Another year, during which we celebrated our third year in the blogosphere, has passed in a blur of activity. We have all kinds of projects and ideas ahead for 2019 but it’s gratifying to look back and see what we’ve gained in the last 12 months.


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Lesson #1 There’s more than one way to grow the business. Our team increased by two this year: Amber joined the crew in July and Imara arrived three months later. For the next couple of decades we expect Imara will be more of an intern than an assistant but we have no doubt that she will be inspiring some new ideas along the way.


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Lesson #2 Planning ahead thoroughly makes the job easier. I knew this already, but in 2018 I really put it into practice. We edited seven magazine issues in 2018 and in between produced about 30% more print and online features than the year before, which meant there weren’t resources and time to waste. I sketched out each set down to color schemes and propping so that shoot days, when we were photographing 4 to 7 sets each day, would proceed as smoothly as possible. So, lesson not only learned, but implemented at last!


Paint marker bath

Lesson #3 Paint is your best friend. One of the magazines we edited was all about paint. And we learned a lot of new techniques, applications and motifs to enhance your decor that take very little mastery or investment. We created several spaces and dozens of projects using paint in ways we’d never tried before and it was a blast. I’m looking at everything at home and in the studio differently now (and making Narvas very nervous!).


Backyard makeover

Lesson #4 Building a deck and garden is challenging on a slope. Andrew and Amber’s new home came with a nearly unusable backyard due to a steep slope from the hemmed in back door to the garage. I designed a deck extension, walkway, garden and lower patio that created a series of outdoor rooms that were not only inviting but ideal for entertaining. Narvas and Andrew, as usual, did the construction work with Amber and I pitching in to move gravel, plant perennials and decorate the new spaces.


Bathroom makeover

Lesson #5 Old houses test your home repair skills. Vintage homes come with outdated systems and structures and often one repair can generate a whole room makeover. That’s how Kurtis and Hannah’s roof replacement turned into a whole bathroom makeover. Plaster walls, old electrical wiring, popcorn ceilings, the fun never ended, but the result was worth the elbow grease. In addition to a bath reno, we also worked on guest room makeovers, tucked a tiny nursery into an oversized closet and redecorated a living room (4 ways!).


Strawberry Jam

Lesson #6 Growing produce and canning go hand in hand. Since we have no sunny space for a kitchen garden in our shady yard, we tried our hands at growing our own produce in containers on our deck this year. Watching the various herbs, fruits and vegetables grow was a lesson in patience, too, but then everything started to mature at once. Now I remember the harvest season canning marathons with my grandmother and mom. Nothing beats the stuff you grow yourself but when the produce is ready you’ve got to be prepared to preserve it now! We stuck with waterbath canning this go around but want to tackle the pressure cooker in 2019.


pallet bar with umbrella and bar chairs ready for a party

Lesson #7 A good bar is only a pallet away. We’ve made excellent use of old shipping pallets before but Narvas outdid himself with this one. An outdoor bar makes entertaining a crowd so easy and fun, too. This oversize design had room for everything we needed as well as space for mixing and socializing—Cheers!


© Caruth Studio

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