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Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I co-host the Your Home Story podcast and believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!
Mom to Otto born April 2018 and Lucy born August 2020!

5.12.2021

11 great patterned jute rugs! Including the one we chose for our office

I’m still designing our One Room Challenge office, but as many good that designers will tell you… start with the rug! The rug is the first thing I chose for the space and I am building the design around it. We actually had a couple debates about it: vintage rug or jute? Softness is important in this room because Lucy is often crawling around here while I work. 

Neither vintage nor jute rugs are super soft… but I also have a goal of only bringing natural fiber rugs into our home. A lot of the inspiration offices I've been looking at lately have vintage rugs in them, but I recently recently purchased another one of those for upstairs, and I just want a bit more variety. Although, I have also recently added a couple of other patterned jute rugs to our home… but I love them! I am excited about creating a cohesive feel of vintage and earthy jute rugs throughout our home. Lauren Liess vibes.

I've always loved stripes and plaids, and I love the extra touch patterns add to a woven jute rug. I’ll share the one I chose for our room, but while I was at it I put together this round-up of really wonderful patterned jute rugs! Some of them are around $200 for an 8' x 10', although they can be more expensive. We’ve had several jute rugs in the past, mixed results, but we own two of the others in the round-up, and I am really happy with the quality.


New here?


If you're new to this blog from the ORC site, welcome!! I'm Suzannah, a longtime DIYer and design lover currently making over our 1937 Tudor revival style home, our second fixer-upper. My style is modern traditional and I'm always working toward high quality design.

I have a 3-year-old and 9-month-old, but my husband and I have done almost all of the work on our homes ourselves! I've blogged about all of it so you can check out my tutorials page and room reveals to see. You can also follow along with me and my projects on Instagram! I also co-host the Your Home Story podcast!

See all my posts about this ORC here

Here's an example of how much character a patterned jute rug can add!
Image source

Patterned Jute Rugs

Stripes, plaid, checkerboard, and more... here are my faves! These are great on their own or you can layer another rug (maybe a smaller vintage one, like I did here) on top!

We have rug #3 in our bedroom, I love it so much. It's very densely woven but also flatter than some jute rugs I've had. It doesn't stretch or pull at all, or shed.

We have rug #8 in our dining room. That harlequin pattern is so cool! It comes in a couple other colors, all great.

And the one I chose for our office is... rug #2! We actually ordered it and tested it out for softness before deciding to keep it. We decided it is actually softer than the flat, worn down vintage rugs I like. Plus, I have learned Lucy will spit up on it no matter what it is so I may put a blanket down for her to crawl on regardless, ha.

I think changing the rug from the blue on that's in the office now will really help get the makeover rolling and help me decide on some other things!

Check out the featured One Room Challenge participants here and the guest participants in each week's post here. And, you can enter your email in the black box on the right to get updates when I share posts every week about this project! Thanks for following along!

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5.11.2021

Six design rules that are true for any style!

I follow designers with a range of decor styles, and have noticed there are a few rules that apply across all of them. Not just design school basics, but principles that will help you shop for your home over time.

This week on the Your Home Story Podcast we’re breaking them down and sharing how to use them in your home!


Design rules that are true for any style:
  1. Where to hang art
  2. How to choose paint colors
  3. A large rug makes a space look larger
  4. How to mix wood tones
  5. When and how to use overhead lighting
  6. Vintage, heirloom, and/or antique pieces

You can find us on our blogs or connect with each of us on Instagram:
@suzannahstanley
@biggerthanthethreeofus
@yourhomestorypodcast

And you can join our Facebook group here to connect with other listeners and ask questions!

Listen here or in your favorite podcast app: iTunesStitcherSpotifyGooglePlay, or Overcast!

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5.05.2021

Embarassing home office makeover BEFORE and inspiration: Week 1 One Room Challenge

Well… Here goes! I am excited and apprehensive to kick off this One Room Challenge project for our office! I love the One Room Challenge and have participated several times before, usually for pretty intense renovations (three bathrooms and two bedrooms, all of which you can find here). This one is more on the cosmetic side, but in some ways will be more challenging because of what I have to work with!

When I started working from home last year, we quickly got an office set up for me upstairs. That was great, but now that we have another baby we’ve moved our rooms around and that’s Otto's room. I am working downstairs in his old room, a north-facing room with one window and a bunch of mismatched, thrown-together decor. It is depressing and ugly, and messy. I haven’t been feeling super motivated to do anything with it because I just don’t know what to do that will make it look good! But I’m challenging myself to come up with some ideas, and I’m fueled by some really beautiful inspiration photos I’ve pulled lately.

Over the next 8 weeks I will transform this room, using high end design inspiration, budget friendly and vintage pieces, and I’m sure there will be some DIYs too!

New here?


If you're new to this blog from the ORC site, welcome!! I'm Suzannah, a longtime DIYer and design lover currently making over our 1937 Tudor revival style home, our second fixer-upper. My style is modern traditional and I'm always working toward high quality design.

I have a 3-year-old and 9-month-old, but my husband and I have done almost all of the work on our homes ourselves! I've blogged about all of it so you can check out my tutorials page and room reveals to see. You can also follow along with me and my projects on Instagram! I also co-host the Your Home Story podcast!

See all my posts about this ORC here
Just an inspiration, since I don't want to scar you with photos of our actual office this early in the post! Image source
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5.04.2021

Adding solar panels to your roof!

Have you checked into solar panels for your house? If not, are you curious to hear what they cost, what’s involved, and what they do for your energy bill?

This week on the Your Home Story Podcast, Ashley and her husband Luke are chatting about what they’ve learned when it comes to adding solar because it’s something they are seriously considering adding to their house.
 
Image of Ashley's home taken with their drone!

Helpful links to check out:
  1. Project Sunroof by Google
  2. Powerwall by Tesla
  3. Federal Tax Credit for Solar

You can find us on our blogs or connect with each of us on Instagram:
@suzannahstanley
@biggerthanthethreeofus
@yourhomestorypodcast

And you can join our Facebook group here to connect with other listeners and ask questions!

Listen here or in your favorite podcast app: iTunesStitcherSpotifyGooglePlay, or Overcast!

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4.30.2021

Bathroom art! 14 FREE download art prints that are perfect for a bathroom

I recently helped a friend with a DIY bathroom reno. I'd love to share more about that one sometime soon since they did an awesome job!!! but once all the big stuff was done she said she felt good about it, but still needed art. I totally know what it's like to save art for last! (In fact, I mentioned it in this recent post with 3 things not to forget for your bathroom reno.) 

She said when she searched for ideas for "bathroom art" she got a lot of awkward potty-themed quote art. Nothing classy and beautiful like she wanted for her newly renovated space! While you can put absolutely any art you like in a bathroom, I understand the appeal of nude sketches and seascapes and good news--I'm here to redefine "bathroom art" and am sharing 14 beautiful FREE downloads you can print and frame for a bathroom!

I didn't get too creative here--there are a few categories of art that just feel perfect for a bathroom. Sketches, particularly figures or nudes (not too realistic), are lovely and intimate and casual, like you want in a personal space. And then of course, water! Ocean oil paintings are great and there are so many out there, you can choose one that has colors that work in your space. 

Here are 14 bathroom-ey free downloads, no potty humor involved!


  1. Female Nude Bending Toward the Left | The Art Institute of Chicago
  2. I downloaded this one from a link from www.sccpre.cat which is no longer working. I also made the background a little more tan than white. I wish I knew the original source, but you can download it here
  3. Bouquet with Peonies | The Art Institute of Chicago
  4. Study of a female figure | Smithsonian Institution
  5. Grounded Fishing Boat | The Art Institute of Chicago
  6. Opal Beach | Freer Gallery of Art & Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
  7. Female Nude, Arms Over Head | The Art Institute of Chicago
  8. Maroc | The Art Institute of Chicago
  9. Beach with Fishing Boats (recto); Landscape with Farmer Plowing a Field (verso) | The Art Institute of Chicago
  10. Seascape | Rijksmuseum
  11. Harbor of Boston, with the City in the Distance | Cleveland Museum of Art
  12. Violet and Silver - The Deep Sea | The Art Institute of Chicago
  13. Sunset | The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  14. Calm Sea | National Gallery of Art
That’s just a few, but several options that will work in a lot of styles of bathroom! You could even combine—one figure sketch, one seascape. I did something similar in this bathroom reno!

As for printing, I haven’t experimented too much, but I’ve had success with custom framing from Art to Frames as well as ordering prints of paintings on mat board from Mpix (but they have to be standard sizes), and taking the glass out of a standard frame for a vintage painting look.

Art adds so much to a functional, fixture-heavy space like a bathroom! Don’t forget it!

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4.27.2021

Flagstone patio and dry rock creek install

Rock landscaping can drastically change the look of a yard! And is a great treatment for a shady spot or uneven hill. Flagstone pavers are really nice, too, a great way to get a really nice looking, flat patio area without pouring concrete.

Today on the Your Home Story Podcast, there’s a big breakdown of the rock creek and flagstone patio install that Ashley just put in at her house.

Links to things we talked about:
  1. Flagstone patio and dry creek inspiration images
  2. Replacing mulch with rock
  3. Landscape architect episode
  4. Full before/after reveal of Ashley’s Flagstone Patio and Dry Rock Creek - including cost and more details!

You can find us on our blogs or connect with each of us on Instagram:
@suzannahstanley
@biggerthanthethreeofus
@yourhomestorypodcast

And you can join our Facebook group here to connect with other listeners and ask questions!

Listen here or in your favorite podcast app: iTunesStitcherSpotifyGooglePlay, or Overcast!

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4.23.2021

Home tour: Classic brick Tudor Revival home filled with color and family

I am really enjoying bringing you these Instagram home tours!! This one is very special, another historic Tudor revival style home with similar elements to mine, but with lots of fun, colorful, family touches. Angela Fahl (@angela.fahl)'s Instagram features her home and her dad's craftsman across the street, which she's helped restore. Angela, her husband, and her four kids live in this special home! She has a special story for how they found this house, and they've done some beautiful updates.

The first thing I was drawn to in Angela's feed was the dark wood trim she kept in her living room (like we did), but she has some great other design elements I've been noticing too, and great ideas for decorating a home with kids. 

Take it away, Angela!

Our home is a Tudor Revival built in 1931. It’s made of all brick and concrete including the interior walls, floors, and ceilings. It does not have any wood framing so renovations are extremely tricky. We’ve been in our home for over 10 years.  The house wasn’t for sale but after a chance invitation to a party I fell in love with the home and the previous owners. One thing led to another and we purchased the home and are still very good friends with the previous owners. I have a love affair with our home and work really hard to make it work for our large family. This means keeping only what we actually need, love, and use. There is no room for excess in a modest sized home.  While we don’t have a pantry, kitchen island, or a coat closet we do have so much charm and character. 

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4.22.2021

The Now Habit - what I learned about overcoming procrastination

Back in the day I used to share blog posts with my thoughts about nonfiction books I'd read. Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, The Happiness Project books, and Better Than Before really helped me and I enjoyed sharing my notes and favorite strategies with you. I don't have much time for nonfiction reading these days. But I did recently finish one (I read the first part from the physical copy, then sat on it for months till I gave up and listened to the rest via audiobook) and it was GOOD.

I heard someone rave about The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play on a podcast and put a hold on it at the library. By the time it was my turn and I started reading it I'd forgotten why I decided I needed to read it... but I was immediately engaged. 

I wouldn't say I have a problem with procrastination or am a chronic procrastinator, but I try to fit a lot into my life, and having lingering things on my to-do list weighs on me. The strategies in the book have been really helpful for both personal and professional tasks and goals!


The Now Habit Book Review


What procrastination really is

There are dozens of procrastination books and strategies out there that urge you to get organized, break things into small pieces, set priorities, etc. etc. But The Now Habit defines procrastination differently. Procrastinators aren't lazy--they are often perfectionists, who get overwhelmed by a task or decision and struggle coping with their anxiety about doing it right. (Anxiety about wanting something to be the best it can be? That sounds like me for sure.)

I'll keep it really short: the book's summary of the reasons we procrastinate:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success

So making better to-do lists won't really help. The Now Habit program outlines several powerful tools for dealing with the stress we feel around big projects and long to-do lists. Things like creating safety to lessen the fear of failure, using an "Unschedule" to focus your work time, and (the most fun and very important) making time for guilt-free play.
What does this photo have to do with the book? Nothing, although I did procrastinate arranging those flowers for a week after I bought them and when I finally did they were droopy. An example of feeling overwhelmed (had to move the vase from somewhere else) and fear of failure (I'm not that good at arranging flowers).

Strategies and tools for dealing with procrastination

I'll summarize just a few of my favorite techniques. 

  1. Guilt-free play is important! An example from the book is, doctoral students that took weekend days off to go hiking or whatever finished much faster than the ones who thought they should be working all the time. Guilt-free time off creates a subconscious urge to return to work, and keeps you from hating or resenting it. He says, "One of the reasons we procrastinate is out of fear that once we start working there will be no time for play, that work will deprive us of play and the enjoyment of life."
  2. Do just one part of a task. For example, when I decided to write this blog post I was overwhelmed so I started by starting a draft with just a few thoughts that were on the top of my mind at the time, and fill in the rest later.
  3. Do a crappy first draft. Spin on the above. Procrastinators tend to be perfectionists so we want everything to be perfect, but that creates a real barrier. It's freeing, and very helpful, to tell yourself you'll just jot down a rough outline of a report in an email first, or just cut out a template or start pinning a sewing project.

I've recognized that often the reason I'm delaying tasks is I'm intimidated by them. Giving myself permission to do a crappy first draft has been really helpful!

Wise words about procrastination

There are a few other really great parts of the book that I flagged. 

  • In the part about procrastination as fear of failure, and defining ourselves through our work: "If you believe that judgment of you work is a judgment of yourself, then perfectionism, self-criticism, and procrastination are necessary forms of protection."
  • On the language of "shoulds:" "Should for procrastinators has lost its original meaning: 'I dislike the way things are, and I'm going to do something about it.' Instead it has come to mean 'I'm angry and disappointed about the way things are... and I'm going to complain and feel badly.' The self-talk of 'should' has the same negative effect as setting counterproductive goals, envying others, and longing for the future." This takes away the power we have to choose what we do and makes us feel obligated, resentful, and insufficient.
  • Calm and focus help us concentrate and be more productive. The "working in the flow state" section of the book reminded me that working frantically on a million things at once is not efficient!

I've honestly found multiple times to bring up these strategies and philosophy at work and in my personal life, and really value what I learned from this book!

I highly recommend this one! The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play.

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4.20.2021

Interview with an expert: Closet organization!

Getting dressed is something we have to do every day, and having clothes we like is only part of that. How we store our clothing makes a huge difference on how easy or stressful that start to our day is. I just interviewed an expert in personal style and wardrobe strategy, Jennifer Mackey-Mary, about function and design for great closets, no matter how much space you have to work with.

Disclaimer: this is from my recent closet reno, before I had heard any of Jennifer's tips! I think I did pretty well, but I definitely learned some things for next time!!


Hear the interview on this week's episode of the Your Home Story Podcast!

Jennifer’s giving our listeners 20% off any of her courses or guides you can grab from her website with code YOURHOMESTORY! Jennifer’s recommendations of easy, free design tools that can help you maximize your closet space:
  1. EasyClosets
  2. The Container Store
  3. Closet Maid-- Closet Maid has a free option, or a $5 option where they design it for you and send you a parts/product list.

You can find Jennifer:

You can find us on our blogs or connect with each of us on Instagram:
@suzannahstanley
@biggerthanthethreeofus
@yourhomestorypodcast

And you can join our Facebook group here to connect with other listeners and ask questions!

Listen here or in your favorite podcast app: iTunesStitcherSpotifyGooglePlay, or Overcast!

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