January 29, 2016  

What’s the plan? 2016 House Goals

We moved into our house one year and two months ago. It’s our very first home, and it’s been really fun to have more space and more flexibility than we had as apartment renters. We have already learned how expensive home ownership can be (plumbing debacles come to mind), but I’ve also gotten so much joy from giving this dated house some new life.

With the start of a brand new year, I am all about setting goals and my house is no exception. As cute as this house is, there’s certainly plenty of work to be done to make it our style (goodbye blah beige paint and cheap pine doors  + trim). Now that we’ve lived in this house over a year, I’ve tackled most of the real eye sores. Big things on my mind for this year are to tackle the out-of-control bushes out front, make our front patio useful, makeover the bathroom and bedrooms, and paint all of the interior doors something that’s not ugly pine.

So here is the master plan for 2016…

How I'm renovating a boring ranch house, one DIY project at a time. Banishing all the beige and pine wood for good.

Ranch House


We didn’t do any real work on the exterior of our house last year. It was a miracle we even got our grass mowed regularly! As new homeowners, it took a while to adjust to having a yard to care for. We’re pretty clueless when it comes to landscaping and outdoor maintenance. I want to tackle several outdoor projects once the weather warms up this year:

  • Remove the really scraggly bushes along our front sidewalk
  • Give a massive hair cut trim to the hedge of bushes along the side of our lot (thank you to the ‘rents for hedge trimmer Christmas gift!)
  • Rip up old carpet on front steps and replace carpet or stain depending on concrete condition
  • Transform the concrete slab along the front of the house into an awesome patio (I already bought many supplies for this last fall and then never got around to starting that project)
  • Clean out our garage and get rid of junk that the old owner left behind
  • Disguise the little retaining wall that’s falling apart in our backyard with mulch and some plants (anything will be better than all the weeds I let overtake that area all of last year)
  • Spruce up clothesline – fresh paint and new wires


Christmas Living Room 2015 20


This is sort of a joke, because we have the tiniest entry ever (through the doorway in this photo). But we do have one. It’s big enough to step in the front door and close the door behind you while still standing in the entry area. There is a decent coat closet, though! There isn’t much to do in this space, but I do have a few plans:

  • Add coat hooks on little wall behind door
  • Organize coat closet
  • Paint doors
  • Paint trim


living room east


The living room got a fresh coat of beautiful, light grey paint last fall. The room felt so much lighter and cleaner once the blah beige and pine trim were covered with light grey and white trim. I’ve focused on decorating this room since it’s what you see right when you come in the front door and where we spend the most time. Here’s what it looks like right now:

Pretty, practical blue living room

I’m liking the furniture arrangement and the decorating is feeling great, but I do have a few more plans for the room this year:

  • Hang a few more art pieces to the walls
  • Add more seating
  • Upgrade light fixtures

kitchen north


I am just loving our kitchen, and it’s ready for the finishing touches of its makeover (see mood board here). The cabinets were painted a bright white by the previous owners when they put it up for sale, so that saved me a lot of time. The room needed some color, so I painted the walls a moody blue that balanced out the bright white cabinets very nicely:

Kitchen Blue Wall

I also installed a little counter along the window that faces our backyard (where the ladder is in this photo), creating a makeshift breakfast nook. I still haven’t shared that project with you, but promise I will get that post up in the next couple weeks! Here’s what’s left to do to complete this room:

  • Hang curtains
  • Find tall open shelf for empty wall next to cupboards
  • Add shelving to pantry cupboard
  • Organize cabinets
  • Touch up paint (I painted the room last summer and never went back to touch up a few goofs)
  • Paint door

Bold Blue Dining Room 15


The dining room got all my attention immediately after we moved in. This was the only room with wood-paneled walls, and I couldn’t bear the pine so I covered it up with a neutral grey paint and added a bright blue accent wall – here’s a good before and after:Bold Blue Dining Room Title

I have some more plans in mind for the room this year:

  • Paint hutch – I’m way excited for this project! Comment with your votes for color because I cannot make up my mind.
  • Upgrade light fixture
  • Hang gallery wall
  • Paint doors
  • Organize cedar closet in the room
  • Find a solution for reducing the echo in this room…will hanging more on the walls help?


Our bedroom is alright, but it could use some attention. Once again, I’m dying to paint over the boring tan/beige walls. This room isn’t a huge priority, but I would like to tackle the painting and a few other things this year:

  • Paint walls + trim
  • Hang curtains
  • Build a headboard
  • Organize closet
  • Paint dresser
  • Paint doors


This room is currently used as our office/board game storage/dumping ground for random things. It will ultimately become a nursery, so I don’t plan to spend much time on this room until we have kids. I do hope to at least organize what’s in there and get the walls painted:

  • Paint walls + trim
  • Paint doors
  • Purge clutter & organize closet



I am looking forward to decorating our bathroom this year. It’s not very large, so a little effort will go a long way in here. I pretty much have this makeover planned out already. Here’s what needs to happen:

  • Paint walls + trim
  • Paint doors
  • Organize closets
  • Add shelf above toilet to replace towel bar and add towel hook closer to sink
  • Upgrade mirror
  • Replace window covering
  • Purchase new shower curtain


This room doesn’t have a real purpose right now, and we honestly don’t spend any time down there. The upstairs of our house is really plenty of space for just the two of us. But I do love that we have a walkout basement, and this room has a door leading right outside to our backyard where we grill. This room definitely has potential! It already has a thin carpet, and we’ve accumulated an assortment of hand-me-down furniture for the room (including my grandma’s awesome pink and white floral couch). Here’s what I’d like to get done this year:

  • Add window coverings
  • Paint walls
  • Purchase or sew a slip cover for floral couch (no offense, Grandma!)
  • Upgrade and improve lighting (there’s hardly any light down there)
  • Add more electrical outlets – we’re hoping to save up the $$ to do this!


This room is huge, but really dysfunctional. It has poor lighting, and it’s just a concrete floor with our laundry in the back corner, a toilet in another corner, and the furnace along one wall. In just one year of living here, it’s already become the place where random boxes go to die collect dust. While I’d someday like to finish the bathroom, add walls, and add some good lighting, I probably won’t do anything in here except some organizing this year:

  • Create shelving/storage area
  • Make laundry corner look like less ghetto

Great ideas for transforming an old basement into a pretty craft room and office


This room is complete thanks to last fall’s One Room Challenge, where I completely overhauled this room and made it my happy crafting place. Here’s the before and after to give you an idea:

Craft Reveal Before After

This room is complete (for now) so I won’t be doing any more decorating in this room right now. It has gotten pretty messy since I took these pretty pictures, so I have one task for this year:

  • Organize!

I know that life happens and there’s no way I’ll realistically get everything on my list done this year, but I’m going to get my butt in gear and try to tackle as much as I possibly can. It’s so nice to have a master plan to work off of! With so many home projects in my future, you can bet there will be plenty of tutorials and room reveals in store for the blog this year.

Stay tuned for a report card check-in at the end of the year when we’ll get to evaluate all of my awesome accomplishments and laugh at all the things I’ve made zero progress on. Can’t wait!

What decorating ideas do you have for me? What house plans are you aiming to complete this year?

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About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a mom juggling two young kids and being a working mom with a corporate job. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

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