The Year in Review: What We Learned in 2017

Another year gone and one in which we celebrated our second year in the blogosphere. The learning curve is still pretty steep but we feel like we’re making real progress. We have lots of goals and ideas for 2018 but it’s gratifying to look back and see what skills or knowledge we’ve gained in the last 12 months.


Shed and crushed limestone patio

Lesson #1 How to Build a Shed.

This one was a challenge, I can tell you! While I mostly came up with the design (I excel at ideas that others have to execute!) and took the pictures, Narvas and his crew (Hannah, Kurtis and Andrew) learned new construction methods and did themselves proud.


Hannah shingles a roof

So proud, in fact, that Hannah is determined to take on cabin-building next. Tiny-house anyone?


Narvas amid the redwoods

Lesson #2 Cross-country travel is best on the ground.

I don’t mind telling you, I loathe flying. But traveling is part of the job so we’ve put thousands of miles on the road this year. Fortunately, Narvas is an excellent driver (I’m navigator) and doesn’t mind a detour here and there when something interesting is on the horizon.


Devils Tower

We crossed the country twice in 2017 and saw wonderful parts of the western US and the northeast—those attractions you might not be able to make a special trip to see but that shouldn’t be missed if you’re in the area.

It also taught us about appreciating the unplanned. There are loads of wonderful places off the beaten path.


Katie in studio

Lesson #3 Work with the best.

When the budget allows, always employ the experts (like designer Katie above), especially those who enjoy sharing their knowledge. You pick up so many new ideas, methods, and techniques that enhance your own skills.


Narvas Kurtis and Hannah hanging wallpaper in the Studio

And sometimes the best is free! We have an amazing family and great friends who are always willing to help out with ideas, locations, and special skills. Our neighbor, Elaine, is a remarkable person: she sews quilts, pillows, curtains for us, helps cater food shoots, she lets us make over rooms in her house, shares plants and produce from her garden, brings us baked treats and care packages for road trips—the list goes on and on. And she’s just a pleasure to be around.


Narvas and Andrew building the keg stand using a saw
Lesson #4 Shipping crates are a boon to DIY.

Also, so is Narvas (but we knew that already). He may give me the stink-eye when I outline some idea or other that he has to execute, but then he just gets on with building it and it always looks marvelous.


Finished keg stand with two taps under the lite word Cheers

This past year, he (and Andrew) turned shipping crates into furniture, storage solutions, garden gear, and a cool keg stand. It’s free wood for projects that doesn’t end up adding to the landfill or denuding a forest.


Skeleton pirates in Narvas' boat - dressed for Halloweeen

Lesson #5 We have a Halloween addiction.

Every October, Narvas grumbles about getting out the Halloween decor—it’s kind of over the top and a lot of work—but each year he adds another element to the mix. This time around, he incorporated the bass boat in the display, which turned out to be the biggest hit with trick-or-treaters (and their parents). Since then, he’s been telling me about more ideas he wants to add next year (which is how I know his grumbling come the fall isn’t sincere).


Debra and Narvas smiling at each other in front of a waterfall

Lesson #6 You all are amazing.

Thanks to our readers for following along. You’ve made 2017 a very special year for us all. We hope you’ll share with us the successes you’ve celebrated and lessons you’ve learned this last year and what you’ve enjoyed or would like to see more of on the blog.

We can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.


© Caruth Studio

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  1. Deb Wiley

    Great post! Love that final photo of you and Narvas!

    • Thanks, Deb! Finding a photo of myself that doesn’t make me cringe is kind of like searching for the Grail, but I do like this one, too. Narvas is always photogenic, thank heaven!

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