Highs and Lows of a Very Angsty 2020

I’d like to think I’m a realist. And the last year or so? It’s been a REAL kick in the pants.

would not recommend

You probably know we bought a house the beginning of 2020. Well, actually it’s more of a MANOR. Over 200 years old, with all the charm and all the problems you might imagine come with a property that old. But I was spellbound . . .

And hey, we save our pennies and were in a position to take on the challenge of purchasing and restoring Granbery Manor.  After 9 months of negotiating (with the seller AND with Mr. Man), we bought it – warts and all. “All” included the centuries-old and leaking metal roof, the 1939 plumbing that dripped more orange rust than it did actual water, a kitchen that can only be described as “charmingly rustic,” and an interior that had barely changed in 80 years.

kitchen before

But I had dreams . . . dreams of a historically respectful restoration and modernization of the property that didn’t include stripping it of its original features or charm. Dreams of making memories with friends and family, inviting guests and hosting events, and all other kinds of lovely ways to welcome community into this amazing house that had been all but hidden from its neighbors for a century.

But, you know . . . 2020.

Like everyone reading this, 2020 disrupted all of our lives in more ways than one.

The first couple of months of the restoration were ugly, but super-productive. We gutted the plumbing, updated electrical, remediated asbestos, and repaired/repainted the metal roofing.

four metal roof leaks successfully repaired

I even hosted my Expert Psychological Staging® course the first week of March in the one semi-finished section of the manor. We had one large room, an entry hall for serving lunches and snacks, a functioning bathroom, heat, and electricity. The rest of the house was in total chaos! That was a crazy undertaking, but it ended up being AMAZING. Days later, we were all in lockdown due to COVID-19. It was very fortunate that we didn’t schedule that course one week later – we had women coming from all across the country to attend, and I was thankful it all went off without a hitch.

Expert Psychological Staging® “classroom”

March 2020 EPS™ graduates

But once the lockdown began, the inevitable happened. Mr. Man runs a production company that serves corporate events. So the calls and emails began pouring in – client after client having to cancel their annual conventions and quarterly meetings. After a few weeks, every show on his calendar for 2020 was wiped away. The music and event industry has been shut down now for nearly a year, and many of our friends have been without work ever since. 2021 isn’t looking like it’ll be much better.

Did I mention we just bought a big ole 1807 money pit???  The upside is that we had plenty to occupy our time while everyone was binge watching Netflix and taking long afternoon naps. We took on the task of stripping wax, staining, rewaxing, and buffing every square foot of hardwood flooring. All by hand. It took a few weeks, but we saved a lot of $$$ doing it ourselves and hey, what else did we have to do?

Because the building and remodeling industry was deemed essential, we were able to continue with the restoration of Granbery but scaling back on the scope of what we call “Phase 1.”  The whole interior was repainted in glossy historic enamel and I designed our charmingly rustic kitchen so that we could move closer into actually moving into the house.

rustic kitchencompletely unstyled “after” photo of our kitchen

We installed additional bookcases in the library and middle hall, and had 3 rooms repapered (due to water damage or the replacement of plumbing) in historically-appropriate, swoon-worthy wallpaper and additional bookcases to match the original added to the library and center hall.

blue leaf wallpaper cole and son

cole and son wallpaper

granbery manor library

You can check out lots of videos of the restoration on either on Instagram (IGTV) or my YouTube channel.

I continued to have work coming in, as the real estate market actually surged, staging occupied homes and short-term rental properties.  I also did a lot of interior and exterior paint color consultations (much of them online and long-distance). It seems like EVERYONE grew sick of their home in short order and decided to use the time at home to make their environment more beautiful. I totally get that!  And, I was grateful for the work even more as Mr. Man had to “pivot” to keep his company afloat and his people employed at least part time.

Our older daughter moved home from college, so we were blessed with lots of family time we didn’t expect to have with both our children. We held a moving sale at our former home, then moved into the new old house in mid-June. Because it is literally two streets over, we made the transition over a 3-week period instead of all at once.

Although that drug out our move, I was able to unpack and decorate as we went so that at the end, everything was pretty much put away and in its place.

mccoy pottery collection

Then we cleaned, repaired, and painted what was needed to get our former home on the market. We were blessed that it was under lease in a matter of hours.

In July, our daughter got engaged to the wonderful young man she adores. In the fall, she went back to college and he moved into the log cabin in our backyard. It’s been good having him around (and to lure her back home more often on the weekends). Despite the chaos in the world, we’ve been planning an outdoor wedding in April and all that goes with that.

engagement photoawww, young love!

Although I realize how fortunate I am to have family to hunker down with, I’ve had a difficult time emotionally with the social isolation of this year. I get energy and inspiration from being around people, and it is just awful to not be able to see people’s faces and read their expressions. I’ve missed all the things. Getting together in groups, going to church, learning and growing with others, and talking/hearing about things other than the virus and politics. And although I’ve had a lot to do and accomplish, I’ve had to fight to maintain my motivation and remain upbeat. I rarely sleep through the night anymore and I’ve been exhausted much of the time, even when I’ve seemingly done so little. And while I haven’t been motivated to cook, I’ve still managed to gain weight . . .

I’ve been blogging since 2009. In the early years, I blogged three times a week. That has slowed considerably over the last few years. This year? Well, it was all I could do to get out a handful of blogposts.

While isolated from real life, we’ve all had more time to be a bit overexposed to online life (which often isn’t very real). I’ve found myself becoming somewhat paralyzed – overanalyzing every blog idea or social media post (to the point of not posting at all), comparing my success to others, and buying into the facade of what I’m seeing on Instagram and FaceBook.

 

analysis paralysis

I don’t have a large team of people or a marketing department – so EVERYTHING feels personal, and I’m too often psyching myself out. I question whether I’m still relevant or if blogging is still worthwhile. I’ve had several conversations lately about how this isolation affects different people in different ways.  It can be comforting to withdraw for a period of time to get grounded and recharge. But over time, some of us become increasingly fearful to ever re-emerge, while others of us become despondent over the lack of interaction in a non-technological, human-to-human way.

Speaking for myself, I’ve learned that when I’m in the midst of people and activity, I’m inspired and motivated. When I’m isolated, I become mired in self-doubt and lack of purpose.

I’m a Personality Type 3 with a 2 wing on the Enneagram, if anyone can relate . . .

When I look back now, I see that I did manage to move forward in 2020, regardless of what I’ve been feeling. Working with clients is what continues to bring me the most career satisfaction. Throughout the year, I was able to present 14 webinars on specifying paint color to professional stagers and designers via Zoom.

My Psychological Color Expert™ course has been well-received since launching in the fall of 2019 and was even named a 2020 RESA® Innovative Product or Service of the Year Finalist!

I always enjoy attending industry events, but of course, this year there were only a few online things to attend. It just isn’t the same as getting to be with people and interact face to face. Despite missing those in-person activities, I was named one of the 2020 Most Influential People in Real Estate Staging and was recognized by IAHSP for Industry Leadership, Staging Excellence, & Customer Care.  Other awards included RESA 2020 Top 10 Redesigner of the Year, FIXR 2020 Top Design Influencers, and Build’s Home & Garden 2020 Home Staging Specialist.

I have been teaching my Expert Psychological Staging® course live since 2014 and even before COVID-19, I had already been planning to convert it from live to online for two reasons. There always looms inherent uncertainties in the logistics of hosting a live training, when people travel to attend from across the country. My biggest fear is WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET SICK? One bad stomach virus would be a major disaster for one of the events I spent 3 months preparing for! The other reason for moving to an online format is because of the frequent requests I get from people from across this country and even overseas who want to take the course but (for whatever reason) can’t travel to Nashville to do the training in person.

Expert Psychological Staging® training course

In addition to restoring the new/old house, working with clients, and planning a wedding, my main goal of 2020 was getting my Expert Psychological Staging® course transferred online. It took 9 long months to create a learning experience that would live up to my in-person course, plus we had to virtually rebuild the website to make that work! I was thrilled that the system I developed, Psychological Staging® was awarded a registered trademark by the United States Patent and Trademark Office near the end of 2020. This was timely, as we formally launched the professional course the first of February 2021 and the response has been GREAT! Here are a couple of reviews we’ve already gotten on the Expert Psychological Staging® course:

 

“High quality content, deliverables, information, and formatting. This was the most “hands on” online course I’ve ever taken. Honestly feel like I learned more from this than I would have in person given the ability to stop, rewind, speed up, and other features to go at the learning pace best suited for me. Furthermore, despite all the other million things Kristie probably has going on she was highly accessible and so quick to communicate back to me with any questions or issues I encountered. Truly wasn’t expecting her to be so hands on and involved especially with remote learning! I’ve waited years for this to be offered online and it was everything I hoped it would be and more. Unlike so many other courses, the material is on quality COLORED paper with quality (hand made!) samples and other extremely useful tools. By far the best certification class I’ve taken to date.”

– Julie M.

“I’ve just taken Kristie’s online EPS course, and cannot rave enough! She is a fantastic instructor. I am in the beginning steps of learning all about staging, so I was definitely looking for an in-depth, complete overview, and her course was all that and much more. She covers not only the design, emotional, hands-on aspect of it all, but even the layers of the business portion which is priceless. I’m so happy I heard about this and took the class. I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting to further their path in the staging world.”

– Cindi L.

 

I hope some of you are now able to take the course and become a part of the ongoing mentoring program I offer. Please take a moment to check out what this RESA-accredited course offers! Actually, the Expert Psychological Staging® and the Psychological Color Expert™ courses are a perfect pair. If you’d like to take both, I offer a special discount for purchasing them both at once (you can get that offer here).

decorologist coursesWe’re currently iced in here in Nashville (like many of you!), and I’ve have had to cancel all my appointments for the week. As I write, cold air is streaming through the single panes of the huge picture window behind my sofa (because reglazing windows, adding storm windows, and restoring seven inoperable fireplaces had to be nixed from Phase 1). But my refrigerator is relatively full and the electricity is on, so I’m not complaining! Maybe I’ll get out and sled tomorrow.

Friends, I am hoping and praying for a brighter, more hopeful 2021 for us all! My main goals are growing deeper in my faith, enjoying my family, reconnecting with friends, and mentoring many more home stagers and paint color consultants in 2021.

And adding insulation and storm windows by next winter!

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Lissa
Lissa
1 month ago

First let me say, it’s so nice to see you. Second let me say how happy and relieved I am – I spent the first part of your post fearing you had to let go of your Georgian house, which I am enjoying so much vicariously. And third, someday I need to tell you the story of buying my own house and the part you played in it. I agree – a better 2021 for all.

Rhonda
Rhonda
1 month ago

It is so good to hear from you! Praying also for a brighter and more hopeful 2021!

Karin J Hensley
Karin J Hensley
1 month ago

Always love your posts no matter when you post them. It’s been a year for sure! Here’s to a much-improved 2021 ahead!! Blessings to you, my friend!

Karina Aguon
Karina Aguon
1 month ago

Oh Kristie! I can’t tell you how happy I am for you and your family! I have watched your “empire” grow over the years and you are just so amazingly talented! I have enjoyed your posts and have learned so much from you. I pray that 2021 is kind and we all get back to “normal”. I am with you regarding the depression from the isolation and i hate seeing everyone in masks. I just feel so disconnected and lonely at times.

I can’t believe Audrey is getting married!! I know the wedding will be beautiful and I can’t wait to see pictures!

Sarah
Sarah
1 month ago

Kristie—thank you so much for your post. It was so refreshing and reassuring to read about your “downs” as well as the “ups”. It can be disheartening to read the posts from the lucky ones who have beautifully redecorated their homes on a shoestring, gotten in shape to run a marathon, and mastered the art of looking good on Zoom, all while becoming fluent in Mandarin! Thanks for sharing your struggles—we have all been there.
Your home is beautiful, and once it is finished, as you look around, you will see that spot on the floor you struggled to sand out or the perfect lamp that your daughter found in the attic one day or that sunny spot you found to snuggle up in with a good book (or a good cry), along with all of the other good and not-so-good memories that made up the last year. The stories that those walls could tell……

Aletta
Aletta
1 month ago

Girl close those custom drapes with the flannel inner lining and block that cold air from coming in!
Try not to be to discouraged we will come out of this crazy time eventually and maybe better than before..
I have followed your blog and post for a few years and always enjoy them and try to learn something from every one.

Norma Fournier
Norma Fournier
1 month ago

I am so glad to get your post today. I’ve been wondering if you were still out there renovating and blogging! I’ve been following Granbery Manor and love what you’re doing with it. I agree it’s been a difficult year to stay connected and energetic. So glad you’re still out there doing what you do! :).

Linda
Linda
1 month ago

Kristie, this was the blog we all needed to read and see (though you know we are all still longing for more pictures of the Manor!). You so perfectly put into words what we’ve all been experiencing. I know for my daughter and myself watching your transformations helped keep us afloat and inspired. Don’t stop believing and please please don’t stop blogging—we all need you and the way you inspire with your honesty, gifts, and skills!

sandy
sandy
1 month ago

Love your posts. I have learned so much from following you. White Dove is now my go to trim color 🙂 Your blog was one of the very first that I found online that led me to discover how much I love interior design. Thank you for sharing your talent with others!

Cheryl Fritz
Cheryl Fritz
1 month ago

Loved this post! So good to catch up with you! Always love seeing the progress at your new home. Stunning! Prayers for a bright 2021 for us all!

Valerie Davidson
1 month ago

Your home looks gorgeous and I’m so glad you made it into your home in 2020 despite the major challenges. Social isolation is definitely a big issue for a lot of us. And I think lack of sleep can have a lot to do with making so many big decisions for your home. I didn’t sleep well at all while building our home and probably not until it was completely done and every last detail with the decorating was finished.

I hope you can get out and see other smiling faces soon, too. In South Carolina, where I live, life is pretty much back to normal except for mask-wearing indoors. Our restaurants are very full and people of all ages are out and about.

This week I wrote a blog post with suggestions for how to get good sleep after my multi-year adventure with insomnia. Here’s the link if you’re interested: https://goodthingslifestyle.substack.com/p/warm-and-cozy-in-february. (Also, my previous post provided an idea for where to visit in South Carolina — Beaufort. In case you want to get away to warmer weather, it should be very nice here in March and April.

I appreciate all your great design ideas, and please don’t let the negative thoughts hold you back!

Jenna
Jenna
1 month ago

Your transparency is inspiring, so thank you for sharing your personal and creative struggles. I think we often assume we are all alone with our insecurities while seeing everyone else’s social media posts, reading about their successes. I have enjoyed every one of your posts about your new home and I, too, am living vicariously through you! Congratulations for being awarded that patent, and getting your course moved online! I hope to take the color course sometime during 2021.

Alyse
Alyse
1 month ago

This is such a beautiful post. Thank you for being vulnerable enough to write openly. I’ve always found your blog and tips to be more helpful and practical than other staging advice I’ve come across. But now I appreciate your content even more because, not only is the content itself super helpful, but I see how relatable and genuine you are:) I’m excited that your staging course is now online too. I’m one of those people who would much rather take it in person but can more realistically take it online.

Linda
Linda
1 month ago

She has emerged from her cave! Glad that you’re putting your toe out to test the waters – we don’t want to get too comfortable in the quarantine life! Congratulations on your many awards and recognition this year – all was not lost in 2020 : ) I have followed your blog for several years now, and especially enjoyed the Granbery Manor restoration. Today I understand why you have been in your cave during much of the past year, and I’m happy to read about the happy family time that approaches this spring. It’s coincidental that this post came out today because I’m just back from the color chip areas of SW and BM – and overwhelmed as usual. Do you have a big backlog of color consultant clients right now (for exterior help)?

Carolyn
Carolyn
1 month ago

It’s nice to see you and you are not alone in navigating these strange times.
Could you please tell me about the beautiful appliances in your gorgeously-
designed new kitchen?

Traci Hiebert
1 month ago

Thank you for sharing. I have followed you for years and have dreamed of taking your courses but live in Montana and felt the added travel cost was out of my budget. I started an organizing business four years ago and now have an ADHD certification of study but I have recently had the opportunity to help clients with organizing their home office spaces for productivity and where to start with a large home remodel project. So fun! I don’t know exactly where my business will take me but I almost have enough saved to purchase the paint color class. Can’t wait! Thank you for always inspiring, teaching and being real! Blessings on your 2021!

Rory
Rory
1 month ago

I’ve followed your blog for years, Kristie, and was super excited to read of your manor purchase and the fun that renovating it will entail for years! I love that you post from a real-life perspective and don’t gloss everything over. Stay warm! And from one who recently had her daughter’s wedding outdoors (me and in my backyard!), have a backup plan in case of rain and definitely have someone reliable to oversee all the details that day so you can just enjoy the moment and have fun.

Laura
Laura
1 month ago

I have followed you for several years and still think someday when I ‘retire” from my current profession I want to take your class! I have nonetheless learned so much from you over the years and you have helped me to create a home I love. I’m sorry that 2020 has hit your family so hard and I just thought I’d encourage you as someone who isn’t an “influencer”…you have certainly influenced me and I hope you’ll continue to share your wealth of information and knowledge to us all! Many blessings to you!!
\

Denise Campopiano
Denise Campopiano
1 month ago

Thank you for sharing real feelings that we all have been experiencing. Your struggle with whether to even blog during this difficult year is very much appreciated. Not only do I understand, I want to encourage you that we all need to hear honest & raw realities in a world of IG and esthetics. Thank you Kristie. This is one of my favorite things I’ve read this season.

Mary Zeilinger
Mary Zeilinger
1 month ago

Dear Kristie, You are amazing. You took a neglected old house and turned it into a beautiful home. Youve revamped your business to meet todays demands. And planning a wedding. I picture a little french mime twirling all the plaets on sticks. Also I dont know wherre I would have been without your posts. Through every strip of wallpaper and brushstroke of paint I saw hope. Thank You.

Nancy Beichner
Nancy Beichner
1 month ago

Thank you for being so real. I’ve followed you for several years and actually have been noticing your less frequent posts. I think a lot about the advice I have gleaned from
you and look forward to learning more. Praying for you.

Robin Moyer
1 month ago

Thank you for sharing your journey Kristie. I have gone through similar highs and lows and overthinking during 2020 and then add in a COVID diagnosis and 3 weeks in bed. Yuck we are all ready for a brighter 2021. One thing I have learned is to take 1 day at a time and this too shall pass ❤️ Sending thoughts, love & strength and hoping we can all reconnect soon. ~Robin

Whitney
Whitney
1 month ago

Kristi,
Real and raw on occasion garners appreciation and love from followers particularly those who have followed and learned from you you for any length of time.
Sometimes life seems gilded for bloggers and influencers while reality says otherwise but pictures and posts whilst showing a select part of life, still influence. (Obviously)

I have followed and unfollowed many a blogger over the years, actually since the early days when there was no Instagram, Twitter, or Tik Toc. You, I have never unfollowed you and have wondered where you are in your world. Particularly in 2020. Bloggers become virtual friends and teachers and one becomes invested in their success and their voices become part of the voices in ones head, particularly, in your case concerning matters decorating.
I have made many decisions in my home and thinking based on your “voice”, example and strong decorating principles. Just the other day I had a number of pictures to hang and went to your post on quickly hanging pictures.
You will always be relevant because you teach based on principles and not fads. Your content is sound.and you see things in a particularly unique way.
Consequently, your voice and areas of expertise are unique and valuable.
I personally was excited to see and follow your progress in a “new” home because I knew you wouldn’t go through ripping out walls, tearing out kitchen cabinets for trendy open shelves, and painting everything white.
And I knew that you would have loads and loads of new content to share.

You have a talent for videos also so continue to use that medium in your blogging.

You seem on track for the new way of doing things. Online is definitely the course of the future, though as I am in the trade show and party businesses, and regular church goer, nothing beats in person energy and synergy gained from in person events. I hope parties and conventions return as well as full faces with smiles and all the subtleties of communication we rely on for information and feedback.

I second another commentor about hiring a wedding planner or at least a lead person for your wedding. As an experienced wedding planner, I cannot tell you how many people have hired me for because they realized after the first or second child’s wedding that they missed too much of the wedding day because they were supervising behind the scenes.
We are all good and capable but not all the time and for all things.
Weddings are events to plan and then delegate so that all you have do is focus on the excitement, joyful and happy experience of the day.
This leaves you fully present to focus on people: your daughter and her husband as well as your beloved guests and the new in-laws, with whom you are inextricably tired to for the rest of your lives. Those budding relationships are invaluable and will be important as the new couple joins together for better or worse until death. Part of their personal better or worse come from their extended families.

Such a long comment, which I rarely ever do, to say thanks for sharing a bit of your life, the good and bad parts echo many of ours. Best of luck moving forward and congratulations on all your awards and successes. They are well deserved.

You know your business intricately and your pioneering has built a clear path for many to follow, which spells true success.

You will move your new home along at God’s pace and timing with the lessons and rewards according to his will and pleasure. You are doing a great work and the dark side would have you think otherwise.

Love and Light
Go forward with cheer and thanks from all of us who appreciate you.

Pam Roaldsand
1 month ago

I truly enjoy all your blogs, but especially this one! The blessings outweigh the snares and pitfalls and losses can turn into unexpected positives! I’m still believing to pivot my business /life that certainly took a hit from a series of events. While developing the will to put on my big girl pants and get cracking, my daughter introduced me to a show called “ Escape to the Chateau “. We binged watched all the seasons on a free platform called Peacock. I affectionately call it “ Honey, We Bought a Castle”! A restoration process is inspiring whether it involves a grand old home or God’s own people…

Laurie Cunningham Vannarsdall
Laurie Cunningham Vannarsdall
1 month ago

You are such an inspiration Kristie! Meeting you and taking your course has inspired me in so many ways. Thank you for your posts, sharing your talent, home and warm heart. I’m looking forward to exploring retaking it this year as a refresher along with the Color Expert Course. 2021 is going to be good!
Laurie

Kristin Hammers
Kristin Hammers
1 month ago

Good to hear from you. I discovered your blog years ago and absolutely love your style and advice. It’s certainly been awful times. I’m so sorry for everything you’ve gone through. I have to say it’s been the toughest year of my life so far. My teenage daughter has experienced severe depression and is in counseling. My kindergartener does NOT see me as a teacher and homeschool has been an uphill battle.

Your home is gorgeous and when I saw where you’d purchased it last year, I thought that must’ve been a dream come true for you. Hopefully we’ll be out of the nightmare soon. You’re doing great! Hang in there. Congratulations on your daughter’s engagement!

Rita Shaw
Rita Shaw
1 month ago

I am in love, love with brick houses. Lots of luck with your beautiful new manor. Vintage homes are a labor of love and each owner passes the torch on to the next generation. We had three weddings in the front yard of our brick home.

Tina Juhl
Tina Juhl
1 month ago

As an Enneagram 3 myself – I can relate. Stay grounded and keep sharing your experiences with us, you keep us going and inspired. We should let you know more often! 🙂

Sheli R Schneider
Sheli R Schneider
1 month ago

Beautifully written 🙂 Thank you for sharing your 2020 story and allowing us to get a glimpse of the real you. This year was full of so many challenges for us all as we continue to press on through the uncertainty. It’s so refreshing to see you back and Blogging! You truly have made an incredible impact on my real estate business and allowed me to create a niche that sets me apart from so many other agents in my area. Truly blessed to have taken your courses and learned from you directly! Keep on making an impact and touching lives with your creativity and knowledge!

Debbie
Debbie
1 month ago

Thank you for your honest post. Your new old home is lovely, and I look forward to seeing future improvements. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for quite a while now, and it was good to see an update. Hope you defrost today in the sunshine.

Taryn B.
Taryn B.
1 month ago

Yay! You are back! I am always happy to see you and read about what you’ve been up to!

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