’d do away with a bunk bed and ceiling fan. But as time passed I realized we do need a bigger bed in that room. Our Yaya sleeps on the single bed. My in laws are here at least once, usually twice, a week to visit and help with the kids. My FIL and MIL would take turns taking naps or just plain resting on Yaya’s bed. That won’t do. Also, for his naps, Alo sleeps on his yaya’s bed, ratty sheets and all.

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