Comfort Living: College Edition How to Create a Home-Away-From-Home… In 4 Days!

Posted on 12.05.11.

When it comes to selling houses, I don’t believe in staging. I believe in creating “Campfires” that draw people in — that means the people who live there as well as potential buyers.
The house in this story was bought about a year ago. Just before Thanksgiving it was put on the market, and went under contract after only 3 days on the market. It will close in early January and I plan to post a blog about how we got the house ready to sell — and some thoughts as to why it all happened the way it did.
Meanwhile, knowing how many people are out there trying to sell their homes so they can move on to a lifestyle that reflects who they are and where they want to go in the short term, I thought I’d repost this one. Comments and sharing are welcome.

So here it is again: How an empty house became a home… in 4 days:

I’m in Ann Arbor this week, til Friday morning, to help “tame” the house that my son will be moving into with friends of his and managing as of… now!  The others will be coming in this weekend.

The plan is that they’ll share in the repairs, lawn care, and gradual improvement of it as well as the housework and dare I say, cooking — sort of a cooperative effort that allows them all to feel a sense of “home”-ership, so to speak .  Along with it, and under the mentorship of “Pat the Handyman”, they’ll end up with more than just an academic education by the time they graduate.

But the bottom line is this become a place that they will enjoy, respect and have fun in — I don’t want to take over.  It needs to be theirs, so I’m putting my Comfort Living hat on and, for the next few days, I will be focusing my efforts here.

So I’ll be taking you with me these next few days and sharing my approach to quality of life along the way process which is, first and foremost, about behaviors and experiences — and not about how things look.

I’ll be adding to this blog each day, so instead of looking for a new blog, just go to the end of this one for the next “chapte

r”.   Here we go!

Day 1 (Monday)

We bought the house for Matthew to manage and live in. It’s pretty empty but with a few pieces of furniture and other stuff left behind by the prior owner – a lot of junk, but still, some we can work with. At least I think so.

We got in to Detroit at about 230 and rented a BIG Tahoe. Even before coming home, we stopped by 2 stores, one a thrift shop and the other called Re-Use, a donation center (huge!) for all sorts of junk – sort of a “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure kind of place” – just to scope things out and start to get a feel for the kinds of things Matthew is liking – even though he really just wanted to be back at the house.


We spent maybe 20 minutes spent breezing by each place. I mean FAST. Quick impressions are all I needed to see what resonated with him and what didn’t – which now I have, for example, we have a jade green retro love seat sofa and a cool glass-topped coffee table from the late 60s in mind for the seating area that Matthew wants for his bedroom.

ReUse Center Manager, Gary Urich and Kellie, who checked me out, just minutes before closing! ReUse is part of Recycle Ann Arbor, www.recycleannarbor.org

The prices at this place are amazing, like under $100 for a sofa, $20 for side tables… The idea is that they take donations and sell them cheap to prevent them going into landfills.

….Then we hit the grocery store for food and more importantly, the staples that will empower  he and his house mates to cook for themselves instead of just doing take-out or frozen food. Spices, vinegar, oil, garlic, onions, cans of diced tomatoes, pasta, rice… And of course, cleaning stuff – white vinegar for the wood floors, pine sol, comet and Windex, paper towels and tp (I put several extra rolls in each bathroom and 2 sets of cleaning stuff, 1 for upstairs and another for downstairs, to minimize the obstacles that might get in the way of keeping things up.)

Back at home, (of course, we were locked out of the house, tried to break in and ended up having to drive to get the spare), I started to “tame” the kitchen while Matthew turned up the heat (!) and got things unpacked.

With pasta cooking, cabinets being re-organized and groceries being unpacked, we created a “mealtime campfire” in the dining room (fork knife plates, lights on dimmer, a candle that we found in a cabinet, salt, pepper, napkin stack – I need a book of matches and I also found some place mats).  Matthew’s friend was in heaven with a home-cooked meal – and classes haven’t even begun! Just chicken parmesan and pasta and salad at the dining table, with an old candle lit… Hopefully we’ll continue to eat there while I’m here and we will re-energize that area. But we’ll see. Its their house and their routine.

After dinner I made a “meal prep campfire” so that the kids might actually be subliminally invited to cook for themselves (like shifting spices and cooking basics, etc, near the stove).

I’m thinking to have cable put in there for a tv so the dining room becomes a place for them to sit down an eat face-to-face instead  of on the fly or not at all. We hear more and more how food is a major key to good health and sitting down to enjoy it makes it something that nourishes more than just the body.

The lighting in the kitchen is all vintage compact flourescent, so it is blindingly blue white. When that’s changed, it will feel much better. It just shows how far things have come on that front.

Energy audit and more thrift and resale stores tomorrow. I can feel it coming together, but it’ll take the full 4 days. So that was day 1, though we only got to the house at 530pm (getting locked out took time away). Ok, so with that, we’re off to the races and I’m off to bed!

Day 2 (Tuesday)

It was a long day and with not enough food for me, though I was SO grateful for the chicken salad sandwich that one of Matthew’s future room mates made for me (he even used the toaster which is now next to the stove, in hopes that it might attract some use away from the micro

wave)… and they were the ones that sat at the dining room table, which is already becoming a campfire that they are enjoying and tending through their use of it (I watch for these things).

I woke up and the furniture dilemma (how to furnish this place in 3 days In a durable and college way — and get it feeling like “home”) was much more jelled in my mind. I made some notes and headed back the ReUse store where Matthew and I had gone for a quick scan yesterday after getting here. I found my new buddy, Joe, and went through the donated furniture warehouse with him following and putting “sale pending” stickers on things. I only had an hour before the guy was to arrive for the energy audit.  …So stickers are flying…a sofa ($75), 2 armchairs ($35 each), a coffee table ($15 each), a desk, a night table ($3), a rug ($10), another coffee table, 5 lamps ($10 each)… and a partridge in a pear tree (just kidding, but you get the picture.)

On the way back to the house, I cal the # for a delivery company and as snow is starting to fall, planning to come back by 445, 15 minutes before closing for final decisions and to pay. (I have no idea about what it adds up to or even if I’ll take it all, but it feels good)…. And as it turns out, a truck can be there at 430!

Some of our $480-ish in purchases waiting for loading

So I come back to Matthew and nick, the energy auditor, from Clean Energy Coalition has already gotten started on the audit.

An infra red photo of the bottom of the attic door. The blue shows all the cold air that is coming into the house. With insulation on the attic floor, the energy savings will be significant. Add that to the top of the list of things to do, that's for sure!

As for me, first things first, thanks to one of Matthew’s future housemates, who made chicken salad sandwiches on toast, which we had at the dining room table (it’s being used!)… The audit is a very interesting process and it seems that most of life’s problems can be solve with weather stripping, caulk and insulation — and some compact florescent bulbs don’t hurt either. The house is actually pretty food on that front, but a few things need addressing. A fan and an infra red camera shows where cold air comes in, and he walks us through to explain and will send a comprehensive report with recommendations. All for about $350 — which we will reap in terms of energy savings easily!

Then I drive back to Re-Use, a bit more slowly since snow is coming down strongly and make it as things are starting to close up. I pay the whopping total of $475, after adding a 4-piece wicker set, thank Joe, the other guys and the manager, Gary Urick and head to the house to meet the truck, where Matthew and his friend are waiting to help the movers.  So I tell them what goes where and ,they oblige and like magic —  it works!! (Every time I do this, I am amazed at how a space can change with just a few things placed in the right way, with attention to the way it’ll feel, instead of the way it looks!)

… Two comfortable seating areas in the living room which can seat 12 in all (we need a lamp and a side table), the bedrooms now have their desks and chests of drawers and night tables – I need one more lamp in there and some light bulbs). There’s now a lamp on a timer at the front entry, to turn on at dusk and off at 3am (a gentle hint to get to bed perhaps!!?) and another candle — and the feeling of the place has dramatically changed!

So, tomorrow we look for thermal-lined window treatments and the small but essential things that will make this a place where these kids can relax, study and have fun.

Expenses Tally:

Groceries @ Kroger:      $321.28

ReUse:                         $475.84

Energy Audit:                $350.00

Ann Arbor Thrift Shop    $4.88  (a candle, candle holder and a couple of other things)

Total:                        $1,152.00

As an aside:  Over the years I see that when I do this with people , the part that’s key is to have the person involved WITH the process so that, over the course of time, whether its hours in a workshop or  days like this, it gives me the chance to help them gradually re-think and re-create their lifestyle and re-balance their rhythms and routines and understand the “why” of seemingly insignificant changes… (Like moving the spices and cooking stuff to the glass cabinets over the range instead of the solid ones near the dishwasher – even though it might not look as “pretty” as the glasses that were on “display”) will energize  their muscle memory going by actually living it for a few days in their space…. In a way, sort of like when an artist would come to their patron’s house and live with them while painting. That way the people got more of an appreciation for the process, the thinking and had more of a “relationship” with the end product. I do this in my workshops and retreats and in consultations, but thus longer stretch of times allows for more of that to happen. This makes me see the validity of a show and dvd that dips in and out of a person’s or family’s life.


Day 3 Recap (Wed):

I’m writing this on Thursday morning, since last night was late and today started off early (and 8am radio interview on Realistic Resolutions:  3 Do’s to Make them Happen). I It’s almost noon and we’ve already met with Alex (or Vick, depending on your mood), of Action Painting Company, who’s going to be painting the exterior (we’re  having this done professionally, since there’s lead based paint that will be getting scraped off and want it done as efficiently as possible.)

So, back to yesterday… I’ll keep this short, btw.  This was Matthew’s full day of classes, so while he was out, I went to the Salvation Army — still on my list were a couple of more lamps and ideally a love seat and coffee table for Matthew’s room and some other stuff.  I scored on two lamps and two end tables, and after checking with Matthew later, found the love seat there too!  Back at the house, Pat was there and we walked through the high priority punch list.  Safety and energy savings/warmth are the most important, so smoke detectors will be going up as well as insulation in the attic and caulking and weather stripping.  With Matthew back, we discovered a working vacuum cleaner in the house (cross that off the shopping list!) and finalized the design for a desk that’s going to be built-in for Matthew’s room.  Then, in prep for a trip to Home Depot and my beloved Target, we double-checked window measurements for curtain rods and thermal curtains for Matthew’s room (we’ll let the others get their own).

So with more snow falling, we head out for basic tools, picture hanging hooks, mops and other cleaning essentials, light bulbs (mostly compact florescent), night lights, a basic tool box (with a rubber hammer, introduced to me by my husband a few years ago and GREAT for preventing damage to the walls), a lampshade to replace one from the ReUse lamps, pot holders, dish rags, rug pads, frames for posters, toilet brushes and plungers and all that other stuff that makes a house easy to run.

Given the chance to eat out, once again, Matthew opted to have friends over for a home-cooked meal.  Since it was late, and we were both exhausted, we couldn’t bear another stop for meat at the grocery store, so I picked up a dozen eggs, bacon, english muffins and shredded potatoes at Target and headed home for “breakfast for dinner”… oh, and some frozen buffalo wings to have during meal prep.

So, while Matthew’s unloading the car with his friends,  I throw the wings in the oven while hanging light bulbs, moving lamps, putting the two Salvation Army end tables in place…  Two friends come over and the help get dinner together and there we are, back at the dining table, candle lit, place mats down and the guys are in heaven.  It’s just eggs, bacon, bread and hash browns

The love seat made the cut for Matthew's room -- it was his idea to have one there. This one's a twin sleeper as well!

(though I did make them with sauteed onions and garlic and topped them with cheddar cheese).  A really nice end to the day… but not quite.  It turned out that Matthew liked the love seat so I headed back to the Salvation Army (they close at 10pm) to make our claim on it.  It’s actually a twin sleeper so it’ll come in handy, no doubt.

A friend had a great idea… to put out a “tip jar” where kids who don’t live in the house can throw in a few dollars as a way of contributing to the cost of a meal or snack.  So of course, I found one at the SA for about $3.

Expenses Tally:

Salvation Army:$  95.34

Home Depot:  $498.83  (but I’ll be returning about $70 worth tomorrow, no need for curtain rings with the curtains I bought)

Target:  $632.93

Total for the Day: $1227.10

Running Total:  $2379.10

That’s all for yesterday… today is putting up window treatments, putting art in frames, and hanging them, getting a couple of rugs for bedrooms and hopefully a small table to go with that love seat.  All in all, we’re in good shape for me to get on a plane tomorrow morning!  I’ll hope to load up some photos tonight

Day 4 Recap (Thursday):

Whew… I can’t believe I’ve only been here for about 80 hours, since Monday at 2:30pm.  I’m tired but it’s the kind of tired you have after a day of skiing or a hike up a mountain.  I leave for the airport at about 10am tomorrow, so I still have a few hours to go in the morning, starting with an early morning trip to Home Depot (light bulbs and a return) and Target (exchanging a broken picture frame).  So I’ll keep this pretty short.

The bottom line is that even without tomorrow, we have truly created a home out of what was a virtually vacant house. I just was in Matthew’s room to say good night to him. His lights were out and I sat with him for a bit in the dark.  Without even seeing anything, it just felt good – calm, relaxed and comfortable.

So I’m in the dining room, with the lights dimmed and a candle on and except for the lack of sound (no stereo yet — I miss the music – and it’s too cold to open the windows), it feels so good, like “home”.  One of Matthew’s friends who will be living in the house as of this weekend, came over and was so excited about everything.  She told me she’s looking forward to cooking and sitting down to dinners.  I’m so glad that this house will have a chance to communicate in a good way with the kids who will be living here.

Several Bridges to make cooking easy - countertop utensils, oils and spices above (who care if it's not a "display" of dishes or glasses), the "tip jar" on the right and straw placemats so the laminate counter doesn't get burned.

So, another day of snow… the kind that is in the movies, soft and pretty.  Meanwhile, things were busy here.  It was a combination of hanging art (Matthew is better at the :science” of it than I am, that’s for sure!), tweaking stuff here, lighting, light bulbs, creating “bridges” to allow for maintenance routines to come easy.  Here are a few:

– The kitchen counters are laminate.  Matthew had no idea that a hot pan would burn a ring into it… I’m sure the other kids don’t either, coming from a world of ceramic tile and granite counter tops. So 2 of the straw place mats flank the stove.  Essentially they’re over sized trivets.  Another is in the dining room.

– A bucket, with cleaning essentials, including a sponge and rubber gloves, is under the sink.  Mops are hanging inside the door that goes to the basement… hopefully it’ll make crossing the bridge to clean-up that much easier to cross.  There’s another set up cleaning tools in a closet in the upstairs hallway.

Back door Bridges: a dustpan hanging on the door, a coat rack and a rack for shoes, with a mat underneath.

he bucket…

– The back door seems to be the way people come in.  It’s looking like Matthew’s instituted a “shoes off” rule (one of the easiest ways to minimize cleaning).  After someone left last night, I saw him wipe off the mud from where they’d taken boots off.  So today, I moved a rack by the back door, with an all weather mat underneath it.  That way, people can take shoes off right at the door and put them out of the way, on the rack and the mat underneath will catch the mud.

… does this sound crazy? Maybe it is, but I’m actually pretty lazy, so creating these Bridges allows me to have to do less and almost have it done for me.  At a beach house that we had in Florida, I put “foot baths” outside the doors (actually they were the ceramic bottoms that go under potted plants).  Filled with water, all you had to do was dip your feet in and there was almost no sand in the house.

So, I did a ot of stuff like this, also related to lighting and rugs placement.  As I was doing this, I was keeping track of the final things that I’d be looking for on my quick tour of my favorite places… The ReUse Center, the Ann Arbor Thrift Shop, the Salvation Army and a newcomer, GCO Carpet Center (actually, I’d stopped in yesterday, but only quickly).

Ted, carrying the two nesting end-tables ($15) and Kellie, who helped me on Day 2 as well. Thanks so much everyone!

At the ReUse Center, I found a pair of nesting side-tables (stained brown wood, with black centers — a perfect color Bridge.

e between two leather sofas, one brown and one black, in the open plan living room/front room). I also picked up two amber beaded lampshades for one of the upstairs bathrooms and a few great books so that text books wouldn’t be the only kind of reading around:  The B

est of Life (magazine), 25 Years of Saturday Night Live and a copy of the DIY for Homes book that we have at our house in Atlanta.  At $3 each, I took the risk that Matthew might roll his eyes.

Then at the Thrift Shop, I totally scored with a rug for the dining room!  I wasn’t even really looking for one since there was an existing one in the house (one of those indoor/outdoor ones, not great but ok).  Perfect colors and perfect size, though I admit, I just bought it without even opening it up.  The colors were great and I figured I could use it somewhere.  For $50, why not?!  I also found the one last side table I’d been looking for and 3 more lamps for the bedrooms.  Now each room has 2 lamps, one for studying and one for their night table.  They may well bring their own, but sometimes lighting is the thing that goes by the wayside.  For me, lighting is a Campfire essential, so I’d rather be safe than sorry.  And again, the prices were right.

2 Guys (Rick and Todd), a rug and an Avis Tahoe!

Already the dinning room is becoming a Campfire, made personal with things like the uber-present laptop, food and for college guys, Victoria's Secret!

Hopefully there'll be less take-out and processed foods and more cooking with cooking essentials nearby - utensils on the counter, oils and spices above the stove and the toaster and dishes in the wings.

* Updated for Day 5, Saturday @ midnight.  (Excuse the delay but I was a bit pooped and deeded to rebalance myself!… I still need to add photos, and will, but that’ll be tomorrow.  Time for bed!)

Next stop, GCO Carpet Outlet, where I’d seen some rugs, cut at 8 x 10 and 9 x 12.  Nice pile and good prices and colors. With Matthew’s love seat bought, I found a great dark slate blue and my buddies Rick and Todd threw it in the back of the Tahoe and I was off to my last stop.

The Salvation Army.  All of these places are within 2 minutes or less of each other, so this whole circuit took me about an hour.  I was looking for, believe it or not, that Tip Jar that Matthew’s friend had mentioned.  And there, on a shelf with a lot of kitchen stuff, was a perfect jar.  Wide at the bottom, amber glass (so that people could see that there is $ in there) , but narrow at the mouth (so that it’s easier to put $ in than it is to take it out).  It even makes that scraping sound of a cookie jar so that people can put money in and the sounds will let the house mates know that someone was saying “thank you”.

Back at the house, Pat the Handyman and his son, Jason had been busy putting smoke alarms in each bedroom, and on each floor.  We bought the interconnecting kind so that if one goes off, they all go off — that way no one would be left unawares if there was an emergency.  We also put a carbon monoxide detector up as an added precaution.  The love seat made it up into Matthew’s room — a perfect fit, thanks to Jason, Pat and Matthew.  They’ll be back tomorrow to put curtain rods up in the rooms, secure some windows, do some weather stripping and caulking and whatever else I can throw at them in the couple of hours before I leave.

After they left, we put down the rug (and the rug pad) in Matthew’s room (a direct hit) and the other one (+ rug pad — these are key!)  in the dining room. Even though I don’t believe in “perfect” – I have to say, both look as if I waded through stacks of rugs and the D & D building, ADAC or the Pacific Design Center to find just the right ones.  The mystery rug purchase for the dining room is truly ideal in size, color and texture!

The dining room, after I found this great rug for $50.

Those beaded lampshades were to warm up the light from 2 compact florescent chanedlier bulbs in one of the bathrooms.  It works beautifully, softening the light while saving energy.

I plan to take photographs tomorrow during the day, but I did take some pictures tonight.

So that’s it for now, except for the day’s tally.

Expenses Tally:

ReUse Center:  $40.81

Ann Arbor Thrift Shop:  $24.38

Salvation Army:  $14.80 (but $5 was for a cool necklace for me!)

GCO Carpet Outlet:  $126.14

Total for the Day:  $206.13

Running Total:  $2585.23

I don’t I’ll have the time to spend much more tomorrow, but I will update the tally add photos and close this blog either tomorrow or the next day.  (I might take time off to re-balance after what has been a whirlwind week!)

Good night!

c
So, when I left for the airport, only 11 minutes late, I might proudly add, I left a home that functions, with lots of bridges that allow easy access to quality of life.  Now its up to matthew and his friends to add themselves to it – to make it theirs.
For what its worth, and I do this with clients, I’d be happy to talk with them or skype with them on their rooms individually. If it would help them feel more grounded as they get settled in.

Day 5 (Friday) — In some ways, this should be looked at as Day 4, since we only got started at about 4pm on Monday, and as you can see, every hour counts big time!

I got to bed last night at 1:45, with the alarm set for 7am and a flight from Detroit at 12:15.  That leaves only 3 hourse before my 10pm deadline to be driving out the driveway to the airport.  Still a bunch of stuff to do…   In particular, how can I possibly leave without one of the key essentials to any modern day “campfire” – the TV?!?  So Target is at the top of my list for today!

I can't think of a home that can't benefit from a Target run!

So, with snow continuing to fall and after packing and bringing my suitcase downstairs (I’m taking this really cool $5 lamp with me, my bonus since Matthew didn’t fall in love with it for his room), I make some notes for my last round of stops and head back to Target and Home Depot.
At Home Depot,  I return about 10 packets of curtain rings since the thermal curtains have gromets and made them unnecessary.  Those little packets add up to a $118 credit – not too shabby!.  I also buy a legit hammer after the art-hanging escapades of the day before.

Since the house only has one pretty ratty trash bin, how can Matthew expect people to recycle? So, I buy 2 trash bins, one for trash and one for recycling.  Labelled clearly,  I cross my fingers that throw-aways will avoid the landfill. 15 minutes later, I’m off to Target.

The guy in the electronics department makes it easy and I know how big the area is above the living room fireplace where the TV will go.  I also get the 3-year service plan, with a houseful of college students, it seems like a no-brainer. I buy a small bin to put beside the back door for the rock salt so that after snowfalls, it’s an easy thing to access … another Bridge to safety, just like the night lights, lights on timers and refilled fire extinguishers (thanks for that one, Pat the Handyman!). And yes, I exchange the picture frame that fell apart in our art hanging fiasco of yesterday. (Matthew, I have complete faith in your ability to hang Miles Davis over your bed.  You are far better at it than me — and now you have a “real” hammer!”)
What a bonus that these places open early — I get back to the house at 9:15 — 45 minutes to go!
Pat is already there, getting the curtain rods up in matthew’s room (those thermal draperies will really help the heating bill!).

Pat and Matthew in his room, putting up thermal window treatments. Here's to a lower electric bill!

While Matthew brings all the stuff in from the Tahoe and puts my suitcase in their place, I get to meet Julia (or was it yesterday?!) who has decided (wisely) to take the room with the bigger closet instead of another that had more shelves but less hanging space.  We give her the lay of the land and I go around changing out a few light bulbs, putting a bucket in the upstairs cleaning Bridge (that way, they load the bucket with what they need to clean the bathroom, their room or whatever)…

Everyone knows that house cleaning isn't a priority in college, but hopefully easy-access will make it more likely. We'll see!

Along the way, I check in on Pat and tell him about my idea to string together and hang Matthew’s nautical flags around the stair railing (which is a bit low)… Partly decoration, but more importantly a subtle sign that says “beware!”. It’s nice that both he and Matthew like the idea… If matthew didn’t like it, it wouldn’t be a “go”.  After all, it’s his place, but as a sailor, it seemed to be a way to combine one of his passions with something that made sense on a functional level. Pat shares the name of a friend who can clean the love seat and any other furnishings that might need it and we put the trash bins and rock salt bin in place (oh yes, I also bought a set of hooks for coats by the back door).

dust pan hanging on the back door (it was actually already there), a bin for rock sale, hooks to hang jackets and a rack to put boots, with an all-weather mat underneat.

I have just a few minutes to take some final pictures and give Pat a thank-you hug for all he’s doing and simply the fact that he cares .

Being a "handyman" is about as underrated as being a teacher. Both professions are as much about art as they are about science. Pat is one of the greats. I'm so glad we found him. Thanks, Dick Mattie (our real estate agent) for sending him our way!

Most importantly, I give Matthew a hug and I head off to the airport, only 11 minutes late.
What a week!

So his friends will move in over the weekend, I think. I’m not sure when, but I leave knowing that because of the set-up stuff we’ve done, Matthew’s role as “house manager” will be easier because the house will be able to speak for him, in the form of all of the non-verbal cues that make it easier for them to live together — and live well.

Now don’t get me wrong, we are FULLY expecting for things not to be “perfect” — they aren’t perfect now, and that’s on purpose.  The most precious thing in that house will be the people who live there and the experiences they will create for themselves and each other, and I can’t help but think that they will do a bit more in response to the respect and comfort that their surroundings will be communicating to them.  It’s sort of like graffiti or chewing gum.  If it’s on a wall, others feel invited to add to it. If the wall is clean, it’s a lot harder to be the first to make that mark.

So, the photos of the house as I leave it are below.  What I did this week was to bring Matthew into the process of setting up his home.  I watched and listened to what was important to him and those soon-to-be housemates that stopped by to say “hi”.  Aside from the framed posters in his own room, we intentionally did nothing to the walls.  They are a blank slate, waiting to be written on.

Thanks to Matthew, these got hung up... I was the one that confirmed that they were level, but he did the hard labor!

So, when I left for the airport, only 11 minutes late, I might proudly add, I left a home that functions, with lots of bridges that allow easy access to quality of life.  Now its up to matthew and his friends to add themselves to it – to make it theirs.
Just as I do with clients, I’d be happy to talk or skype with any of you on your rooms, your routines and the rest of the house.

… Have fun everyone.  I can’t wait to see where you take it!

So here’s a look at the house as it is now:

The dining room is already being made into a Campfire, with personal additions including the essential laptop, food, a Victoria's Secret Catalogue and...

Here's what you see as you enter the house. The lamp on the table under the stairs is hooked up to a light timer that turns on at dusk and off at about 3am - a gentle reminder for everyone to head to bed. This is what I call a "Campfire for Re-entry". Instead of coming into a dark house, you are welcomed back.

Here's a place to hand out, play some music or do some studying. A leather loveseat (leather is totally stain-resistant!), a totally comfy lazy-boy and a rocking chair... and a candle too.

The living room: the fireplace is closed off for safety reasons, but the tv is ready to be mounted above it and is visible from the dining room as well. Comfy seating and a coffee table that can withstand wear-and-tear (at least, I hope so...)


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3 Responses to “Comfort Living: College Edition How to Create a Home-Away-From-Home… In 4 Days!”

  1. Very impressive! Thanks for the tour and I am taking mental notes of the future.

  2. Lois says:

    As the Mom of Julia, I am so thankful to Christine and Matt. What an incredible experience for these wonderful U Mich kids. My husband and I are grateful that Julia can have the experience- to integrate her school commitments with a happy living environment, assume the responsibility to care for a home, and to live, cook, clean and share with others. This is a learning experience that definitely goes beyond the classroom. Thanks for your hard work and generosity!!!

  3. Gary Urick says:

    We enjoyed assisting you at the ReUse Center! Best wishes on the house project. Your activity leaves us bit breathless, but also inspired as to what can be done with a plan and local resources on short notice. We know that many people resonate with “secondhand” furnishings – history, character, green-ness – and we feel privileged to provide a space for the transfer of these materials within the community.

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