Updating Your Home? Get the Most Bang for Your Buck!

I love spring because it brings new life to my family and our home as I finally step outside after a Canadian winter hibernation. All of a sudden everywhere I look there are new home projects that I want to take on, but I have limited time and budget to do them all. The other problem is we are not certain that this is our forever home (we have some soul searching to do before the mortgage renewal is up). That doesn’t mean I don’t want to put any love into this space. I still want to be proud of my home and have confidence to entertain, but it does mean I need to be smart about our choices financially. Whatever we do to our home until we know our future plans must have a strong ROI (return on investment). 

So whether you are staying put for the foreseeable future or looking to list your house this spring, if you’re thinking about updating your home it doesn’t hurt to know where you will get a better bang for your buck.


All too often the exterior of a house gets overlooked. But keep in mind this is the first thing anyone sees and makes a huge difference on the sale of a home. Start to boost a houses curb appeal by simply taking care of the landscape, reviewing the walkway patio stones and painting out the door (and brick if applicable). And don’t forget to include a nice seated area for yourself so you can enjoy the outdoors when the weather is nice!

Home exterior - before
Exterior – before
when updating your home, don't forget the exterior - Lara Young for Nesting Story
Exterior – after


Thinking of replacing your flooring with hardwood throughout sounds like a big expensive project, but it truly makes a world of a difference to the overall look of your home. Not only will you be able to reap the benefits of a beautiful new floor but your home listing reading “hardwood floors throughout” can make a big difference to the sale of a home. 

Don’t forget to consider the finish of the hardwood. If you have dogs, babies, kids (or all of the above), and you choose a flooring with a smooth finish you will see every scratch and crumb. Do yourself a favor and price out a hand scraped finish which will last a lifetime in your home. 

Dining Room
Dining Room

Kitchen and Bath

Surely you have heard many times that the kitchen and bathroom are the best places to put money into your house, but that’s because it hasn’t stopped being true. Of course you are looking for a beautiful kitchen or bathroom in a home, and so is any buyer. When updating your home putting money into these spaces (within reason) is a win win. No buyer wants to walk in and see a huge renovation project. So make those spaces appealing now, so you can really enjoy them. Then when you are looking to sell, that past renovation will be a major selling feature.

bathroom before
bathroom – before
bathroom inspiration for updating your home - Lara Young for nesting story
bathroom – after


Purge, neutralize and Konmari your space!  Whatever you want to call it don’t wait till you list your home to stage it in a way that will make you happy to live in a clear space. Take a step back and look at your home and ask yourself, “if I was listing to sell, what clutter areas would I be clearing out first?” then make that your project! All too often people wait to list their home to purge, only to wish they had done it sooner. 

When updating your home, the same goes for paint and décor. Buy the throw pillows and the plants now so you can actually enjoy them. You can easily choose a paint color that will be appealing to the masses while still making your house feel homey now without having to repaint down the line.

family room declutter
Family room declutter

I don’t know what the next ten years holds, but I do hope to achieve a balance in my home that suite whatever path my family and I go down.

Lara Young is the Principal of Lara Young Design, and also a new mom. Like many of us Lara is trying to find that quintessential work/life balance. Being her own boss is bringing Lara one-step closer to her dream. You can read Lara’s full bio, or contact her to help with your next design project here.

A simple farmhouse inspired room refresh

Living room and dining room

When I was a child I would spend a lot of my summers at my grandparent’s cottage just outside of Wasaga Beach. My memories spent there were filled with long walks on the beach to the ice-cream parlour, movie nights while listening to thunderstorms roll past and pouring through my grandma’s decor magazines.

My grandma was a public speaker and absolutely loved decorating, especially with antiques. I see a lot of myself in her. My grandma always gave each room to her cottage a very country flair. In-fact she had a very impressive chicken and rooster collection.

Although I absolutely love adding early century modern, eclectic and sometimes classic elements to my home, my heart is always drawn back to a country-cottage feel. Although farmhouse decor and design is very nostalgic to me, there is something  about it that is extremely relaxing.

farmhouse refresh

Recently I was finding that every time I walked through our hallway and glanced at our living room/dining room, I would shudder. Our dining room table had become a dumping ground and the small plant on our fireplace mantle was dying a slow death.

I finally decided to give this room a quick refresh which would include a farmhouse flair. I dug up old mason jars and pulled out the Hearth and Hand runner I bought at Target while on my recent trip in California. A couple hours and a bundle of babies’ breath later, (which in my opinion is a very underrated flower), my room was not only transformed, but it now reflects the warm weather outside and is oh so airy and inviting.

spring fireplace mantle

farmhouse inspired refresh

farmhouse inspired refresh

Watch as I transform this room and share a couple tips on how to simply give your home a seasonal refresh.

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Why I Created A Vision Board For Our Home – Digging Us Out Of Survival Mode: A Series

Home vision boardThe moment we walked through our house I knew I was home. It was ugly. No, really, it was so ugly that it had just been sitting on the market for months. Even when everything else was selling and despite it’s oversized yard. It just sat.

But I didn’t see the ugly dark brown and navy paint everywhere. I didn’t see the brown laminate counters or the hack job of a zipper-looking backsplash. I saw something entirely different. Something beautiful.

Thank goodness for the large yard, because Mike is so practical, that was what sold him. Otherwise, to Mike this house was a dark (literally) stepping stone to our next home.

I pictured the deck we would build, the lighter paint colours I would choose to highlight the trim and mouldings with, and the personality we would add to the house. But as an Interior Designer (at the time), it was much easier for me to picture this makeover.

Fast-forward almost four years later, and we have accomplished many items on my home-makeover list. In fact, you almost can’t recognize it. It’s bright, it’s happy and it’s home.

After a couple years of living in survival mode and only focusing on our kids’ rooms, but pressing pause on the rest of our home, it was time to put our energy back into the rest of our living space.

I would try my best to describe my vision to Mike, and although most of the time he got it, I could tell he didn’t see the whole picture.

I had a stack of design magazines that I have collected over the years and I would go back to them again and again. Back to my book marked pages to keep my eye on the prize.

Do people even buy magazines anymore? There is something about flipping through a real paper magazine that is heaven to me.

A couple weeks ago I began purging our house and was getting the ball rolling on a few more projects when it hit me… our house needed a vision board, not a design board, a vision board.Home vision board

Okay, maybe what I made can be considered a design board, but it’s more than that. It is our future. It is the vision I have for our family, where we spend 99% of our time.

I grabbed our under-used bulletin board I keep in our kitchen and my stacks of design magazines and began cutting. By the time I was done I placed what I see as a thing of beauty, back in a prominent space in our kitchen, and just stared at it.Home vision board

When Mike walked into the room and saw what I had done, he agreed with my vision of our home. We were on the same page.

Guess what? Ever since I created a home vision board, Mike (and I, but that goes without saying), has been super motivated. Plans are being made and materials are being sourced. We are both seeing our long-term future in this home.Home vision board

A spark has been lit. We each are working a little harder at our careers, (because we have to pay for all of these ideas somehow), and we are getting the not-so-fun jobs, like cleaning and purging done faster.

Our home’s vision board is our carrot. In fact we spend a lot of time just discussing it, and each time being filled with excitement and motivation.

Home vision board

It can be so hard to resurface from the baby-stage, and a lot of the time, you can loose a bit of your identity. I have learned over the years to not look that this phase as a negative period, but as an exciting time to push reset.

I have reinvented myself three times now, after each of my pregnancies, and it has been so exciting evolving over the years to where I am and who I am now.

We are finished having babies. We have closed up shop. I have entered a phase in my life that won’t be halted by pregnancy. I get to keep on moving.

I cannot wait to share this journey with you.

This post is part of a series: Digging Us Out Of Survival Mode. If you missed the first post, you can read it here: This Is What Happens When You Are Surprised With Twins.

Also, don’t forget to like Nesting Story on Facebook so that you don’t miss a post, and follow Nesting Story on Instagram, Snapchat: nestingstory and subscribe to Nesting Story on YouTube, to see the progress and some behind the scenes peeks.

Learning To Love Where We Are And Living Life Without Looking At Real Estate

toddler flyingChange is exciting. It is also somewhat addictive.

Ever since I was a child, I was always chasing after the next big thing. I always wanted something new, and I could barely enjoy a holiday, or a special outing because my mind was already focused on the next event.

Gradually I became well known in my family as someone who was always pestering, restless and thrived on excitement and drama.

As an adult this need for the next thing right now transformed into having to get married, get a puppy, build a house and have kids as fast as possible. My husband, Mike was always the voice of reason and made sure we always waited until we were ready.

But as the years have passed, I have watched Mike become restless too. We each were constantly perusing real estate online and in person, despite now living in our second home that is definitely large enough for us, with a great school nearby and being surrounded by fantastic neighbours. Sure it’s very suburban, and a bit cookie-cutter, but it’s home.

Then suddenly, while somewhat settled with our two kids, our house and our careers, the universe decided to throw us a couple of curveballs.

First it was finding out we were adding twins to our family, and the ripple effect that had on us, including my difficult pregnancy, preparation, having to stop working and then life with two more people.

Then another wave hit. My little blog, which at the time was an outlet, almost therapy for me, hit a viral nerve. Although exciting, this sudden catapult into success knocked the wind out of us for a few months.

mom and twins

These two life events was enough to shake me to the core and change my outlook. I now crave structure, routine, calmness and familiarity. Something that I had never wanted before.

I was barely finding my footing, and I could see that Mike’s restlessness about where we lived, and wanting to move further into the country wasn’t stopping. So we started to seriously look, and although it was at the very edge of our price-range, we decided to go for it.

kids in backyardHolden and Beau exploring the backyard of the first home we almost bought

Suddenly, at the eleventh hour, a massive, unexpected red-flag went up and we pulled the plug. Although devastated, confused and a little heartbroken, we dusted ourselves off and tried again.

This time we found a less expensive fixer-upper that we truly fell in love with. We diligently started the process once again, and suddenly, once again an unexpected bomb dropped which sent up another red flag.


The second home we almost bought

Devastated and deciding what to do, we sat on the floor of my office going back and forth, trying to make the best decision for our family. I was exhausted, stressed beyond belief and was finally the one to say “no.” So, we backed away once again.

After that second attempt I made it clear that I was done going through the emotional rollercoaster of looking elsewhere and wanted to stay put and make our current home more custom to our taste.

Financially we just couldn’t get what we wanted, or what would make it actually worth it to move. Plus the upheaval alone at this point with our kids ages and our careers, could bury us.

But our opinions drastically differed. In fact, in the nine years that Mike and I have been married, and the fifteen plus years we have been together, we have never disagreed on anything, even close to this magnitude.

I loved our home, and so badly wished that Mike could feel the same.

For a long time this disagreement created a massive divide in our relationship. I would try to talk it through with him and attempt to heal the wound. But Mike’s regret, frustration and even anger (partially towards the realtor that misguided us), was too great, and he finally let me know that it had to be an unspoken topic for a long time, for any kind of healing to take place.

So we lived. We healed what we could and slowly the divide closed, and the anger left Mike.

There are days that I will occasionally peek to see what is out there, but I quickly snap out of it and remind myself how much I love this house we are in, and with a little work each week, it is becoming what we want.

There will even be days that I see Mike emerge himself in a project and actually seem in love with our house too, but then the reminder will come back when I hear him talk to someone about how he likes our house, but would still love to move one day.

I too think that maybe one day we will move. But when I think about it, I am immediately filled with sadness. The thought of leaving this home, this neighbourhood and this school almost breaks my heart.

Recently, I heard someone talk about how so many of us live life going after the next thing. But what if the X that marks the spot is right under our feet?

Learning to happily co-exsist knowing that there is something that we do not agree on has probably been the biggest hurdle in our marriage. In a perfect world Mike and I would happily say “yes dear” to each other’s ideas and opinions and skip hand-in-hand into the sunset.

But let’s face it, that’s not reality and it is okay that we don’t agree. In fact, I am sure that there are many marriages that disagree on everything from religion to politics and somehow, someway they learn to happily co-exist.

So, for now we are going to continue getting our hands dirty and plant our garden, add shiplap to an accent wall, hang our family’s photos and allow our current home, that is constantly filled with laughter and love be our X that marks the spot.

Four kids

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It’s All In The Details

Sarah Martin Photography001Rules go out the window when accessorizing a nursery. This is the time to get creative and have fun! When it came to Accessorizing Mia and Everly’s nursery, I wanted it to feel airy, whimsical and cheery. I kept the palette fairly neutral and light and brought in pops of colour with yellow accents. I did as many DIY projects as possible, including the flower art and nest and yarn wreath. I wanted to add a sentimental touch, and to do that I hung a yellow dress that I wore as a baby and framed it. This also added more texture to the wall. Anywhere I could use natural and reclaimed items, I did. The result: a very serene and calming nursery, which still to this day, is everyone’s favourite room in our home. Photography by Sarah Martin Photography.
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