Our dear friends David and Rebecca (I owe David my career) have lived in many different houses in many different states – Vermont, California, Massachusetts, and New York – and in every house they always had beautiful, old, dark wood floors… and in every house, I have admired and envied them these beautiful, old, dark wood floors.

So when it came to choosing floors for our house in Colorado I knew what I wanted, but I also needed to go with a company that is responsible to its workers and to the environment. As usual, the talented Lonni Paul came to the rescue. She found Armstrong Flooring. They are committed to reduce, reuse, and recycle. The flooring we selected is engineered wood; they make both engineered and solid hardwood in every color, size, and shape you can imagine, which means it’s durable, ecological, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

But of course, the most important thing is that the floors are beautiful and look like historic planking. We went with wide planks to give the house an old Colonial house feel. A lot of discussion went into the direction of the wide planks for each room and how to design a place where they would all meet. Lonni and Bill came up with a beautiful pattern. It turned into the lovely four points of a compass, and it feels serendipitous that a “compass” is at the center of the house. I looked up the symbolic meaning of the points and there are many, but I picked this one:

East: Future

West: Present

South: Present

North: No time (infinite possibility)

To go with that wide plank flooring, we wanted fixtures to match, to feel like they had been there a long time. Lonni knew what we were going for: not to lose that old-world feel. But she also understood that kitchens and bathrooms have to feel clean and fresh. She found the Artifacts line by Kohler. Bill has always been a fan of Kohler because of the quality and the design options, which fit the house perfectly.

Lonni and I spent hours and hours poring over the Kohler website, cherry-picking our favorites. The fixtures look like they are from the last century, and yet they are fresh and new. In the utility room we found a sink so cute and antique looking, I kind of want to adopt it.

Even the whirlpool tub, which internally is super modern, has beautiful old-world fixtures.

Bill and I have decided with Lonni Paul in your corner, who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

This post was sponsored by Lonni Paul Design, Kohler, and Armstrong Flooring. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

One of my husband’s wedding vows was to “build you the house of your dreams”… and he has! But my own personal vow was to “build myself the kitchen of my dreams”… and I have! Thanks in large part to KraftMaid. In my humble opinion, the kitchen is the most important room in the house – as we all know it’s really the living room. My family LIVES in the kitchen: everything from homework, to dancing, to big fights and big laughs, to say nothing of the cooking and eating. I knew that if I got the kitchen right, I’d be well on my way to having a great house.

Form and function are never as critical as they are in a kitchen. If your cutlery drawer looks pretty but is under a workspace (personal experience), you will be saying “excuse me” for 20 years. Then again, if it’s all function but unappealing, it’s not a place your friends and family want to hang out. We wanted our cabinetry to have an old-time feel, but to take advantage of modern mechanics and organizational convenience. And most important of all, it needed to be well-made. Bill and I even considered having custom cabinets built until we found KraftMaid, which met all our requirements and was affordable.

When I look at a pair of shoes and see a red sole – I know it’s Christian Louboutin. When Bill looks at a drawer and sees dovetails, he feels the same kind of excitement. All I know is these KraftMaid cabinets will take a thermonuclear hit and keep opening. The mechanisms on the drawers and cabinets open and close with a whisper, and they have an idea for every drawer and cabinet configuration and detail you might ever want or need. I have a corner cabinet that is so magically designed, it almost feels like a little elf is handing you out dishes.

It’s a delight to be in my kitchen. KraftMaid has thought of things I didn’t even know I needed, but now can’t live without. I can’t wait for our family to have years and years of LIVING in this modern-day living room, and I have fulfilled my promise to myself!

This post was sponsored by KraftMaid. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

One morning last summer in Colorado, while the girls slept in, Bill and I hopped in the pickup and drove to my family home about 20 minutes away in Little Woody Creek.

This white clapboard, green shuttered, rambling house looks a little out of place in Colorado where everyone usually builds “mountain homes” replete with huge pine logs, antler chandeliers and Navajo rugs, but that just makes me love our old Colonial even more.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Photo of the House

My mother moved our family here when I was 7. She had eight children and proceeded to turn every big closet into a bedroom and every sofa into a bed, barely cramming us all in. We had one bathroom (yup, 7 girls 1 bathroom), 27 acres, and a big red barn. I walked to school everyday through the hay fields with my best friend Emily Smith, who lived up the road. And thus my love affair with Little Woody Creek began.

Over the years this house has become the center of the family. It has hosted all of our Thanksgivings, Christmases, and 4th of July BBQs. Six of my sisters were married there: three in front of the fireplace and three (including me) under the big cottonwood tree in the back yard.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Bill Macy

Eventually my mother decided the house was too big for her and another era began. My older sister moved in and raised her three children within its embrace. And yes, they too, walked through the hay fields to school every day.

My Father died there in 1985 and my Mother in 2009. Their ashes are buried together under a rose bush in the backyard.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Rosebush

A lot of deep living has happened in that house; a lot of ritual and meaning. And in this modern world where ritual is shoved aside in service of convenience and meaning is replaced with material possessions, there is a sacred place in my heart for that Little Woody Creek house.

But last summer after Bill and I arrived in our pickup, we climbed into a D9 caterpillar excavator, raised the bucket over the roof of the living room, opened its jaws, and dropped the lever.

I started to tear that house down.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Tear Down Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Tear Down

Here’s the story. Last Christmas, thanks to my family’s generosity, Bill and I became the proud owners of my family home in Little Woody Creek. The thought of growing old in that house (okay, growing older) felt like winning the lottery.

But it turned out the house was built with super glue and staple guns. The final blow came with the engineer’s remark,

“No one should step inside that place without a hard hat.”

With a perfect ironic twist I had to tear down the very home I was trying to preserve.

But…. WE DECIDED TO REBUILD THE EXACT SAME HOUSE ON ALMOST THE EXACT SAME SPOT!

We are giving the soul of the home a new body. We found a fabulous designer Lonni Paul who, in the spirit of What the Flicka, is a single mom with two wonderful kids, trying to juggle it all. When I told her we wanted the same “feel” in the new house as we had in the old one, she insisted on visiting Little Woody Creek before the house was torn down. She walked through the house quietly, drinking in the ambiance, and has been my north star ever since.

She GETS IT!

I have never had a designer before, and after experiencing how talented and SMART Lonni is, I swear I will never do another project without one. Actually, without Lonni!

We are going to build it well. We are going to build it as if it was built a hundred years ago and as if it will last another hundred.

This new body will be a hundred feet farther away from the creek and closer to the potato field, but hopefully the soul won’t mind a bit and will continue to swell with more Thanksgivings, Christmases, weddings, and grandchildren walking to school through the hay fields.

The building project itself seems full of family and meaning. Our contractors, Divide Creek Builders, are a local family who have been building houses for generations. Max and Gus Filiss (cousins) immediately built a serious fence to protect the rose bush that shelters my parents’ ashes. Dean Filiss, the father, has spent hours planning how to save the two lilac bushes, that my mother planted outside the kitchen door.

So as we proceed we wanted to bring you along on the journey. We have been scouring showrooms, we joined HOUZZ, we have a gazillion boards on Pinterest devoted to plumbing, tiles, doors, lights, flooring, etc.

We want faucets, sinks and tubs that look antique, we found one! Kohler has an “Artifacts” line that is perfect. We even tested out some bathtubs in the showrooms.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Felicity Huffman

Well, here we go. There are a lot of decisions to make in joining the past to the future, choices with the guide of tradition as our Polestar.

I will send updates every once in awhile and since I am terrible at decisions, I might ask you to weigh in.

Any electricians out there that want to get into show business?

Here is to home, family and deep roots.

Love,
Flicka

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We live in Iowa. This means 3 things: corn, nice people, and harsh winters. I’ve always dreaded winter’s arrival, but I dread it even more now that I have kids. We spend more time than we’d like indoors, but I’m always have ideas for those days or weekends we get snowed in or it’s too cold to go anywhere. Here’s our 100 favorite indoor activities that we reserve for winter time:

1.) Scratch color paper

2.) Color forms

3.) Cardboard blocks

4.) Cardboard playhouse (or make your own with large boxes)

5.) Obstacle course. Use pillows, Lego’s, whatever you can to make a course

READ MORE: 8 KIDS SHOWS I TOTALLY DON’T HATE

6.) Water color sheets

7.) Boxes. Stop by your local grocery store if you’re in need of boxes (usually the larger the box the better according to kids)

8.) Movie theater in the living room

9.) Tea party

10.) Hot chocolate bar

11.) Soup day. Spend a day making and trying all kinds of soup. Let kids help pick out recipes and make them

12.) Kids yoga (or any other exercise “class”). Check out Youtube for the how to’s

13.) Game day. Play board games all day. Some of our favorite: Don’t Spill the Beans, Uno, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Connect 4, Don’t Break The Ice, and Disney Hedbanz

14.) Over the door basketball hoop game

READ MORE: 15 SIGNS YOU MIGHT NEED A DAY OFF

15.) Indoor baseball. This is not for those with glass houses

16.) Bowling

17.) Bag toss

18.) Balloon/beach ball volleyball

19.) Playing with ice

20.) Baking soda and vinegar. Makes for some really fun and cool experiments

21.) Make your own Play Doh

22.) Stickers

23.) Puff Paints. Grab bags from Dollar Tree or cheap tees to use

24.) Sensory bins

25.) Tents. We’ve been known to set up our camping tent in the middle of the living room on long gloomy days

26.) Make a fort

27.) Dance party

28.) Hot Wheel races

29.) Dirty cars (Chocolate pudding and any little cars)

30.) Crayola tub paints

31.) Window markers

32.) Insta snow or Baking soda snow

33.) Balloons

34.) Potions Party

READ MORE: THIS IS WHAT A REAL HOUSE LOOKS LIKE

35.) Slime

36.) Play with shaving cream

37.) Goop

38.) “Find the….” game. Have one child hide a toy (of any size, of their choosing) and the other kids find it

39.) Make your own decorations

40.) Gym day with mattresses. Lay mattress on the floor (we’ve been known to move our’s to the living room) and let the kids jump around

41.) Books Day

42.) Kinectic Sand

43.) Create your own treasure hunt

44.) Hide n’ seek

45.) Indoor ball pit (you can buy one or make your own with a kiddie pool and plastic balls)

46.) Cooking. Bake up your favorite goodies or try a new recipe for a meal

47.) Dress up

48.) Play restaurant

49.) Bake and decorate cookies

50.) “Lazer” Maze

51.) Paint your own canvas

52.) Make noodle necklaces

53.) Lava lamp experiment

54.) Puppet theater (you can easily make your own with a cardboard box)

55.) Chalk drawings (use sidewalk chalk or classroom chalk and draw on construction paper)

56.) A slide inside (a Little Tikes slide works great)

57.) Water table/bin

58.) Bouncy ball paintings

59.) Make your own bouncy balls

60.) Make masks out of paper plates

61.) Lego’s

62.) Hot potato

63.) Simon Says

64.) Cookie cutters. Paint with them, play with play dough, make cookies. So many options

65.) Puzzles

66.) Flour “sand”

67.) Muffin Party

68.) Pizza Party

69.) Pet Rescue Center

70.) Make your own games

71.) Chocolate sensory play

72.) Grow capsules

73.) Water beads

74.) Shaving cream paint

75.) Salt dough ornaments/3D figures

76.) Hatching eggs

77.) Painting bird house(s). Nothing like working on a spring project in the middle of winter

78.) Face painting

79.) Pudding painting

80.) Pillow fight

81.) Trampoline

82.) Magnets

83.) Photo booth

84.) Car wash

85.) Make your own wooden blocks

86.) Water bottle shakers

87.) Play grocery store

88.) Kool Aid snow painting

89.) Play dinosaurs

90.) Bop Balloons. Dollar Tree has three packs

91.) Paper airplanes. Make them and have races

92.) Magnets

93.) Make your own music video/video/play/etc

94.) Make cardboard swords

95.) Play pirates with cardboard swords

96.) Make your own puppets. Use brown paper bags and decorate

97.) Crossword puzzles/word find/checkers (great games for older kids)

98.) Make your own crayons. Use up those half broken crayons, an ice cube tray, and the microwave

99.) Build things with mini marshmallows and toothpicks

100.) Fun with flashlights. Take advantage of the sun setting early (incredibly early) and save some electricity. Use flashlights to make shadow puppets (followed by a game of “can you tell what I’m making?”) or play hide n’ seek in the dark or my kids favorite (which always ends in someone getting hurt) is tag in the dark.

This post was originally featured on Ashlen Sheaffer’s blog, The Kidsperts. Featured image via

I always assumed every family dreams about moving to the ‘burbs, with their beautifully fettered lawn, white picket fence, and precious school districts. Space. Fresh air. A nail salon and bank on every street corner. Yes, a house is certainly the way to go.

Just not for me. 

If I lived in a house, I’d eventually go crazy, Grey Gardens-style. I’m perfectly happy in the small two-bedroom apartment that I share with two toddler daughters, my husband, and his ever-expanding comic book collection. There is no pining for the yard, the fence, or the finished basement.

Here’s why we’ll never move:

1. No need for a baby monitor.

In a small apartment, you can literally hear everything. The sound of the baby rolling over, the moment her eyes pop open, subtle shifts in breathing patterns, bowels emptying. I can even hear these same things from my upstairs neighbor’s baby.

2. My kids will be close.

Super-close. Sharing a room will force my daughters to interact in more meaningful ways. They will play nicely. Or they will kill each other. Either way, it will eventually be quiet in there.

3. A small apartment requires less cleaning.

I have trouble tidying a bathroom that is approximately 9 square feet. Imagine what a mess I’d make with real square footage.

4. Someone else can do the maintenance and repair work.

I love watching HGTV the same way I enjoy Ice Road Truckers: a fascinating and slightly terrifying look at how other people live, while being secretly thankful I don’t have to do any of that. A life of putting up drywall, insulating windows, or re-tiling a kitchen doesn’t interest me in the least. My husband and I are the kind of people who once paid someone to paint one wall of our apartment. Did I mention we are both artists (lazy, lazy artists)?Home Depot should be the place where I park my car when there’s no parking at the cupcake store next door.

5. A small apartment forces me to go outside.

People with houses have lots of space to entertain their kids. A playroom, a TV room, rec rooms, pools, air hockey tables, the aforementioned yard. Living in a teeny apartment in the city, we have access to all these things, but we have to actually leave the house to get to them. Sure, the public playground is a communal death trap and the public pool is a vat of chlorinated urine. But are they really so different from the ones in your backyard?

If I lived in a house, I might never set foot outside my property again.

6. Close quarters leads to family bonding.

I mean, hopefully? No matter where I am in the apartment, I am always less than 10 feet away from my children. I can work at my computer and still be present for story time. I can cook dinner while changing a diaper (but probably shouldn’t). I can referee my daughters’ squabbles from the radius of my shower. Living on top of each other makes it much easier to detect when some crazy stuff’s going down.

7. Having so many neighbors can be less isolating.

It’s nice to interact with people daily. Even when they ask when the baby’s due, and I had her two months ago. And was currently holding her. Knowing there are others around makes me feel safer, less isolated, and more social, even though I still don’t remember anyone’s names. And who doesn’t love making small talk while doing menial tasks like laundry or riding an elevator (“Getting cold, huh?” or “Did you leave your thong in the dryer?”).

8. A small apartment reigns in my hoarder instincts.

There is literally no space for my circa-1980s National Geographic collection, or my boots held together with electrical tape. Can’t save every VHS tape from my childhood, or scrap of paper bearing my toddler’s crayon marks. A house would give me too much surface area to cover with my useless junk. Who knows? If given the space, I might take up antique-car collecting or fill the empty rooms with hundreds of stuffed cats.

9. Lawn mowers are terrifying.

Holy heavens, have you seen those things? How do people use those and not get their limbs sucked up into the chopping vortex? Keep me away.

10. I learned how to economize space.

Every room has multiple purposes, and each nook and cranny is maximized to its fullest potential. It’s a nursery AND a library! It’s a crawl space, but also the guest bedroom. The kitchen doubles as the triage center. It helps us streamline our lives down to the barest essentials, which at the end of the day are: me, my husband, two daughters, and comic book collection.

And possibly the wine fridge.

 

Featured image via.

One show I love to watch is House Hunters. I’m not sure why I enjoy watching people searching for a new home. It could be my nosy-nature, wanting to see what other people have (and can afford). The other part is wanting to see what I like and don’t like in homes. Just watching the show clarifies what I want in our next home. Since we plan to buy a new home this fall, I find myself watching House Hunters a lot! Lucky for me, I can watch the show on Netflix. How handy is that?

The part of the show that annoys me most are the buyers themselves. They drive me nuts! So many of the buyers seem to want perfection. I have to wonder if the producers of the show ask the buyers to be hypercritical or are they really that way?

I guess I don’t see myself as that persnickety about a home. I realize that the only perfect home that will have everything you ever want is the one you custom design and build yourself. I wonder, at times, if any of the buyers on house hunters realize that themselves. After watching the show for years (and on Netflix), I’ve come up with a list of reasons why the buyers on House Hunters drive me nuts.

1. Unusual requests

I’m not sure how common this is, but I find it humorous when a buyer on the shows insists on finding a home with a very specific and “unusual” request. How many homes really have a wall of windows at the back of the home? How many people really want to have their homes facing a specific direction (and is it really that important)?

2. Stainless steel

I swear that House Hunters is driving the sales of stainless steel appliances. By watching the show, you would think that the only good appliance is a stainless steel appliance. I’ve actually seen couples say, “Oh, these appliances need to be updated because they aren’t stainless steel.” An assumption exists that all new appliances are stainless steel. Guess what? Not so much. You can buy appliances that are white, black, or stainless steel. Just because it isn’t stainless steel doesn’t mean it is an old appliance. (Oh, and it’s pretty easy to buy the appliances you want later.)

Also, for once, I’d love to see a couple walk into a kitchen filled with stainless steel and quip, “Ugh. Stainless steel? It’s so hard to keep clean and with our kids, it would become a full-time job. I wish the appliances were black (or white).”

3. The colors are awful!

Unless a home’s walls are nothing but wallpaper (a big fix, I’ll admit), I will never understand someone rejecting a home because of paint colors. The groans from buyers on the show, “Oh, I can’t stand the colors of the house,” leaves me wanting to slap them. Paint is a cosmetic issue. Just repaint the rooms in the colors you want.  Heck, even wallpaper is just cosmetic. It does need more work than repainting does, but I can’t imagine a simple cosmetic issue ever being a deal breaker.

4. Flooring

I’ll admit that I love wood floors! They are gorgeous! I just can’t see ruling out a home because they don’t have wood floors. While it’s expensive to add wood floors, the flooring is a cosmetic issue. It can be changed. Unless the buyers live in a community where most homes have wood flooring, I find this statement to be annoying. Oh, and this goes for someone who only wants carpet or tile (although, honestly, I hate tile and can’t understand wanting a home with floors made of only tile. Yuck!).

5. Granite counter tops

Most of the buyers on the show seem to turn their nose up on any home that does not have granite counter tops. Is granite nice? Sure. Is it the only counter top available? Nope. Counter tops are a cosmetic item that can be changed later.

6. Must be on the beach!

My husband’s biggest pet peeve is when a buyer is looking for a home in a coastal area and insists on living on the beach. Of course, these couples usually don’t have the budget for a view as well as their long wish list of must-haves (granite, stainless steel, wood floors, etc), and they get irritated when they aren’t shown the perfect home on the beach.

What I find amusing is when they are told it is a 5-minute walk to the beach and that isn’t good enough either. I always find myself asking, “Really? You need to be more realistic”

7. Man-cave

I talked about it once before, but I will never understand the obsession with man-caves. A male buyer, usually with his wife or girlfriend, will keep pestering the real estate agent saying, “Well, it needs to have a place for my man-cave.” I keep thinking to myself, “Get over yourself.”

8. Too close to the neighbors

Unless you live on a lot of acreage, you will be living next to your neighbors. I’ll admit to seeing some homes where it looks like the houses are only 50 feet away from each other and thinking, “hell, no!” Those homes are the exception on the show, though. Most buyers that complain about being too close to their neighbors do so when looking at homes in a suburb. Basically, all they can see is all their neighbors yards. If they want to be isolated from neighbors, perhaps they need to look at homes in a rural environment.  If you are looking in the suburbs (or city), you will see your neighbors. Duh!

9. No character or charm

I love older homes. I do. I’d love to live in an old Victorian home. However, when house hunting, I’ve never walked into a home thinking, “Oh there is no character to this home,” like you hear so often on House Hunters. You would think the buyers were looking for old homes. Nope. So many of them are looking for a move-in ready home, perfect in every way, that also has charm and character. I’d love to point out the them that how they decorate their home often adds more charm and character than the home itself (unless the home is an older home, of course).

10. Specific style homes

While I do love Victorian homes, I’ve never gone to a real estate agent demanding that he or she only show me Victorians. Yet, on House Hunters, you will hear the buyers say, “I really want a craftsman.” Then, when the agent shows them something other than a craftsman, the buyer will complain, “I wish I could like this but it isn’t a craftsman.” Really? Is this a thing? Do people really demand only one style home? I can understand preferring a look or even a floor plan but I can’t imagine ruling out a house because it isn’t a specific architecture style.

11. “This is slightly over your budget.”

Last, but not least comes from the real estate agents themselves. When looking at homes, I can see an agent showing a home slightly over your budget because the home price is often negotiable. Yet, time and again, real estate agents on the show will say, “This home is slightly over your budget,” then show a price substantially over the budget. This is particularly true with rental homes. The budget will be $1000/month. The agent will show them a rental costing $1400 (40% over the budget). It makes me think that these agents have no clue what the word “slighty” actually means.

While these statements and actions from the buyers (and real estate agents) drive me nuts when I watch House Hunters, I can’t help but continue to watch. Now that the show is on Netflix, I can watch even more. Yay, me!

This post was originally featured on Denise Geelhart’s blog. Featured photo via.