Outdoor + Garden

By far, one of our most asked questions: how do you prioritize home projects?  I answered this the other day during a Q + A on @thelovelycottage, but wanted to dive a little deeper here.  If you’re anything like us, once we decide we want something done, we want it immediately.  However, obviously that’s not always realistic timing wise, and especially not financially, so that’s when the prioritization comes into play.  Whether the project is big or small, we try to break it down into three different categories.


Each year in January when we’re thinking about setting goals for the year ahead, we try to do the same for our home.  We make a list of small, weekend projects we hope to cross off of our list and in turn, larger projects that will take a few months (or longer) to complete.  Once you see each line item on paper, it becomes a little easier to narrow in on where your focus lies.  Here’s where you have to be careful – depending on how many small projects are on your list and what they are, oftentimes they can add up to the one big project you’ve been saving up for.

For us, our small projects look like adding a few more plants to a certain area of the yard, enclosing the underneath of our deck, adding a gas lantern to our walkway outside, changing out a light fixture here and there, etc.  There’s nothing we love more than crossing those smaller things off one by one throughout the year and when we’re able to do so, but typically, we have to sacrifice in one way or another.  Oftentimes those small projects take up our entire weekend and we’re exhausted by the time Monday rolls back around, but the amount of money we’ve saved by doing the work ourselves allows us to save for the big project on our list – a garage with a guest house.  (Sidenote – even if you don’t do the work yourself, doing a little research and hiring things out job by job is also such a game changer.  If you feel confident enough in your research, be your own contractor.  You’ll save so much money in the end and ensure you get exactly what you want.)

Organizing your list of projects and seeing it on paper, complete with estimated costs beside each line item, helps so much in deciding when and what you can do first.


This is a big one for us.  We have projects on our list that we really want to do someday, but they aren’t things that will bring us as much joy as others, so they go on the back burner.  For instance, last year we had a few things we wanted to do inside that just needed to be updated.  We wanted to switch out a light future or two, we wanted to source a vintage rug, and we wanted to get new curtains throughout the house.  However, we had six chickens in the backyard who were quickly outgrowing their little coop and needed a better living environment.  I 100% knew that a chandelier or a new rug wouldn’t make me nearly as happy as looking out the window each day and seeing our little coop we’d dreamed of with happy chicks running around.  And I was absolutely right!  By the time we added up those three interior, material things we wanted, we found out we could build an entire structure in our backyard, giving our girls a better quality of life.

Another thing that was at the top of our list – designing + creating our outdoor patio as soon as we moved in.  We could’ve easily spent the time and money we invested into that project somewhere else, but we LIVE outdoors most of the time.  We knew we would end most of our days there with a glass of wine in hand, make memories with our friends and family over a fire, and create an outdoor oasis that we couldn’t wait to come home to.  In our opinion, nothing was higher on the list than making that a reality because we knew how much we would enjoy it.

Your priority list is going to be different than anyone else’s and that’s ok – it’s your home.  Design the life you want to live there by knowing what matters most to you and putting it at the top of the list.


This may seem like a total contradiction to point number 2, but it truly depends on how long you plan to live in your home.  J and I are homebodies – we’ve lived in 2 homes for the 10 years we’ve been married and have no plans on leaving this one anytime soon.  We pour so much of our heart and souls into our home that it truly becomes a part of who we are.  We make memories there and are intentional about it being our favorite place in the world.  However, that’s not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s perfectly okay.  We have friends who move into homes knowing that it’s more for ‘a season’ and their project list is fully prioritized by what will add the most value so they can get the best possible return.  (All in all, that’s probably the smarter way of doing it, but I’m much more of a feeler than a logical person.)

In that case, adding plants to your backyard and dreaming about a pool probably isn’t going to be your best bet.  You’d want to focus more on refinishing floors, adding additional windows for natural light, and potentially even expanding.  Whatever the project or however long you plan to stay in a home, prioritizing by what will add the most value should definitely be considered.  It sounds like a no brainer, but again, seeing the project list on paper and weighing out the cost of each one, will help you figure out how you can get the most bang for your buck, especially if you don’t plan on being there for long.

There are so many other factors that can play into making these types of decisions, but overall, it’s simply about what matters the most to you and what works for your family.  For us, prioritizing and saving is a huge part of being able to create the spaces we dream about often and these tips help to keep things in prescriptive!

Thanks so much for stopping by, X.


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