Just One Thing


In this issue of inspiring updates and renovations, ranging from building and reorganizing closets to entire-home overhauls, the changes are dramatic. 

But often, creating big home and landscape changes sometimes requires just one addition — or one deletion.

I can go through my home, indoors and out, and find individual tweaks we made that created significant differences.

We’ll start out in the garden (and don’t worry, we’re not going to go through the whole home). I added one new plant variety last May — salvia — and boy, did it take off! 

We featured a story about creating backyard oases in an earlier 2015 issue, and landscaper Ryan Youngblood, of R. Youngblood and Co. in Rochester, suggested planting one type of flower, bush, or plant (like salvia) en masse. 

I took the en masse seriously, giving a few trays of the spiky violet beauties a new home in a very small parcel off the patio. 

Wow, does my little patch pack a punch! As I write this column in early September, swathes of purple continue to draw my eye just outside the dining room window.  

In our sunroom, big change came in the removal of one thing: an old hot tub. In the 20-plus years we’ve lived in our home, we used  the hot tub maybe three or four times — and that was pre-children. 

As the years passed, we constantly asked ourselves time and again, “How do we get rid of the ugly, high-maintenance, brown-topped monster that makes furnishing the room nearly impossible because it takes up one corner and then some?” 

And then the day came. Taking the hot tub out wasn’t easy; made of fiberglass, it required strong men who spent an entire morning sawing it apart, and then had to fill the rather large hole where it had been with new wood to match the existing flooring. The hot tub is gone, but now we have a room! My sons insisted the best thing to put in the hot tub’s place was a poker table (passed down from my parents) and chairs. I’m not sure what’s worse, an old hot tub or a purple felt-topped poker table. But the gaming setup now draws poker and euchre-loving college kids on summer evenings, weekends, and holiday breaks. When I catch a glimpse of them gathered around the table, I’m warmed by their camaraderie and presence, and I can’t help but think of them sitting about a foot lower, all splashing away in a hot tub. Playing cards is so much better, don’t you think?

The fact that the kids can get to that sunroom is directly related to another one-change marvel. From the indoors, we entered (or didn’t enter) the sunroom from a door off the dining room. Over the past few years, that aging door (a heavy sliding-glass behemoth) has gradually become almost impossible to open; hence, the sunroom had no visitors. Enter one expensive sliding-glass door (we almost could have purchased a car for one of our college sons!). The new door glides smoothly, as if it’s on ice. With the hot tub gone and a new door, the room has officially become party central for my sons and their posse.

Finally, we all know the power of color. I’m about to choose one new paint color for our master bedroom and I know that, once the painting is done, I’ll feel like a new woman in a new room.

Right now, big changes are happening outside our homes, naturally. Looking through my window to the garden and knowing my vibrant salvia will soon yield to autumn’s frost, I’ve decided that, when the time comes, I’ll add just one fall touch to our backyard — en masse!

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