Life Happening! (Updates, Changes and Prayer)

Hi friends! It's been a while and I've missed getting on here more regularly to spend time with you! Today is the first day of school for my three and since my heart aches for the Summer behind us, I figure it's the perfect time to soak in a bit of community with you all here. I'm sure your Summer's were full but, I hope, equally as wonderful. There's nothing like a change of pace but I'm really looking forward to getting back to a schedule again!

Our Summer was absolutely lovely, (though nothing I expected) - the time with the kids was just wonderful. They, (and Matt!), are my most precious companions and I really just love spending our days together, even if it's running errands! The twins are now 7, (turning 8 in October), and Mason is 6.5, so they are so much fun to interact with now as they need me less but engage with me more! This age has been my favorite so far, indeed.

In preparation for the Summer and wanting to spend as much time with the kids as possible while they were out of school, I had arranged our client schedule to allow for flexibility and a relaxed pace. I love our clients and am so grateful that they all 'got it', even though few of them have children of their own. Plus, almost everyone had travel plans of their own so it really worked out to set several projects aside for a bit. However...

After the very first week of the kids' Summer break I got an email that would drastically change the pace of my anticipated relaxed Summer. A company named Sonder reached out asking if I would be one of their designers for the hundreds of units they are purchasing to offer for short term stay travel. They are essentially like airbnb, except without the awkwardness of staying in someone's guest room, or in their own bed while they're out of town. They purchase apartments and condos in major cities around the U.S., (with international cities in process as well), and offer them fully furnished for travelers. Though they are not a brand new company, they are just starting to work with designers who are experienced with digital eDesign on their units so they can remain competitive in their market. With hundreds of units onboarding every day to their site, the work is plentiful!

This opportunity came during a time in the year that I really didn't want to work, but after talking things over with my ever wise husband, Matt, we both had faith that this was the right 'yes'; the opportunity I have been waiting for. (By the way, Matt's encouragement to move forward was not without a heavy load of help on his end - time and again he will say to me, 'Just let me know what I can do', when I'm feeling like my hands are tied between kids and work. He is a jack of all trades and none of this would exist without this dear man I get to walk life with). It's been a tricky balance pursuing a dream, figuring out how that dream could possibly turn into some helpful income, while meanwhile trying to give the loves of my life the best childhood I'm capable of giving. With the kids home this Summer I often worked early in the morning and then late into the night so I could keep the days open for wherever the wind took us. It was exhausting. I'm exhausted. With the kids back in school I am grateful for the possibility of balance once again, where I can work while they're in school and then be free for them when they get home! I do want to give a big ol' public Thank You to my dear friend, Kate Good. She has three kids of her own and in my first week doing work for Sonder she took my kids for an entire day so I could learn the ropes. Supportive friends and family are a total game changer, I tell you!

This opportunity doing freelance design work with Sonder does not replace client work. I absolutely love working with clients and will continue to do so, but it has proven a difficult profession to make a full-time living from for two big reasons:

1. We don't want to increase our rates just to make a full-time living. Our desire from the beginning has been to make design services attainable for another tier of people, predominantly young adults looking to go from hodge-podge college furniture to a sophisticated, soulful home.

2. We have realized our capacity for clients at one time. Although we currently have a client wait list that reaches to the Holiday season, that doesn't necessarily mean we are making a full-time living from our current clients. There is so much that goes into working with clients; the communication, waiting for decisions to be made, edits and re-edits, tweaks and re-tweaks. It's so incredibly important to us that each client completely loves their space when it's finished, but getting there takes so much time. Our capacity is roughly 10-12 clients at any given time, depending on the depth of the job. Depending on the project, some are finished within a month, others closer to 8! We can only move as fast as our clients are able, so if their plates are full, the project might take on the longer end.

Since realizing this capacity for client design work, we have been praying for a way to turn this fulfilling work into a fuller-time income. It's been a test of patience, for sure, to wait for the right opportunity that would be consistent with our work with StyleMutt Home, but offer the financial support that we need. For me, this opportunity as a freelance designer with Sonder is a dream come true in so many ways. I will continue to work from home, and I get to design to my hearts content. As for Cate, she has welcomed an awesome opportunity with Apartment Therapy that I'll let her tell you about soon. :) But we are both so encouraged about these opportunities that have only been made possible by StyleMutt Home's own growth, (and I CANNOT wrap my mind around how this all began with a small furniture refinishing business right outside in our garage after Mason's birth! Every door that's opened has been a gift; I don't know why or how, but I'm runnin' with it!) Our hearts are exceedingly full by the countless blessings the Lord has shown us with this business and we've both been reflecting on all that we are so grateful for.

Perhaps the best news with these new ventures is that there will be more content for the blog! For every 5 client spaces we finish, we might get one job that we can actually take pictures of and share here! But in my work for Sonder, every unit I design for them will be professionally shot and I am free to use the pictures however I wish, so I'll have a lot of fun spaces to share here!

I'll be back on Wednesday with my first Sonder design reveal for a unit I completed in Boston! Think big black factory windows. :) It's a good one and I'm so excited to see it in completion!

Thank you so much for joining Cate and me on this exciting adventure! We started StyleMutt Home with completely open hearts to whatever the Lord would guide it to be, and the friends we've made along the way are of the most unexpected and treasured blessings we've enjoyed. You are so dear to us and hope you know we count you as part of the StyleMutt Home team!

Thank you for stopping by!


P.S. We have read this verse with the kids a few times and it lifts my heart at the start of each day. It's so common to start the day with a pit of worry in our stomach about what the day may hold; this promise always encourages me, so I wanted to pass it on.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the mountains-
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip-
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither Slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you-
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm-
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forever more.

Art Deco Dresser

Hi friends! It's been a little while! I'm so glad to stop in here with you today; I've missed posting here but with such a full plate I've needed to let go of a few things, and regular posting has been one of them. But what a blessing to get to enjoy all of Cate's recent flips with you and McKenna's incredible Reader Design features!

One of the biggest things going on in my day-to-day right now is fuller-time eDesign work! I'm very excited about the amazing clients we've been blessed with these last few months and as some of our biggest jobs wrap up I look forward to sharing some reveals with you! The funny thing about eDesign is you don't always get to share the end result. Sometimes our clients don't live locally so it's not possible to take photos. And other times our clients can choose to carry out the design on their own time so we might not ever find out if/when it gets finished. So it's particularly fun to get to work with folks who are both local and choose to include us in helping see their home through to completion! Luckily, we have a few of those going on right now and as they wrap up we'll have some seriously fun homes to show you!

In the mean time I hope to pop in now and then with a flip! Today's piece is more of a restoration than a transformation. My long time friend Liz actually found this piece at a thrift store near where she lives several hours away. Prior to a visit she texted me a picture asking if I wanted it. Her reception usually stinks so as I replied, 'YES PLEASE', I crossed my fingers she'd see my message in time before leaving! I love Art Deco style and the beautiful wood grain patterns have been catching my eye a lot lately. If there hadn't been work to do on this piece I probably wouldn't have taken it, letting someone else find it for their home. But the top surface was in bad shape with water stains and various marks and it needed a little love to be restored back to it's former glory.


I used Walnut oil to revive the wood surface and now it's good as new!

Well, almost new - there are a few tiny little chips which I left alone, but when it comes to true antique pieces these things are to be expected. I like to focus on the big picture and what I can do to bring out the best in an old piece. For this one, restoring the wood tone was top priority and something I feel confident in tackling.

If you happen to be loving that mirror as much as I do, I just used black washi-tape to add the design! The mirror is from Target and I spray painted the brass frame black. The taped design is just something fun but can be removed as soon as it's...not fun! LOL!

Art Deco Dresser
Please email me at if interested in this piece or a custom order like it!

Thank you so much for stopping by!

Occupation: SAHM / Small Business Owner

Hi guys! I've had this post on my mind for a while but the start of a new year seemed like the perfect time to get it done and finally share! It's my story. Well, not the full story, but the part that connects the points between becoming a new Mom to a small business owner. It's my 'just start' story, and I think there are a lot of folks who may be able to relate, even if the circumstances are different.

I know there's a small number of you out there who have joined me on this adventure from the very beginning, the Chelsea's Garage beginning. At the very likely chance you're a new friend since those early days, my first blog, 'Chelsea's Garage', was created in about 10 minutes using a basic available template on blogger, nothing custom. The blog was a place to share refinished furniture finds, DIY ideas, and every now and then, to discuss balancing life as a new stay-at-home-Mom to a litter of puppies. I mean kids! In fact, my babes were the very reason I decided to start a small business!

Meet the litter: twins, Colin and Shire, and our very special surprise, Mason.

Meet the litter: twins, Colin and Shire, and our very special surprise, Mason.

Motherhood. I revel in being Colin and Shire and Mason's Mom. It's one of the greatest pleasures in my life to watch the little beings my body carried now crack me up, read, rest their heads on my shoulder. Being their Mom is my very special honor, responsibility and gift. But generally speaking, motherhood has always intimidated me, more after I had children than ever! While I've always felt confident in how we are raising our children, I've felt insecure being labeled a Mom.

I like this picture because it looks like I may have actually washed my hair that morning.

I like this picture because it looks like I may have actually washed my hair that morning.

Especially a stay-at-home-mom.

Over the past 7+ years that I've been a Mom so far, I've filled out 30,000 forms on behalf of my family members, (school, doctor, insurance, etc). And every single one has a line to fill in your occupation. I dread this line. I inevitably get flustered and scratch in 'N/A', (which doesn't even make sense!!!), and hope the person I hand the forms to doesn't notice.

'Clean plates, full diapers, can't lose.' Any Friday Night Lights fans?

'Clean plates, full diapers, can't lose.' Any Friday Night Lights fans?

It's not that I think there is anything wrong with filling in SAHM, (Stay-At-Home-Mom), where the form asks you to write in your occupation. It's that I don't feel qualified to do so! I don't love to bake, I'm terrified about getting head lice when I spend any amount of time in the kids' school, I hate glitter, I feel panicky at the thought of helping my kids with their homework... In fact, thinking about keeping track of homework and due dates was the only thing during my pregnancies that made me nauseous. My list of un-qualifications goes on!

Being a stay at home Mom felt too big a pill for me to swallow and finding an outlet was my survival. Even when the twins were still cooking I was researching how to refinish furniture so I'd have some sort of plan of action once they arrived. As it turns out, twins legitimately cost you a full year of your life, especially when you find out half way through the year that you're pregnant again! So my plan didn't start right away; it began when my third was born and the twins were 17 months.

You can see the snow coming down! And look at the turnout of shoppers....LOL!

You can see the snow coming down! And look at the turnout of shoppers....LOL!

I started Chelsea's Garage after I had accumulated enough refinished pieces of furniture to throw a big garage sale complete with hot cider, shabby chic finishes and a few surprises, like snow! It was February, afterall; perhaps not the best time for a small business grand opening outside, but it was my small business and it gave me a job and a purpose outside of motherhood. I collected furniture to refinish for months and then advertised my first garage sale on Craigslist. I hosted another a month later of more refinished pieces, another 6 months after that, and a fourth a year after that. By that point I was full of custom orders to occupy my work hours which were 1-4pm every day during the kids' nap time - I hypnotized them every day to sleep all together that long. (Kidding! But truly, nap time was never optional. We didn't magically get three awesome nappers. It twas most definitely trained and the Lord was so gracious in allowing that to be fruitful. To this day it remains my single greatest achievement as a mother. LOL!)

This is all she wants to do when she grows up - work with Mom. Be still my heart.

This is all she wants to do when she grows up - work with Mom. Be still my heart.

There was never a perfectly convenient time that felt opportunistic to start. I just did. A snowy day in February while my husband managed our three diaper-butts inside was quite possibly the worst time to start, but there was no stifling the ambition to get going. A lot has changed since that February garage sale but the fire is still strong! It's such a joy to do this work and I feel so incredibly grateful that the Lord has guided me to a career where He has gifted me. Design and refinishing feels effortless; I can't say the same about motherhood! The opportunity to work with someone on creating their home, whether it's a single room they're renting or a full house, is an honor that neither Cate nor I take lightly. We love people and we love design; what a blessing to combine the two in our work!

Our favorite day is an install day!

Our favorite day is an install day!

It's been 5 years since I started a small furniture refinishing business and I can say with clarity that owning a business has made me a much braver, stronger, and more confident Mom to my kids. It's also given me the courage to fill in that pesky Occupation line on paperwork: SAHM / Small Business Owner.

If you feel the flickering of a flame to build your own small business, I hope this inspires you to just start. At least start the conversation about it with someone you love and respect and who will give you honest feedback. My husband, Matt, is really the reason I'm doing what I do today - he was my person that I had that late night conversation with about starting all of this in the first place. He's been 100% on board from the very start, and continues to provide wise council, encouragement and tremendous support to this day. Truly, an amazing man!

The greatest gifts, all 4 of them.

The greatest gifts, all 4 of them.

Thank you all for stopping by today! If this gave you any encouragement to start something of your own this year and want to talk a bit more, please don't hesitate to contact me at!