How You Like Me Now?

Blogging is sort of a funny hamster wheel because we’ll do, buy, install, or build something, blog about it, and then we’ll move onto blogging about other projects, purchases, and updates. So it means we’re not always great at keeping you posted on those older things that we’ve already talked about since we’re so busy sharing new stuff. Which explains why we get update requests for things in our archives all the time. So here’s a big ol’ collection of them for you guys, which marks the second one in this series (here’s our first one from a few years back, so you can check out if we covered other topics you’ve wondered about there).

Our Nest Thermostat: This is the most asked about item in our entire house. And the short answer is: we still love it. More than ever. Not only does it save us money, but the features that we mentioned back in July in the original post (how it can sense when we’re away and shut itself off to save energy, how it adjusts to know our schedule – like warming the second floor when it knows we’re up there, and how we can raise or lower the temperature while laying in bed on our phones) are all awesome. It’s one of those life-updates that you notice every day and feel sort of fancy about while also being really practical and convenient.

It’s hard to quantify how much we save with it since we got it just a few months after our move, but our Nest indicates that we’ve saved more energy than 70% of other Nest users in Virginia (so it’s nice to know that even among fellow Nest users, we’re in the top 30% for energy conservation). The auto-away feature alone has been awesome for us, because we used to have to program our thermostat to heat or cool less if we were going away for the weekend and now it not only can sense that we’re gone and go on “auto-away” mode on its own, it can even do that on days we’re running around all day doing errands. We also really like that we can kick it on from the car (so if we’re coming back from a weekend trip and realize the house might be cold since it knows we’re away, we can turn it on from afar, so it’s warm when we walk back in). In summary: Still truly, madly, and deeply in love. 

Our Outdoor Plantings: Whelp, the big holly trees that we splurged on for the most privacy are doing gangbusters (they’re big, healthy-looking, and no deer dares to eat them)… but the funny thing is that when we mentioned that we also got a smaller privet bush a bunch of people warned us that it was super invasive and they wouldn’t recommend it since it can self-seed and sprout up everywhere. The hilariously ironic update is that it’s toast. Completely eaten by deer. It was a veritable buffet. Thankfully the plants came with a one year warranty (even for deer-eating, since they sold this as a deer-resistant variety), so when it gets a little warmer we’ll dig up its skeletal body and bring it back to the store in exchange for something that should work better (most likely more of those awesome holly trees). In summary: The privet is done-zo, but the holly is still living la vida loca.

Living With Stairs: We also get asked how we’re liking life with stairs (usually from fellow ranch-owners who are considering a move to a two-story home). The adjustment was actually pretty easy, and we’re happy to report that life with stairs has been awesome. We never knew we were two-level people (we truly loved one-level living for 7 years), but the main upgrade is that when people come over we only have to run around tidying up the first level since everybody usually stays down there (so there’s a 50% shorter mad-dash when people are on the way).

There’s also only a half bathroom on the main level (we had three full baths in the main level of our last house, so I was cleaning three showers/tubs). Here we have 2.5 baths, and I love that the commonly used main-area bathroom is just a half-bath for faster cleaning. We’ve also noticed that the way we live in the house feels a little more separated, in a good way. We rarely have laptops anywhere near our bedrooms, which was a stark contrast from the layout of our last home (the living room was right behind the bedroom, so there were only a few steps between our “work” and “relaxation” zones). It’s nice to have more of a division here. In summary: Stairs, we ain’t mad atcha. We actually kinda love you.

Living With Old Appliances After Having New Ones: We also get questions like “is it hard to go from living with nice new appliances to using older ones again?” So far living with the old fridge, stove, dishwasher, and laundry equipment hasn’t been bad at all. They work and they do the job. Maybe it’s just our personality (since we’re used to living with not-perfect stuff for years as we slowly work to upgrade them) but they don’t seem to bother us too much, most likely because we’re comforted by the knowledge that they’re not forever (this too shall pass, old dishwasher).  Except – bam! – this week our washer broke. Boo! So we’re waiting on a repair guy after taking the entire thing apart ourselves, only to discover two rusted bolts that we need to remove to get to the blockage along with a detached belt.

The annoying thing is that those bolts and broken belt are just too far gone (the bolts are rusted and we think the belt might indicate a motor issue) for us to deal with them ourselves without fearing the worst (giant leak, breaking the entire thing, etc) – hence the repair guy who is coming later today. It’ll hopefully only be around $75 to repair it, which we still think makes more sense than getting a new one at this point (we’d rather save up more for a truly awesome washer someday – and get a great deal – than rush to buy one right now out of desperation). Of course if he comes out and says “this thing is done” we’ll switch into “guess we’re getting a new one” mode. We also would eventually like to upgrade to a gas stove, so that’s exciting to daydream about. In summary: The washer is bugging, but the rest of the gang is cool for now.

Our Rejuvenated Wood Floors: Folks also ask how our little cleaning/sealing treatment has been holding up in the office, dining room, and living room downstairs – and we’re happy to report that seven months later they still look pretty much exactly the same. In summary: No complaints.

Nikon D3200: We’re still very happy with our accidental camera update. That post actually has a lot of info about the camera (both in the post and in the comment section) so you’ll want to check that out if you’re thinking of getting one. We’ve loved it pretty much for all the reasons we called out in that original post (like the video capabilities, the auto white-balance, etc). In summary: Cheers to you, D3200.

Living Without A Proper Two-Person Office: We haven’t loved not having a functional two-person workspace. The way it works now is that John is at the desk in the office with all of his stuff spread out, and I usually work from the kitchen table (which means clearing my stuff-spread off regularly for meals). It hasn’t been torture (I don’t rage at the kitchen table three times a day or anything) but we’re completely aware that it could be a lot more efficient. So we’d love to build systems into the office to make it a lot more functional, and get me out of the kitchen. We’ve actually been researching a few things and sketching out some plans – so we hope it’s on the agenda soon-ish (maybe after the nursery is done). We’re totally guilty of putting it off because it’s not terrible and it seems like a giant mountain to climb, so quick let’s look the other way for one more month… In summary: Not the worst thing that ever happened, but not ideal.

Open Shelving In The Kitchen: We still get a lot of questions about how we like living with kitchen shelves, and the short answer is that we still love them and marvel at how easy it is to grab a plate or unload the dishwasher (hence adding them into this kitchen as well as our last one). We actually expounded upon their virtues in our last update post, so you can read more details right here on that subject. In summary: Open shelves, we just can’t quit you.

Our Restoration Hardware Outlet-Steal Of A Table: Since our kitchen table has a raw look to it, people have asked if we’ve had issues with staining over the last four months or so of everyday use. The crazy thing is that even through grape juice spills and a giant soy sauce explosion, it still looks great. We’ve also never had issues with water rings or anything soaking into the surface, so I can only explain it as having some sort of invisible matte wax that seals it (it’s definitely not anything glossy) so it’s more protected than it looks. In summary: So far, so good.

Our Karlstad Sofa: Once again, we get a whole bunch of “how’s Karl? still love him?” questions, and the good news is that after years of living with a kid, a dog, and two couch-flopping adults, Karl is awesome. We’re really happy with the comfort factor, how the cushions are holding up, and his general overall appearance. I truly believe one of the biggest helps has been our choice of the dark sivik gray cover. It’s crazy durable (almost like denim) and Burger’s little nails can’t get into the tightly woven fibers and pull anything, which has been awesome. It’s also machine washable, which has been really handy. We mentioned Karl in our original update post as well, so you can read more about him here. In summary: Karl takes a licking and keeps on ticking. And is sort of a member of the family at this point.

Stenciled Bathroom Floor: We get questions like “is it peeling or flaking after everyday use?” and the resounding update is: huzzah, the floor still looks mint! Even with Burger tapping around it a million times a day with his claws (he loves having his crate in the closet) and us walking in and out to get ready in the morning and at night – the sealer that we put on seems to have done us right. We even got a few drips of paint on it while painting the nearby master bathroom, and those popped right off when they were dry thanks to the clear top-coat. In summary: Get on with your bad self, stenciled floor.

So there you have it… a big ol’ brain-dump update. What do you guys have in your house that has either rocked your world or let you down? It’s awesome to hear about stuff that you love – and to learn from your “don’t go there” warnings.

Psst- In the “previous mistakes and tweaks” category, you can check out this post, this post, this post and our first update post. We definitely don’t always make the right calls, but there’s something pretty comforting about course correcting as you go (it tends to work out pretty well in the long run for the most part).


  1. says

    These update posts are so fun! I really like them since when you first get things it is all exciting so it is nice knowing they are all (well mostly) as good as you like! The Nest is something that I would really like to try.

  2. says

    The biggest things we’ve done are to believe in ourselves, be patient, be resourceful, and research.

    By doing all of those, we’ve opted to dig out (with sledgehammer) the ponds that were the bane of our existence when we bought our house. That’s saving us anywhere from 3-10 thousand dollars.

    We also found an amazing site (2 Good 2 Toss) that allowed us to post a massive amount of items that others found useful and took! (It beat putting them in the landfill.)

    On the baby/toddler front, the best thing we’ve done is make our own cloth wipes solution for the cloth wipes that my Mom made us.

    I love how simple it is (we keep the olive oil, baby wash, and tea tree oil on the kitchen counter), and our girl has yet to have a diaper-area issue.

  3. Crystal says

    We turned our upper kitchen cabinets into shelves and I’ve never looked back. I would definitely do it again and if I ever get to do a kitchen again, I would make most of the bottom cabinets into drawers. Drawers everywhere in the kitchen! I feel like the open cabinets are such a pain waste so much space.

    Excited to see what you guys do for your office!

    • says

      YES DRAWERS! You’re so right! John’s sister Emily has them and they’re so awesome. No more kneeling and reaching into those back corners of dark cabinets. Such a good point for when we redo the kitchen down the line!


    • says

      Agreed, about lower drawers! And I’m also a fan of base cabs with pull out shelves – great for storing and finding serving ware and big pots like dutch ovens. I’m so thankful the previous owners did those b/c I never ever would’ve thought of them on my own.

    • Laurel says

      We have cabinet door fronts (which generally have a more traditional/classic look in my opinion) and these pull out drawer/shelves inside. It’s hard to describe them, but it’s like a shelf with deep sides to it so nothing can roll. I love it! No back-breaking, but still the look of cabinet doors!

    • Bethany says

      My parents have a few drawers similar to what Laurel described and they are awesome! Definitely no wasted space there!

  4. Gina R says

    Love that you’re still enjoying the Nest. We just purchased 2 for the different heating zones in our home and I’m obsessed! I check the app a few times a day and love the convenience of controlling the temperature when we’re away, or on our way home!


  5. Liz O says

    We were checking out Ikea couches this weekend… how do you think they’d hold up against 3 not declawed cats? I was thinking a couch w/ a cover would be better so if they do end up destroying it then it can just be replaced unlike the set we have now which is toast. I also still love your stenciled floor and keep wondering where in my house I could add one.

    • says

      Hi Liz!

      We have the exact same couch as YHL with the same cover and have had zero issues with our cat’s claws. Nary a pick to be seen! ;) We also LOVE our couch. Hope that helps!


    • says

      I think that if you go with a darker color and a fabric that is not velvet like you will be fine. I have a brown with the velvet type fabric and it is not holding up too well with my cat.

      Hope you find the right choice!


    • says

      Another thing that helps is trimming your cat’s claws regularly. I trim my cat’s claws myself. Once you get used to it, it’s not bad. Pro-tip: get an actual claw cutter. I use one for rabbits that my MIL gave me when their last rabbit passed on. Works way better than human clippers (I use toe clippers in a pinch).

      Keeping my cat’s claws short helps her not snag on things so much, and she also does a bit less scratching on inappropriate surfaces. I just cut her claws every 3-5 weeks or so. Just be careful not to cut into the quick. I prefer to do little cuts more frequently.

    • says

      Hi Liz,
      I have a cat and an IKEA sofa and have not had any problems. I think our covers are Ingebo or something like that…it’s a nice material that looks a bit like corduroy but feels soft. Nearly four years now and no snags from claws.

    • Liz O says

      WOW thanks for the advice everyone! I definitely think a tighter weave on the fabric is the way to go! My husband keeps theirs nails trimmed but maybe i’ll tell him to do it more than he currently does. Thanks again for all the advice :)

    • Kim says

      We have the karl sofa bed with a light blue cover. We got him 5 years ago and he’s holding up well. We did have a cat and he did snag the arm a little. Not something guests notice, but I do. Oddly, he just did it that once and never again and he had never scratched our other furniture. Maybe he had to try it once and didn’t like the feel?

    • Jennie says

      For what it is worth, our cats have not done much harm to our IKEA couch with that same type of fabric, but they HAVE done a number on our two Tullsta chairs which have a tighter fabric. I purchased slipcovers for those after the “incident” and the cats lost interest, thank heavens. I think the problem on the Tullstas was that they could really dig in. Cats like to reach up to scratch, but ours only like it if they can get really a good grip. I only choose couches with replaceable covers … thanks, cats :)

    • Kate says

      We have a Karlstad with the exact same cover that YHL has and two not declawed cats. We’ve had the sofa, loveseat, and ottoman for two years now and there’s just one place on the ottoman that has a couple threds ripped from one incident with a cat claw. It’s barely noticeable, and the fabric around it is still holding up very nicely. I think the covers have held up to claws well.

  6. Brenda says

    On this topic, i was wondering how your wood floors are looking now that it’s been six months or so since you put the sealer on them. The product has such mixed reviews, but is it still working for you, and do you wet mop over it occasionally?

  7. amanda says

    love these updates. So want to invest in a Nest!

    not sure if you can control this or not but I did get a weird survey pop-up when I came to your page this morn. ( asking how likely I am to purchase tuna) That’s never happened before…

  8. says

    Thanks for the update! I am glad to see how well the floor is holding up – gives me hope for the staircase I painted. :)

    Just a heads up – I got a pop up ad on your site this morning, which was a first. I don’t know if that is my end or your end, but I have a screen shot of it if you would like me to email it to you. I haven’t changed any of my settings or had it happen on other sites though, if that helps.

  9. Jess says

    Just curious and I know you’ve busted but in other areas, but how has the office been on the back burner so long with you both working at home? Not sure how you want to set it up? Overwhelmed with everything in general?

    • says

      Yes and yes. I think it feels like a giant project (we want built-ins and some sort of big floating table/workspace in the middle) but we’re not 100% sure how we want it, and with such big changes/projects that will be involved to transform it, we’d rather wait until we’re 100% certain (and have the money saved up to do it well). We’re totally guilty of putting it off because we’re sort of frozen with indecision, so it’s easier to look the other way and dive into other things we’re more sure about. Haha!


    • Lo says

      The office space problem is so not computing with me… Why would you use the kitchen table and have to clear it off every day when you could:
      a) use the dining room table instead
      b) use the actual desk area in the kitchen
      c) put another temporary desk in the office

      Simple, obvious solutions, no?

    • says

      If you check out our house tour video from Friday, you’ll see why the dining table isn’t the best spot for me to work right now. Haha! And I prefer having a window view over looking at the kitchen wall all day, hence me choosing the kitchen table over the desk area (I can actually glance into the living room while Clara plays as well as look out the window when I’m at the table so it’s oddly convenient in that aspect). A temporary thing like a card table in the office would work too, we just haven’t resorted to that. But I completely get that this sounds crazy to some people. I’m apparently just not frustrated enough to jump on it yet ;)


    • Laurel says

      Since you’re no loving the built-in desk facing the wall in the kitchen, does that mean it’ll be getting the ax when it comes time to renovate the whole kitchen down the line?

    • says

      Yes, we’re planning to turn that into floor to ceiling cabinetry for tons of storage – possibly without much of a counter (maybe one of those half-depth ones with the uppers just resting on the lowers – kinda like this). It’s just a landing spot for junk, so we like the idea of minimizing that counter and adding even more storage.


  10. Ashley says

    It looks like the bold font in the paragraph for “Our Restoration Hardware Outlet-Steal Of A Table:” is different than the others. It is bolder. Things like this bother my OCD tendencies, so I just had to let you know. :D

    It’s great to hear everything is still treating you all well!

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