A Trip to the Day Spa


I am thrilled to be included in the September issue of Cottages and Bungalows!  Rebecca Razo wrote a flattering article highlighting the master bedroom and a bathroom from our previous home.  Thank you!!


I have to tell you that seeing photos of our old finished spaces gives me a twinge of buyer’s remorse.  But what’s done is done.  Move on.  I had a good long chuckle from this paragraph at the beginning of the article:

“Between its subtle shades of white and cream, clean silhouettes and Rie’s clutter-free approach to interior decorating, it’s no surprise that her home has the calm and soothing atmosphere of a relaxing day spa.  It may come as a surprise, however, to discover that daily life in the Sterling home is about as far away from a trip to the day spa as one can get.”

So funny!  And it couldn’t be more true.  If only they could see us now.  Want a peek at our current little nightmare?  Hold on to your hard hats…


My husband, with the help of our angelic neighbors, took out the old set of stairs (which started at the back of the house) and created a whole new set which now leads up at the front. 

Before the stair work, there was a rotten floor to replace:


The old floor came up only to expose floor joists calling out to be replaced as well:


It’s ironic that my son is blurry in this picture.  Wobbly is probably exactly how he felt after this particular day of hard, manual work.


Here is the shot of the living room.  Want to sit a spell and visit?  I can make tea!  Do you take cream?  Sugar? Sawdust?  


We could sip together huddled in this corner.  There is a little spot of beauty to gaze upon across the room.  Antique doors just installed!  They provide a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. 

Through them, you’ll enter what will be the new music room.  Right now it’s an extension of my husband’s tool shed (i.e. the house).  There is no shed.  Or garage. 


As you leave, watch your step!  Dump runs happen daily.  And all of this just from the front two rooms.  Needless to say, in our downtime, we live upstairs and at the back of the house.  You know… at the day spa.



  1. this might just be the absolute best post you've ever written.
    I literally laughed out loud while I read through it....
    RIE!!! How in the world are you living there in the midst of the remodel? I've lived in houses that we've renovated, but its never been anything like these pictures I see here...

    WOW. It makes me look so forward to the end of it all....I am SURE it will be todiefor gorgeous when you guys are finished.

  2. Hahahaha hilarious....but you ae so inspiring with your design and decor! Love your home! Xoxoxo

  3. congrats on the article! don't have buyers remorse...this one will be even better with time. i think your due at the spa, for sure!


  4. At the start of a project it is always exciting, then as you get a little way into it it seems overwhelming, then it seems never ending and then finally you come out the other side and you can almost see the finish line, and finally it is done- well not that anything is really ever done but you know what I mean.
    Well done at starting a new project- you will get there in the end!

  5. Your rooms were lovely in the magazine. I'm so glad you have a sense of humor because I think you will need one! Whew! I am sure you have a vison for all of this, though, and it will be as lovely as the home you left.

  6. Oh Rie! I really admire you living in a major house renovating with six kids! Good you see the light at the end of the tunnel! Thinking of you guys these days :)

  7. Congrats on the article. Your previous home was gorgeous and I know this one will be stunning also. It does look like a ton of work. Hugs, Marty

  8. no gain w/out pain! :) i can see the loveliness that's coming! Esther from fleur cottage

  9. Rie:
    I want to come through this computer and give you a big hug...I mean it!! You will make it through this...I promise and also being a better woman for it. Just "HANG ON"....the day spa is out there. You will reach its destination soon. Patience is a virtue.

    You make me want to laugh (your wording is hilarious today)...and cry because I know the chaos is trying at times with everyone there.

    Like I said before..."Hang on!"


  10. I can relate. We poured our hearts and soul into 3 different homes since we've been married. The last century home was the most difficult. Kind of like what your going through now. We loved that house. Our kids grew up and moved off to far shores so we looked at each other and said Why are we still doing all this? We shocked everyone sold our lovely farmhouse and bought a cute little western reserve style 2 bedroom and a loft condo. And guess what we love this too!!! I never would have believed it. I recall you saying way back that your last home was your dream home but dreams change. How true. This will get better and before you know it your kids will be reminding you of all the construction pains.


  11. Rie Congrats! Thanks for keepin it real! Ha!! Things do change in life for sure!!

    Art by Karena

    Come and enter my Giveaway of a very special painting!

  12. Just remember: your new house will capture that 'spa'-like quality once you're done. That's why you are putting all that hard work in! Good luck!

    This Good Life

  13. If you should have time (ha ha!), check out the blog lundagard.blogspot. This young couple (parents of four young boys) dismantled an 1860 Swedish farmhouse, transported it to their land and rebuilt it from the ground up. They're still at the work, but were able to move in. Inspiration from hardcore renovators like this is what you need! I'm sure your home will be wonderful when finished.

  14. This brings back "bad" memories for me. :) But we did get through it, and so will you... Seeing the stack of bead board reminds me of our similar stacks. We had great plans to reuse it, and we were able to use some in the bathrooms and some closets, but most we sold due to the lead paint and having babies/small children.

    I loved your old home and this one will be great also, keep up the good work!

  15. Oh-I feel your pain!!! We rehabbed 14 houses and lived in 12 of them while doing so. It is NOT pretty -or easy- Nothing like washing dishes in a bathtub~or sleeping crosswises in the bed cuz you're too tired to turn around and crawl under the covers...or you can't walk in room #3 because there is no floor and you can only walk in the middle of room#2 because there is no support underneath the rest of the floor. Did I touch on any of your problems? Oh...and of course there is only ever ONE working bathroom at any given time! Buck up, girl-one day you will laugh about this...but not for a long,long time!;>) xo Diana

  16. This too will pass...and someday will be just as beautiful as the house you left behind. Great start to what will be a fabulous finish!!!!

  17. Thank you all for your encouraging comments!!! It means the world to me.

  18. If anyone can do this you can!!! Oh my goodness, I gasped and laughed at the pictures with your words. This is your best post yet. I am amazed at how well you are handling things with 6 children and their daily needs. I am thinking of your little angel without sight. How does she manage? One day it will all be so worth it. I am guessing this will be your forever home when done? :)
    xoxo Dianne

  19. Dianne,
    I have the rest of the house (that we're not fixing up now) in an organized, working order. Charlotte has already figured out her way around. When there is lots of contruction noise going on, we simply go outside or run errands. She's not allowed to go into the nightmare rooms. :) So, she's staying safe.

  20. I feel your pain :( Happy for your new digs, but can't believe what lies ahead!

  21. What a contrast between your last photo and the first photo of your last post! I look forward to seeing your feature in C&B! You will be happy and glad about your new house...eventually!

  22. Congratulations on the article, Rie!

    I decided to declutter my entire house in a week and I'm in the middle of it right now. My kitchen table is piled high with purged items that haven't been priced for my garage sale this coming Saturday. The whirlwind has created a type of chaos that feels good. I hope you have a similar feeling despite the longer duration.

    So delighted that I get to peek into your home as it takes shape. Thank you for sharing your beautiful-to-be spaces.

    Erin (mom of six in about three weeks)

  23. All I can say is that I miss you and I wish I could be there soon to help you and David out!!! I know that this will be the best house yet! You made me laugh out loud... I could hear you saying everything. Love you Leetha

  24. I join the others in congratulating you on the magazine article!

    Your delightful sense of humor is evidence of your persevering spirit!!! Thanks for allowing your readers to come along with you on your remodeling journey.

    All the best!

  25. I found your blog after reading the article about you, "Peace & Quiet" in the September issue of "Cottages & Bungalows" - congratulations!! Eagerly looking forward to following your project in the new house! I love the Scandinavian style...

  26. Congrats on the feature! you are so talented.
    Press on, dear one! From one psycho old home lover to another... it WILL be worth it!!!!

  27. This is going to be such a beautiful picture of redemption when the sawdust settles. I can't wait! (I'm sure you can't, either!)

  28. Love your humor -- gotta have it in a situation like that!

    I'd love to have tea with you there! We've been in this situation before ourselves (not voluntarily -- because of major hurricane damage and floods) and we've had our tea anyway! We just kept a tray with the teapot and cups and saucers in a safe place and it gave us some normality to everything. It also gave us some great silly memories to look back on.

    Oh, how I wish we had the courage to do this ourselves! It's gonna be so worth it in the end. I'm sure it will be beyond gorgeous and we'll all be so inspired by it!

    Congratulations on the magazine feature!


    (Please don't count the exclamation points I used in this comment, lol!!! :)

  29. Love your wide front porch! How wonderful to really have room for a swing.

  30. Congratulations on being featured! I'm honing my craft atm and one day I hope to do it myself and fail miserably hahah!

  31. Congrats on the article. Your previous home was gorgeous and I know this one will be stunning also. It does look like a ton of work.


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