Customizing TSLL Home: 5 Small Projects to Help Create Significant Changes in My Sanctuary

Nov 06, 2019

The journey of turning a house into a home takes time, but the process is somewhat analogous to how we as individuals learn and grow and come to best understand ourselves as well.

Once we begin to learn how to live in a house, the structure with four walls that is our home, and will become our sanctuary, we begin to understand how to tango with it. Both allowing the house’s beauty to come forth as well as decorating and organizing to encourage the inhabitants to thrive and feel fully rejuventated.

I have finally gone through my last box that contained items that I loved and which needed to find a home. My garage still contains items that I will want to place on shelves that have yet to be made, but overall, my “life” that was moved in boxes has settled into its new abode.

Today, what I would like to do is share with you pictures of a couple of rooms that will be undergoing some redecorating, small decoration ideas I have discovered work well for me and the life I want to live, and complete today’s list with something about my home that I love and never want to change.

I hope to continue this particular series moving forward because not only will it provide a space for cataloging Before and After photos, but more importantly, I hope to share ideas that you too might want to consider incorporating into your own sanctuary to customize your house so that it becomes your home.

Let’s take a look at five glimpses into my home.

The Mudroom

A small room near the kitchen and rear entrance of the home, my mudroom is the entrance I walk through on a daily basis upon arriving home and departing.

What I appreciate about this space is that is it large enough to welcome a small table and perhaps a chair for taking my shoes off comfortably while also being the room where the boys are fed whilst remaining open to the rest of the house.


To create a room that enables ease of entry and exit each time, offering organizational systems and locations for the everyday items I use but that can also create clutter if not stored properly.

Ideas of Customization:

With all of my seasonal market baskets that I do use, I want to find a way to display, but also make them easily accessible. I am shopping for hooks and knobs to place them on one of the walls, as well as an extremely sturdy knob for my everyday tote that travels with me to school each workday.

Outcome: As of January 2020, view the finished transformation here in a detailed post of the mudroom’s reveal.

In the second photo, below, I am excited about this most recent find – a vintage crock butter churn. My idea is to use it to store my umbrellas as a stylish, yet waterproof option for keeping the wet umbrellas from damaging the hardwoods. For fewer than $30 I couldn’t believe my luck to have found such a sturdy and unique option.

I am not sure which table I will be keeping in the mudroom, as I love them both. But at least one will stay so that I have a tabletop for a handful of items that I do not want to forget to either take with me when I leave, for placing the mail, and perhaps plants in the late winter and early spring that will eventually be transplanted in the yard and garden as the window provides wonderful sunlight.

I am still working on organizational ideas that will be best for my daily routines as I want a place for my newspaper recycling, canvas grocery totes that go with me to the grocery store each time, and a place for my keys, and mail.

As for the decor, I am considering wallpapering this room with a neutral, yet welcoming subtle print that is light, yet signature, as well as replacing the modern flush ceiling light with a classic craftsman or vintage ceiling light fixture.

Details to Prompt Calm


To consciously pay attention to what revs my stress levels unnecessarily and thoughtfully decorate to encourage relaxation and welcome.

Ideas of Customization:

In my previous two houses I have called home over the past 13 years, I have mounted a large wall clock that hangs in the living room. Upon moving into my new home this past August, I eschewed the idea of assuming time must be largely present in my life at home. After all, I have technology that beeps and dings somewhat incessantly, and not having a clock to see each time I turn my head or go about my day even though I may not intend to look, reminds me to manage my time well and not waste a minute. But the truth is, I need to relax more regularly, and not having a large, looming clock has helped me to do just that.

Now I recognize that I may be in the minority when it comes to not wanting to be reminded of what time it is, but I must say, these past two months when I am at home have been joy-filled. While the reason may not have entirely been because I did not have a large clock in my living room, I know that I was never worried about the time and just losing track of said “time” was a reminder to slow down and be present. Savor the cuddles with Norman, and the companionship of Oscar. Savor watching the birds nibble at the birdfeeder while sitting in my cozy armchair and reading something pleasurable. Just being present and letting go of time is unexpectedly quite powerful to cultivating a peaceful mind.

As somewhat of a compromise, and so that I do not have to get up when I am relaxing and happen to have to know the time, I recently added to my living room a small battery-operated clock seen below that I have had for over a decade. It is perfect. There are no glowing lights, it isn’t large, and it utilizes something I already have.

Organizing the Cookbook Library


Create a dedicated space for cookbooks that is accessible and in proximity to the kitchen.

Ideas for Customization:

I was tickled to see this uniquely designed space near the kitchen. Complete with a spotlight in the inset, as soon as I saw it, I thought – cookbook bookshelf!

I have always wanted a designated shelving area for cookbooks, and as my cookbook collection has grown, I need one. 🙂

Having had the opportunity to talk to a contractor, my hope is to have two or three shelves that match the white frame at the bottom of this inset so that it looks as though the house was designed with these shelves from the initial plans for the house.

And the birdfeeder will eventually find a home outside. 🙂

Seeking Inspiration and Comfort

The inspiration and ideas have been compiling for years, and it is when I am flipping through magazines, skimming through Pinterest or scrolling through Instagram ans stumbling across one of the many people and interior designers I follow that I will see something which speaks to me or is exactly what I am looking for presented in a way I had not expected. Saving these items is a fun chore, because when I finally go back through these discoveries, it is as though I am reading a magazine or decor book tailored exactly for me.

As I shared in the previous point, collecting cookbooks was never intentional, but after a while I realized I had more than a few. Many of my cookbooks are secondhand, purchased at fractions of the original price, and I try to edit them occasionally as my interests and tastes change. A couple of years ago I wrote this post that was a readers’ favorite – Why Not . . . Read a Cookbook for Pleasure?. I sincerely love selecting a cookbook for evening reading. Whether the cookbook is both memoir and cookbook or just a cookbook, getting lost in the ingredients, the pictures and learning from those who know more on a subject I love is equivalent to reading a textbook but with all of the knowledge acquisition and none of the dread.

~The English Home magazine and The Really Quite Good Cookbook~

What I Love

As much as customization prompts us to dream, it is important to pay attention to what works well and what is exactly as we already want it to be.

Part of the reason, I have discovered at least for myself, new home buyers are predisposed to knit-picking the details of a home they may dearly love and be eager to buy is the gravity of the purchasing decision. After all, if we are going to buy and invest in such a significant way, we want the house to work and be as much as possible exactly as we want it to be beginning the day we first turn the key and cross the threshold. Now it may sound selfish or silly, but I think there is much truth to this. It is one thing to not care if a secondhand item has oopses, scratches or mismatch colors, but when you buy a home, if more of the details are exactly what you want, your mind is put more at ease in your decision to buy (as well as saving yourself more down the road as less remodeling is required, etc.).

One of the decor details I appreciate immensely about my home is the classic white subway tile with taupe grout as the backsplash in the kitchen. Timeless and simple, yet with a natural touch due to the color of grout that will be easier to keep clean, I found comfort in knowing this ever-present detail will remain exactly as it is.

~Roy Kirkham teacup and saucer, a vintage French compote found on Etsy, small market tote from My Stylish French Box two years ago, dried rosemary and sage~

Thank you for joining me today as I shared a few glimpses into my home. I look forward to sharing how these projects progress in the coming months, and be sure to follow on Instagram as I frequently share photos of my life there (@thesimplyluxuriouslife, or #TSLLHome). Tour TSLL’s Archives as well for previous posts shared in this category: TSLL House.

16 thoughts on “Customizing TSLL Home: 5 Small Projects to Help Create Significant Changes in My Sanctuary

  1. Very timely post Shannon. I too have decided that I don’t need to be constantly reminded of time passing and have this weekend donated three clocks. This has added to the restful atmosphere in the house (no tick tock!) and clear spaces on the walls and mantle. My design inspiration is the White Company and am looking forward to purchasing their new book. With very best wishes, Sue, England.

      1. Hello Sue,
        I love the White Company ……….. I think I will have to put their book on my Christmas Wish List ?
        Well done on all your clock donations , I’m glad that moving them on has added to the peace and tranquility of your home .
        I find the ticking of clock rather restful .
        I think it takes me back to my childhood visits to my Scottish Granny.
        She had an old Grandfather Clock , with a moon dial face at the turn of the stairs in her little cottage , and I used to fall asleep listening to it’s comforting tick just outside the bedroom.
        Best wishes from the North West of the UK

  2. Shannon, I have been following your blog for years and love it. Your podcast keeps me company on my hour long drive to work (also a history teacher). I’ve never commented before but I had to tell you how much I loved this post. My husband and I have just bought the ‘dream home’ and this has given me lots to think about. Thankyou for sharing a glimpse into your life. Best wishes, Mel, Australia.

    1. Mel, First of all, congratulations on the finding of you and your husband’s new home! How exciting. Thank you very much for your time and interest in the podcast and blog. Curating a home that works with us is something that doesn’t happen instantaneously (we though we may it to be. However, in hindsight, when we take the time to get to know our homes, we are also choosing to get to know ourselves as well, and that a tremendous gift we give to the overall quality of our lives.

  3. I, too, feel pressure every time I look at a clock — even if I have no reason to. As a result, I just have small clocks where needed (by the TV, by the bed, in the kitchen) and I have done away with wristwatches entirely. I figure that my phone has a clock, as does my car. When I am out, I inevitably have those two things with me, so I do not need a watch as well. When I used to wear one, I would look at it far to often and feel stressed as a result.

    As for cookbooks, I find that many cookbooks have only a few recipes that I like. So why keep the entire book? I either remove the pages I want or print them, discarding the book, then file them in a labeled accordion folder. It’s easier to find the recipe I want and it takes up less room.

  4. I love your butter crock !
    I have recently added a pretty ceramic umbrella stand to my entrance hall , and I’m delighted with it .
    Thank you for sharing your mini projects with us , have fun carrying them out.
    Have a lovely day Shannon.

  5. I visited a lake home where the owner used bicycle hooks to hang a display of vintage sand buckets. The hooks may be an option for your mud room.

  6. Shannon you.must have compiled a list of things to have in your ‘own’home and now that time had arrived I can imagine the joy you’re feeling ticking off that list. It is so satisfying to find alternative uses for items like your crock and it will make your home so much.more special. I am always finding different ways to use items in the home. I also have a large ceramic handled crock which I use for my umbrellas and several are dotted all over the garden with and without plants. Old wine barrels become bases for garden tables. An old cutlery drawer sits on a butcher’s block and makes an excellent display area. We have many conifer trees and when they have fallen we cut them into usable lengths and use them as seating in the garden and treated and painted to serve as side tables for lamps books etc. Sliced thinly they become serving platters. I live in an old farmhouse so it all blends in. Enjoy thinking outside the box for your new home . The possibilities are endless?

    1. Kameela, Thank you for sharing how you have used your crocks. Yes, finding different and more tailored-to-us ways of using the items we have is fun when the lightbulb idea comes to us. ? I love your idea for garden tables. How ingenious! And being in France, that is perfect! ? Thank you for sharing each of your ideas!

  7. Shannon, I am so excited for you and I love this new “series” based on your decorating your lovely new home!
    I too have quite the collection of cookbooks that live in a dedicated tall freestanding bookcase located in the dining room. It faces the side of the upright piano on the connecting wall and there was just enough room to squeeze in a comfy chair to create a cozy reading nook.
    And now I must find the one you have pictured–The Really Quite Good British Cookbook. (I can’t help myself, really I can’t;) )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *